Post Free Ads With HARO: How to Use This Twist on Guest Posting
- Greg Miliates
We’ve all struggled to increase traffic, and every wannabe guru has a bag of tricks they’re eager to sell you.
Problem is, you want proven tactics that you can replicate for your site–tactics that drive traffic, get high-quality backlinks, and convert well.
And those proven tactics aren’t easy to come by!
That’s why I’m excited to reveal something I discovered recently that boosted my traffic and subscriber rate by 10 times.
Stop Wasting Time on the Wrong Things
Nothing’s more discouraging and demotivating than expending a ton of effort, time, and money with little to show for it. That’s a big reason why so many beginning bloggers quit: they’ve burned themselves out. Problem is, they often don’t realize that they’ve been focusing on tasks that don’t get any results.
Creating a large, engaged audience for your site isn’t easy, takes hard work, patience, and being in on the strategies and tactics that have the biggest payoff for the time–and maybe money–that you’re investing.
No one wants to spend hours, weeks, and months on tactics that don’t get them anywhere, or that only lead to tiny, incremental improvements. Rather than waste your time on low-value tasks, it’s much better to focus on the things that’ll bring you big payoffs for your effort.
The good news is that there really are proven strategies and tactics that can build your audience much faster. It’s basically like posting free ads!
Problems with Prioritizing
There are actually a few problems people run into when it comes to their blogging strategies. So much time is spent on low-value tasks that bring no results, and not enough time is spent on high-value tasks that you have killer results! Here are some of the problems people face the most frequently.
- Low-value tasks can be attractive, mainly because they’re easy, and don’t seem risky. Commenting on other sites, for example, is quick, easy, and doesn’t involve the risks (rejection, time needed) of crafting a long guest post.
- High-value tasks are sometimes hard to identify. Tons of sites tell you the 83 ways to get server-crushing traffic overnight. You skim down the list of tactics, consciously or unconsciously crossing off the tactics you know will take hard work (e.g., guest posting). Often, the tactics aren’t backed up by any research or results. And, after all, you’re one person, so how the heck are you going to implement 83 different things all at once? If you can only focus on one or two things, which do you choose?
- Laziness. This might seem redundant, but I’m calling it out again because solid results require hard work. Meaningful results take patience, persistence, and effort.
The High-Value Tactic That Got me 10x Traffic & Subscribers, Plus Instant Credibility
What I’m about to reveal is a twist on guest posting; I should mention that I’m a huge fan of guest posting, and Danny Iny is spot on with this strategy. It’s a proven way to grow a large and engaged audience. Yes, it takes time and hard work, but that just means there are fewer people willing to compete at that level–which means it’s easier for you to stand out.
While I’ve been working my guest posting strategy, I also signed up with a free service called Help A Reporter Out (HARO). HARO links reporters to sources who can provide the info needed for the reporters’ articles. HARO sends out e-mails a couple times a day with a list of article topics–called queries–which you (you’re the source) peruse, and if something strikes your fancy, you can respond to the query with your info and how you could contribute to the reporter’s article. Easy enough.
Several weeks ago, I happened to respond to a query for an article that was going to run on CNBC, and the reporter chose my response as one that he included in the article. I ended up with a link on CNBC (probably my biggest backlink to date). It led to a small spike in high quality traffic hits.
However, the day after the CNBC story posted, it was picked up by Yahoo Finance, which led to an immediate flood of traffic. Well, for me it was a flood. I went from an average of 35 visits per day to nearly 600 visits per day, and my subscriber rate went from a measly 0-2 per day to about 15 per day. All that, and I wasn’t even the prettiest face on the page–heck, my face isn’t even on there. What’s more, that Yahoo article got over 1,100 comments (sure, some are from people warning about the end times and penis enlargement, but that’s a crapload of comments all the same). Talk about a way to post free ads!
After I was featured on CNBC and Yahoo Finance, I promptly slapped their logos on my site. Instant credibility.
One caveat: After the article dropped from the front page of Yahoo Finance and CNBC, traffic from those sites virtually dried up. Despite that drop-off, since then, my overall daily traffic has more than doubled during the following weeks. I’ll take that.
How to Boost Your Chances of Success
Using HARO can be a fickle tactic, so use it as another tool in your arsenal, in addition to other high-value strategies like guest posting.
Part of the trick in using HARO as a tactic is to be patient and persistent about reading the e-mails and responding to queries that are relevant to your niche; it’s easy to get discouraged after a few days of seeing no articles relevant to your site.
In addition, you might find that you get nothing even after responding to several queries.
Stay with it though.
The first step to making HARO a high-value strategy is to skim the queries in the HARO e-mails, and just pay attention to the media outlet. I ignore all the queries for media outlets listed as anonymous or for small websites, books, whitepapers, etc. Look only for high-traffic sites and/or sites that will bring you good credibility in your niche.
When you see a query for a popular outlet, skim the query topic to see if it’s something relevant to your niche. The topic doesn’t have to be directly related, but can you can speak with some authority about.
All this might sound time-consuming, but it’s not. It takes just a couple minutes to go through even several dozen HARO queries.
To further increase your chances of success with HARO, you also need to respond quickly to the queries, and provide specific, interesting, and relevant information that the reporter can use for their article. Remember: copywriting is your friend.
Here’s a rundown of the HARO query I responded to, along with my response:
Summary: Useless Degree, Awesome Job
Media Outlet: CNBC.com
Query: I’m looking for examples/stories about people who received degrees in areas thought to be “useless” (arts, mythology, critical analysis of science fiction movies, underwater basketweaving, kayaking, etc.) who managed to defy logic and wisdom and parlay it into a well-paying career.
I have a B.S. in psychology and an M.A in recreation, but work in the IT industry as a consultant for law firms, though I have no technical certifications or formal training. I make over $150k/year, and my hourly bill rate is $165-$175/hour. I recently wrote an article on how I did it for Techopedia.
Please let me know if you have any questions or need more info. If you end up quoting me, can you link to my website (www.StartMyConsultingBusiness.com)?
Note that my response:
- was concise,
- had an intriguing hook: a completely non-technical background but making 6 figures in IT, and
- had credibility indicators: specific numbers as well as a link to my relevant article on Techopedia.
Reporters are busy, and to get PR, you have to help them with their job. Write short, catchy responses to their queries. Don’t make them wade through a 3,000-word e-mail. Get to the point fast, and make it relevant and interesting. It’s all about helping make their job easy.
Doing these things won’t guarantee success using HARO, but it ups your chances. In fact, using HARO can be even MORE effective than paying a high-priced PR firm–at least that’s the experience that Stella Fayman at FeeFighters.com had, as she discussed in a Mixergy interview.
Bottom line: guest posting is still a solid strategy, since I have more control over where and how often I have guest posts published, but HARO is a worthwhile strategy to include in your toolbox. And they’re both high-value, with the potential for big payoffs.
What low-value tasks have you been wasting time on? What strategies have gotten you the biggest results?