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You rarely hear stories of people who get involved in social media and content marketing—and boom—their personal brand takes off. It may be the dream, but it’s seldom the reality.

I wonder… Are you taking guest blogging seriously? I’m going to shed some light on someone who made guest blogging a high priority and benefited from it nicely.

Yes, that someone is me, but I’m not aiming to glorify what I’ve done. I want to show and tell you why it’s worked, and how, so you can work toward getting similar results.

B is for blogging

The story traces to an infographic I conceived, The Complete A to Z Guide to Personal Branding. With the help of my collaborator, Seth Price, who is an amazing study in personal branding, the infographic became a smash hit.

Seth and I wrote posts—featuring the infographic—for several prominent blogs, and enjoyed seeing it go insanely viral. [I just did a search using the name of the infographic and it dominated the first 12 pages of the Google search results.] Months later, Buffer’s Kevan Lee wrote a post for Entrepreneur highlighting the ideas the graphic contains.

Thanks to media coverage such as that, it was shared hundreds of thousands of times and generated mountains of backlinks for us. And then it generated opportunities.

I should add, we nurtured that baby with a SlideShare presentation. Then came interview requests… podcasts and videos. I did a webinar on it. I was invited to present the content at a few conferences.

Same deal for Seth. In fact, the momentum of our “guide” played a part in inspiring Seth to create a spectacular personal website about personal branding. We’re working on another project related to it too, a big one, we hope. (Here’s Seth and I talking about our baby…)

After presenting the A to Z guide, I’m often asked which, in my opinion, is the most valuable of the 26 tips it offers. Without hesitation, my answer is “blogging.”

blog excerpt

As you see in this excerpt, I believe your blog is the fuel of your personal brand. But however helpful your blog may be, it’s only meaningful if it has readers. Here’s how I propose you get them.

Guest blog at websites that already have the readers you aim to reach

Doesn’t that sound simple? It really isn’t complicated, but it does require a lot of diligence and hard work.

Earlier this year, I shared with you, in great detail, a “how to” for taking advantage of the benefits of guest blogging. Check out that post if you missed it.

For the past four years, guest blogging has been the foundation of my marketing strategy.

For me. the rewards of guest blogging is getting clients. However, the dynamic is hardly a straight line from A to B, so I created this graphic in an effort to depict what the results actually look like.

Does it pay to guest blog?

Sometimes (actually, it happens often) a prospective client contacts me and explains they read a post of mine on a popular blog and it resonated with them. It’s hard not to love that. But the reality is, a myriad of interconnected incidents transpired.

The guest posts:

  • Get shared—Social media exposes the posts to a large audience.
  • Get included in roundup posts—A blogger quotes something I wrote.
  • Get referrals—A reader refers a prospect to me for one reason or another.
  • Get speaking gigs—My guest appearance plays a part in an event host asking me to speak.
  • Get interviews—Blogger and podcasters invite me to be on their program or blog.
  • Get traffic—The reader clicks on a link in my post or in my author bio.

These actions are tangled and unpredictable. The key is…

Your guest posts have to rank high on search

I might have overstated that. It’s tremendously helpful to get your posts ranked high on search because the benefits are long-term. However, high authority blogs have loyal readers. Often, they subscribe to the host’s email list or follow the host on social channels, so the reader discovers the post outside of search.

That said, as a guest blogger, I aim to guest blog on high authority websites because this MULTIPLIES your chances for appearing on page one of a search. (Andy Crestodina explains how to get your blog post on page one of Google.)

Let me show you some results.

infographic ideas
Google users search “infographic ideas” 720 times per month. The first page of results presents two blog posts I wrote for websites with high domain authority (DA): Content Marketing Institute, 80—and Copyblogger, 88.

copywriting 101

“Copywriting 101” is searched 170 times each month and thanks to HubSpot, my post is served.

content marketing skills

A guest post I wrote for Convince and Convert displays on the first page when someone searches “content marketing skills.”

In each case (and many more), I’ve done the following:

  1. Pitch my guest post to a blog with high domain authority
  2. Write a headline featuring keywords I want the post to rank for
  3. Write the type of detailed, lengthy, helpful posts that do well in search

Traffic to my website has grown 995%

website traffic chart

Website traffic may not feed the family, but it’s played a major role in the development of my personal brand and recent success. As you see in the graph I created, thanks in large part to guest blogging, traffic to my website has grown enormously.

Year over year growth has been 196%, 104% and 81%.

Traffic in 2014 grew 995% from 2011, the year I began blogging.

Did the traffic translate to sales?

You better believe it did. The 10X increase in traffic has created an even larger increase in opportunities to consult on content marketing programs and write for clients.

I get asked to guest blog a ton. Of course, I can’t accept every request. What that means is I can be much more selective about the opportunities I do accept and command higher fees for writing projects.

I have more opportunities to do the type of work I like. Essentially, my personal brand has developed in ways that translate to a stronger business.

Does guest blogging deserve all the credit?

It doesn’t. Like I said, guest blogging has been the foundation of my personal branding and marketing of my company. It’s been a catalyst. My marketing efforts span a variety of programs and activities—and include the same tactics I help clients execute.

These include:

  • Ongoing relationship building and content promotion via social media
  • Hosting or guesting on webinars
  • Speaking at conferences and conducting workshops
  • Email marketing
  • Infographics
  • Posting on SlideShare
  • Expanding my digital footprint via a variety of media
  • Creating YouTube videos and vlogging
  • Partnering with content creators to create eBooks (and more)

I don’t buy media. Nor do I do direct mail. I’ve never put out a news release. I’m not saying these tactics aren’t effective. I’m simply saying I don’t need them.

You might say I’m marketing my brand on the cheap. But this only means I’m not writing checks. I am investing serious time in marketing my consultancy. It’s paying off.

Now how about you?

I warned you this would be post about my experiences using guest blogging as a personal branding strategy. My intention was to be helpful and inspiring.

You can, should must take blogging seriously. You are likely to will struggle to find an audience in the early goings. A smart approach is to find other blogs’ audiences, get ranked on search, and get new readers tuned into your content.

It works. Can I help lead you down this path? Read my how-to post, The Benefits of Guest Blogging and contact me to help you develop an authoritative personal brand that drives business.