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Transcription – Show 127 Fitness Business Podcast Amanda Vogel

Chantal:               Hey, Amanda. Welcome back to the show.

Amanda:              Thank you. It’s great to be here.

Chantal:               I am so thrilled that you said yes to coming on to this show for our Women in Fitness Month for 2017. During your bio, I was just telling everyone about your website, fitnesstestdrive.com. I think that is the dream job because I’m always seeing you testing out and blogging about the latest and greatest fitness gear. Tell us a little bit about your role and what you do on Fitness Test Drive.

Amanda:              Yeah. What I do on Fitness Test Drive is I like to find the latest health and fitness gadgets, services, products, anything new or interesting that people are wondering about or talking about. I want to try it out. Then, I like to really provide my honest feedback on the blog about what I thought about the product or the service based on the fact that I’m an insider in the fitness industry. I’m a certified fitness instructor.

Also, just based on my experience, testing out so many fitness products over the years, I can really locate a product, try it out, and nail down what’s really good about this product or different, and maybe what needs a little bit of improvement sometimes. I like to give an honest feedback that people can really come to on the blog, and find out a little bit about the product if they’re wondering about if it’s worth their time to try or to buy.

Chantal:               Well, I’m going to tell you, I’m personally jealous because I would love to have the likes of Asics and Nike just sending me a little parcel, and going, “Hey, can you just test this out for us?”

Amanda:              It is a lot of fun. I have to admit, it’s a lot of fun.

Chantal:               That’s pretty cool. That’s pretty cool. Obviously, with all of your experience writing and blogging for the fitness industry, I thought it was really appropriate that you come on today and talk to us all about guest blogging. Let’s get started. Do you want to give us a bit of an overview about what is guest blogging?

Amanda:              Sure. People may or may not have their own blog where they would submit blog posts. Obviously, you can write on your blog, but guest blogging is really about taking the skills that you have and the expertise that you have as a blogger, and blogging on other people’s blogs. Basically, being a guest in posting your content on other people’s blogs. That’s essentially and simply what guest blogging is.

Chantal:               Okay. Talk to us about how that benefits our business or how even we can make money from guest blogging.

Amanda:              Right. It can benefit your business in a number of ways. One, it helps increase your reach, and increase your opportunity for other people to find out about what you do with your own blog or in the fitness industry specifically. It allows links, obviously, back to your website or your blog. That’s another way that it can benefit you just in terms of business and marketing. Then, you also have the potential to make money.

There’s a few different ways that you can do that. One might be you’re selling something on your own blog or website. It’s way for other people to find out about what that is, and link back to your website.

Another way is if you are maybe doing fitness influencer campaigns through social media where you have a certain number of followers, and you’re a fitness influencer in your area of expertise, you might roll the idea of guest blogging into a larger contract that you already have with the brand. If you’re working with the brand to promote their products or their services, you might say, “Look, as part of the value that I’m providing, I can actually do some guest blogs on the company’s blog as well.” You roll that into whatever fee that you’re charging.

Then, the third way, which is, potentially, maybe the most common way that people use guest blogging is it’s very much like having a magazine article assignment where you write a blog post for somebody else’s blog, and they pay you for that blog post in the same way that you might write an article for a magazine, and they pay you for that article. That’s probably the most common and popular way that people make money with guest blogging.

Chantal:               Amanda, do you find that it’s important that you have your own specialty and profile, and maybe even a website and blog already established before you go out and approach other people to actually submit your blog to other websites?

Amanda:              Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, I think it depends very much on what your goals are. You might have someone who’s doing a lot of guest blogging simply because they’re trying to get their name out there in terms of being a blogger, and they want to make money from guest blogging assignments in that way. Most people, and probably the smartest strategy is that, yes, you already would have nailed down your own platform. You would have already developed social media accounts going. You would have expertise in a certain area that you’re trying to build up and develop based on the guest blogging opportunities that you might get.

When I do guest blogging, I like to, as much as possible, blog about topics that I’m already an expert in. Then, I want to help build up my platform, and let people know I’m an expert in that particular area versus something that may be way off in the left field that I don’t really talk about or blog about very much on my own blog, which might not benefit me so much in terms of developing a platform.

Chantal:               Okay. I want to share an example of my understanding of what a fitness professional could do. If you can confirm whether or not I’m on the right track with this.

Amanda:              Sure.

Chantal:               Let’s say, for example, I have a fitness business, and I specialise in back care exercises for older adults. I’m an expert in that area. I do a lot of research into that area. I have a book that I sell on my website that is related to that. In that situation, I could potentially approach, let’s say, I don’t know, a community group that speaks to older adults. As I poke around the space for older adults, I could approach a … I’m trying to think of a good example, any type of website where that same audience is at, but not necessarily receiving information about my area of specialty. I could basically approach them and say, “Hey, I’m a specialist in this area. Would you be interested in me supplying you some blogs and information about back care for older adults.” Is that what we’re talking about?

Amanda:              Yeah, absolutely. In that scenario though, when you approach them in that way, there’s two different types of blogs when you’re thinking about guest blogging. There are those blogs that might be open to the possibility of you guest blogging for them, but they certainly don’t have that structure in place for the blogs. They might be very receptive to having you contribute, but they are not necessarily going to pay you for it. Then, there are those blogs that are already set up in terms of structure for accepting guest blog opportunities, and they already know that they’re going to pay most of the time for those guest blog opportunities.

There’s two ways you can go about it. You can say, “All right. I want to do some guest blogging. I’m going to just do it to try to reach new audiences, and to build a platform, and get my expertise out there in a particular area,” or you can say, “I want to do all that. Plus, actually, I want to receive a paycheck for it.” Just because you approach a blog to do guest blogging doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to pay you for it.

Chantal:               Okay. That sets up a good scenario because I reckon, most people are thinking right now, “Well, I like the sound of option B. I want to …” Both of those things is a possibility. Let’s talk about that. How do you even know if a blog accepts guest bloggers?

Amanda:              You have to do a little bit of research. One of the things that you can do is keep your ears and eyes open in terms of maybe the blogs that you’re already looking at and reading, and see, does it seem like maybe they’re accepting guest bloggers. One of the couple of ways that you can test for that is to go in the blog, search around, and see, just look for keywords that you might see on the blog like contributor’s guidelines, or bloggers’ guidelines, or write for us, or be a guest blogger. Any of that kind of stuff, you might find it on the About Us page. You might find it at the bottom of the blog. Search around for a little bit.

You could even do a Google search either for a specific blog that you’re interested in or even just a category of blogs like blogs for older adults, or blogs for active kids, or blogs for new moms, whatever it might be. Tackle on contributor’ guidelines, or write for us, that kind of thing to find out what’s out there in terms of who’s accepting guest bloggers.

Then, the other thing that you can do is just look at a blog and observe who seems to be contributing to it. If a blog has a lot of posts coming in from different authors where the byline, that’s the author credit that goes at usually the top, sometimes the bottom of the blog post, if you’re seeing a whole bunch of different ones, that’s usually an indication that they’re getting their content from a variety of sources. It’s a good lead that they are potentially paying for that content as well.

Chantal:               Amanda, one of the things that springs to my mind when I think about submitting a blog to a website like you’ve just given the example of is how do I make my blog be seen, or how do I get the attention of that website, so that they will actually publish mine or choose mine to be paid for amongst all of the others that I’m assuming that they’re receiving. Do you have any advice, little tips for us around that?

Amanda:              Absolutely. The standard way to do it is with an introduction email that most people call a pitch, a guest blogger pitch. You are essentially briefly introducing yourself. Then, then providing for that blog that, at this point, you should already know accepts guest blog opportunities, you’re providing them with one or more ideas about a guest blog post that you can write. First, you express your interest in being a guest blogger. Then, you provide a little bit of detail about a blog post that you think might do particularly well on their blog. Going back to your example about … Was it back exercises for older adults? Was that it?

Chantal:               Yeah.

Amanda:              I mean, it could be a health and fitness type of blog that you are contacting, but it could also be a completely different type of blog that also caters to the audience you’re looking for. Maybe it is a travel blog for baby boomers, or people over 55, or 60, whatever it is. That might be a place where you can actually contribute some guest blog posts. It might not be a fitness blog, but the audience is right.

If the audience is right, if you can find a way to persuade the owner, the editor of that blog that, yes, in fact, a blog post about back exercises for this population, especially considering how your back might get sore while you’re travelling, while you’re sitting on a plane, or sitting in a car for a long time, or walking around doing sightseeing, think about ways that you can roll your expertise into this something that would benefit the readers about a particular blog.

You make the case for that in your pitch email that you send to the owner or editor of the blog. You introduce yourself. You briefly discuss the blog post that you’d like to write. Then, you might include a few details about who you are and why you are particularly qualified to write that blog post. Then, you ask, is this a guest blogging post, guest blog post, I guess that you think would work on the blog that you’re interested in.

Chantal:               Based on that pitch that you are talking about, there’s no reason why we couldn’t use that same pitch to be a guest on a podcast, right?

Amanda:              Absolutely. Yeah, you can use it. In fact, it’s based on the traditional querying approach, which is for fitness magazine. I’m a freelance writer for magazines. When I want to write an article for a magazine or a magazine’s website, I send something called the query, which is essentially what I’ve just explained to you. It’s a pitch explaining an article that I want to write, and saying why I’m the best person to write the piece. Really, a pitch email for guest blogging comes out of that tradition, and it’s very similar to that. Absolutely, you can use it for any number of circumstances including wanting to be a guest on a podcast.

Chantal:               Brilliant. Okay. We’ve covered a lot already today. Are there any more common dos or don’ts that we should know about?

Amanda:              Yeah. I mean, I think, we touched on this earlier, and I think it’s really important, especially if you have your own blog, and do produce content for your own blog, you want to really, really make sure that whatever blog you’re approaching to be a guest blogger on that they do accept guest blog opportunities.

When in doubt, it’s absolutely fine to send a quick email and ask them first. Let them know you’ve looked around the blog. You enjoyed reading the blog. You’re not a sure of if they accept guest blogging opportunities, and can they provide some insight because the last thing that you want to do is send a great blog post idea to another blogger when they have no intention of hiring you as guest blogger to do it. You don’t want to feed other people your ideas if they just don’t accept guest blog posts. That’s one thing that I would suggest is that if when in doubt, just contact the blog owner or editor and ask.

Another thing is to make sure that after you send the pitch, sometimes, if you’re lucky you will receive a feedback relatively soon. It might be a yes. It might be a no. It might be a maybe. Quite often, what happens is you don’t receive any feedback whatsoever. You don’t get a response in terms to your pitch right away or after weeks. What do you do? A lot of people give up at that point and think, “Well, that didn’t work,” and they walk away from it, and they don’t try again. It is very, very common to send pitches either for magazine writing or for guest blogging, and not receive anything back right away.

Not receiving anything back doesn’t always necessarily mean that it was a total fail. It could actually mean that the person on the receiving end of your email sees it and goes, “Maybe that might work, but I got to check with so and so,” or “I got to see what we’ve got coming up in the lineup here.” You know how it goes with email, right? You receive an email. Then, you think, “I’ll get back to that later.” Then, it goes down, down, down, your inbox. All of a sudden, you can’t see it anymore, and you’ve forgotten all about it. That’s a super common thing to happen.

My suggestion for anyone who sends out a pitch for guest blogging is if you don’t hear back, then just follow up. Take a week, take maybe two weeks, I would say, and if you haven’t heard anything, send just a polite follow-up that says, “Hey, I sent this pitch on this date. I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance to review it, and if you think it might work.”

Now, here’s the number one bit of advice that I have though for following up, a common mistake, and it happens to me because people pitch products to me to review on my blog, and sometimes they’ll follow up, but they don’t remind me of what they’re following up about. Then, that means I got to go searching all through my inbox to figure out what is it that this person initially emailed me about, which just takes more time, and probably decreases the likelihood that I’m going to get back to them in any kind of timely fashion.

When you follow up, always take the original pitch that you wrote. Copy and paste it into your follow-up email, so that people can see it again. You follow up you say, “I sent this initial email. The topic was this. For your convenience, I copied that original email below,” so they don’t have to go searching for it. They can see exactly what it was that you had originally emailed to them. Then, they might be in a better position to make a decision right there on the spot.

Chantal:               That’s such a great piece of advice. We want to make it easy for them to say yes, and to get out to us. Amanda, have you ever or does it happen that you submit a blog, and you don’t hear anything back, and then all of a sudden one day, you stumble across that they’ve actually published it? Does that ever happen?

Amanda:              It is a very common concern. It’s a common concern in freelance writing as well. Look, it can happen. It absolutely can happen. If it’s ever happened to me, I don’t even remember. The problem is that nobody owns ideas. Ideas are always floating around there. There is a strong likelihood that if you’re thinking about a particular idea, especially if it’s on trend, or timely, or connected to a particular season of the year that other people might be thinking about that too. I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt that we might be thinking about similar things at similar times.

You can never 100% guarantee that if you send somebody an idea for something that they won’t take it and use it as their own. You can only go in with the faith that they are honest, and that if they don’t want the idea, they will say so, and then not use it, or if they do end up using something that sounds like your idea that it’s just by accident at some point down the line.

I’m going to tackle on this piece of advice to that. It’s because you just have to go with a leap of faith on this, don’t let that concern stop you from fully identifying what the idea is that you want to write about. Some people might go in and think, “Well, I’ll write this pitch letter, but I’m not going to really tell them very much about what I want to do in case they try to steal the idea.” You want to give them enough detail, so that they really understand what it is that you want to write about.

Now, when I say enough detail, I mean you should be able to explain what you want to write about for the blog post in 75 to 100 words. You don’t need a lot of word count to explain it. Certainly, don’t write the whole blog post just to explain what you mean. Certainly, don’t give so much detail that you’re going overboard. You can give enough detail in less than a hundred words, so that a blog owner or editor knows generally what you want to write about. If they’re interested, they’ll contact you and ask for more. Don’t make it so sparse that they don’t know what you want, and don’t make it so detailed that they could just basically run with it, and use it on their own.

Chantal:               Amanda, I haven’t looked this up in a little while. A few years ago, there used to be a website that was called Source Bottle, as in S-O-U-R-C-E Bottle, where publications could go on and say, “We’re looking for experts in such and such.” Then, hopefully, experts could go in, and choose publications to submit their work to. Do you know if that still exists or anything similar to that?

Amanda:              I don’t know if still exists. There are other things that are similar to that if you Google. Actually, one of them that I use a lot, and it’s not specific to blogging, although it does include blog posts, is called Help a Report Out, HARO, helpareporterout.com. That’s one place that reporters, journalists, and bloggers go to find sources for their pieces, and also where sources can go to find journalists or bloggers who might be able to quote them or include them in a piece. I don’t know about the one that you mentioned whether it stills exists or not.

Chantal:               Maybe it’s an Aussie thing. Perhaps it’s an Aussie website. That might be the case. It sounds like the same thing anyway. I know that I used to find it quite helpful. You could set up an automatic alert that came to your inbox when there was a topic that was relevant to you.

Amanda:              Yes, exactly. Yeah, Help a Reporter Out does something similar. Yeah.

Chantal:               Excellent. Hey, Amanda, this has been so valuable. Thank you very much for jumping on, and joining us, and talking all about guest blogging. Are there any last pieces of advice that you would leave with our listeners?

Amanda:              Yeah. Well, thank you so much for having me on. This was fun. I certainly appreciate the opportunity to talk about this topic. The last piece of advice that I would give is, if you are considering getting out there in the world as a guest blogger, I want you to think about not just the act of producing a blog, and sending it to someone who will post it on their blog, but also thinking about how can you add additional value to the relationship beyond just producing a blog post for that person or that company.

One of the ways that you can do this to really think about your blog post goes out there, it gets published, and then, how can you contribute further. One of the ways is to make sure that you promote that content on your own social media channels. I know that a lot of blog owners want to know that as well. They might love the topic that you’re interested in your pitch letter, but they also want to know where does it go beyond there. Are you going to be able to share that content on Twitter, share it on Facebook, maybe promote it somehow on Instagram as well, so that it really increases your value as a guest blogger beyond just actually writing that blog post? Then, if you can actually do other things as well like creating video, creating photos that might go with the blog posts. All that stuff also adds additional value and can really help you get guest blog assignments.

Chantal:               Amanda, this has been just so valuable. Thank you so much. To any of our listeners out there that may be product suppliers in the industry, perhaps you can test out your pitch, and send your products to Amanda as well. You never know, she might feature it on fitnesstestdrive.com. Amanda, thank you so much for coming on, and being our expert guest on guest blogging.

Amanda:              Thank you so much. It was a lot of fun. Thank you again.

 

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