Produced weekly, fortnightly, or monthly, your own blog is the opportunity to create content to reach out to your direct clientele. It’s the chance to highlight your services, provide pointers and advice or profile the latest events occurring within your business. Importantly it’s the vehicle to address any issues affecting your clientele.
But the catch is your audience has to keep coming back to you to know what you’re saying. The key is to create great content and use it across your media channels, repurposing it or refreshing it at will, and sharing it with the world when you’ve taken the time to whip it up.
Guest posts are an excellent opportunity to establish your credentials to an audience that’s greater than your own. It’s also the chance to feed people back to your services via backlinks or searches.
For your established audience, it shows you’re active in the industry and an authority on the issues that matter to them.
But you need to let them know it’s happening, which is why every business should be alerting their list of customers that they’re out and about actively practicing and commenting on what you preach.
Why startups should guest blog
It’s always nice getting a strong shot of SEO juice, but the main reason to guest blog is the increased traffic, getting your name and brand out, and social media shares that further fuel the cycle. As a startup, you have a limited audience you can reach, while elsewhere there are existing audiences you can leverage. If you can provide real value to that audience, then there’s a good chance the curator of that platform will allow you to do so.
How to approach a guest blogging pitch
You should always have at least some familiarity with the site you’d like to pitch to before doing so. Ideally, you’ll be a regular reader, but at least you should know their writing style, who their audience is, and the topics they’ve already covered. You’ll also have a much greater chance of success if whoever runs the blog has some idea of who you are. If you have blogs you regularly read and think would be a good fit for your guest blog post, engage with them in comments or on Twitter, share their posts when you think they have value, and pass along things that you think would interest them but that they may have missed.
For your topic, you should choose something that you’re qualified to write. This doesn’t mean that you need to be an expert, though. If your startup recently did something unique and got a surprising result, that would probably make a good blog post. Doing research is okay; nobody expects you to know everything, and looking things up, so other people don’t have to, is a great way to provide value, whether as a guest post or on your blog.
Good topics for guest blogging
When brainstorming an idea for a post, you’ll likely fall into your normal rhythm of cooking up topics. It’s important to remember that you’re writing for someone else’s audience when guest blogging, not your own. Think about who they are, what they like to read, if they want something more analytical or narrative, if they want photos or charts, etc. Reading not just older posts on the site but also the comments on those posts is a great way to get a feel for who the audience is, and there’s a good chance you’ll find inspiration for a topic there as well.
Pitching a blog post without being annoying
You already know what it’s like getting emails from people who want something, so when you pitch your guest post idea, keep that in the back of your mind. Your email should be short and to the point, and you should sum up your post in three sentences or less. Most people get carried away describing their ideas and tend to ramble. If you can’t describe the post you want them to publish in two or three lines, it’s probably not a good post anyway.
Your list - Have a contact list that is up to date with people interested in hearing your news.
Your brand – Ensure all messages and tweets you feed out are branded, so people know they’re coming from you and who you are.
Use your backlinks – If possible, incorporate backlinks into your guest posts to drive people to your site for further information. You’ll need to be selective about when this is appropriate. For your site, link to relevant content or similar articles that may appear on different media.
Keep the guest content clean – Guest posting is the welcome opportunity to establish your credibility, not flagrantly flout your services, so ensure the content you write is interesting for their audience and not just an advertisement for you.
Fresh content – While guest posts may be similar to content you’re already covered, ensure it’s not the same. Why? Well for a few reasons:
- To properly utilize the opportunity.
- As respect for your guest posting invitation.
- So those nifty little search engines will find you in numerous places with different results.
Use your bio – Make sure you include a brief bio at the bottom of your post so people know who you are and what you do.
How to Choose Topics for Guest Blogging
Nearly every entrepreneur will tell you that he loves his business. It’s rare to start a business without some sort of passion for that business to begin with. As an insurance agent though, I can tell you that I never once said as a little kid that I wanted to grow up to be an insurance agent. Instead, what I love about this career is the chance for education – to impart my knowledge to make life easier for someone else.
With that in mind choosing topics is easy. You simply think to yourself – what can I write about that will bring value to someone else? Will it solve a problem for them? Will it dissolve their anxiety about something? Can I tell them something that will make their day, week, month easier? Communicating something that brings relief to someone else is a powerful thing. This strategy has never once failed me, and it makes your content stand out. Your reader can hear how much you care.
Find the Silver Lining
Something else you can do to stand out is to spin the positive on whatever you are writing. It’s all too easy to write a post that warns people of problems they might encounter. I’d encourage you to write from the perspective of the solution and not the problem.
When crafting a blog post of this sort, where you are comparing product lines, you can slip in keywords that relate to questions your prospects are searching on Google. This helps you stand out in the rankings and compete with the video results. If I’m reading, and I’m faced with a 20-minute video or a 5-minute read on a blog post, I’ll choose the blog post every time.
Relate on a Personal Level
One of the greatest things about blog posts instead of website pages is that you can write in the first person. This enables you to connect with your reader on an emotional level. What’s happened in your week that you can share on that level? For me, it might be a policy approval on a client we weren’t sure could pass the underwriting. Perhaps one of my service team resolved a hospital billing issue for a client on a tight budget.
Ask yourself what you can share that YOU were excited about. Enthusiasm carries. After your piece is written, you can build in the technical aspects that will help your content be found. If nothing else, you can build a campaign from it here in Missinglettr so you can share it on your social media with your own readers, who will appreciate the personal touch you bring.
Refining your guest blog content
In many cases, when bloggers write a post, they just race through it and write as they think of it, allowing the flow to rule. And unless you are writing very technical stuff, this is often the best way to approach the task.
But there’s one crucial thing you must remember to do after you have finished that flow of writing – proofread the piece!
So here we have compiled a blogger’s checklist to help you proofread your article because getting it ready for publication is about more than just running it through a spellchecker.
What is proofreading?
Proofreading is the same as editing but is a commonly misunderstood process.
Back in the pre-computer days, editing was about reading over what you had written and hoping you spotted any errors before the piece went for publication.
But today, we have a wealth of tools at our disposal to do a more comprehensive job and one that takes very little time but ensures the quality of the writing we submit for online or print publication.
Editing is about more than just spell-checking however – it is about checking the facts, the readability, and the style of the piece.
It is also about ensuring that you have included all the elements you need and that the feel of the piece is in keeping with your blog’s tone or ‘voice’ as it is often called.
So, the best bloggers have an established process to follow to ensure their editing is consistent and effective. From this, you can formulate your own version that suits your own type of blogging.
The editing process should begin with the actual words that have been used in the piece and how they have been assembled.
- Structure. The structure of a piece follows a general pattern, although there’s nothing to say you can’t break with this if you need to.
Generally, it involved an introduction where you tell a little about the content and hook the reader to continue.
Next, there should be a series of points that fill out the promise of the title and intro and then a conclusion where you summarise the points made within the piece.
You should check that you have covered all the points promised in the intro and that you have summarised them succinctly at the end.
- Check spelling and grammar. There are lots of tools to check spelling and grammar, from those built into word processing software to standalone versions such as Grammarly.
You can work with the one that you find comfortable to use and that doesn’t try to spoil your ‘voice’ too much – after all, you are not writing technical, academic pieces so you are allowed to be a bit chatty if that’s your style.
- Read it aloud. Read the piece aloud or in your head, even have someone else read it after the checks have been done – they don’t always improve a piece if you are using a conversational tone.
- Cut out filler words. Sometimes we use more words than we need to make a piece the size we want. Or because we think we need to add these words. But do you need them?
Great if you sound okay and it fits your style, but if they are there just for the sake of it, take a virtual knife to them and cut them out.
- Watch for passive voice. Most readers don’t like passive voice as it feels disengaged and prefer to use active voice. Again, it depends on your style but look to cut examples of passive voice back.
- Trim any weak verbs and adjectives. Another recommendation that depends on your style is to use a single strong word in place of two or three weak ones. Weak verbs tend to use modifiers in front of them such as very and quite.
- Double check your facts. If you are including facts, statistics or other information in the piece, ensure everything is accurate and include relevant citations. Google Docs offers a way to check these on the right hand of the documents for speed.
- Leave it for a while then re-check. Some editors say that if you are editing the article yourself, leave it for a day then re-check. It doesn’t have to be a day if you don’t have that time, but leave it for a while then read over again, see how the piece reads when it isn’t fresh in your mind.
The other big part of editing is SEO editing or preparing the piece for those search engine bots. This involves checking all the signposts that tell Google and others what they need to know about the article.
- Check H1 headings. H1 headings are what the search engines look at to know what the article is about and, where possible, they should have the keyword in the first half. Then designate it Heading 1 in your software. If you are publishing on WordPress, then most likely the title would also be the H1 heading but check your theme details.
- Check H2 headings. Most SEO experts recommend using your keyword in at least one H2 heading during the piece. These subheaders break up the article into readable chunks and also help signpost the content to Google. You can also use H3 headings to further subdivide as necessary.
- Keyword use. Overuse of keywords is a crime, but you should aim to use it 2-3 times in the body of the article and at least once within the first 150 words. Use the Find function in your software if you aren’t sure.
- Shorten the slug. The slug (the part of the URL after .com/ or .co.uk/ for example) is the way that your post reads in the hierarchy of the website and should contain only the most important words. Shorter URLs have also been shown to be more popular than long-winded ones.
- Don’t forget media. Images, infographics, videos, GIFs, or any other type of media are the eye-catching elements amid the sea of words so don’t forget to include them before publishing. Make sure that you update the ALT tags with your keyword tool, to help them register on search results.
- Links, links, links. Internal and external links are important from an SEO perspective but also for reading. Outbound links add authority to the website and some experts recommend 2-4 for every 1,000 words. Also, include internal links to other articles or pages on your website, offering further reading for visitors.
Check your visuals
Previously I've mentioned the importance of visuals but let’s take a moment to consider them. Images and videos add to the reading experience but they should be good quality images and not too cheesy (unless the post is about cheese, of course). Align images with the text so it fills the screen from side to side.
Graphics are a good way to create branding and we come to recognize things when they look the same. Graphics can therefore be a way of creating continuity on your website from article to article and across onto social media. There are plenty of programs available to create a graphic of your own, so don't hesitate to get creative.
Where to from here
There are a host of great resources like Missinglettr to help you spread your word and embrace the opportunity to feed your content across channels.
Used effectively, it means maximum bang for your posting buck, with content shared via social media to tap into extra marketing opportunities. Make use of Missinglettr's free trial at any time to see how this works.
The preparation and selection of the post-copy, creative asset design, image-size optimization for the various social networks just like coordinating scheduling takes a lot of time.
By some estimates, a typical Social Media Marketer and most Bloggers spend 25% of their workday creating and scheduling postings for social media.
A combination of reduced output and increased effort makes promoting blog posts via social media more and more unattractive. But nonetheless, we do it all day…
There is nothing more frustrating than putting loads of hard work and effort into your blog and barely seeing any increase at all in your traffic numbers. Putting so much into something, especially when it’s a creative endeavor, and having little to no response to it is completely disheartening. You know the work is good, and you know there are people out there who would want to read it, the question is how to get them to the site.
Whether your blog is about sharing your ideas or your work, or it’s a channel to direct traffic to a website where you’re selling a product or service, you need visibility for people to be able to find your work. These are the primary ways to drive more traffic to your blog.
Optimize your blog for SEO
SEO is search engine optimisation, the practice of making web pages as visible as possible to search engines, and thus getting higher placement in search rankings. The primary way to do this is through what’s called on-page SEO, basically formatting your text correctly in the page’s HTML. Even if these abbreviations make your head spin, don’t worry; optimising for SEO requires no coding skill at all. For proper SEO, just writing well gets you about 80% of the way there (good content is what search engine algorithms are designed to find, after all). The rest of it is making sure your keywords appear frequently enough and in the right places.
If even doing this sounds complicated, fear not; blogging platforms provide tools to help ensure you’ve ticked all the boxes for on-page SEO. Every platform should offer SEO tools either built in or as a plugin (We recently wrote a post comparing different blogging platforms). The Wordpress plugin Yoast SEO is a fantastic tool for anyone blogging with Wordpress. You input the keywords you’re targeting, and they help make sure you’ve got them in all the right places in the text. All the technical details like sitemaps to help the search engines are done automatically. It really couldn’t be easier, and even pros who know all the ins and outs of SEO use tools like this as time savers.
Using the right keywords
Deciding on which keywords to target is actually a bit harder than it may seem. If you blog a lot, it’s not such a worry as the amount of content you generate should ensure you start showing up a lot in search engines. But if you’re using a blog to drive traffic to your commercial website, you’re likely only posting once or twice a week, and you need each post to be effective. When you pick a target keyword, you’ll be competing for the top spots in the results pages against other sites using that word or phrase. If they aren’t huge sites (or if you think you’ll eventually compete with them on traffic numbers) you can try to take them on and overcome them.
Small companies and niche products often can’t compete against the giants directly on short keywords, so they go for longer phrases that are searched for less often, but are a better fit for the product or service. Say a boutique travel agency is selling adventure tours in Spain. They’re not going to compete with the bigger agencies plus all the travel websites on “Spain travel”, “Mediterranean holiday”, or “adventure travel”. But posts about kayaking or cliff jumping adventures near Barcelona can more easily get to the top of search rankings. While these “long-tail keywords” - as they’re known - are seen by a smaller audience, they are a much better fit for your target reader and will tend to convert at a much higher rate than more generic keywords. Basically, you’re casting a narrower net, but right at the school of fish. The Google Keyword Planner is a great tool for researching the competitiveness of different keywords.
Participate in the discussion
Whatever field you’re in, there are blogs, social media platforms, forums, subreddits etc. where the community comes together to ask questions, share ideas, or occasionally just rant a bit. Your blog will be successful if you can come to be seen as a leader in your field, and it will be difficult to achieve that without participating in the wider discussion, that is, the discussion outside of your blog. Part of your blogging strategy should be to engage in these places. Ask and answer questions whether in blog comments or on forums. It’s okay to link to your posts occasionally, but only if the post is really relevant to the question or issue at hand. If you’re posting your links in half of your comments or more, you’re spamming.
You should approach this not as a way to promote your blog or your brand, but as a way to add value to the discussion. Doing this in a genuine way will end up promoting your blog. Never spam, and never pretend to be a random reader so amazed by that incredible post you had to share it. When you link to your work, specify that it’s yours. People’s BS detectors will sniff out phony shares straight away, and you’ll have accomplished the opposite of what you set out to do.
It’s all about sharing
The best way to drive people to your blog and ultimately your site is to share it, and this occurs in a series of ways. You can take on as many or as few sharing methods as you choose, but when you share, your traffic and readership will rise.
The art of sharing isn’t about revealing your entire blog’s content with readers via other means. It’s about teasing them and prompting them to visit your site. And you have a number of methods at your fingertips.
One of the most vital tools many businesses have at their disposal is a list of client’s email addresses, and these are a great way of sharing your news. Using simple software like Mailchimp or other email CRMs allows you to regularly update your clients on promotions, initiatives, and news.
The key here is to share the first paragraph or intro of your blog with the link to read more at your site.
Lost Potential: Evergreen Content
Due to all this effort, most bloggers and content marketers do not promote their evergreen content more than once on their social media profiles.
You have to ask yourself: Is it really worth scheduling every evergreen blog post, 20 times over the next year across 5 social profiles? If you would do this by yourself, you would need to create 100 postings for each of your evergreen blog posts.
How you can automate the creation and social media promotion of your blog posts
More traffic, less effort. The tool Missinglettr, free trial, takes away all the work and helps you to schedule a year's worth of engaging content within minutes and drive traffic back to your blog, with zero ad-spend.
How does it work? Once you publish a blog post, Missinglettr analyses the content and automatically formulates a series of social media posts that are pre-filled with quotes, hashtags, and images.
You will increase the exposure of your content as well as increase the overall engagement rate on your social profiles. Plus one of the biggest benefits: You will save (a lot of) time.