Profitable Karma: My Secret Guest-Blogging Strategy

My blog traffic grew 695% in three months.

That’s not a typo. From February to May, my traffic multiplied by almost eight.

Want to know how I did it?

The answer is guest-blogging, but with a twist. You see, a lot of people guest blog, but they don’t do it right. They write the post, and get a spike in traffic, but then a few days later, they’re right back to where they started.

The reason why they get no traction is that guest blogging, in and of itself, is basically a form of advertising – a way of getting exposed to new people. The thing is that the blogosphere isn’t driven by ads, it’s driven by relationships. If you want to really grow, you need more than traffic spikes; you need to build connections with other bloggers and influencers.

Guest-blogging is a way to do that – but only if you do it right…

Why guest-blog? It’s not what you think!

There are lots of benefits to be had from guest-blogging, and I don’t mean to be knocking the traditional reasons why people do it.

Just so we’re all on the same page, here are the benefits that I’m talking about:

  • Traffic and Exposure. This is the number one reason why people guest blog – when you’re starting out, you have to do double duty creating content on your own blog, as well as building an audience for that blog. Since advertising is probably out of your budget, writing posts for blogs that have existing audiences is one of the best and fastest ways to make people aware of your content.
  • Social Proof and Street Cred. Once you start landing guest posts on a few bigger blogs, people will start to notice, and take you a lot more seriously – especially if it isn’t just a one-shot deal, and you get onto several of the larger blogs in your niche. Writing about how to come up with ideas on your own tiny blog is one thing, but doing it on Copyblogger is quite another!
  • Engagement and Debate. If you do a good job, you’ll get people talking, engaging, and interacting. This gives you a chance to respond to the comments, and start building relationships with readers. The best ways to get these conversations going is to write posts that are exceptionally good, or somewhat controversial.
  • Backlinks from Authority Sites. This is at the bottom of my list, because I’m not much of an SEO guy – I think that if you’re writing good stuff that your audience wants to read, the search engines will eventually figure out how to get more people to see it. That being said, there’s definitely value to having backlinks from major sites that publish your posts (Firepole Marketing has already got a PR of 4, and we haven’t been at this for very long at all).

These are all great, but they’re all secondary to the real value that you can and should be getting out of guest-blogging.

To understand the real reason, we have to understand what really makes the blogosphere go round: the Karma Economy.

The Blogosphere’s Karma Economy

The blogosphere isn’t driven by traffic, or advertising, or backlinks, or even by sales – it is driven by relationships with your peers.

And no, your peers aren’t Brian Clark, Darren Rowse or Michael Stelzner – though of course relationships with these guys are great to have, and guest-blogging is a way to build those relationships as well. But no, your peers are other early-stage bloggers, who are as hungry for traffic and exposure as you are. Whereas you might chase the big players for the slightest tweet or mention, you can build real relationships with the people who are in your own weight class.

None of them has the power to give you the exposure of a Copyblogger or Problogger, but they all stand to become loyal readers of your work, and many of them are on the same growth trajectory that you are. Six months from now, when you’re a little bigger, they will be too.

Don’t wait until they’re big and powerful – that’s self-serving and opportunistic, and not genuine at all.

Make an effort to build relationships with people when they can’t really help you, and help them out – because that’s what genuine help is about, and that’s how real relationships are formed. Don’t think about what you can get back, just trust that eventually what goes around comes around – that’s how the Karma Economy works.

So how do you build relationships?

Start by reading their blogs, commenting on their posts, and interacting via email. Build friendships. And when you can, offer them a little gift…

What Makes a Good Gift?

The quality of a gift is in the eye of the beholder – the more coveted, valuable, and hard to get the gift is, the more it’s worth to the receiver.

And what fits that description better then links from authority blogs? 😉

That’s my secret – if I’m doing all the work to get a post on Copyblogger, Problogger, or Think Traffic, then why not share the love, and drop a few relevant links to my online friends?

A side benefit of doing this is that you’re that much more credible with the host blog, too, because you aren’t just dropping links to your own posts. And if you happen to have a link or two to your own favourite post, they’re much less likely to mind.

But that’s just a side benefit. The real value is the relationships.

Calling in favors… carefully…

Since this post is about growing your blog by building relationships, I should add a word about how and when to call in your favors, and that word is “sparingly”.

Help others. Do it often, and don’t keep score. When you need help, reach out and ask for it, but try to give a lot more than you hope to receive.

Building relationships isn’t transactional, and it isn’t 1:1 – it isn’t a matter of “I did this for you, now you do this for me”. Keep on giving, and make sure you’re giving to people of character, who share your values.

If you do, then when you need them, they’ll be there. That’s how the Karma Economy works.

What do you think? What has your experience been with the Karma Economy? Have you experimented with guest-blogging? What was that experience like?

Danny Iny is an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, and proud co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the program that teaches expert marketing for non-marketers. Get his free cheat sheet about Why Guru Strategies for Blog Growth DON’T WORK… and What Does!, or follow him on Twitter @DannyIny.