IAN GREENLEIGH

Author | Marketer | Speaker

I help companies turn data, ideas and relationships into reach and influence. 

Secrets of the “blogging One Percenters”

The blogging One Percenters [box title="Note"] This is an advance excerpt from The Social Media Side Door, my book about the ways social media has rewritten the rules of access and influence. Subscribe to receive more excerpts, tips, and side door strategies.[/box]

[dropcap]O[/dropcap]nly a tiny minority of bloggers will ever earn significant income as a direct result of their blogging, or generate the kind of exposure that gets them on CNN—they are the “blogging One Percenters,” meaning they have enjoyed exceedingly rare success. Chances are you won’t end up in that 1%, and neither will I. But you can do a lot with a little when it comes to blogging, and the One Percenters can help you get there.

Learn from them, get to know them, and look for opportunities to create mutual value.

The best part about building a network of influence that leads back to your blog—and you—is that the actions you take pay for themselves many times over even if they aren’t reciprocated. If you’re reading the best bloggers in your space, you’re constantly learning how to do your job better. Reading great work is rewarding in and of itself. You’re also gathering ideas to discuss, material to quote and reference, and you’re getting insight into what seems to be resonating with their audience, with which there is bound to be significant overlap if you’re truly in a similar niche. I’ll reiterate that common activity and engagement metrics shouldn’t be used to validate your efforts, but they can serve as indicators of which content seems to be hitting the mark. Start experimenting with emulating some of the best of what you read, the stuff that really seems to ignite dialogue in the comments, or spread like wildfire across the social web.

Emulate does not mean copy. In fact, the best thing you can do as an emerging  blogger is give proper credit where it is due. Even if a post is only loosely based on another’s idea, be sure to acknowledge this by letting your readers know and linking to the original. This isn’t just a goodwill exercise and the right thing to do, it’s a strategic must. Most bloggers have receive “pingback” alerts, which tell them when one of their posts or pages has been linked to, and where the link lives online. They’ll often follow the pingback trail to your blog, which can be the beginning or acceleration of a rewarding relationship. It’s a special thrill to learn that someone you truly admire has subscribed to your blog.

Finding the time to write can be difficult. I’ve been blogging for years, and the truth is, it doesn’t get any easier—but it does get more rewarding. Once you start to see your disparate efforts coalesce into results, blogging becomes something you can’t imagine not doing.

One of the secrets to building awareness and influence is that almost everyone wants more content, even the biggest names in your space. Of any tactic I’ve pursued to build social access and influence through blogging, guest posts are the most effective. The value created by a good guest post on someone else’s blog is pretty remarkable. Think about it: You get access to a new, larger audience. They get free content that drives traffic to their doorstep. But guest blogging is about relationships, and quality of content trails a distant second. Aspiring guest bloggers should be very familiar with the style and subject matter of the host blog. They should cultivate a rapport with the blogger by leaving interesting comments on their posts, sharing their work, and making themselves known. This is also a way for the host blogger to become familiar with the guest blogger’s writing style and area expertise. You’re ready, as a guest blogger, when you can be reasonably sure the host blogger will recognize your name in the “from” line of an email, and you have an idea that will fit right in with their content. Don’t make the mistake of reaching out without something specific in mind. And if they show interest in the content you propose, don’t waste an opportunity to get the terms right for your guest post. Make sure to discuss how your bio and byline will appear, where it will link to (a social profile, your blog, or both), and whether or not you’ll be able to cross-post it to your blog with a link back to the original. Most top bloggers are flexible on both of these items and happy to discuss them, as long as you give them clear input and don’t nitpick.

The mere fact that you are blogging means that you are positively differentiating yourself from the pack. Everyone wants fifty comments on every post, 10,000 subscribers and a healthy dose of ad revenue. Too many bloggers start comparing themselves to the best in the business right out of the gate. While it’s great to learn from the best, it’s not smart to expect the results they have from less work. It’s also not smart to write your blog off as a failure even if you are putting in the work, and it’s not getting the activity you’re after. If it never becomes anything more than a record of your thoughts, or a collection of your best work, it is still worth it—and you are still doing something valuable that most are not.

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© 2016 Ian Greenleigh