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  • Guest Posts as a Platform Tool

    Posted on May 28th, 2012 jean 7 comments

    Lately I’ve been working on using guest posts on other blogs to increase my platform and help get my name out there. (Or as my daughter calls it, “Getting ‘famous.'” And, yes, she uses finger quotes around famous.)

    As a byproduct, I always hope to find new followers and blog readers as well, because my ultimate goal is to show publishers that I am here for the long haul and won’t have qualms about getting out there and showing off my book should the opportunity arise.

    While some people have claimed to get an increase of thousands of percentage points for their guest posts, I’d have to say they’re working some great magic, because for me, it just hasn’t happened. However, I have learned a few things in terms of using guest posts to help build your platform, get your name out there, as well as how to convert some of those readers into followers. It’s a lot of work and takes a bit of time, but I think it is worth it.

    So far, with the exception of being a guest on a friend’s writing blog, I’ve done two larger guest posts. Here’s what I have found from those larger posts:

    (On smaller guest posts, not much seems to happen in terms of new followers on Twitter or blog readers.)

    9 tips for guest posts

    Tips on How to Turn Guest Posts into Followers and Traffic:

    Name Recognition: You have to keep hitting the same audience over and over again to get that name recognition. Guest posts aren’t a one night stand that suddenly leaves you with children. Nope. You have to keep trying! So, guest post on the same blog twice or spread yourself around to their competitors–follow those readers if they are the ones you want.

    Go Big: Guest post on bigger and bigger blogs. Cut your teeth on smaller ones that are hungry for content and build your way up. The bigger the blogs the bigger the audience and the greater the chance that you will reach someone who feels compelled to follow you.

    Bio: Make sure you get a bio at the bottom of your post. Best way to ensure they include your brand’s interest and URL (you want to convert those readers into followers of YOU!)?–send it along with your guest post and tell them that this is the bio for the bottom of your post. Bonus marks if you add a picture.

    Reply: Reply to comments left on your guest post. Make a point of checking in lots on the first day as this is when you will get your most comments and also when people check back to see if there is a reply (assuming they haven’t signed up to get all future comments emailed to them). This will help build relationships and show that you are a PERSON.

    Thank yous: Thank people who tweet or like your content. Yesterday my Modern Life Blogs post went live. It’s received 115 tweets thus far, and since it’s airing, I have gained about 9 Twitter followers. Roughly 4 or so of those folks tweeted the post’s link.

    But it wasn’t that simple. Until I started thanking people for tweeting my post, guess how many new followers I had? Zero. That’s right, nada. Pretty much nothing was happening in terms of converting those tweeters into followers. However, my thoughts are this: If they liked the post enough to tweet it to their followers, they might be interested enough to want to follow you on Twitter. However, since you are on Modern Life Blogs (or wherever you are a guest) they are thinking of that brand and following them because that is where they found this interesting content. They are not thinking, oh, I should seek out this person and follow them directly. (Well, maybe one or two are.) Turn that interest towards you.

    Thus, I popped the URL for the post into Twitter’s search function–even shortened URLs popped up–and sent thank-yous to those who tweeted. I also mentioned to one lovely and passionate reader that I had replied to her thought-provoking replies. She was delighted (it seems). Did she convert to a follower? Yes. (And I love her–she made my day.)

    Titles: Give your post an interesting and informative title with a bit of an intriguing hook, if you can. For example, I called mine “5 Reasons To Parent Like Our Parents.” It’s short (easy to tweet and is memorable) and also informative. Also makes you go, why the heck should we parent like our parents? I don’t want to be them! If you have a good title (as well as copy) people are more likely to pause over it, read it, and share it.

    Brand yourself!: For me, I am working to build a brand around free play ideas for kids. I look for places where I can deliver my content in a fresh way and to a fresh audience. My articles are always about play. For The Indie Chicks Online Mag I tweaked it to fit with their core belief which is to the be the best you. For Modern Life Blogs, I worked it to fit their tone.

    What sells?: What posts on the guest post blog of choice has had a lot of tweets, likes, shares, comments, etc? See what those posts have in common and see if you can emulate it. Modern Life Blogs had a lot of popular, short, 5 list-type posts. I worked hard to give deep, yet, light and entertaining content in less than 1000 words and used the 5 list format. (Doing this sort of thing also helps the likelihood of being accepted.) Because if you are going to go to all the effort of guest posting, you want to be successful, right?

    Be professional: Develop a good name for yourself. Get your post in on time. Make it fresh, original, and compelling content that fits their tone and topics and fills a need. Follow their guidelines. Make it easy for them. Direct traffic to their blog if you can. And last, but never least, thank the blog owner for the opportunity. That way, you may get referrals, asked back, as well as a good name in the guest blogging world.

    Now I’m off to thank Amit over at Modern Life Blogs for the awesome opportunity to be on his blog. But before I go–how about you? Have you guest posted on a blog? Do you have tips on how to build your name and followers through guest posts? Share them in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you.

  • Quick and Dirty Social Media For Writers: SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

    Posted on February 13th, 2012 jean 1 comment

    Oh no! Not another acronym. SEO. What the heck is that? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In other words, get those search engines to recognize your site so you get more traffic.

    Eek! I’m so behind the times! I know nothing about this! Fear not. It’s Social Media Monday and I have some quick and dirty tips for you. (And while SEO isn’t exactly social media your blog where you are going to utilize SEO is.)

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    What is SEO?

    SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In other words, if you are a writer and blogging your heart out and nobody is coming to your blog, there are a few things you can do so your blog or website is seen by search engines.

    How Does SEO Work?

    From Wikipedia:

    SEO considers how search engines work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience.

    Basically, you do a few things (for free–we are going to keep this easy, quick, and free. You can get much more complex about this, but I’m not into exploding the heads of my readers. Nor my own head for that matter) on your blog and increase the visibility of that site by search engines. This will increase your ranking in searches–hopefully done by your potential audience.

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    What Can I Do to Increase My Site’s Search Engine Optimization?

    Good news. Lots. Here are a few things to get you started:

    • If you use WordPress, search for plugins you can install. Search for “SEO.” I’ve started using the Meta SEO Pack (no news on how this is working for me as of yet). If you are using Blogger, some of this has already been done for you. This doesn’t mean you can slack off! Keep reading.
    • Watch for duplicate content. In other words, do you have the same stuff all over your site? Such as your latest blog post showing up on your homepage too? Not good for SEO.
    • Fresh content. The more fresh stuff you post, the more search engines will see you. That’s one of the reasons a blog is a lovely thing to have on a website.
    • Original content. If you are posting the same stuff on your blog as you are on say, Goodreads or Amazon (like a lovely book review), guess which review is going to get top billing on a search engine? Your blog or the mega site Goodreads or Amazon?
    • Links in. You want people linking to you. Whenever someone links to you, the search engines figure you must have something good.
    • Too many outgoing links are bad. If you have a ton of links out on your page, this sends search engines into some kind of tizzy. There is a fancy thing you can do by making your links out a ‘no follow’ which basically means you are telling search engines not to follow those links out of your page. You want that search engine to “stay and look,” right? Right. (An “archive widget” will also be a lot of links out. So, also a no-no.)
    • Tags. You have the option to add ‘tags’ to your blog. Do so. Think about your content and what exactly in your post might be something searchable. And no, tagging it ‘”hot porn” isn’t a good idea, unless you like spam. For this post, some good tags might be: SEO, Search Engine Optimization, Increase your blog traffic, SEO tips, and the like.
    • And lastly, (this one might break your little writer heart) title your blog posts in a way that they are something people might type into a search engine. In other words, “Holy Dickens, Batman” for a post on the wordiness of the Classics isn’t going to get you as many hits as something titled “Word Counts of Classic Novels.” Not as original, but it is something some type into Google. (Yes, I tried it.)

    There are a few quick and dirty tips you can use to increase the traffic on your blog by keeping search engines in mind–and without doing a lot of extra work.

    Have you tried any of these tips? Which ones would you like to try? Go for it now! See what happens and tell me how you do.