“Every crowd has a silver lining.”
How does that quote make you feel? Does it make you feel a bit icky, what with the inference that good things (or monetary gain) only come to those who are followed by a crowd or an audience? The very thought can bring up a lot for the average business owner – maybe you want to rage against the “popular kid” machine. Maybe you’re an introvert, or an agoraphobic, and the idea of crowds really freaks you out. Perhaps you think that fame and money are always linked (rightly or wrongly.) Well, we all know my thoughts on money, and how it’s not wrong to want it, ask for it and deserve it. But what about how it links to your audience?
In this post, I want to talk about using guest blogging as a tool to up your audience – if you want to skip the theory and just get the guest blogging guide, click here to download it.
The truth is, the link between audience and income is something I’ve only recently realised – both in the sense of becoming fully aware of it, and of carrying out the actions related to it. This rather tardy epiphany is probably down to a couple of factors:
- Fear of putting myself out there (and risking ridicule, reproach or rudeness…or, ahem, all three)
- Apprehensiveness at my lack of knowledge in this area (exactly how would I go about it?)
- Laziness (um, yeah, nothing else to add on that one.)
As you’re well aware, I’m a translator and a writer, so getting myself out there comes with the territory, considering a major part of being a published writer is being, you know, published. But that’s different. You can hide behind the words, the masthead of the newspaper, or the topic you’re writing about. But when it came to publicising things that related to my own business, I came over all shy. I didn’t want to blow my own trumpet, or seem arrogant. I didn’t want my translator colleagues to judge me for trying to diversify. As per point 2, I was also a bit worried about what I didn’t know about capturing an audience, so I set about educating myself, and applying all of the knowledge I have for clients to my own business. And, being rather geeky, this wasn’t actually that hard. What can I say? I love to study. As for the laziness. Well, I gave myself a kick up the….lazy parts, and I got on with it.
In short, I put on my big girl pants.
And that’s what this series is about – no, not your big girl pants. It’s about what I’ve learned over the past year when it comes to growing your audience. In this series, we’re going to discuss some of the tools and resources I’ve used, and why I’d recommend them. So let’s get started with the first one (and yes, as I said, I’ve turned this into a PDF guide for you! Click here to download it).
For me, this is a no-brainer. I’m a writer already so this is playing to my strengths, plain and simple. But you don’t have to be a writer to do it. You’re already an expert in your field (isn’t that why you’re in business?) so guest blogging is just writing about it. One of the biggest sources of traffic to my website and blog is my gig with the Huffington Post. I have blogged for them for about 5 years, on a range of topics. I didn’t get in the door with them because I’m extra special or because my Mom played squash with Arianna Huffington back in the day (she didn’t). I got in because I pitched an idea and they liked it. Then they set me up with a blogger profile and away I went. If your idea is good and your writing style appeals to them, you will get published. Here are the top five questions I get asked about my “relationship” with the Huffington Post (clue: I don’t really have one):
- Did you contact them or did they contact you?
I contacted them, on July 19th, 2011. Here is my original pitch, word for word:
I’d like to pitch an idea for a blog post:
#Hackgate #NOTW #Murdoch – if you’re on Twitter these are the go-to hashtags for proving you’ve got your finger on the political pulse. If you’re on any news site, you’re urged to visit the live streaming of events; the latest resignation, confession, lawsuit. My view on the whole debacle? Disgraceful, absolutely. Complete invasion of privacy? Without a doubt. Something we’ll probably forget about or get used to? Pretty likely. Think of the issues that have raised our national hackles in the past few years; oil prices, cash for influence, expenses, bankers’ bonuses…for a while we’re appalled, outraged, demanding justice, retribution or at the very least all the juicy details. And then? Business as usual. Should we do more or realise that we’re a fickle bunch?
Let me know what you think.
- Who did you email your pitch to?
In the interests of full disclosure, I did email an editor directly, because a colleague mentioned my topic might be a good fit for the Huffington Post, as it was newly launching in the UK. Needless to say, this made me feel very special. But then I was told he was actually just the editor who manned the “Send Us A Blog Pitch” email account (UKBlogTeam@Huffingtonpost.com in the UK, in case you’re wondering) which made me feel decidedly less special. Oh, and that editor now works for another newspaper. I can’t give you his email address because I don’t know it (and it would probably be fairly unethical to do so.) If you want to do the same, just go to www.huffingtonpost.co.uk, scroll to the bottom, click on “Contact Us” and then you’ll come to a list of options, one of which is the aforementioned “Send Us A Blog Pitch“, with the email address I’ve just given. I only blog for the UK issue at present, so I can’t speak for the US process. But you’re smart, you’ll work it out.
- Do you have to send new pitches every time you want to be published?
No. Once I received a positive response to my pitch (within a few hours I think) the editor told me he wanted to set me up with a Blogger Profile. This was done within the day and I was given the log in details. From that point on (July 2011) I have just submitted full posts to this portal and they’ve been published within 24 hours (usually). I have no idea whether this is normal (obviously I’d love to think it isn’t) but I’ve fortunately never had a rejected piece.
- Are you paid for articles you publish on the Huffington Post?
No. My blog posts for the Huffington Post are all unpaid. (You do retain the rights for your work though and can re-publish them elsewhere, as you see fit. You can also link to your own site, either in your bio, which you set up in your Blogger Profile, or in the piece itself, if it’s relevant. Or you can do both.)
- Can you attribute any paid work to the articles you publish?
Yes. Before writing this piece I decided to look back through my emails since the start of my Huffington Post blogging adventure. As a rough estimate, I can attribute approximately £10,000 to my blogging with the paper. This has been for both writing and translation work. Again (caveat alert!), I have no idea if this is normal or not. And remember, this is over the course of almost 5 years.
To give some concrete examples, the projects I’ve won off the back of blogging with Huff Post are: White Paper translation for a sustainable tourism expert, content creation for a translation agency, and a long term localisation contract for a digital marketing agency.
In case you missed it (um, how?!), I created a guest blogging guide from this post, click here to download it.
Guest blogging (Part 2)
The second side to guest blogging is the option to invite experts, colleagues or (your own personal) heroes to guest blog on your site. This is something I’ve explored in the past, and have scheduled for the future (the very near future, so keep your eyes peeled!)
We’ve talked about providing value to your clients; your website (or blog) audience is no exception. You want to be helpful. You want to give them with value. And you want them to know that you can solve their problems. By offering content that interests them and supplies solutions, you are ticking all of these boxes. Sometimes you need help to present a well-rounded solution to their problem, or to go a bit deeper and cite relevant statistics or implementation techniques. Calling on respected colleagues to contribute to your content is the smart way to do this.
Two of my most popular posts in the past were guest posts – the first one was from PR expert (and close friend) Ashley Fryer Fitzgerald on press releases, and how they can work for small businesses. I saw a 200% jump in traffic to my website that day. Another guest contributor was Sarah Campbell, from the publishers Rowman & Littlefield International – who very kindly agreed to be interviewed about academic translation. I received over 50 new subscribers within 24 hours of publishing this post.
These posts were informative, engaging and useful (and totally selfish on my part – I’m not going to lie, these were topics I wanted to gain knowledge on too). So the gains you make by inviting guest posts aren’t purely audience-based – you’re increasing your own know-how too. What’s not to like?
Upping Your Audience – Part Deux
So that brings the first installment of Upping Your Audience to a close. In the next post in the series, I’ll be exploring list building for small business owners; providing you with information and resources for growing your email subscriber list…otherwise known as your potential clients.
Are you struggling to get your content and copywriting right? Maybe your posts are being met with silence rather than a stampede of sales….I’m offering two courses to help you fix that – one for small business owners and one specifically for translators. Click on the links below to find out more about them: