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Some Dos and Don’ts of Guest Posting

Content Marketing is a form of advertising that is, in my opinion, much more sophisticated than most. Unlike most ads or commercials, Content Marketing is not about explicitly showing people that their lives will be oh-so-much better if they avail themselves of your product or services.

I myself am personally a person who intensely dislikes most forms of advertising, because it doesn’t really matter where you are or what you’re doing, commercials are usually a nuisance that you would get rid of if you could—colorful, flashy and always way too loud, they’re singlehandedly responsible for AdBlock becoming the most popular Google Chrome extension. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the government went as far as banning billboards and all other forms of outdoor advertising entirely, as they felt that the landscape was almost too cluttered for the actual city to be visible. And 8 years later, a vast majority of Sao Paulo’s residents are still satisfied with the decision, going as far as to claim that the city has regained a large part of its atmosphere and identity thanks to it.

So without further ado, I’d like to present to you some of the most important dos and don’ts of Content Marketing via Guest Blogging I’ve learned—some of them the hard way.

DON’T: Don’t waste people’s time. This includes yours

You might think you’re saving time by sending 600 identical and entirely unsolicited outreach emails to random people who more or less fit the category you’re  looking to, say, guest blog for, but you really aren’t. Think of the way you feel when you open your mailbox just to find it full of junk mail trying to sell you stuff you neither want nor need. What do you do with said mail? Oh right, you chuck it right into the garbage bin where it belongs, which is pretty much exactly what will happen to your emails. Those poor, poor trees, they all died for naught. And you really can’t blame anyone for reacting that way. At least not without coming off as a total hypocrite.

DO: Research on the site you’ll be pitching to

In Content Marketing, less is more, so if you send 10 emails instead of 600, you shouldn’t see that as a bad thing. But make those 10 count. Look through the site thoroughly. What is it really about?  Who exactly does it have for an audience? Will a link from there benefit someone other than yourself? Make the pitch personal, let the person know you’re actually genuinely interested in them, not only getting a link. I mean, let’s be honest: everyone knows there really is no such thing as a free lunch. But let’s at least attempt to be subtle about this, shall we?

DON’T: Don’t ignore the people commenting on your blog posts

User activity on your posts, especially during the early stages of its your activity, is something to be celebrated and encouraged—people were interested enough to take the time to say something, hurray! If you don’t have enough staff to be able to stay on top of what’s going on under your posts, it might be better to just have less than just tick people off when they ask questions and get no answers at all.

DO: Value input

You will definitely be criticized every now and then, but nobody likes a sore loser. The criticism you get might just help you see problems or complications you weren’t aware of before, or make you more sensitive to the issues of others. Of course, once in a blue, blue moon, you might also get attacked by one of those eternally unsatisfied people whose mission in life it is to make other people’s lives miserable by writing the most absurdly negative things possible about you, many of which are (hopefully) not true. But even when you’re at your wits’ end and just feel the urge to let loose and give this vile so-and-so a piece of your mind, don’t. Stay classy. Listen, apologize, offer to make amends. Chances are they’ll run out of steam a few comments in, and you’ll have really impressed some other commentors with your class and calm, to boot. If you have any doubts about this, or think this point is a no-brainer, check out what happened to these two companies, a clothing store and a hotel, when they decided to engage in embarrassing spats with some less-than-satisfied customers. Hint: it did not work out well.

DON’T: Don’t expect immediate results

Content Marketing is a s much about the relationships formed during the distribution of the content as it is about the content itself. If you are lucky enough to find bloggers who are willing to publish your content with links to wherever you want them free of charge, then don’t ever risk those relationships by taking them for granted, and contacting them only when you need something. You’ll probably have to write some  extra emails and go that extra mile to make sure they stay happy and don’t feel used. Get over it.

DO: Build and nurture relationships

This may well be the most time-consuming aspect of Content Marketing, but it is also key. If you have a certain amount of bloggers that know you, enjoy your work, and trust you to deliver every time you cooperate, that is worth ever so much more than the thousands of mismatched spammy emails you could send to people who just don’t want anything to do with you or your cause.

DON’T:  Don’t expect huge, renowned sites to be automatically thrilled by your proposal

That is not to say that you don’t have anything to offer that might be of interest to Forbes or Vanity Fair—who knows, maybe your piece will be accepted and then proceed to “go viral” and become the next Internet sensation like that adorable little spider doggie. Still, though: don’t be surprised if it doesn’t, and don’t limit your outreach to giant, world-famous sites that don’t know you exist. Don’t worry—if you play your cards right, there might well be a time when those sites link to your content because they want to, not because you groveled.

DO: Contact sites/blogs that are more or less on your own level

Everyone has to start somewhere. Plus, the owners of these kinds of sites are much more likely to a) feel flattered that you do like their site and would like to contribute to it; and b) be happy to take advantage of the opportunity to get free publicity. Notice that these are not things that would matter or work particularly in your favor if and when you decide to pitch to Vanity Fair. Of course you want to want to write for them, they’re Vanity Fair goddammit.

At the end of the day, and at the risk of sounding like every other marketer since the beginning of time, I’m going to go ahead and say: my method of choice is different. No, but really: Content Marketing via guest posting is different. When done properly, and I cannot emphasize the word properly enough, Content Marketing via guest posting can be an incredibly valuable part of user experience on a given page. Well-located links do not force anything unwelcome or unnecessary on the reader, but offer instead the very information he or she is likely looking for or would find interesting as an extension of the article they are already reading. And taking the time to interact with your readers/commenters shows that the you takes genuine interest in the opinions and concerns of others. And I think we can all agree that there’s nothing wrong with that

Have you guys got any other tips you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments! 

 

Published
  • 10 September 2014
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