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A Simple Guide to Hosting Influencers (Will This Be Your Best Blogging Strategy in 2015?)

There are lots of blogging strategies out there: guest blogging, list posts, Best of posts, etc. But have you considered that you best blogging strategy might lie with hosting influencers?

Influencers are the “A-listers” that are hot in their niche, but not fitted for mainstream…

…and they’re prime for guest appearances on your blog.

Think about it. They’re not “too big” for your time, and they understand that an opportunity to get in front of an entirely different audience  benefits them as well as you.

It’s the ultimate win-win, because it blesses your blog with credibility and top-tier content, and it also gives the influencer added exposure.

In this post you’ll learn what an influencer is, where to find one, how to approach one, and finally, examples of ways you can host an influencer on your blog.

And don’t worry! It’s actually a lot easier than you think.

What’s an Influencer?

An influencer is exactly what you might already be – a voice that an audience turns to when in need of a specific type of advice or expertise.

On the high end of things, think of Sir Richard Branson for thoughts on entrepreneurship, Bill Gates on technology and innovation, and Oprah Winfrey on women and charity. Catch the drift?

When your blog is looking to grow its audience, there are two types of influencers you should be on the lookout for: competitive and complementary.

Competitive influencers are those who operate in your realm of expertise, and with whom you probably already share some audience members.

Complementary influencers are those who don’t operate in your realm of expertise, yet your audiences have shared interests.

Both types of influencers have considerable value and offer access to a new stream of potential audience members. And don’t forget, the use of influencers in your blogging strategy is symbiotic: the best guest opportunities you can offer to influencers give them just as much as they’ll give you.

Where Do You Find Influencers?

Great question.

When it comes to competitive influencers, it’s possible you already know a wide variety who influencing on a variety of scales (some big, some small).

For complementary influencers, it might be a bit trickier. Try starting with what you read online when you’re not creating your own content. Look at your favorite influencers outside your realm and from there, start thinking about market crossover.

Questions to ask when considering which influencers to host on your blog:

  • Voice: Do you share a similar voice and style that your audience (and theirs) will appreciate?
  • Topics: What topic could you present in an interview, podcast, or Google Hangout that would be of value to both audiences?
  • Involvement: How active is the potential influencer with his or her existing audience? Ideally, you’re looking for someone who will develop a rapport with your audience and then proactively share with their audience what you have created.
  • Demographic: Does the influencer have an audience similar to yours in age and gender demographics? Or are there differences that will bring a new audience segment into your world (and into theirs as well)?

When it comes to discovering new influencers, here are two not-to-be-shunned strategies:

  • Search Tools: Klout, Buzzsumo, and Follwerwonk all help bloggers discover and connect with new influencers, both inside and outside their realms.
  • Audience Polling: Never discount the power of asking a simple question. Use your blog, Facebook, or Twitter and ask your audience who they’d love to see interviewed on your site. Just watch the results flow in, and then get to work connecting.

How Do You Approach Influencers?

Carefully and with the utmost respect.

When someone’s at the point of having other people talk about them, just imagine what his or her inbox looks like. Much like yours might be, it’s filled with requests to be given something with rarely an offer to give anything in return.

Make your requests short and simple. State clearly who you are, your blog, what you talk about, and in a concise fashion, what you’re proposing.

As an example, when my “how to” blogging tutorial went live, I approached a well-known blogging influencer on Skype with these two strong sentences:

“Hey, I am Jeremy, I run Multiple Streams (400+ visitors/day), and I have been watching your videos for a while. Would love to have you come on and speak to my readers sometime.”

I stated who I am, my blog, and even threw in some quick credibility: 400 hits a day on the blog.

Concise? Check. Short proposal? Check.

We ended up hosting a webinar together, and later worked on some other “cross-pollinating” blog projects.

Now, in the follow-up, if necessary, be sure to mention the size of your subscriber list, followers in various social media outlets, and previous influencers you might have hosted.

And finally, close with the amount of time the guest influencer would be expected to contribute and in what format (blog, joint venture, Google Hangout, recorded interview). Say thank you. If you want to follow up, set a reminder for 10 days out.

Where Can I See Examples of Influencer Strategies at Work?

So we’ve hit on the benefits of hosting influencers (bigger audience), where to find them and how to approach them. How about we take a look at some influencer strategies in action?

Joint Venture Partnerships

Bobbi Palmer and Sandy Weiner are both dating and relationship coaches for women in the 40+ market. Both are incredibly successful (Bobbi just came off a Today Show appearance).

Earlier this year they decided to partner for a co-produced course called Ace the Date. They marketed it to their respective audiences and both ended up gaining followers, readers, and clients in the process.

This type of competitive joint venture works when you have an established relationship with your JV partner. Secondly, be sure to spell out the terms of the JV agreement in advance so everyone’s doing his or her share of the work.

Guest Voices On Your Blog

Guest blogs can be tricky when you’re not in control of the content. Copyblogger, however, has a nose for the finest writing talent around.

They recently hosted a guest blog by Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, and author of the bestselling book, Content Rules.

Her newest book is almost ready to be published so she built a promotion exclusively for Copyblogger subscribers. Ann is prolific on social media and shared the post far and wide. Copyblogger’s audience got an introduction to Ann and something they couldn’t get anywhere else.

And Ann? She received preorders for her book and new fans as well. They’re technically competitive – MarketingProfs and Copyblogger – but also great brand friends.

Find influencers who have something almost ready to launch – a product, a book, a tour, a course – and think of ways to feature the influencer with this launch in mind.

Interviews

Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch co-wrote A.P.E.: Author,Publisher, Entrepreneur, a must-have guide to self-publishing. In turn, they also created the A.P.E. Google+ Community.

Now, this is a private community with strict guidelines (no selling, pitching, or otherwise being a jerk), but approved members get access to the regular interviews Guy conducts with various influencers in varied fields around the web.

This is a great place to go if you’re looking to learn more about self-publishing a book (and promoting it) and for meeting new influencers through Guy and Shawn’s awesome interviews.

Ready to Host Your Own Influencers?

Hosting influencers gives your site instant credibility and a cost-effective way to put out top-tier, engaging content.

Keep it simple.

  • Find your influencers (Buzzsumo, Followerwonk, etc)
  • Approach your influencers (2-sentence, clear proposal, etc)
  • Host your influencers (joint venture, guest voice, interview, webinar, podcast, etc)

That’s it.

By networking with, and hosting influencers, your audience will grow, and your readers will be treated to interactive, world-class, “expert” content.

Have you hosted influencers on your blog? How did you connect with them, and what results did you – and your influencer – achieve? Let me know in the comments!

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