When you start your business, you can’t help but wonder: When am I going to get my big break?
You’re like an actor hustling from audition to audition, waiting to get cast in THE role that catapults your career.
Except in business, you’re hustling to find THE publicity that catapults your email list. You want more people to subscribe so you can get more sales and more clients who want to work with you.
I focused my energy on guest posts since they are proven to help boost traffic. More traffic equals more subscribers, right?
That’s what I thought — until I landed a guest post on MindBodyGreen, a lifestyle and wellness blog with 15 million monthly visitors.
All those readers! I was sure I’d double my list — at minimum. With that many eyeballs, I might do even better.
When the post went live, I watched my analytics. And 24 hours later, I got… less than 50 subscribers.
It was frustrating, to say the least. I kept thinking:
- “Is there something I’m missing?”
- “What if every guest post I do gets only 50 subscribers?”
- “It’ll take years to get to just 1,000 people!”
But today, a little over a year later, I have more than 3,000 subscribers, and I’ve been published on Business Insider, Fast Company, and The Huffington Post.
My list is 3.5x bigger than it was a year ago, mainly thanks to guest posts.
One of the biggest boosts to my subscriber list actually came from a second MindBodyGreen post. That one post took me from around 200 subscribers to over 700 — overnight.
Check out that leap from November to December 2014.
I learned from my mistakes from the first MindBodyGreen post. And today I’m going to show you how to avoid the mistakes I made.
I’m going to teach you the tactics I used to triple my email list with one guest post. Use this formula, and you’ll get more email subscribers from each guest post you write.
Step 1: Write for their audience, not yours
You know what your audience wants and loves to read. But the site where you’re guest posting has a different audience.
Luckily it only takes a few minutes to figure out what you can write that this audience will eagerly read. Follow these 3 steps:
1. Check out the homepage
Visit the site and see what’s “hot” for them right now. What kind of content is front and center on their homepage? Those topics are things their audience eagerly wants to read about.
For example, check out MindBodyGreen:
Lots of yoga, meditation, and “mindfulness.”
It’s clear that their readers care about eating well and being more mindful.
So if you were a health coach, you could write an article about a 5-minute breakfast recipe for busy women. Or if you were a productivity coach, you could share a meditation technique that readers can do at their desks for increased energy.
2. Look at what’s popular
Most sites have a list of “most popular” stories. Clearly readers like those, so check them out.
For example, look at the “Popular Articles” on the personal finance site Get Rich Slowly:
No surprise that a site with this name covers investing, taxes, and making more money.
Let’s say you have a site that helps people freelance. Since this audience is interested in side jobs, you could write about how to start a side business as a freelancer.
Or how about the article on money mistakes? If you’re a life coach for busy professionals, you could write about mistakes you made with money and how you fixed them.
If a site doesn’t list their most popular articles, check out the stories with the most comments. If people are taking the time to comment, the article and topic struck a nerve. And readers likely want more.
3. Read the comments
This last step really gets you inside their readers’ minds to give you ideas about about what problems those readers struggle with. Then you can write a post directly solving those problems.
Look at these comments from an article called “7 Foods That Could Be Causing Your Digestive Issues.”
The writer is responding, but she’s not actually helping.
It’s clear that this article didn’t fully solve readers’ problems. Readers don’t want to take more food out of their diet and feel restricted, and the author hasn’t provided helpful feedback to their comments.
If you were a nutritionist, you could write an article about how to have better digestion by adding certain foods into your diet, so readers wouldn’t feel so deprived and restricted.
Put it all together
These three steps are exactly what I did for my second post on MindBodyGreen.
When I checked out the site more, I noticed there were a lot of articles about communication, but none of them were about “charisma’, which is one of my specialties.
I knew that most people are interested in charisma, but they don’t feel like it’s realistic for them to actually be more charismatic. So I took the concept of connecting better with people and combined it with my area of expertise to craft this post:
My second, much more successful, post on MindBodyGreen.
Step 2: Instantly attract readers to your website
A big mistake I made in my first MindBodyGreen post (and several others) was my bio.
I didn’t realize the huge role that brief 1-2 sentences plays in a guest post. I thought all I had to do was write my name and put a link to my site.
That’s not enough to get people excited about learning more about you and signing up for your list. Most people are bombarded with sites they should read: Why should they go to yours?
To grab people’s attention, in your bio, you want to direct these readers to a special gift just for them. Everyone likes free things, so you’re giving them a compelling reason to click and visit your website.
This was my bio from the first post:
Why should people click on my blog?
Compare that with my second bio, where I offered readers a special gift:
People like free gifts, so they want to check out my offer.
This is very easy to do. Here’s a formula you can follow.
1. Start with who you are and what type of people you help
Dorie Clark did this on her Harvard Business Review article. She says she’s a “marketing strategist and professional speaker” who teaches at Duke’s business school, as well as an author of two books.
Anyone looking to be a go-to expert in their job or business would love to get their hands on this offer.
2. Offer readers a free gift
If you have a specific offer like an ebook, a video, or an audio recording, say so. Dorie mentions her “Stand Out Self-Assessment” workbook above.
Or if you’re like me and have more than one free gift, you can say you have “free gifts” and then describe your offers in more detail on your landing page. Which brings us to the next step.
Step 3: Get readers to give you their email addresses
You’ve given readers a link to a free gift. But where does that link go to?
You want to create a dedicated landing page solely for that offer. This takes less than an hour (I recommend using a program like Leadpages), and the reward is huge.
Here is my landing page for the MindBodyGreen post:
A simple headline and a few bullets is all you need to get people to sign up.
Here I offered readers (who just read about how to be more charismatic) my audio class on how to create instant rapport with anyone. I did this because I knew that if people loved my article, they’d want to go to the next step of improving how they communicate with others.
Your landing page should be written just for these readers. Here’s a simple checklist you can follow:
- Write a headline that greets your readers, like “Welcome MindBodyGreen Readers!”
- Describe exactly what your offer is: is it a PDF? Video? Audio recording? eBook?
- In about 3 bullets, tell the reader exactly how your offer is going to benefit them. What is it going to help them do? Make sure this is crystal clear so it’s a no-brainer for people to sign up
- Include an opt-in form, where people enter their names and emails
After you create a page once, you can copy and tweak it to fit other posts as you continue to guest blog. That way all you have to do is change a few words and upload a new page, and you’re done.
Get hundreds of subscribers from every guest post
I wish I had known these simple steps when I first posted on MindBodyGreen. But that unremarkable post (less than 50 subscribers!) taught me that if I guest posted without giving readers a clear and compelling reason to sign up for my list, I was shooting myself in the foot.
You need to stack the cards in your favor so you can get as many subscribers as possible from your posts.
When I changed my approach and wrote a post I knew their audience would love, I got 500+ new subscribers overnight.
All it took was taking the time to better understand how I could uniquely solve this audience’s problem. Then I made sure to not only provide my solution in the post, but also give them a bonus free gift. Finally I made sure I would get their email addresses in exchange for that gift.
Now I use these three steps every time I guest post, and I regularly get 100-200 subscribers from each one.
Your turn: Follow the steps yourself and see how fast your list can grow.
I want to help you, so in the comments below, share:
- What’s your business and where do you most want to guest post?
- What free gift would you offer the readers of that site?
Tell me, and I’ll let you know if I think you’re on the right path.
And if you want to create deeper rapport and connection with clients and customers, check out my special guide, From ‘Meh’ to ‘Mesmerizing’: How to Fix The 7 Most Common Social Faux Pas For A Killer First Impression Every Time. It’s free for GrowthLab readers.