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Nine Things I Learned From Guest Posting on Michael Hyatt’s Blog

January 31, 2010

Last week I had the privilege of publishing a guest post on Michael Hyatt’s blog, Leading with Purpose.

This was a pretty big deal to me, seeing as Mr. Hyatt is the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, the largest Christian publisher in the world and the seventh-largest book publisher in the U.S.  All of which is to say that this man gets hounded by thousands of desperately frustrated unpublished authors, which makes for a conveniently captive blog audience.

Writing a guest post was great exposure, for sure, and many nice people stopped by to congratulate me when they heard the news. But here it is a couple weeks later, and sadly, everything’s all back to normal again.

Some of you may wonder, then, what did such sweeping exposure actually do for my blogging career? (Not that my blog is a career, mind you. It’s more like a writing hobby that has gotten terribly out of control.) Did I get a book deal? Did Michael Hyatt fly me in to his office for coffee and leadership advice? Did the post get picked up by other literary agents and magazine editors, hungry for fresh, new talent?

I will tell you every excruciating detail. Here is the breakdown of what I learned from guest posting on Michael Hyatt’s blog.

1. It wasn’t’ hard to become a guest blogger.

If you spend any time reading his blog, you will quickly see that Mr. Hyatt is mostly into giving pithy advice on motivational leadership and social media topics. All of his posts use the typical Blogger 101 approach to writing standards: use scannable chunks of sentences; create easy-to-read lists and bullet points; have a strong opening paragraph; and offer plenty of links to other relevant sites. In fact, he pretty much tells you exactly what to do here, and gives more details in his guidelines for guest posts. It seems that as long as you are a decent writer with a unique story idea that fits his criteria, you’re in. Honestly, I don’t think his standards for accepting guest posts are really that stringent. Case in point: did you catch the piano teacher’s guest post on Friday? Really, you can do this too.

2. Don’t Be Deluded Into Thinking It Will Launch Your Writing Career.

Sure, the exposure and all that attention was fun – it was like being as famous as Michael Hyatt for a day. But it’s not like I suddenly started getting calls from literary agents and editors from The New Yorker telling me how brilliant I was. There was a flurry of excitement for a couple days with the comments, Tweets and new page views, and then nothing.

Although Michael did mention in an email that he “loved” my piece. That was nice.

3. There was about a 10% click-through back to my own site.

Over the course of the weekend that featured my guest post, I received about 350 new page views that came directly from the guest post on Hyatt’s blog. This is pretty good, but I honestly expected more.

How many page views do you think Michael Hyatt’s blog gets per day? He once mentioned that for every 100 page views, he gets one comment. By Sunday evening, the post had racked up 35 comments, so that would tell me he had 3,500 page views over the course of the three days. Again, I’m just guestimating here, but these calculations would say that approximately 10% of his readers came over and checked out my site.

4. It’s a quick way to score some new Twitter followers.

I got about 50 new Twitter followers during the three days while the guest post was up. Perhaps they were the same folks who came over to view my site to actually read what I was all about. But then again, with my byline at the top of the guest post, it was easy  for a reader to simply click on the Twitter link and go. There is no commitment of more reading time required, which is what’s so great about Twitter. Either way, I’ll take it.

5. It generated mentions on 5 other blogs.

This was a pleasant surprise, to get recycled on to other people’s blog posts. Five other blogs mentioned my blog site with a direct link. Interestingly, only one of them was referring to the original guest post subject of Micro-Sabbaticals. The other four referred back to another link of mine that I had secretly embedded into the post content. More on this later.

None of these blog links have brought substantial traffic to my site

6. Four new subscribers signed up for email alerts.

Email subscriptions are nice, because you know these are people who actually buy into your blog and want to know when you have a new post. Four new subscribers signed up as a result of this guest post. Although this is a small number, it’s says that the guest post can definitely add incremental fans to your own site. And that’s how we build our blogs – one new reader at a time. Although it would be much nicer to build our blogs at 100 new readers at a time.  Oh well. Also, I am hoping that there are others who have added my site to their Google Reader and will visit my blog again.

7. Build in a back-door link to your blog.

One of the smartest (and sneakiest) things I did in this guest post was to link back to another article on my blog site. In the guest post, I  had suggested one idea for a micro-sabbatical was to take up meditation. Instead of linking to some already-famous and well-trodden instructional site, I linked back to an article I had written myself many months ago on the subject of Christian meditation. This worked like a charm, and was one of the big surprises that came out of this guest post. It drew 113 views of  the 350 new page views, generated a couple great new comments and got picked up by four other blog posts. As if the readers were more interested in meditation than in micro-sabbaticals. Go figure.

8. Beware of the Michael Hyatt effect.

The top of the guest post clearly states that it is written by a guest, someone other than Mr. Hyatt, and provides a nice author byline containing links back to the guest’s blog site and twitter account. However, several clueless commentors still attributed the post to Michael, not me. “Great post, Michael!” “You did it again!” I call this “The Michael Hyatt Effect,” and found it extremely annoying. By the time these star-struck readers finished the article, they had forgotten who wrote it, and obviously didn’t care.  As long as it was posted on Michael Hyatt’s blog, he got all the credit. Maybe I should just call it “The Suck-Up Effect.”

9. The traffic bump doesn’t last very long.

Although it was nice to get that jolt in traffic for a few days, things calmed down and went right back to normal again by Tuesday. No more famous-for-a-day. No more nice email messages from Michael Hyatt. No more mentions on other people’s blogs. The attention is fleeting, and then everyone just moves on and gets back to work.

I guess that’s a good lesson for all of us aspiring writers to remember.

Photo by nAncY, used with permission.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. January 31, 2010 4:30 pm

    Ah, but did you do a follow-up buzzard story back at your blog? That’s the golden ticket, Brad. You have so much to learn…

  2. January 31, 2010 4:44 pm

    i’ve never experienced a traffic jolt.
    i hope you were wearing your seatbelt.

  3. Jim Bateman permalink
    January 31, 2010 5:11 pm

    Good post, but you said something that confused me. I read that post on Friday by the pianist. I thought it was incredibly interesting and valuable. I am curious why you used it as an example of an article that proves the bar is set low. If anything, it sort of intimidated me from writing.

    • January 31, 2010 8:31 pm

      Because he is a piano teacher, a musician – not some highly articulate and credentialed writer. He came up with an interesting, instructional post that was of practical use to many of the blogger/readers (Social media), wrote it in the prescribed Michael Hyatt format (Blogging 101), and bam. He’s on. It goes to show that it’s more about the topic and the format than the writing ability. (although I said “a decent writer. So there is some threshold that I believe most bloggers could reach.)

      So Jim, I would think you would be less intimidated. At least, that was my point. It just doesn’t seem to be that difficult if you follow the formula.

  4. January 31, 2010 5:59 pm

    Real is nice. To have people read and dialogue/interact without any false motives is a gift. I’m with Nancy, thanks for letting us know what a traffic jolt felt like. Vicarious fun. Nothing to be jealous about. 🙂

  5. January 31, 2010 6:26 pm

    that’ll teach ya… had the same experience myself recently, though not quite so dramatic. every little bit helps, though, and we still write for the love of it. it’s the keeping on that counts.

  6. February 1, 2010 7:30 am

    Thank for this analysis. It is very helpful.

    I have wondered if I should continue the practice of “guest posts.” Frankly, my traffic typically takes a nose dive on those days when I post these (with the exception of Mary DeMuth’s piece.

    My motive in starting this program was to offer my platform to other writing, so they could, hopefully, benefit from the increased exposure. Now I am not so sure.

    Thanks again for your thoughtful analysis.

    • February 1, 2010 8:03 am

      Mike,

      I hope you will continue this practice. I feature a new guest blogger each week for the same reason you stated. And while my blog hardly brings in the numbers yours does, it does expose the writer to a new audience. My first and favorite guest blogger (who was ready to shut his blog down and give up when I stumbled across his blog), will release his debut novel in the fall of this year.

    • February 3, 2010 6:18 am

      Mike – it’s a great honor, and loads of fun to be featured on a site that gets as much traffic as yours. I appreciate that you do this purely out of the generosity of your heart. Maybe you can give us minor-league bloggers some tips on how to maximize our exposure (on your site or others) to keep growing. Some of us are blogging just for the fun and the social aspects of it, but I know many that are hoping for some greater opportunity to launch their writing careers. Thanks again for the opportunity.

  7. February 1, 2010 8:25 am

    In seeing your guest post appear on Michael Hyatt’s blog I already pictured your name on a book cover, Brad!

    Thanks for keeping it real.

    Maybe you should try to get the Blogging 101 guys linking to this post. That will bring in another traffic jolt maybe?

    I appreciate Michael for trying new things and starting this new program!

  8. Becky Miller permalink
    February 1, 2010 8:43 am

    I read the post on Michael’s site and knew it was by you, not him. : ) I find that reading comprehension is not a strong skill among the general American public…

  9. February 1, 2010 9:07 am

    I read guest blogger posts because I figure anybody who writes a guest post is an intentional choice of the host blogger. And, I’m one of those that waits to read and/or reads again much later. I like it best when there is an introduction by the host or some sort of follow up comment.

    Thanks for the explanation in these followup comments about the piano teacher reference. I felt left out of some deep insider info until then. I learned stuff in this post though, but I am left wondering what the heck a “follow-up buzzard story” is?!

  10. February 1, 2010 9:52 am

    My Twitter blipped this past weekend, when I went over 500 followers. Someone told me I was No. 8 on a Follow Friday list (I had no idea) and wanted to know just who was endorsing me. Who knew?

    My guest posting to date has been at @katdish’s place, on the first Wednesday in January. I accepted her invitation not because I thought it would net me anything but because I like Kathy and was honored she asked me.

  11. February 4, 2010 11:40 am

    “It’s more like a writing hobby that has gotten terribly out of control.” (this made me laugh)

    And the thing about being addressed as him. Well, that’s okay, I’ve had people who’ve read MY blog for more than a year, who are still calling me “Brother.” Ya know? : )

    Great follow up post on your personal fleeting fame!

    (Hey, that was ME!!! I was the one who pointed back to Micro Sabbatical! Do I win a prize? : )

    • February 5, 2010 4:41 pm

      LL, I’m glad that SOMEBODY notices those not-so-subtle little funnies I put in there. “A writing hobby that has gotten terribly out of control” is so brimming with unspoken meaning for me… You have no idea! Or maybe you do.

  12. February 4, 2010 7:14 pm

    Great post Michael! 😉 j/k

    I just opened my blog to guest posts this week, but I think I will point people to this post as sort of a reality check as to what they can expect from writing one. The problem I see with many people who write guest posts is that they expect to garner in the same response as the blogger who owns the blog.

    It just isn’t realistic. It depends on the post quality obviously, but also on how much the blogger is willing to promote you. Some bloggers offer guest posts as a way of taking the day off from writing. It also depends on how much YOU promote it. If you are not responding to comments, submitting it everywhere, etc. then why should anyone else care.

    None of that is directed towards you Brad; however, I would ask that you go back and re-read this post and list everything you received as a result of your guest post. Then ask this question, “How does that compare to what I would have received from simply posting it on my own blog?” My guess is you’d be happy if every post you published got 50 new Twitter followers, 4 subscribers, and 5 mentions on other blogs.

    • February 5, 2010 10:13 am

      Absolutely. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely got a nice boost from the guest post, but it’s not like it changed my life. I guess because Michael Hyatt’s following is so enormous, I had higher expectations. Silly me.

  13. July 6, 2011 11:08 am

    Hey,

    Just so you know about the continued affect of doing that guest post… I did a yahoo search for Michael Hyatt (I follow on google reader), and this post came up at the bottom of the page (I think it was #8). Obviously, your title got me to click on it. I wonder if you are still getting some sort of ripple affect from guest posting on his blog?

    Tim Dahl

  14. July 8, 2011 5:16 am

    No, not really, I get maybe 3 or 4 hits a month to this post from either a search or from the oroginal post I did. So no ripple effect to speak of.

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