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Using Guest Blogging To Build Your Network

by Drew Hendricks

Networking is an important part of running a business. Yet many professionals have stocked their business blogs with valuable content and fine-tuned their social networks until they’re at the top of search rankings. Yet while all of that content may put you at the top of search rankings, it may not go far in establishing your presence in your industry.

Networking OpportunitiesAttending professional networking events is crucial, as are appearances at industry conferences and seminars. But a savvy professional knows that it’s also important to build a profile online, as well. In addition to being active on LinkedIn LNKD +0%, it’s also important that your great content be read by others in your industry.

Networking through social media in the hopes that colleagues will read your promoted blog posts is one way to do it, but that can be self-serving and ineffective. A less self-serving approach often yields better results.

SEO BenefitsIn the post-Panda era, content marketers have realized the exposure available through guest blogging. By posting content on a variety of sites, professionals can increase their exposure, appearing prominently in search engines on a variety of sources. Additionally, these pages will usually link to the author’s business website, creating a backlink that further enhances that business’s search engine optimization efforts.

In today’s search engine environment, there are three major factors experts say improve rankings:

High-quality content

Authority backlinks

A prominent social media presence

Guest blogging satisfies the first two of those three items and, when combined with social media promotion, can feed into the third item, as well.

Increased ExposureSEO only increases your search engine rankings, though. While this could help other professionals within your industry find your content, it is only effective if others in your industry happen to be looking for that content. One of the best ways to become a respected member of your community is to have your work seen on a variety of industry-related sites. Even if you start by offering to post content on a few fellow business owners’ blogs, your words will be seen by those companies’ customers and followers.

As you gain more confidence in your blogging abilities, you may consider branching out to more high-profile online publications. Sites like The Huffington Post welcome high-quality blog posts from knowledgeable professionals. While you won’t be paid for your contributions, just as you won’t for other guest-blogging work, you’ll gain access to the site’s large readership, especially if your post has an attention-getting headline.

Finding Guest Blogging OpportunitiesAs mentioned above, one of the best places to start is by contacting others you know in the industry. Most of your colleagues will likely find relief in being provided free, high-quality material without having to do the work themselves. You may also propose the idea of a blog swap, where you feature the other person’s content on your blog in exchange for your content being posted on theirs.

But eventually, you’ll be ready to expand your marketing efforts to reach a wider range of readers. Luckily, there are several sites that can help with your blogger outreach efforts.

MyBlogGuest—MyBlogGuest is a great place to find both guest blogging opportunities and guest blogger. The site has a basic Articles Gallery, where you can post blogs for other professionals to pick up, and an Elite Gallery, which promises “top shelf” content. A free version of the site limits the number of articles you can post each month, but a pro version allows you to have more articles live in the gallery at all times.

Blogdash—This site makes the bold statement that, “The press release is dead.” While this may  not be entirely true, BlogDash helps connect businesses with blogging opportunities, even acting as a brand ambassador if a company chooses to use those services. Businesses can search the site’s different categories to find content that works with its blog themes.

Don’t be afraid to actively pursue guest blogging opportunities. If there is a blog you admire, contact the editor or site owner to ask if the site could benefit from a free guest post from you. If you’ve written on a topic that fits the blog’s theme, attach samples to give the site owner an idea of the type of content they can expect to see.

Legal IssuesOne risk professionals take in offering content is that the site owner won’t honor his or her promise to give you credit. They may steal credit for the post completely or, more likely, may give you a byline but choose not to include a link to your site.

A site like MyBlogGuest helps protect against this behavior by acting as an intermediary between writer and content requester. But when acting on your own, you can still protect yourself by outlining in writing what will be provided in exchange for your free content.Even that may not be enough, however. Even though you may feel that you’re requesting a favor by being provided a new audience, don’t forget you’re also putting work in in exchange for that exposure. The site owner is benefiting from your hard work just as much as you’re benefiting from the visibility.

Put it in WritingThat said, there is nothing wrong with drawing up a simple Contributor Contract that outlines what you will provide and what the other person will provide. Be sure you include terms that protect both yourself and the blog host, stating that you accept all responsibility for any legal claims that may arise as a result of your content, for example. Several writer agreements and blogger agreements are online that can be used as a template.

Your agreement doesn’t have to be a five-page binding contract. A simple one-page writer agreement that stipulates a link will be included to your website should suffice. Chances are, you won’t find it worth it to take the site to court if for some reason you don’t receive the requested link, but often the presence of an agreement is enough to keep everyone on track.

Guest blogging is a great way to meet others and increase your credibility within your industry. Be sure each of your blogs is carefully researched and well written to avoid doing more harm with your blog posts than if you’d done nothing at all. Your experience and background can help many others and by sharing your knowledge, you’ll benefit the industry as a whole.

Last week I was interviewed by author and Search Engine Journal Deputy

Editor Murray Newlands who’s book provide original scholarly business contributions of major significance to the field.

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