Do you frequently ask yourself: "How can I get more traffic to my blog and how can I convert that traffic into subscribers?"
You've spent countless hours producing content on your blog, you've tried marketing on social networks, and you even have your mom sharing it with her friends.
At the end of the day, though, it seems there's an impenetrable wall keeping you from growing your blog. Maybe the problem is that you're missing one extremely important ingredient: guest posting.
1. Guest posting builds relationships with other (influential) bloggers.
Let's face it: It's pretty difficult to get the attention of Brian Clark (Copyblogger) or Darren Rowse (Problogger). Relentlessly tweeting content from their blogs, though probably appreciated, isn't going to grab their attention, given that they routinely get thousands of shares for every new post.
One of the best ways to build relationships with influential bloggers—even big names like Brian Clark and Darren Rowse—is to flat-out make their jobs easier. You can do that by providing quality content for their blogs in the form of guest posts. If you can bring new lines of thought to influential blogs, appeal to their readers, and generate traffic and loyalty, then you're providing value to that blogger.
Any blogger is going to appreciate and remember your contribution. These relationships with influential bloggers will potentially open doors to regular guest posting spots and will help you build credibility and authority within your niche.
2. Cheap promotion to a large audience generates targeted traffic.
Most people make a huge mistake when they start a blog: They constantly publish posts, but all this publishing takes place only on their blog.
I know it sounds crazy to suggest that producing content for your blog is a mistake, but it's the truth. When you start a new blog without the slightest bit of authority, you shouldn't be spending the majority of your time producing new content for your blog.
The focus shouldn't be on quantity, as nobody is even reading your posts in the beginning. Instead, you should write very valuable posts for your blog every couple of weeks, and then spend the rest of your writing efforts guest posting on authority blogs in your niche.
By guest posting on popular blogs in your niche, you'll start seeing a portion of their traffic flow into your blog. Because the authority's blog on which you guest post and your own blog are in a similar niche, visitors will probably be interested in the topics of your content, and some of that traffic will stick on your blog.
3. Guest posting leads to higher opt-in rates and more email subscribers.
This is a flashback to Marketing 101: If you're better able to get your product in front of your target market and you're able to convince people that your product meets their needs, the more likely people are to make a purchase.
Likewise, if you're able to get your content in front of your target reader and that content is unique and fulfills a need, then people are more likely to opt in and subscribe to your blog.
Because a large portion of the traffic derived from your guest posts is highly targeted, you'll see an instant increase in the number of people who opt in to what you're offering. Of course, there are many factors that go into this, such as your blog's design, the landing page design, and the overall quality of your content.
4. Natural backlinks equal better search engine rankings.
The SEO benefits of guest posting are often cited, but they are well worth repeating. You can try to game the search engines all you like, but it's not going to pay off in the long run. The safest, most effective way to enhance your rankings in search engines is to gain natural backlinks on authoritative websites that are highly relevant to the topic of your own website.
That is, in essence, exactly what guest posting is. Every blog worth guest posting on offers an "About the Author" section, where you're often free to place one or two links to your blog. Some blogs even allow you to link back to your own content in the body of your post, as long as the content is relevant.
Another benefit of guest posting on popular blogs is that their posts frequently get shared hundreds or even thousands of times. As time passes and search engines increasingly integrate social sharing variables into their algorithms, this could play a bigger role in how well your posts and blog rank.
5. Guest posting is a natural form of self-promotion.
In digital marketing, there's a fine line between reasonably marketing your hard work and shamelessly self-promoting yourself to the point of annoyance. Often, people will write posts on their blog, then flood people on Twitter and Facebook with links to those posts every 25 minutes. Though you might catch a few fish here and there, you're not going to build a large, loyal reader base with that kind of promotion.
Guest posting, on the other hand, helps you to reach a large, specific audience in a way that doesn't come across as pushy or promotional. It's a more natural, indirect method of self-promotion, compared with setting up a Twitter account and yelling at people about how great your content is.
Where should you go from here?
When I suggest guest posting as a blog growth strategy, people inevitably say:
"OK, great! So I should be guest posting more often than I am, but how do I get these big name blogs to accept my posts? How do I approach these bloggers and make a pitch that will get their attention?"
There are tons and tons of resources available out there, but here are a few of my favorites that I think will get you started immediately:
Jonathan Payne (@SocialGamePlan) is the founder of My Social Game Plan. A version of this article first appeared on Business2Community.