Skip the Guest Posts: Here’s How to Promote Your Blog

Skip the Guest Posts: Here’s How to Promote Your Blog

Know what’s even better than guest posting on a popular blog?

Getting mentioned or featured by a popular blogger, with a link back to your blog.

When you have an expert link to you on their blog and say, “Hey, look at this valuable info,” you are golden. No hours of sweating a topic and writing a draft necessary!

Essentially, a guest post is you promoting yourself on someone else’s platform.

By contrast, a mention from a top blogger is a recommendation from someone with thousands of loyal followers.

Which would you rather have? I thought so.

But there’s a catch: How can you — as a blogger who’s starting out, or has just a small audience — do something noteworthy enough to earn these valuable mentions and links?

Quick answer: Study what others do in your niche, think about what your readers need most — and then find a way to stand out. Bust a major move.

You can do it! I know, because I started as a total blogging newbie, and didn’t know any big bloggers. But I managed to get mentioned on many of the top sites in my niche.

Here are four things I did that helped me get those prized backlinks:

1. Enter contests

Whenever you see contests for bloggers, enter.

In fact, start writing posts with the express purpose of winning contests you know are coming up! Contests are a terrific way to gain a ton of exposure to new readers quickly.

My blog’s audience skyrocketed at the end of 2010, when I entered the Top 10 Blogs for Writers contest on Write to Done. Readers nominate you, which creates backlinks on Write to Done, even for those who don’t eventually win!

When I won, that created another backlink and drove more traffic.

In all, the contest created a major traffic surge for my blog. You can see in the chart below that my blog had only modest traffic before the contest win — 200-300 views a day (I didn’t have Google analytics until November 2010, so the figures start there).

Soon, I began seeing many days above 1,000 views:


With new readers arriving who’d seen the contest link, a couple of blog posts in January and February created similar spikes. Years later, when I analyze my biggest sources of blog traffic, I can still see a steady stream of new readers from my contest wins.

Writer’s Market has a whole section on contests, and you can Google “blogging contests” to find many online.

Note: I’m NOT talking about the scammy types of contests where you pay a stiff fee to enter. There are plenty of free or very-low-cost contests, so concentrate on those.

2. Do something different

One of the first things I did on my blog was start a petition writers could sign vowing they wouldn’t write a blog post for $15 or less. It was sort of a crazy idea, but it got readers taking action — or talking about why they wouldn’t sign.

It was something different, and it got some mentions on other blogs.

I got a taste of what standing out could do for me, and looked to take it a step further.

In late 2010, I made a decision that if my blog was all about fair pay for writers, I needed to put my money where my mouth was. At the time, few blogs paid.

So I started paying guest bloggers $50 a post (now $75). More importantly, I began advocating for websites to pay their contributors.

My pay policy gets my blog mentions and links in many, many roundup posts about paying writing markets on popular blogs. Being a paying market continues to be a point of difference for me — and I consider the money I spend paying writers for guest posts my marketing budget. It’s money well spent.

3. Provide high-value posts

We all have days when we crank out a quick idea for our blog because we’re rushed or short of time.

But if you want top bloggers to take note of you, it requires some serious thinking about your content. Analyze your most popular posts and the most popular posts of big blogs in your niche.

What are the hot topics that get a spike of readers? That’s what you need to write about.

I was pretty slow to figure this out. But if my blog is addressing the primal need of helping freelance writers earn more, it would help if I showed them exactly where they can get a better-paying gig! Duh.

Once I figured it out, it wasn’t even hard to do. When I began paying for guest posts, I started hearing from other paying blogs. In short order, I had a short list.

When I started publishing big roundup posts of paying markets, these were widely linked to by other blogs. I’ve made these market lists into a regular feature, because they continue to be big traffic drivers.

Here you can see how my most recent, biggest-ever list post created a huge traffic spike that led to a new, higher baseline for post traffic:


This comprehensive list of paying markets created a major traffic surge.

It’s the sort of event that’s a game-changer for the size of your blog audience.

4. Be their case study

Have you used a top blogger’s tip, and it helped you be healthier, wealthier, or happier? Let them know, and offer to serve as a case study.

Give them a testimonial, do a Skype recording with them, come on their podcast — and they’ll pop you on their sales page and mention your blog for months or possibly years to come.

I’m a case study inside of several different top bloggers’ courses or communities, and constantly hear from new readers who found me that way.

Think creatively

There are plenty of other ways to promote a blog: Press releases, in-person networking, and public speaking spring to mind. Some folks are techy enough to create an awesome tool to get them mentions.

You know your market, your capabilities, and what the top bloggers in your industry might respond to.

It’s worth the time to figure out how to stand out and get noticed.

Of course, unless you’d like to spend hours and hours writing guest posts, when a quick mention from a top blogger can often get you even more visitors back to your blog.

What strategies have you used to grow your blog’s audience?

Filed Under: Blogging


  • Sara says:

    wow, really creative use of contests. Never thought like that before

  • Shafi Khan says:

    Interesting points. Guest posting is overrated and there are words that Google may penalize sites offering guest posts with a sole intention of building links.

    Thanks for sharing these resources. Keep it up!

  • Ashri Mishra says:

    Great post … i am searching such kind of post … Big thanks to u
    keep posting !!

  • Carolyn Williams says:

    Very informative article, thanks! I am a blogger and I always try to promote my blog. I am sure that high-quality content is the most important for each blogger. Referring to an article, I am sure that you need to think like a reader of your blog when you are writing your article.

  • Linda Bethea says:

    I love blogging and intend to start using some of your tactics. I agree, writers should be paid.

  • Rachael says:

    Great article with some unique ideas, Carol. I feel like all I ever read anymore is doing tons of guest posting and I have a hard time doing both and writing emails to my subscriber list and writing articles that pay and writing books … I think I’ve been too shy in the past to get out there and offer my enthusiasm and make good connections that would help me build an audience. I’m getting better slowly 🙂

  • Heide says:

    That’s very interesting. I’ve only just begun writing guest posts to grow my blog. I haven’t landed any of the bigger bloggers or websites to blog post in, but I’m getting there. Your post does makes sense. Getting featured is definitely much better than writing guest posts. But that doesn’t convince me to stop writing guest posts. My blog is only getting less than a hundred views each day and I doubt that anyone would say that my blog should be checked out, especially not the popular ones. The internet is kind of like high school. You have to push your way in to become popular. But I will keep these in mind. Maybe someday I’ll be at that point where I’ll have much experience to create the ultimate blog post that will get the popular bloggers and influencers saying that my blog is a must check out.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Heidi, current traffic on your blog isn’t an indicator of whether a blogger would recommend you and link to you, in my experience — just the quality of what you have.

      Don’t underestimate how much big bloggers love to find diamonds in the rough and be first to mention and call them out — it builds their reputation for being a tastemaker. 😉

  • Laura Ryding-Becker says:

    Thanks for this post, Carol! I would never have guessed that contests could help. Thanks for that little tidbit 🙂

  • Really good article and more informative. Thanks for sharing.

  • Interesting, I did some guest posts but never got many clicks from it. Since the blog I posted on didn’t have much visitors themselves.

    I like the contest idea, gives you another audience, But the suggestion to ponder on your best visited content and work from there….hey I have an omni-blog I have different subjects, that might implicate that I have to choose…..*takes time to think this through*

    Another tip by the way is to get your link url in a newsletter like the one I got this link from 🙂

  • O says:

    Newbies example just can’t be more perfect than I. I know nothing now seems like tomorrow is going to be the same day!
    I write and I have faith ‘it will transform my outer world as well my inner world’. Writer make good use of ears to climb up to thy brains and say ‘well helo there, I see your eyes are open but inside ones are not, use my book it will help’.
    I guess marketing via bloging helping writers’ to find ears around. I hope newbie’s analysis is not absolutly newbie type. Anyone out there with a flash light from bloging world….I’m here, a poor starving as newbie, I’m a writer.

  • Claus Martin says:

    At first I am quite astonished about your desktop. It does not look like, that somebody is working at it 🙂

    My approach to blogging is a bit different. I write about all the topics, in which I am interested.

    Therefore my blog is kind of a learning diary and because I publish it, I do my best, that all is easy to understand and all is correct.

    If a topic gets a bit too specialized – like experimental mathematics for instance – I publish a separate blog about this topic.

    Now and then I update each blog post and hyperlink all posts and all my blogs, if it makes sense.

    In that way I create an information network.

    If I have studied enough about a topic and written many posts about it, I write an Ebook and publish it at Amazon, so that it can be read with the Kindle readers.

    Up to now I do no special marketing for it, because I do not have to earn money with my blog or my Ebooks.

    If readers find them interesting and helpful, I of course enjoy it and it motivates me to go on.

    If nobody reads them, then this is also o.k., because I profit a lot from doing it, because it intensifies my learning.

    I write some posts in German, some in English, some in both languages, depending on, if I expect, that a topic is interested only for German, only for English or for both readers.

    Languages are still the main obstacle for global communication, therefore I recommend to use also a symbolic language like Bliss Symbolics or a similar one.

    We still need a software, with which it is possible, to translate a text in Bliss Symbolics into a natural language and vice verse.

    This would create a major jump in global communication.

  • Larry Paz says:

    It seems to me the people who are making money at writing are the ones telling others how to write. Please correct me if that is not the case.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I know it can feel that way, Larry, but I’d say in the whole more writers are simply writing for their clients and quietly cashing their checks. I made six figures entirely from freelancing, excluding all income from my blog, for years before my blog earned. And I know many other writers earning well, writing for their business clients and/or publications.

      And most blogs that earn well, I’d say, are NOT about writing! They’re about loads of things. I gather tattoos is a topic that converts well, for instance. There are great travel blogs, business blogs, personal-development blogs.

      I started as a newbie blogger knowing nothing, and using the strategy I outline in this post really helped me to find my audience. And that enables you to earn from your blog…whatever its topic. 😉

      • Larry Paz says:

        Perhaps you are a good one to address this issue, since I find your contribution doesn’t fall into this category. I find many of The Write Life articles to be very wordy. Especially the so called free sales pitch. I find after careful analysis, most of what is published could be said in 50 to 70% less words. Am I the only one that feels my time is worth something. Is this the normal approach to copywriting? I know I’m still learning. However, I was taught to say my pitch and get off the stage. I’m getting off.

        • Claus Martin says:

          Hi Larry,

          I agree with you. But perhaps you are also a scientist or technician and we are used, to write precise and short and use graphics if possible, to make some points clearer.

          If you look at some web sites, how to write articles about travelling for instance, then you will find a lot of advice, how to use many words to describe a landscape etc.

          If such an article is 1000 words long, I could do it with 100 words only. But there may be many readers, who enjoy, to read long texts, because that satisfies their emotions.

          They may be not so eager, to get only new information.

          And I find also a difference, how women write and how men write.

          Women seem to use more emotional words.

          Therefore my advice: Just browse quickly a blog post and jump about all sentences, in which there is no important information.

  • Tal Valante says:

    I absolutely agree, Carol. When I reformed my blog into Re:Fiction and decided to accept articles from other people, it was a point of pride to offer payment ($50) on each article accepted. Because writers *should* get paid. That should be the normal order of things in the universe.

    I also love your advice about entering contests. Good on the resume, good on the Analytics account 🙂

    Thanks for sharing these four points!

    • Well…I think of this backlink/get-mentioned strategy as even better than getting $50 for a blog post. It can be of so much more value to your career to be mentioned on a top site as a good resource!

      Also, the timing of this guest post turned out to be kinda funny — because today, I put out the NEXT, even bigger edition of my ‘websites that pay’ list. Here’s hoping that gets me another round of tasty backlinks!

Speak Your Mind

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.