You’ve finally done it.
You’ve made the leap as a freelance copywriter.
You’ve invested in your new website and defined your niche audience.
You’ve committed to a consistent blog post schedule (right?).
You may have even gone so far as to create an editorial calendar for your blog (right?)!
And that’s likely when the reality hits you: aside from your own contributions and those of a handful of sympathetic (empathetic?) colleagues, your editorial calendar has a lot of empty spots in it. Circled in red, with a 🙁 for emphasis.
If you’ve researched your industry’s vertical to see what content your niche readers are eating up – and what they are not – then you’ve most likely discovered that they love those blog posts authored from recognized experts in the field.
So how do you – a relative “unknown” – convince these authorities to contribute to your brand new shiny blog?
Here’s what I’ve learned along the way… Keep in mind that these are long-term strategies; getting the attention, much less the contribution, of an industry “somebody” requires time.
1. Following is one thing – Engaging quite another
Obviously, experts have scads of followers. Scads. They can’t keep up with them all; they usually have to outsource or assign the task to an in-house social media person.
So merely following them is not going to turn their heads. You can retweet their posts until you’re as blue as that Twitter bird, but unless you take the time to add your own twist to that tweet, or elaborate on that Facebook like/share, or embellish on that G+ or LinkedIn post, etc., you’re not making a dent in their awareness of you.
You need to invest time in engaging them. And that means you need to actually read (view/listen) through their content, and either ask informed questions or leave an intelligent comment – anything that shows you’re not just another sycophant, or looking for a quick backlink, but are truly interested in what they’ve written (or recorded).
This, in turn, means that a cursory “nice post” doesn’t cut it.
By consistently reading (viewing/listening) to their content, and showing your appreciation in a meaningful way through thoughtful sharing and feedback, you’ll move the needle from yet another “nice yada ya” respondent hoping for a backlink to their website to someone worthy of their attention … and from there, their consideration.
2. Something to promote? Let me help you!
Once you’ve established that you’re sincere in your interest in the expert by laying the groundwork outlined above, you can then entertain emailing them about either writing a guest post for your blog – or agreeing to an interview.
Most industry heavyweights will be far more amenable to an interview than a guest post. The math is easy: Guest post = they do all the work. Interview = you do your fair share of the work and help make them look good.
Also, pay attention to whether your prized expert has something to promote. For instance, have they released a new online program? Or an e-book? Pounce on these opportunities, and fast! You’ll find they’ll be more receptive to an interview if it provides them an opportunity to share their latest product with a new audience – especially if they’re assured of links to it. (Amazon, anyone?)
3. Ongoing support – Feedback & sharing
I can’t recall how many times I’ve heard this from the experts I’ve had the privilege of interviewing over the years: Thank you for notifying me of this comment; thank you for sharing my post/interview with your social media groups; thank you for following up with me.
First, providing ongoing support to your guest is simply good etiquette: they’ve taken the time to contribute to your blog’s success, so it’s on you to respect the time they’ve invested and amplify their content.
For instance, monitor reader comments and alert them so they can respond promptly. (ProTip: Include a link to the precise comment so they don’t have to dig around for it. Remember, these are very busy people!)
Share their post or interview far and wide on your social media channels, and be sure to identify them – CORRECTLY! – in your links.
Then take it a step further, and continue to track how their content is performing. Let them know how appreciative you are for their contribution to your blog.
And I cannot emphasize this enough: continue to engage with them. It’s not a “one and done” deal. It’s about cultivating a relationship with them.
They’ll definitely remember if their experience with you was good or bad or meh, and if you do it right they’ll likely be returning guests.
Finally, no matter how vast your industry’s vertical may seem, it can get really small really fast – meaning, if an expert has a great experience dealing with you, that can open doors to more visibility for your blog. It can also mean you’ll be taken seriously by other authorities, which in turn means your overtures to them will likely be far more successful.
And who knows? It could mean you’ll be considered as a regular contributing writer for them. Or they might recommend you to a high-profile colleague who is looking for a regular contributor.
The effect can be positively exponential!
If they feel burned, however, well…then you may find yourself back at ground zero, or most likely worse. But you’re too smart to do that … right? 🙂
About the Author
Laura Crest is a certified SEO copywriter, blog editor, and freelance content strategist. She’s cultivated relationships with numerous SEO copywriting and content marketing thought leaders for over 5 years. Connect with Laura via Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.