What do The Who, Kenny Chesney, Green Day, Cher and the Stones do when they want to sell more albums? They go on tour. And what should savvy internet business owners do when they want to generate more traffic to their sites? You got it: Go on tour – a blog tour, that is.
Guest blogging, whereby you write a post for someone else's blog to gain exposure to their audience, has been around since blogs first emerged.
Basically, here's the scoop: Line up a number of blogs at which you'll be hosting, advertise your appearances, and knock their socks off with your wit and wisdom (concert t-shirts are optional).
Here's what you need to do:
1. Set a schedule. Start out by determining your timeframe. Blog tours take a while to put together, so I recommend planning out at least a few months. At this stage, also figure out your goal – do you want to hit ten blogs, one a week, for ten weeks? Or do you want to blog every day for two weeks? I don't necessarily recommend starting out with a 15-week blog tour right off the bat, so take on something that seems do-able for you.
2. Target your appearances. When it comes to guest blogging, bigger is better. Aim for the largest blogs in your industry or niche, or those with a complementary product or service. Start with the “big dogs;” you can always lower your sites later and fill in with smaller, less-well-known blogs.
3. Approach targets. Email is a great way to approach bloggers you aren't personally connected with. If you can get a referral or introduction from a mutual friend, all the better. Create a short message to explain the tour, let them know how you can help them, and what types of topics might be a great overlap of your expertise with their audience. Don't forget to include details like when the tour is taking place (you might give the “big dogs” their choice of several dates), and why you think you're a great match for their blog. Remember, they're trusting you to “babysit” their blog – they're going to want to know it's in good hands!
4. Promote the event. Once you have your list of tour stops, create a master calendar and post it on your blog. Start talking about the event (including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), and ask your hosts to do the same. Each stop on the tour, update your tour page with links to your posts so people can find your new posts easily. Keep tweeting, updating your email list followers, and in general building excitement and momentum!
5. Follow through. The worst mistake you can make on your blog tour is to flake out. If a blog owner plans for you to blog for a day or a week and then you don't follow through, you're going to have an unhappy colleague to deal with. It's much better to underschedule and give yourself some breathing room, than to overcommit and be unable to fulfill your commitments.
Blog tours do require a good bit of upfront planning and coordination, but the efforts are well worth it. When done correctly, blog tours can expose you to thousands of new readers and potential customers, all of whom are more inclined to be open to you and your message because it's coming endorsed by a blogger they already know and trust. Even Keith Richards and Jerry Garcia would like that kind of clout!
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