How to leverage your blog for publicity
Leverage your blog
A piece entitled, “Stop Wasting Your Time Blogging for Huffington Post” popped up on my Facebook timeline today, and I couldn’t resist clicking on the link. As someone who has guest blogged for outlets like Forbes, Woman’s Day, Men’s Health and more – and been able to successfully leverage them into much greater opportunities – I was curious why the author had it out for Huffington Post.
The author contends that you’re wasting your time blogging for Huffington Post because they accept so many guest bloggers. She goes on to discuss the fact that they don’t pay their contributors. And then she got to the real kicker for me…
Working for exposure doesn’t actually get you the exposure you want.
I couldn’t disagree more, and I speak from experience.
When I started writing for Forbes as a contributor in 2009, they didn’t pay contributors (although they do today). In less than two years, I landed two book deals and a full-time job offer from ESPN for a job I didn’t even dream big enough at the time to call accurately call it my “dream job.”
And that’s just the big stuff. I landed dozens of paid writing opportunities for other outlets. I started booking paid speaking engagements. I was on radio and television on a weekly basis.
Forbes was absolutely a catalyst for me changing my entire career – two years after I started writing for Forbes, I left my practice as a corporate attorney to become a professional writer. Today, I’m nationally recognized as an expert in my field. And that experience allowed me to start coaching on establishing expertise and increasing visibility.
So yeah, I think there’s some value in guest blogging, especially for big-name sites like Huffington Post.
That being said…the author of the original article I referenced is probably right. Writing for the Huffington Post probably is a giant waste of time for many people who contribute there.
But, it’s not Huffington Post’s fault. It’s the writer’s. Which is why I want to give you my strategy for how to take that unpaid opportunity and turn it into something HUGE.
Know your niche
The most important thing you can do before you start writing for a site like Huffington Post is to know your niche.
When I started out at Forbes, I wrote broadly about sports business. However, when I narrowed my focus to the business of college sports, I received a book offer and my ESPN offer within six months.
You can’t go on Huffington Post and jump all over the place with your posts and expect to get somewhere. Take the time to decide who you want to reach with your posts (and “everyone” is not an acceptable answer). Then figure out what questions those people are asking and answer it.
Let’s use this post as an example. In order to grow my business, I want to reach people who want to become more visible and establish themselves as experts. I often find that my ideal client is interested in guest blogging but has no idea how to pitch themselves or how to turn one blog opportunity into tons of future opportunities.
So, here I am – writing a post about how to leverage your guest blogging opportunity. I have a specific ideal client I want to reach, and I’m answering a question I know they have.
Once you know your niche, “stay in your lane,” as my editor at Forbes always tells us.
I’m not going to post blogs here about how I trained my dog to ring a bell to go outside or the recipe for my favorite Crock Pot meal. Those are extreme examples of how people jump around with their blog topics, but I’ve seen it happen!
A less extreme example would be me blogging on which bookkeeping software I use for my business. It’s obviously related to my business, but it has nothing to do with why a client would hire me, so I don’t need to be writing it.
Before you pitch a topic or write the post, ask yourself two questions:
Am I answering a question my ideal client has?
Is this topic directly related to an issue my ideal client would hire me to solve?
It’s all about consistency
Ok, you’ve got your niche. Beyond that, the name of the game is consistency. Lack of consistency is the number one reason people’s blogging gets them nowhere. From a lack of consistency when it comes to your topic to being inconsistent in how often they write, there’s no more important ingredient to success in t his arena.
I’ve already hammered knowing your niche and sticking to it, so I’ll address consistency in terms of how often you blog. If you’re writing on your own blog, I recommend at least once a week. The more content you have, the better your odds of someone discovering you and asking to write for them (it happens to my clients all the time!). Not to mention the progress it makes toward establishing you as an expert.
You also need to blog with some consistency as a guest blogger. If an outlet like Huffington Post offers you the opportunity to contribute on a regular basis – do it.
Didn’t get offered an ongoing contributor role? Never go into guest blogging opportunities treating them like as a one-off. Even if you’re only offered a one-time gig, knock it out of the park and then ask if you can do more.
One of my tricks: if you start guest blogging so often that you can’t keep up your own blog, don’t feel bad about it. Instead, pull in the RSS feeds from your author pages on the other sites to fill the blog on your site.
Learn to leverage your blog
If you’re not getting the exposure you want, the issue isn’t with Huffington Post – which routinely goes over 100 million visitors per month. It’s because you have no strategy for how to leverage your blog post(s).
This isn’t Field of Dreams. If you just blog, the opportunities won’t necessarily just come.
You have to promote your posts on social media. And I’m not talking about one post on Facebook to your friends and family. I’m talking multiple posts on multiple platforms using hashtags and even directing it at influencers who might share your content.
It doesn’t matter what you do if no one knows you’re doing it!
Beyond social media, you have to use them as “clips” to pitch yourself for other guest blogs or even magazine articles. Additionally, you can even use those “clips” to land a spot on a podcast, radio or television show . Or maybe even a book.
When I say that Forbes was a huge catalyst in my career shift and that it led to opportunities for books, speaking engagements and media appearances, I don’t mean those things always just landed in my inbox (although eventually that really did start happening). Being able to say I wrote regularly for Forbes got people to read my emails and answer my phone calls. It allowed me to make my own luck.
If you need some tips on getting started, check out my free guide on How To Position Yourself For Free Publicity. You’ll get my expert advice on how to position yourself for loads of FREE publicity, including everything from guest blogs and podcast interviews to radio, TV, and speaking gigs. Download it here to get started!