I was watching an interview Texas Tribune Evan Smith did with Arianna Huffington in the beginning of May, and one part of the interview centered around building blog networks on the content-for-exposure vs. cash model.
Many bloggers with something to say got their start by either cross posting to blogging networks, or starting a blog on a platform by a recognized brand.
When I had a little more spare time on hand, I also posted original content at Fast Company, Marketing Profs Daily Fix, and cross posted to Social Media Today.
In all these cases, I had a strong relationship with the brand involved, it made a ton of sense to be associated with those networks. The Blog Herald actually paid writers per post.
My experience with all those networks has been very positive, and I'd say that a couple of them provided extra exposure for a new name like mine, at the time.
Content for exposure
To this day I still receive dozens of emails from people or companies that are looking to leverage the same model -- and they cite eyeballs I would not want to miss. A typical better pitch reads like this (protecting the innocents by wiping out names, emphasis mine):
I am reaching out to you because we are looking for quality guest bloggers who would like to contribute to Company Name. We cover a variety of marketing related topics, so you can write about anything that interests you, as long as it fits under the marketing umbrella.
We also provide you with the ability to add your own Author Bio at the end of every post you write. You can include an author picture and links back to your website/blog, twitter profile, Facebook fan page, etc... Each post will also be published on my twitter profile and Facebook Fan Page for additional exposure.
Wish I had thought of that cross posting thing there. Here's another one that would not provide details until after you join:
Why should you care? Reach! Exposure! Valuable community! A vehicle to extend your personal brand to people outside your specialty area within digital. Not to mention a few special privileges for members of...
Lots of enthusiasm in this pitch, which was a very long one even as it was canned. Say less of the right things and you won't need to say so much. And pre-qualify the bloggers you reach out to, it's not that difficult to do with so much information online. Maybe your response rate will go up.
It's not about you, it's about them
The biggest difficulty I have with this kind of proposition is that while there is a lot of value being placed on content by those networks who extend pitches, there is apparently little value being placed on the bloggers they reach out to.
For networks getting started, why not share a cut from the future revenues on the site if they're going to help you build it? I get it's a chicken and egg kind of thing. However, if you're reaching out to recognized names to borrow from their following and brand, you should consider what they get out of it.
How about established networks, is there value in posting there? I think so, with a caveat -- that if you're serious you need to do your homework. This is valid on both sides of the relationship. Where I write matters to me and I look at the quality of the publication and the people involved to make a determination.
Those networks promise exposure. I think the photography definition of exposure is fitting this conversation. Your goal is to gain visibility. The two may be connected, however without a bit of homework and a solid case on hand, you won't know that.
There are many more creative ways to gain visibility. Here are a few ideas:
- do something people find valuable
- write something extremely helpful
- go deep on a topic
- align with a specific group or niche
- start a group or niche
- get your search engine optimization down
Fitting a strategy
Consider your long term strategy. These networks have their own strategy. Many think the Huffington Post makes money off its blogger network. Other media companies are looking to do the same. And not everyone wants to build their own platform.
Valuable content is hard work. A typical post here takes me about 2-4 hours to research, validate, write, and edit. Some posts take me longer. When I asked the question on Twitter, I got many responses in this range, several at around 20 minutes.
Do you participate in other networks? Are you finding them a good source of traffic and referrals?
© 2010 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.