The Stalker's Guide to Highly Effective Guest Posting

The Stalker's Guide to Highly Effective Guest Posting

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This is a guest post by Andrew Youderian of eCommerceFuel.com

This is the story of how I stalked the writer of this blog, convinced him to let me write regularly for Shopify and generated thousands of visits to my site – all as a blogging newbie. 

What follows is a behind-the-scenes look at how to land high-profile guest posting opportunities. I'm going to give you a step-by-step process, and show you all my secret tricks. While my goal was to promote my new blog, the guest posting tactics discussed are an incredibly effective way to market any business online, including ecommerce sites.  

Guest Blogging Prerequisites

Before getting started, it's crucial that you have something of quality online to offer. This could be a
blog, an ecommerce business or a site for your consulting services. It doesn't need to be expansive, but it does need to be high-quality material that showcases your writing abilities. 
I only had five or so posts published when I started pursuing the Shopify opportunity, but I'd spent up
to eight hours on each. If you don't have a track record of content creation, you need to make up for it
with quality work.    

Step 1: Identify High-Profile Blogging Opportunities

You want to identify guest posting opportunities on sites that:
  1. Target the specific audience you want to reach. 
  2. Have a significant amount of traffic and/or authority.
If you're familiar with your market, a few opportunities should immediately come to mind. If not, use
sites like Technorati and Alltop to find popular blogs in your niche. If you're unsure how popular or authoritative a blog is, use stats from Alexa and Compete to determine approximate traffic levels.   
Shopify is a well-known leader in the ecommerce space and its blog was one I'd followed for a while,  so it was an obvious opportunity I wanted to pursue.  

Step 2: Identify Your Target Blog Owner / Editor 

I'm pleased to introduce you to my target: Mark Hayes, head of public relations and the guy behind the Shopify blog. You may have noticed his byline on the articles, but do you really know who he is?

I didn't, so I set out to learn as much as I could about him. I did some digging online, followed him on
Twitter and started to uncover a portrait of a Canadian pinball fanatic who also writes for Urban Male
magazine and is a sucker for long, romantic walks along the Ottawa River. (Sorry ladies, I think he's
spoken for.)  
A bit creepy? Slightly stalker-esque? Perhaps. But it's also critically important to understand the person you're trying to connect with. The best networkers and marketers in the world are experts at relating to people. You need to be, too.  

Step 3: Start Promoting Their Content 

The best way to tactfully get noticed by high-profile bloggers is to share and promote their posts. If
you're consistent about promoting and sharing their content, they'll eventually start to recognize your
name. More importantly, you'll likely start to bank up some goodwill due to the human law of
reciprocity: the innate desire we feel to help those who help us.   
In the course of promoting Mark's Shopify posts, I shared posts socially, left blog comments and
mentioned him on other sites I wrote for. Here's what you need to do to get on a blog owner / editors radar.

A. Sharing Post Socially

Sharing socially via Facebook or Twitter is the easiest way to help but the least likely to be noticed. A
few tips to consider when sharing:
  • Make sure to include the author's handle, not just the company handle. This way, the author will be more likely to notice your mention.
  • Instead of simply re-sharing the headline as is, add your own insights or title to the piece. This shows that you really DID read it and took the time to write a custom title for your audience. 
  • Ensure there's a link to your site in your social media profile, so the blogger can easily learn more about you if s/he investigates.  

B. Leave High-Quality Comments 

Leaving insightful, well-written comments is a great way to connect with a blogger and help him build
a dynamic community. Though it's more time-consuming than sharing, commenting is more effective at
building a relationship and name recognition, as there's usually less competition for attention.  
Quality definitely trumps quantity when it comes to commenting. Loads of people leave short “Great
post! Love it” comments; that's not the goal. If you want to get noticed, take the time to leave a quality
comment that adds value. 
Here's a comment I left on Mark's article about researching competition:

C.  Mention the Blogger in Other Posts

Mentioning the blogger in another guest post is a great way to connect and build rapport. Not only will
the blogger appreciate the attention, but it also builds your credibility when s/he sees you being
featured on other sites.  
In a guest post for Practical eCommerce (you can see it here), I listed Shopify as one of the top five blogs to follow online. Here's what I wrote about the Shopify blog: 
The Shopify blog frequently has great articles on ecommerce marketing and operations. But they stand out as my go-to site for inspiration due to the number of beautifully designed ecommerce shops often profiled.
You can see Mark's reaction below, which definitely helped put me on his radar:  

A Caveat: Be Genuine!!

Throughout all this sharing, commenting and promoting, you need to make sure you're being genuine
in what you write and promote. Following a long-term plan for building relationships doesn't give you
a license to make things up, over-indulge or flatter solely for the purpose of winning attention. 
You need to make sure the content you're promoting IS high-quality material. Otherwise, your reputation – especially with those who follow you – will suffer.

Step 4: Be Patient and Personable

It's going to take more than a few tweets and a single comment to get the attention of a well-known
blogger. You should plan on following a share/comment/mention strategy for at least four weeks before pitching a post for well-known, selective sites.
A few weeks into your campaign, it's time to transition from an in-the-shadows stalker to a friendly
acquaintance. Twitter is a great platform for this. For example, one of Mark's tweets about the new
Shopify pinball table led me to initiate this conversation:
Again, be authentic. Yes, we're trying to build a relationship with the end goal of landing a guest post,
but you also need to take a genuine interest in the person. I actually do love pinball, so this was an easy conversation to begin.
As hard as it is, avoid the temptation to pitch your content too soon. Otherwise, you run the chance of
ruining all the goodwill you've banked up. I made this mistake when Mark replied to one of my early
Tweets promoting his story. Knowing I'd fostered some engagement, I figured I'd try to “pitch” him on covering one of my existing articles:
His response? Dead silence, which is what I should have expected. I had tried to pitch something too early before our relationships had developed. I quickly realized my mistake and fortunately didn't make it again. Instead, I simply focused on continuing to share his quality material on the Shopify blog.

Step 5: How To Make Your Pitch

After weeks of commenting, sharing and interacting via Twitter, I was surprised when Mark approached me about doing a guest post on the Shopify blog. While I was thrilled at my good luck, you'll almost always need to proactively pitch a guest post.
When pitching a guest post, keep the following 5 tricks in mind:
  1. Keep the email short and to the point. Long, unsolicited emails rarely get read by busy people.
  2. Always try to pitch via email. If you don't have the blogger's email, use this trick to find it.
  3. Lead off with a specific compliment about the blog and/or a recent article to reinforce that you know and appreciate the blogger's work.
  4. Clearly state that you'd like to guest post for the blog and offer three potential guest post ideas.
  5. Link to a sample of your writing online and share any applicable credentials.
Had I needed to write Mark a pitch, it would have gone something like this:

Guest Blog Pitch Email Template 

It's short, to the point and offers three post ideas to easily choose from. Even if you get turned down, a
direct email like this will often elicit a reply from even popular bloggers.

Step 6: Writing a Killer Guest Post

Congratulations! You've successfully landed a guest post on a high-profile blog. Now it's time to write
an absolutely killer post.
Creating a high-quality post has a number of advantages. It shows the blogger you appreciate his/her
audience and significantly increases the likelihood that you'll be invited to do a follow-up post. Plus,
the quality of your post will determine how many people click through to YOUR website. With great
content, readers will want to learn more about you.
I spent between six and eight hours writing my first Shopify guest post titled “Don't Follow Your



It went viral and received more than 200 tweets, 75 likes, 20 comments and resulted in more than 200 new subscribers (not visitors, subscribers) to my blog in a matter of days.  
Best of all was the invitation from Mark to become a regular writer – an opportunity to highlight my blog on a monthly basis to Shopify readers. All this because I invested the time to write a high-quality piece after landing the initial post.

RESULTS: Is It Really Worth It?

Alright, so tweets are one thing and 200 new subscribers is great, but what are the other benefits? Identifying, securing and writing high-profile guest posts like the ones I submit here at Shopify is obviously a LOT of work. It takes months of planning to establish a relationship and hours of actual writing time. It's pretty reasonable to wonder if it's worthwhile to invest all this time just to land a guest post or two.  
To help answer that question, I'd like to share some actual traffic and conversion statistics from my own
ecommerce blog, eCommerceFuel.com.  

Traffic Statistics

The traffic stats listed below are from the three-month period immediately after the publication of my
initial guest post. Over the period shown, I had three guest posts published on the Shopify blog.  
Despite having only three guest posts published, traffic from the Shopify blog made up the fourth
largest traffic stream to my blog, sending nearly 2,400 visits! Even more important, the Shopify readers
were the most engaged, spending significantly more time on my site than direct or Google visitors.

Conversions

The conversion data was even more impressive. My analytics are set up to track conversions/goals as anyone who subscribes to my blog by downloading my eBook. You can see the conversion stats below:
Despite being #4 in traffic, Shopify visitors were the second biggest source of subscribers – even
beating out visitors from Google! Over three months, those few articles generated more than 550
subscribers.  

SEO Benefits

The Shopify blog carries a lot of authority with the almighty Google – authority that's passed along to
my blog every time I write a post and link back to my site. These valuable links boost my rankings and
reputation in Google, which leads to an increase in free organic traffic over time. And the guest posts
themselves will continually drive visitors to my blog as long as Shopify is around.  
I launched eCommerceFuel back in April 2012. Like most new sites, it was ranked a PageRank 0 by
Google. Fast forward just seven months and it's now a PageRank 4 – a stunning rise for such a new
site. I've worked for nearly five years on some sites that are still only a PageRank 4.  
While I've received links from other high-profile sites during that period, the numerous inbound links
from Shopify definitely contributed to the rapid rise in authority and will help with future traffic from
Google.  

Credibility

Being a regular writer for the Shopify blog is great professional experience and helps me build
credibility with others. When I'm trying to land an interview, I can let people know I'm a contributing
writer for the Shopify blog, along with my other credentials.  
Even if the interviewees don't know me, they're likely to know the Shopify brand and its sterling
reputation. Most will then assume that if the editors at Shopify let me write for them, I can't be too
shady a character.

Yep, It's DEFINITELY Worth It 

So is this high-commitment guest posting strategy a quick-and-easy path to massive traffic and
exposure? Definitely not. It takes significant time, effort and commitment to execute correctly. But if
you're willing to invest in your content, promote others and nurture relationships, it's one of the most
effective marketing methods available. Just make sure you reserve your newly developed stalker skills
purely for professional use.

Written by Andrew Youderian.  Andrew is an ecommerce entrepreneur and blogger, and is not nearly as creepy as this article might imply. It you enjoyed this piece, you'll love his 15-minute guide to ecommerce SEO. He's also the author of a popular, well-reviewed eBook on launching a profitable ecommerce business

34 comments

  • Kris
    Kris
    December 03 2012, 12:04PM

    LOL I’m wondering what Mark said when you pitched him this idea..

    Great post. Really informative stuff..

    Btw I wonder how many people are now going to email the blog email lol..

  • Andrew Youderian
    Andrew Youderian
    December 03 2012, 12:21PM

    Thanks Kris! Yeah, it will be interesting to see if the volume of people asking Mark about pinball and asking to guest post spikes through the roof! Sounds like an interesting follow-up post.

  • Ada, Lundquist
    Ada, Lundquist
    December 03 2012, 12:26PM

    I like this post as I thought it had a well written and personal tone to it. In keeping with what you want here is an additional idea for pitching a guest post:
    Go to a conference where the person is at and offer to take them out to a coffee. I did this and landed a radio interview because of it.

  • Jason
    Jason
    December 03 2012, 12:33PM

    This was wildly entertaining and useful. Thank you for sharing.

  • @Shopify Brendan Lowe
    Brendan Lowe
    December 03 2012, 01:12PM

    A little birdie tells me Mark is also the GM of Shopify’s hot sauce library

  • Andrew Youderian
    Andrew Youderian
    December 03 2012, 01:17PM

    @Ada – In person is a GREAT way to network and make marketing connections. Well done.

    @Jason – Glad you enjoted it!

    @Brendan – Oh really? Hmmm. I’ll have to shoot him over a case of high-end spicy sauce the next time I need a favor. Thanks for the tip. ;-)

  • Shane Jones
    Shane Jones
    December 03 2012, 02:16PM

    Amazing write up Andrew!!

    I’ve got another strategy for finding emails. Rapportive is a great tool, but time consuming. You should check out http://linksy.me/find-email , it’s automates the process a little :)

  • Andrew Youderian
    Andrew Youderian
    December 03 2012, 02:21PM

    Great tool, Shane – thanks! Just tried it out on me and guessed my email with the #1 attempt. I’ll definitely use this in the future.

  • Nicole Lee
    Nicole Lee
    December 03 2012, 10:28PM

    Good day and welcome to joy fax server: http://www.joyfax.com

  • Arlene Aranzamendez
    Arlene Aranzamendez
    December 04 2012, 08:04AM

    Wow! it’s so nice reading this kind of information. Guest blogging is really powerful to acquire leads to your products or services..

  • Arwin Adriano
    Arwin Adriano
    December 04 2012, 10:30AM

    Nice to hear your story. Definitely it’s true that everything takes time and building relationships is one of the old tactics that everyone were not just aware of but unconsciously doing. Social is the true secret if you wanted to be identified in the field as well sharing valuable information that can be of help.

    Arwin Adriano
    Founder of EventChecklist.net

  • Steve
    Steve
    December 05 2012, 04:55AM

    Great post!

    Quality over quantity and focusing on the long term will be always the best way how to do things. It’s not easy, it’s not overnight success but the result will be always worth it.

  • Kris
    Kris
    December 05 2012, 07:08PM

    This process DOES work!

    I mean, I tweeted word for word what Andrew tweeted and it led me to getting a guest post on shopify! No joke!

    …now I am exaggerating a little but I did get accepted to post here. However there was more to it. All in all this process does work however at the end of the day no process is going to work if you have no quality content or value to offer.

  • Andrew Youderian
    Andrew Youderian
    December 05 2012, 09:04PM

    @Steve – Thanks! Yep, quality trumps quantity every time.

    @Kris – Congrats! Hopefully you changed the name in the email from “Andrew” to “Kris”…. ;-)

  • Richard Lazazzera
    Richard Lazazzera
    December 07 2012, 04:25PM

    Good stuff Andrew.

    Is there/or do you have a rule of thumb for the amount of traffic a blog should have for it to be considered a worth while “target”?

    I understand it’s all relative, but just curious if you have any thoughts or general insights?

  • Stefanos
    Stefanos
    December 09 2012, 02:19PM

    @Richard This is what I mostly check.

    I haven’t got any hard numbers but there are a few factors involved in making a choice. For me that is: size, quality and the blogger. Mark is awesome he plays pinball. Nuff’ said.

    From a size standpoint, you want to check the amount of interaction of posts (read comments!) like this one and mostly their rating on sites such as Technorati as Andrew mentioned.

    From a quality standpoint, they have to publish good stuff on a regular basis, otherwise you’ll damage your own reputation by association (there are a couple of sites that are so large that they are the exception to this rule).

    But whatever the reason, double-check to make sure that the target blog is capable of meeting your expectations, your goal and by all means:

    Be you and build an relationship. People are nice and you want to build a community.

    My 2 cents ;)

  • Adrienne
    Adrienne
    December 10 2012, 03:42PM

    Great post Andrew! The sample email for a guest post proposal was great, and that image at the top is priceless…!

    And great additions Stefanos. For quality I tend to take a peek at their page authority, but I’m more interested in if the writing is good, free of errors, stuff I’d like to see my own writing beside, etc.

  • Brandon
    Brandon
    December 11 2012, 11:26AM

    This post is great. The photo got me to read it – creepy bald guys always get me haha.
    Can we use your guest blog pitch, as a template or sorts?

    Awesome as always, Andrew.

    Brandon :)
    TartMelters.com

  • Lewis
    Lewis
    December 12 2012, 10:33AM

    Hey Andrew,

    This is my first visit to the shopify blog and one of your articles. Really enjoyed it.

    I’ve just started getting into guest posting and at first I found it quite hard as I have no writing experience. I’m finding it a bit easier now as I have articles I can send to editors as examples but I’m still struggling to hit that big one.

    I’ve tried the approach you talk about and I’m still struggling, I think I’m pitching too early.

    How many people would you suggest I do this strategy to during a months period? Should I focus on one or a handful?

    I have been doing it for about 15 at a time and I feel it’s too much, am i wrong?

    Thanks

  • Coffee with Julie
    Coffee with Julie
    December 12 2012, 04:40PM

    Fantastic post — thanks! I’ve read countless pieces on guest blogging, but this one is by far the most constructive, practical, and gosh darn it, helpful.

  • angela accia
    angela accia
    December 17 2012, 05:17AM

    Hi, I think guest posting is must for branding the company in front of the more visitor and earn respect from them. Hence, I want to start Guest Blogging Post in your Website but I am not quite sure how to do it. Please give guidelines for my questions i.e. how long the article and the title should be, how many hyperlinks can I use? And where to send the post whether to your mail or directly to your website?
    Thank you in advance!!

  • robert
    robert
    December 19 2012, 02:37AM

    Hi, I think guest posting is must for branding the company in front of the more visitor and earn respect from them. Hence, I want to start Guest Blogging Post in your Website but I am not quite sure how to do it. Please give guidelines for my questions i.e. how long the article and the title should be, how many hyperlinks can I use? And where send the post whether to your mail or directly to your website?
    Thank you in advance!!
    I am waiting your positive reply

  • Sarah Fudin
    Sarah Fudin
    December 20 2012, 10:03AM

    Andrew — Well done! Not only did I share this article with my team, your link to distilled’s “Find (Almost) Anybody’s Email Address” blew me away. I feel like I’m walking away from this article a smarter person. As a side note, I always wonder about how you might go around this method of outreach if you are a marketing professional reaching out to different verticals other than business? ie. health professionals, educators, etc.

  • Robinoz
    Robinoz
    December 29 2012, 04:51PM

    A great article. At my blog, Working Smarter (http://desert-wave-enterprises.blogspot.com) I have a tab inviting guest writers and quite a few people have submitted good articles. It gives me a break from coming up with two topics per week (I post Wed and Sat) and also provides readers with a different view of business and the world generally. I’m sure if you searched for “guest blogger invites” or something similar, you’d find bloggers seeking guest writers.

  • Londoner Kate
    Londoner Kate
    February 19 2013, 01:10PM

    I’ve had this article open for over a week now. I always feel a bit weird when somebody looks over my shoulder and reads “Stalker’s Guide to…” in my tabs bar…

    However it’s a great point you’ve made and I’ve started to bring in traffic of my own using these creepy methods. Thanks!

  • Bronson
    Bronson
    March 05 2013, 07:00AM

    Absolute cracker of a post Mark, thanks for the candid and details account of your methods, it’s great to know that I’m on the right track, but do need to refine a few things.

  • suhana
    suhana
    April 09 2013, 07:39AM

    HI
    Today i came across this amazing new website named nupinch.com…i really think you guys should check it out..
    Link: http://bit.ly/XczfI3

  • charles adams
    charles adams
    May 22 2013, 10:35PM

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    We have got to admit to ourselves. Most of us are into it for the money. We are not going to waste our time and effort just for the fun of it. Many sites would not wait until hell freezes over just to see their profits. While there are some who takes things lightly there are always those who would rather see profit any given day.

    It is common knowledge that without traffic we have no business. Like any business, without any customers you don’t get sales. Traffic represents all the people that gets a chance to see what you have to offer. The more people who see your products the more people there would be to buy them.

    Nobody puts up an E-commerce site that doesn’t expect profit. We have a startup capital that needs to be regained. With a consistent traffic, we at least have a fighting chance to achieve that probability. Monetizing your traffic would optimize your chances of making the best out of it.

    Making Money out of your Traffic

    The best and most proven method of making a profit out of your traffic is using advertising. The internet generates hundreds of thousands upon hundred of thousands of traffic everyday. Most of them are searching for something. While some are just looking for information there is also a good percentage that is looking for something that they need.

    The internet has proven to be a very reliable source in finding what was deemed to be a very unsearchable product. The internet has made the world a smaller place; you can advertise a product from the depths of Istanbul and still find a buyer from the center of Philadelphia.

    Generating traffic is not an easy task. You have to contend with a great number of sites to generate a good number of traffic flow. But if done successfully this could open up a Pandora’s Box of possibilities. One of the benefits is monetizing your traffic flow.

    So, to get to the core of it the more traffic you generate the more likely you are considered as a desirable, desirable, in a sense that a good traffic flowing site is easily convertible to profit. Basically traffic equals profit. Advertising is the name of the game; with the good advertising scheme you can use your traffic flow to your advantage.

    When you have good traffic you have a good number of potential customers, customers that are willing to pour money into your coffers. Other than that these are also traffic that can be redirected to sponsored links that are willing to pay you for a sizeable portion of the traffic that you have generated.

    This scheme is called “pay-per-click”. With every click a visitor of your site makes on an advertised link you will be paid. The more traffic you generate and the more clicks that happens would spell to more profits.

    Affiliate Programs

    Another method of monetizing your traffic are affiliate programs. You can link up with other tried and tested sites and online companies and monetize your traffic by having a percentage of sales generated by traffic coming from your site.

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    There are so many ways and methods to monetize your traffic. All it takes is a bit of hard work and the desire to successfully launch a profit-earning site. The internet is a veritable source of information, many tips and guides are offered everywhere in how to monetize your traffic and make your site a good profit earner. http://www.cashanytime.net

  • Danny Howard
    Danny Howard
    May 30 2013, 07:47AM

    Hi Andrew,

    Another fantastic insightful post(s), I love reading your posts over at eCommerceFuel, you never hold anything back.

    There are so many shady guest posting tips and tricks, but you just say how it is. Solid straight advice from a genuine guy.

    Thanks for your input.

    Cheers mate

    Danny Howard

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    Rondey Checker
    May 31 2013, 04:43AM

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  • Deepak Tiwari
    Deepak Tiwari
    June 19 2013, 04:06AM

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  • prajith@mobotalks
    prajith@mobotalks
    July 18 2013, 01:53AM

    Really a great article on Guest blogging.

    Guest blogging have much more to give us in return if we do it correctly and effectively.

    You are points gives us a lesson on how to get popular via guest posts.

    Thanks a lot dear for these killer tips ;)

  • Jules Haskell
    Jules Haskell
    April 25 2014, 12:03PM

    That is pretty funny. Very informative though. I always thought about blogging more heavily. I should especially for SEO status. I love the ideas across the university.

  • internationaleshow
    internationaleshow
    August 27 2014, 07:41AM

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