The heartland. Meat and potatoes. Fly-over country. Where the butter flows like water and the cows practically tip themselves.
Not a lot of folks automatically think of the Midwest as the nation’s tech center. But when it comes to how to approach Internet marketing, we could take a page from the traditional ethos of America’s breadbasket.
Recently, guest blogging has become the new, shiny play-thing in Internet marketing, which immediately gives me pause. Because let’s admit it – SEO’s have a history of being a little excitable. We get a fun toy and a bunch of us jump on it, eventually dragging it through the mud of something like keyword stuffing or spammy directories. Then it breaks, and it just isn’t the same anymore.
Time to get our knuckles rapped.
If you want to get the most out of guest blogging, you have to put aside slick city tricks and rely on some of those Midwestern values you always heard from Uncle Joe. Unlike a few things in Internet marketing, there are no short cuts to quality content marketing and guest blogging. Like shucking corn, it’s just plain, hard work…and we all know those blog posts aren’t going to shuck themselves.
1) Talk Straight
When pitching a guest post to a prospective publisher, always, always, always be honest and straight-forward. If you aren’t “an avid reader of their blog,” then don’t say that you are. Disingenuous marketers will always be sniffed out like foxes in a hen house.
Further, if you can address the person by name and write a natural, customized email, then do it. As tough as it sounds, trash your boiler plates and always compose from scratch. This will force you to speak naturally, honestly, and directly to that specific person each time.
Even the most well-intentioned guest blogger can come across as a shyster if they mask their true voice with platitudes. Wipe that proverbial grease from your smile, and make sincere eye-contact across those interlocking Internet tubes.
2) Pitch In Like Everybody Else
So much of guest blogging is about relationships. At the other end of your efforts to post an article is a real person with their own real interests at stake. Foster this relationship and understand that you are working together towards a greater, shared benefit.
The moment you forget about this communal interest and start working for your own ends is the moment your success will plummet. It may be a jungle out there on Wall Street, but in the sun-dappled farmland of guest blogging, you rise and fall with the fortunes of your neighbors.
3) Quit Your Yammering
There is a thin line, if at all, between motormouths and dim-witted ninnies. Don’t take the risk. If you have nothing important to say, don’t say anything at all, except of course, “please,” “thank you,” or “pass the gravy.”
If you’re simply writing to refresh content or spread your brand far and wide, then your writing will suffer and your name will be attached to nothing but fluff and transparent filler. This will inevitably dilute your reputation and lower relevant traffic to your site.
Successful guest bloggers spend the time to write original, compelling, helpful articles and they are always willing to send their best work off-site to another blog.
4) Don’t Get Too Big for Your Britches
As Missourian Calvin Trillin once said, “the worst thing that could happen to a Midwesterner is to have someone tell your mother at the supermarket that you’ve gotten too big for your britches.”
With that in mind, small blogs are just as important as big, famous websites. Interviews with local industry leaders are just as valuable as “the big get.” Don’t be so proud that you can’t work graciously with your available resources. And from the other end of the table, remember that no one is obligated to publish your work, either.
Guest blogging is a tough nut to crack, and it’s even tougher if its toughness isn’t fully appreciated. What I’m saying is, it’s tough.
But if the majority of businesses and bloggers can keep these values in mind, then everyone will benefit from a well-governed, valuable community of writers that are spared from the ills of spam, fluff, and contention. A lofty idea perhaps, but one that’s worth a shot or else Google is going to take away all the benefits of this new toy.
In which case…
5) Take your lumps and don’t whine about it.
P.S. I’m awarding myself bonus points for not referencing “Field of Dreams” once in this entire article.