Blog Tips: Targeted Growth Strategies

Today’s topic is one that I’ve received quite a few comments and emails on.  Most notably how to use specific tactics like giveaways, writing guest posts and the like to bring growth to a blog or business.  Once again I’ll just be speaking from my personal experience and would love for you to chime in with your own insight and thoughts in the comment section below.  So here we go:

Giveaways: hosting or offering products for giveaway.

Positives:

  • Giveaways provide immediate targeted clicks for the prize provider as well as a click-through spike for the blog hosting the contest.
  • Potentially bring in a new audience through online buzz about the giveaway.

Negatives:

  • There can be extra work involved in hosting giveaways (tracking comments, selecting the winner, correspondence with the company providing the prize, etc).
  • If you offer advertising on your site, giveaways may deter possible advertisers from purchasing an ad spot.  They may instead look to receive “free advertising” on your site via a targeted giveaway.  This in not a complete loss, but you may receive some very low prize value offers that you might want to pass on in the interest of maintaining the integrity of your site. Because of this it is best to have some guidelines in place for those interested in potential giveaways (a prize value requirement, etc).
  • There is no promised interest level.  Just because a product is awesome does not necessarily mean that the interest in it will be huge.  As long a both bloggers and businesses are aware of this from the beginning, there shouldn’t be any issues.

How to become a giveaway host or approach blogs for a giveaway of your product(s):

It is hard for me to remember how/when I first began offering giveaways on my blog.  I do know it was not something that I sought out, but was something that companies/artisans approached me about.  Initially (when my readership was smaller and I was not using social networking to help spread the word) response in giveaways was pretty small.  In fact there were a few times very early on when I felt pretty low about how little interest was shown (I felt bad for the businesses who had invested their product with me).  So I think it’s important to be realistic about the sort of crowd you can expect (both as a blogger and as a business).  As your readership grows the value for both your blog as well as businesses interested in sponsoring giveaways will increase.

If you are a blogger interested in offering a giveaway for the first time, you can:

  • Approach shops that you feel have products in-line with what your readers love.  Communicate an interest in their work and ask if they might like to offer a product for giveaway on your site.  Share your stats and demographics with them and let them know the value of product you are seeking.  Be professional and hang in there.  At first there may be limited interest, but once you’ve broken the ice by hosting your first giveaway things will become easier.
  • Get the word out.  Blog, tweet, facebook about your interest in taking on giveaway sponsors.  Be prepared to share details about your site as well as provide guidelines for submissions (i.e. price value, who is in charge of shipping the prize to the winner, whether anyone can enter or if there are country specific requirements, etc.)

If you are a business interested in offering an item for giveaway on a blog, you can:

  • Compile a list of your top choice blogs.  These sites should feature content that is relevant to your product(s)…not just have high traffic rankings.  Be sure to read the fine print on these blogs before sending any emails (some blogs do not host giveaways, so contacting them for that purpose will go nowhere).
  • Contact your very top choice blog first and let them know what you have to offer.  Bloggers look for exclusive and original content, so be sure to let them know that you are contacting them first.  If you don’t hear anything back within a week it is fair to go ahead and contact the next blogs on your list.
  • Offer a product that clearly reflects what your business is all about.  If you have a shop that carries multiple categories of items you might like to think about offering a gift certificate as the prize.
  • Generally the more valuable or more exciting the prize, the better the response is going to be.  Ask yourself how much the potential press is worth to you and try to offer a product of a comparable value.

Guest Posts

I’d venture to say that unless you’ve already established some sort of positive relationship with a blogger, this method won’t likely work for you.  That being said, if you are on familiar or friendly terms with your favorite bloggers a great way to bring increased interest in your own blog or website is to offer to write a guest post for them from time to time.  It can be a little bit awkward to just pop out and offer writing services, so here are a few ideas on how to best go about it:

  • Pre-write the post and have your post images all ready to go.  Make sure they are sized appropriately for the blog you are interested in working with.
  • Contact the blogger you would like to work with in a friendly and courteous way and let them know that you have written a post that you feel might work really well on their site – attach the post images that you’ve created for them to sample.  Let them know that you would be happy to give the content to them if they are interested.  Be sure to let them know whether or not the content will be exclusive to their site or not (this is really important).
  • Posts that work really well for guest posting (at least for my site) are DIY projects and tutorials.  Try to fill a niche that you see the blogger is building on.
  • Be patient and remember that not all bloggers are interested in guest posts.  If you get a thumbs down, be sure to thank the blogger for their time and let them know that if they ever have interest in the future you are more than happy to work with them at that time (you never know – they may go on vacation, etc. and need someone to help fill in for them).

Another type of post sharing:

One additional method for post sharing would be to contact a top blog and let them know about a special post you have coming up on your blog.  Attach images and let them know exactly what the post is about, when you will be posting it on your site, and why you feel it is relevant to their readership as well.  If you want to increase your odds even further you can attach images that are pre-sized to work on their site (let them know that you have done so, and that they are free to use the images).  Once again, be sure to let the blogger know whether or not you are contacting them exclusively or not.  If a blogger feels that you are simply trying to get on as many blogs as possible they are quite likely to ignore your offer.  If you receive no reply or they are not interested in promoting your post, you can then approach a few additional blogs and follow the same process.

Free Downloads

I really enjoy providing free content for my readers and have noticed since implementing freebies on my site, that they are also a great way to bring in a steady flow of readers (a happy bonus to discover).  One reason for this is that they are highly searchable – meaning that they are easy for the average non blog reader to discover via web searches.  Another great bonus is that they are always relevant (unless the download is a calendar).  Once you create them, they live on your blog for as long as you want and will continue to bring readers in as time goes on.  Of course not all blog readers are interested in free downloads, so whether you add free downloads to your site or not will be dictated by your actual site and readers.

I hope these tips will be useful to you.  Next week I’ll be talking about organization for bloggers + some sources to help you keep all your ducks in a row.  See you then!  xo Ez

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20 Comments

  1. designcuriosities / / Reply

    It’s true! Great advice. I’m actually hosting my first giveaway right now…the response has been so-so. I definitely agree—I feel bad for a lowish turnout. I mean come on! Who doesn’t like free stuff? :)

  2. Ludmila {creamylife.com} / / Reply

    Thank you for another useful post, Ez! I cannot believe that you’re touching all my blogging frustrating moments and giving a solution for everything! Thank you!

  3. Make, Do & Send / / Reply

    Wow I feel like I just got 4 posts rolled into one there is so much useful info! I was really pleased at the response I got when guest posting on Simple Blueprint a few months ago that iv been thinking about approaching a few more bloggers about guest posting but I can be a little shy. Your post has made me feel more confident as I now know the best way to go about it :) Thanks Ez

  4. Make, Do & Send / / Reply

    Wow I feel like I just got 4 posts rolled into one there is so much useful info! I was really pleased at the response I got when guest posting on Simple Blueprint a few months ago that iv been thinking about approaching a few more bloggers about guest posting but I can be a little shy. Your post has made me feel more confident as I now know the best way to go about it :) Thanks Ez

  5. Make, Do & Send / / Reply

    Wow I feel like I just got 4 posts rolled into one there is so much useful info! I was really pleased at the response I got when guest posting on Simple Blueprint a few months ago that iv been thinking about approaching a few more bloggers about guest posting but I can be a little shy. Your post has made me feel more confident as I now know the best way to go about it :) Thanks Ez

  6. Make, Do & Send / / Reply

    Wow I feel like I just got 4 posts rolled into one there is so much useful info! I was really pleased at the response I got when guest posting on Simple Blueprint a few months ago that iv been thinking about approaching a few more bloggers about guest posting but I can be a little shy. Your post has made me feel more confident as I now know the best way to go about it :) Thanks Ez

  7. Make, Do & Send / / Reply

    Wow I feel like I just got 4 posts rolled into one there is so much useful info! I was really pleased at the response I got when guest posting on Simple Blueprint a few months ago that iv been thinking about approaching a few more bloggers about guest posting but I can be a little shy. Your post has made me feel more confident as I now know the best way to go about it :) Thanks Ez

  8. Make, Do & Send / / Reply

    Wow I feel like I just got 4 posts rolled into one there is so much useful info! I was really pleased at the response I got when guest posting on Simple Blueprint a few months ago that iv been thinking about approaching a few more bloggers about guest posting but I can be a little shy. Your post has made me feel more confident as I now know the best way to go about it :) Thanks Ez

  9. Make, Do & Send / / Reply

    Wow I feel like I just got 4 posts rolled into one there is so much useful info! I was really pleased at the response I got when guest posting on Simple Blueprint a few months ago that iv been thinking about approaching a few more bloggers about guest posting but I can be a little shy. Your post has made me feel more confident as I now know the best way to go about it :) Thanks Ez

  10. Make, Do & Send / / Reply

    Wow I feel like I just got 4 posts rolled into one there is so much useful info! I was really pleased at the response I got when guest posting on Simple Blueprint a few months ago that iv been thinking about approaching a few more bloggers about guest posting but I can be a little shy. Your post has made me feel more confident as I now know the best way to go about it :) Thanks Ez

  11. Felicity / / Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing some of these blogger secrets, I always wonder what transpires behind the scenes with regards to giveaways and guest posts. Plus, you writing style is really great- clear and concise.

  12. Erika / / Reply

    Another extremely helpful post, Ez. Your expertise is invaluable.

    One additional question: how would you approach someone whom you would like to do a post on your own site (i.e. while you’re on vacation)? Are bloggers usually interested in posting for you if you ask them specifically? Or should I put out an open call on Twitter, etc?

  13. Cheyanne / / Reply

    It’s so encouraging to read these tips and know that I’m not alone in some of the frustration and confusion in being a new blogger.

    As Erica mentioned above, I’d also like to know about approaching others to do guest posts on your blog. Also which is more common: the blog author to approach someone to do a guest post on their blog, or a potential guest blogger to approach the author of the blog they would like to do a guest post on? Wow that was confusing to write.

    Cheyanne

  14. Nancy / / Reply

    Hi Ez, another insightful post. You’ve inspired me to get into action with some new free sewing patterns and desktop wallpaper downloads… I’m a print and pattern designer, after all. I really should get moving! Also, on the topic of guest posts, as you know, I just summoned up the courage to ask my favourite bloggers to post for me and they all agreed! Yay!

  15. Laura / / Reply

    Hello…

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful, honest tips. I have been maintaining a family blog for quite some time and recently started up an 'inspiration' blog that will focus on paper. I am learning so much from sites that I follow like yours who have so much to offer.
    You were talking about eliminating the blogs in your life that don't bring you joy…for me that would be blogs that aren't honest and genuine to the core.
    Creature Comforts is such a great read with my morning coffee. thank you.

  16. plantinglittleseeds / / Reply

    Thank you for this helpful information! I have recently started my own homeschooling blog, and I have been reading so many helpful, encouraging tips on your blog! Thank you!

  17. Meghan / / Reply

    I am really enjoying reading this very helpful series! Thank you for taking the time to give advice. It's greatly appreciated.

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