10 Steps to Creating a Network of Guest Bloggers

Anyone running a B2B blog is always on the lookout for guest bloggers from outside their own organization. They provide much-needed interesting content, they offer support by sharing links with their networks and they widen the pool of expertise on offer to your readers. But how do you get those quality guest bloggers to contribute to your blog? Here are the ten steps to building a network of guest bloggers that I have followed for the B2B PR Blog and the B2B Social Media Guide.

1. Create a quality blog

Seems a bit obvious but, judging by the number of people who have invited me to guest post on their poorly managed blogs, it needs to be said. Ask any blogger – they will be more inclined to write for you if they feel it is worth their while – that means they need to feel they are contributing to something that, at a minimum, reflects the professional standards they adhere (or aspire) to. That means
great content and appealing design.

2. Optimize your blog for search engines

No matter how great your content or how beautiful your design, if Google (and other search engines) can’t read it in their preferred language, then you’re not going to rise up the search rankings and attract organic search traffic. The number of people willing to contribute to your blog is directly related to the number of readers it has, so if you’re not attracting search traffic you’re not going to be attracting the guest bloggers.

3. Drive traffic to your blog

Do whatever it takes to get relevant people to read your blog. I’ve used social bookmarking, shared every post on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, guest blogged myself, and offered a weekly prize for the best comment to encourage engagement. The benefit for both my blogs has been a steadily rising readership.

4. Have a contributors page

Any would-be guest blogger should be able to easily establish whether you take contributed content, and if so, what kind of content you take and what form you want it in. Make this prominent so that there is never any confusion.

5. Follow other bloggers

Know a great blogger who you think would be a valuable addition to your network of contributors? Develop an understanding of who they are, their preferred subjects and the types of guest posts they offer by engaging with them on social networks. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to make a targeted pitch.

6. Give something back

Most guest bloggers are happy to be paid in backlinks (the currency of SEO), tweets, Facebook likes or comments. Whatever it is, make sure your offering to the blogosphere is appealing.

7. Find experts in your field

Approach experts or up and coming experts directly on LinkedIn. Look for people in positions of power or influence and invite them (use inmails) to share some of their knowledge with you. If they say no, then why not play the long game and go for their second in commands? They’ll ultimately probably be promoted into those positions of influence, and they might be more willing to share their stories on the way up.

8. Ask PR people

It’s their job to find good guest posting opportunities for their clients. The best way to get them? I send out enquiries asking for experts in certain fields on Gorkana and Response Source – it’s incredibly effective, but only if your blog meets certain minimum quality standards.

9. Ask for specific topics

When you make your approach, be specific – asking someone if they would be interested in contributing a guest blog on something to do with their industry is vague enough for them to say yes without actually having to commit. It also puts them in the difficult position of having to figure out what to write, which, for some people is more of a mission than writing the darn post. Asking them for their top ten tips on encouraging resellers to promote their product over a competitors’ (for example) and they will be less inclined to agree non-commitally, and more inclined to actually write it.

10. Join a blog network

There are a number of blogger networks out there that put guest bloggers in touch with blog editors. Take myblogguest.com for an example. You register your details, and outline the types of contribution you are after, and they come to you!

What are some steps you have tried to encourage guest bloggers to contribute?

5 Tips for Business Blogging While Traveling

This week is BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas and a fair number of bloggers will be in attendance, myself included. Whether you are attending a conference, visiting clients or taking vacation, if you have a well-read B2B blog, you need to develop a plan for the time away. This is much easier to handle if it is just a couple days, but the following tips can be easily scaled if you are going to be away longer. It is possible to announce a vacation, and take some time off from the blog, but if you are writing a business blog for your B2B company, this is less of an option. Your readers and Google are expecting you to publish on your normal schedule, so you should try to keep to it.

1. Write Ahead
This one is the easiest to plan, the most obvious to do and the hardest to accomplish. If you plan to be away for the time that you would publish one or two posts, spend some time one or two weeks before and write an extra post. If your posts are based on current trends and need to be more timely, this would be a good chance to provide an industry overview and put the issues in context. Unless you will be completely off-line, if you write and schedule posts before you go, make sure you can check for and respond to comments.

2. Set Aside Work Time
If you normally blog at a certain time in a certain place (other than sitting at your desk), try to steal that same time away from your trip. If you always write in the morning, get up a half hour early and write at that same time. Since travel is already so disruptive, keeping some of the structure of your normal day helps on its own. If you can get some blog posts out it, all the better.

3. Guest Posts
If you can plan far in advance, solicit guest posts from colleagues or others in your industry. This is easier if it someone who already blogs, as they will better understand the time involved to write a post for you, but anyone with thoughts and opinions on your blog subject matter can create at least one post. While it is always good to have a few guest posts (or posters) lined up for a rainy day, the perfect time to publish these posts is when you are away.

4. Pull Out an Old Draft
A limited amount of time, whether preparing extra posts before you go, or trying find a bit of time while on the road, is the ideal opportunity to look back at your draft file for ideas and half-written posts. You might find some things that didn’t work at the time, but with a fresh eye and a compelling need for content quickly, can easily be turned into a worthwhile post. If you don’t have any posts lying around, either from ideas that you didn’t write or extra things that just didn’t get posted, you need to add some idea time to your process. While many business blogs are driven by an editorial calendar, you will be a more successful blogger if you have more ideas than you can use and can be more selective about which posts get written.

5. Video Posts
Whether you have a pocket video camera, like a Flip Cam or a Kodak ZI-8, or the latest smartphone, you are armed with great video-on-the go device. Capture your thoughts about an industry issue in a quick 2-3 minute video. If you are at a conference, conduct a few short video interviews with industry leaders. It is easier if you plan these ahead of time if there are certain people you want to talk to, but impromptu ones are fine too. Client testimonials work, but the quality of these needs to be a little better, even for a blog. Consider bringing a tabletop tripod, which greatly improves the shot. Make sure you test drive shooting video, uploading it and posting it to the blog. The point of this is to be able to do this from the road, and not wait until you return.

Please share other suggestions for how you have continued to post to your B2B blog while traveling.