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:
- Target the specific audience you want to reach.
- 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
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:
- Keep the email short and to the point. Long, unsolicited emails rarely get read by busy people.
- Always try to pitch via email. If you don't have the blogger's email, use this trick to find it.
- 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.
- Clearly state that you'd like to guest post for the blog and offer three potential guest post ideas.
- 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
Passion: A Smarter Way to Find a Product to Sell.” The result?
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.
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.
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
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
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.