You write inspired, amazing content; the kind of stuff that would make Steinbeck himself smash his typewriter to smithereens, resigned to the fact that his work could never live up to your refined, moving prose. You write the kind of stuff that would make the Great Bard gaze upon it and weep, a defeated man, and take up farming instead.
You could be the next David Ogilvy. There’s just one problem: only your mom and your three-legged cat ever gets to read your content.
While it’s imperative that you actually enjoy the process of writing, getting your name out there is pretty much a requirement if you have aspirations of actually making money blogging.
One of the biggest challenges that new bloggers face is building a reputation and establishing credibility.
It’s sort of like that reviled work experience conundrum; most employers want you to have x years’ work experience but, in order to get said experience, you actually need to have a job…but no one will hire you because you don’t have experience. And ‘round and ‘round we go.
So, how does one actually build a reputation and gain experience as a blogger?
It comes down to one word: networking. And perseverance. And also patience. Okay so, like, three words.
Point is, you’re going to have to work it if you want to get taken seriously as a blogger. Let’s look at some of the ways in which you can improve your blog’s credibility and get some meaningful traffic.
It’s the work-experience scenario all over again and, while there isn’t really a substitute for social proof, there is a bit of a workaround.
That workaround is your blog.
Even if you haven’t done any writing work that you can showcase on your site, blogging regularly allows you to give prospective clients a good indication of the quality of your work…so make sure that it’s top notch!
If your content is really great in terms of quality (spelling, grammar, etc.) as well as adding real value, there’s no reason that it can’t be used as an acceptable substitute for social proof.
One of the best ways to get traffic to your blog and build a reputation, is to win backlinks from reputable sites with a high number of visitors.
It can be a little bit tricky to get your foot in the door, but it’s well worth it if you do. Just be sure that whatever blogs you reach out to allows backlinks so that you can create a traffic conduit to your own site. But, even if they don’t, you can still use the content as social proof and add it to your growing portfolio of work.
Here’s a list of blogs that accept guest posts.
Post your articles on LinkedIn
Because LinkedIn is currently the place where business professionals and influencers (read: the kind of people you’d like to read your stuff) hang out online, it’s a pretty good platform for you to showcase your writing abilities.
The strategy that I use (and it’s worked for me so far) is to perform a people search on LinkedIn using keywords of interest to me, for example “influencer”, “author”, “journalist”, that sort of thing. I then send them invites to connect (which they usually accept). Once these individuals are part of my network, they are exposed to the content that I post on LinkedIn.
Just be sure to post content that is suitable for a business-oriented social media platform, i.e. not a diary of your cat’s daily hairball expulsion and the celebrities that they resemble.
SlideShare is a LinkedIn product that enables you to reach an even wider audience by publishing your blog posts, eBooks, articles and infographics as slideshows.
By making use of relevant hashtags, you increase the chances of your content being found and, ideally, downloaded and shared. You can also add it to your personal LinkedIn profile so that it’s visible to new connections.
Interviews with experts
Sound intimidating? Impossible even?
It really isn’t. All you need to do is…all together now…ASK!
That’s right, as it turns out, even the most famous among us put their pants on one leg at a time. You just need to put fear – and, more specifically, fear of rejection – out of your mind.
I’ll tell you a little story from my own life.
I’ve always had lofty ambitions of being published on a certain prestigious blog. However, every time I reached out and sent a pitch, my emails were met with stony silence and I started to feel the bitter sting of rejection.
What I did next was so utterly crazy and so completely out of character that it should have scared the crap out of me. But it didn’t. In fact, I felt positively exhilarated.
I did some digging and eventually tracked down the founder of the blog’s email address, and emailed her directly stating my desire to have my work published on her blog. This person who, at the time of writing, is worth about $50 million, undoubtedly gets at least as many emails every single day, so I knew I had to get her attention.
My subject line? It’s me, Charl.
That’s it. No flowery language or nauseating, transparent flattery. Just a simple introduction.
And guess what, it totally worked. Because a mere two days later this millionaire media mogul replied to my email and invited me to contribute to a new project of hers, which I still do on a regular basis.
My point is, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. The more outrageous an idea seems, the greater the need to pursue it.
We have a wonderful little saying in Afrikaans that goes: Wie nie waag nie, wen nie. Roughly translated, it means “a person who doesn’t take risks, never wins”, and it’s become my personal mantra ever since I sent that fateful email.