Caution: This Post Could Forever Change Your Business, Blog, and/or Brand ;)
Kristin | On 05, Jun 2013
A few months back I contacted the organizers of The Seed Experience about speaking at the popular event, now in its second season. Even though their speaker roster was full up they were kind enough to offer me a spot on a last minute business panel featuring veg bloggers and business owners, JL Fields, Gena Hamshaw, and Pas Niratbhand. Of course I was thrilled and jumped aboard the blogger biz panel train.
The broad topic of the panel was “monetizing passions,” which included defining a brand, spreading the word/outreach, and incorporating activism into your work. My lovely friend Chris grabbed a couple of video clips (below) of some of my gibberish that day. For those of you who couldn’t make it out I put together a recap on what was discussed, with a little more detail and some actionable takeaways.
The audio in the video is not very good so if you can’t make it through (which is totally understandable), just skip down to the written details below. :)
Without further ado, here are a few ready-to-start-now strategies for growing your product, service, business, and/or brand:
One of the most efficient ways to organically grow your blog, business, or brand is to partner with those who have an audience that’s either similar to or would complement the audience that you’d like to create for yourself.
Here are just a few ways that you could join forces with others who already have a well established blog or brand – or even those who are just starting out but who you believe are doing really well, or maybe could use a boost from your resources/audience.
- Create a joint product or service with someone you admire (or someone who has approached you about working together). For example, let’s say that you are an aspiring health coach and you’d like to create a 40 day online coaching course. To create added value to your customers while also placing your business in front of a new audience, perhaps you reach out to your favorite cookbook author or food blogger and ask them to create custom recipes for your course. You could collaborate on the entire course and split proceeds 50/50 or maybe they get a cut of each sale (if their role is smaller than that of the work you’ll put into the development of the course).
Important: If you take this approach be sure to create a contract outlining the timeline to launch, your respective responsibilities, and any other pertinent details. Treat this like a formal business transaction—though you can still keep it light spirited of course. It’s just important in the unlikely case that you don’t end up working well together or have a disagreement about how everything is shaking out. Also, by keeping it professional or formal you’re likely to get more out of the project and might end up building a super strong joint community and working relationship going forward. :)
- Barter equal value products or services: If you spot an opportunity that could benefit both you and another business, consider taking action! Something like this is particularly beneficial if you can’t afford to pay for certain services but see them as necessary for the growth of your business. For example, most recently I exchanged free marketing advice for a table at a nearby veg festival, and free marketing advice for photography services at the end-of-trip party. This can be a great way to not only help each other out but also put your brand in front of the eyes of a new crowd and possibly garner more clients as a result. The correlation might not seem obvious at first but let’s break it down: By providing an organization with free marketing I’m providing guidance and resources that they can use to continue growing their business, potentially for years to come. In exchange I get to table at an event, which gives my business a tangible face. If the rapport is good I usually also ask for a testimonial which adds social proof and credibility to my services. So I’m not only getting exposure but also adding to my portfolio and getting feedback I can share with future clients, while helping another organization at the same time. Win-win!
- Break into a new social media platform: Let’s say you’ve mastered Facebook and Instagram and you’re ready to break into the YouTube or Podcast platform in order to continue increasing your reach. Do some research and look for popular YouTuber’s or Podcaster’s who are already talking about a similar area that you’d like to get involved with, or that you already cover. Similar to guest blogger outreach (details on that below), make a list, prioritize, and reach out to see if you could be a guest on their YouTube channel or be interviewed or a guest host on their Podcast.
Important: Before you approach these folks though be sure that you have a solid plan and suggestion for how you see working together and the benefit that they would get from working with you. If you present yourself as well put together, well intentioned, and genuine your chances will be great. Now go get ’em!
One of the most crucial things in managing any kind of business (or building up to a promotion or event of some kind) is the ability to spread the word about what you do, why you’re doing it, and why people should care. One of the best ways to do this is through guest posting/writing on other people’s blogs.
Here’s how it works:
- Create a list of blogs that you enjoy reading, that you would like to be associated with, and that are within various industries related to your business (for example, based on my experience and interests, I would focus on veganism, travel, nomadic living, entrepreneurialism, and social media marketing). Really any area that you want to become known in, you can. You just have to choose your words in a way that reflects that you “get” that industry.
For example: Let’s say that you primarily blog about recipes but you’ve found that a segment of your readers/followers also happen to enjoy prancersize. Do some research on prominent bloggers who already write about prancersize, or something related, and create a guest post that talks about how your recipes (or the type of food you write about) can benefit, support, or compliment someone who chooses to exercise by way of prancersize. Truthfully, you can select any topic – even ones that seem random or seemingly unrelated – what counts is using keywords and presenting the informational in a way that ties your expertise into the ‘other’ topic. Does that make sense?
- Now through your list and break it up into categories – type of industry and how excited you would be to submit a guest post to them (in order of importance). Keep in mind that these could be blogs from other smaller bloggers that have an audience you’d like to reach, or you could aim for bigger magazines that have blogs associated with their mags.
- Scour these sites one at a time to see if they accept guest bloggers (usually can be found in the FAQ section), and read over their existing posts to get a sense for the type of posts they prefer. Some of them have guest blogger guidelines so be sure to pay attention to those, and follow the rules. For more well-known bloggers who might get bombarded with guest post submissions, they’ll pass you by if you don’t follow their application rules to a T.
- Once you know who you’re for-sure going to submit to—but before contacting any of them—write a post.
- After you’re satisfied with what you’ve written, and you have photos/videos you’d like to use and such, then email the first on your list with your proposed guest post idea, with your post attached. Keep the email short, focus on how your article will benefit them, and be sure to include a bio at the end **ding, ding ding** this is where it counts, a bio that includes links back to your website and social media pages.
Pro Tip: Write your guest post as a draft in your own blog first (pics and all), then copy the HTML coding and paste it directly into the body of the email to the blogger (or in an attached TextEdit doc). This way the all the blog manager has to do is copy, paste, and post! Making their lives easier is alway a plus! And you might score bonus points, maybe getting invited back for another post, or a series of posts.
Note: Write epic sh*t. The quality of your posts are more important than the quantity. Sure you can write like a mad person getting one guest post out a week, or more! But if they’re all average or boring to read you risk the chance of not being selected as a guest writer on the blog of your dreams, and not actually reaching anyone anyway. Focus on quality content that hits one or all of the following points: educational, entertaining, or information. Encourage comments by asking a question at the end (the blog owner will like this because it’ll increase their Google ranking), and keep the energy high and to the point. You got this!
Why guest posting is so effective:
- It positions you as an expert in your field. Even if you don’t think you’re an “expert” per say, you most definitely know more than someone else does about something. That’s just how it goes. Be confident and show us you know your stuff!
It creates “social proof” – when people find you on a blog that they’ve been following, they automatically assume that you’re being endorsed by the owner of that blog. If they respect and trust the owner of that blog then they respect and trust you, almost right away.
It creates backlinks to your website—in your bio link to your website, to get new visitors and increase your ranking on Google.
It increases your brand awareness—the more people see your name and the name of your company all over the place, the more they’ll know who you are.
Most importantly, it puts you in front of and on the radar of new people for an indefinite period of time. Blog posts remain in the web-o-sphere forever. Always searchable. So make your guest posts count and select bloggers who are just as passionate as you are about building their audiences.
Important: Never use the same post twice. Bloggers and site owners will catch on quickly and might remove your post. Keep your work original and fresh. It’s the only way to be! :)
I like to schedule a month called “guest blogging mania” where I go through the steps of searching, writing, and proposing with the goal of knocking a few guest posts out in one go. This is over the course of four weeks though (one week of searching and organizing, two weeks of writing, and one week of proposing to the bloggers). You could also spread this over longer periods of time though, say aiming to submit one guest post per month or every other month. Whatever works for you. Just get going!!
For more info on how to get started, headlines, blogger outreach, etc here are some excellent resources:
Successful Guest Posting Campaign
Five Figure Guest Posting
The 3 Keys to Effective Guest Posting
RELEVANT MEDIA OUTREACH
Have you ever wondered how someone landed an interview on a certain radio show, newspaper, or blog? You don’t always need a skilled PR team behind you. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask. Now, I’m not promising Oprah or Ellen (though you can bet I’m always thinking about how to make that happen!) but at the very least continuing to take a “be everywhere” approach, and getting your name and/or biz in front of as many eyes as possible. Here’s what I suggest:
Either pull from the guest blogger exercise above or start from the beginning and make a list of the people you admire or those who are working within a similar field as you. Next, Google “their name + interview.” Select the first 5-10 interviews that show up. Find out who interviewed them, when, and what the topic was. Then find the contact information for the person who interviewed them (you might have to do some digging or reach out via Twitter, or another online platform). Next, put together a brief email proposal noting that you’ve read their interview with “so-and-so” and you have a similar message, story, or maybe a twist on that story, or you completely disagree and want to share your side. Whatever you want, just remember to keep it concise and specific. Maintain a light yet professional voice and attach any relevant materials. Be sure to include a ‘call to action’ at the end, stating that you’ll follow up in two weeks if you don’t hear from them sooner. Or ask a question to give them an additional reason to respond. Then you can wait and/or follow up.
Schedule time to do this outreach at least once every 2-3 months and watch your follower/subscriber numbers sooaaaaar.
AUTHENTICITY & LETTING IT ALL HANG OUT
Finally, don’t be afraid to BE.YOUR.SELF. One thing that was common among the panelists at The Seed was how surprised we were to learn that incorporating seemingly unrelated interests into our work created more growth and enthusiasm from our followers. Essentially, posting or mentioning a few personal things here and there about non-directly-related biz items. One person who does this extraordinarily well is my all time favorite marketing guru, Marie Forleo.
Marie introduced me to the concept of a “multi-passionate” entrepreneur. Someone who yes wants to grow a singular business but also has a variety of business or product ideas, or just many different interests. Despite the fact that from the outside Marie appears to be your average lifestyle and business coach, as you’ll learn through following her incredible story, she’s done a lot more! She’s been a Crunch fitness instructor, leading a series of workout DVDs, was an MTV choreographer, and has even written a book about dating. She now heads a multimillion dollar coaching business and owns homes on both coasts. Um. Hawt! A woman who loves to talk business and then dance about it?! You know that’s my jam! :) My point here isn’t to make you feel bad or rub Marie’s success in your face, it’s to show you what’s possible and that you can incorporate all of your interests under one roof. Just be mindful of how you display and share the information. Bombarding your audience with a myriad of unrelated services won’t get you far—stay focused on one at a time, or select one to be the frontrunner while gently incorporating other interests/aspects of your personality.
The goal here is to show that you’re a real person. You’re human, you get pulled in many different directions, just like everyone else. So aim true, be who you are, and enjoy connecting with your followers on a more personal level. Now go on with your awesome self and allow it to drive more business your way!
I want to hear from you! What has worked well for you in growing your brand, business, or blog? Any insider tips or tricks to share? Please leave ’em in the comments below! :)
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