The Glass Ceiling, the Inner Circle, and the Key to Building a Popular Blog

image of Reichstag dome

“What am I doing wrong?” I whispered to the computer screen.

A part of me wanted nothing more than to go to bed and forget about blogging forever.

And yet, there I was, hunched over the computer, as I dug through my traffic stats for the millionth time. Somewhere inside was the answer to why I wasn’t getting more traffic, and I was going to find it.

Some people would have said I was asking for too much.

The blog was already doing decently well, averaging about 100 visitors a day after only two months. I got at least a few glowing comments on every post I wrote. Several people had sent e-mails, complementing me on my writing.

But the problem was the blog wasn’t growing.

I was putting out better content than anyone else in my niche. I tried every traffic strategy you can name. I was working on it so hard that my day job was suffering.

And yet the traffic stayed the same. It was like I’d run up against some invisible barrier, and nothing would push me past it. I was beginning to think I’d be doomed to 100 visitors per day forever, and that certainly wasn’t enough to quit my job over.

I sighed and pushed back from the computer. “I’ll figure it out tomorrow,” I said, heading off to bed.

And the next morning I woke up with a peculiar idea that explained everything.

The glass ceiling

What if I told you the blogosphere has a sort of “glass ceiling?”

The idea goes something like this:

Anyone can start a blog. If you work hard, you can even grow it to a few hundred visitors a day or so.

But at some point, the growth stalls out. You reach a plateau.

It’ll be like you’ve run into a glass ceiling — an invisible but bulletproof barrier. You’ll see bloggers on the other side, and they don’t seem to be doing anything different than you are. But for some reason, they were able to break through, and you weren’t.

It took me two years and three failed blogs to figure this out. And the answer is nothing close to what I expected.

The inner circle

The good news about the glass ceiling is there is a door.

The bad news is it’s guarded.

You see, every niche has an “inner circle.” A group of people who command a lot of attention.

Everyone reads their blogs (or books). Their opinions are widely respected. And they often coordinate their marketing to help each other grow.

In the blogging niche, it’s people like Brian Clark, Darren Rowse, Chris Brogan, and Sonia Simone — who, of course, all came together to form Third Tribe. In real estate investing, it’s gurus like Bill Bronchick, Ron Legrand, and Robert Kiyosaki.

It doesn’t matter what niche or topic you point to; you’ll find an inner circle. And if you want serious traffic — and by serious, I mean thousands of visitors per day – the fastest way to do that is to convince members of the inner circle in your niche to promote you.

They’re not going to come find you

The odds are you’re not going to publish a post some day that makes all of the insiders in your niche want to know you. If you want their help, you have to proactively build relationships.

The bloggers who bypass the glass ceiling don’t just do it by publishing more or better content than everyone else. They also do it by working behind the scenes to build friendly relationships with people who can help them.

The question is, how?

That’s the last piece of the puzzle. And it’s one that I stumbled across totally by accident.

The key to building a popular blog

Late one night, I was working on my blog and just so happened to get an IM from Brian Clark. I’d been hanging around in the Teaching Sells forums for a few months, not only soaking up the content, but answering questions from other members. Little did I know it, but I’d caught Brian’s attention, and he reached out to me.

“I really like what you’ve been posting in the TS forums. How would you like to do a guest post for Copyblogger?”

I was stunned. Copyblogger was quickly becoming one of the most successful blogs in the world, and I didn’t think I was anywhere close to being ready to write at that level. But I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity, either, so I agreed.

A week later, my first post went up, and it was the highest traffic day in the history of my new blog.

It wasn’t thousands of visitors, no. I still had a lot to learn about writing a really strong post.

But it was an eye-opener.

Brian’s help didn’t stop there. He gave me invaluable advice on how to grow my blog, and he started connecting me with power users who could help promote my posts on Digg and StumbleUpon.

Within a few weeks, I was up to an average of 2,000 visitors per day, and I had hit the front page of Digg, bringing me 20,000 visitors within a few hours. I was euphoric, and there was no question Brian’s generosity with his connections and advice were the key ingredient to making it happen.

So I started to wonder. “What if I did more of this?”

I started to guest post wherever I could, and before long, I was getting so much traffic that my server started to crash, and I had to switch hosting companies. Performancing even nominated my blog for the Best Business/Money Blog in the world.

I felt like a genius, like I’d discovered the cure for cancer or something.

But then I started to look around. I wasn’t the only one guest blogging. People like Leo Babauta, Chris Garrett, Sonia Simone, and Dave Navarro were doing it too.

And they were reaping incredible benefits.

That’s when it occurred to me: the best way to build a relationship with anyone is to give them something of value. It’s the whole principle of reciprocity. It goes back not just to the work of Robert Cialdini, but to the good old Golden Rule.

And what do popular bloggers need more than anything else?

Great content.

Why guest blogging is such a powerful strategy

It’s hard to fathom when you’re a beginner, but running a huge blog is a lot of work.

You have to come up with something brilliant to post every day, or you risk losing the attention of your audience. No vacations, no holidays, no calling in sick. You have a huge crowd of people waiting to hear what you are going to say next, and it had better be good.

Many popular bloggers publish guest posts just because it gives them a day off. Someone else can take over the show, and they can take a moment to relax and regroup. It’s not laziness; it’s a creative necessity.

And it’s also a big opportunity for you.

Not only does guest posting give you a chance to connect with a huge audience, but it also makes you a sort of understudy. The blogger begins to care about you and how you’re progressing, and they’ll go out of their way to help you grow.

The result?

Lots and lots of traffic.

Look into the history of almost any popular blogger, and you’ll find they guest posted for other popular blogs. In fact, go through the list of 30 bloggers to watch in 2010, and over half of them have written for Copyblogger alone.

It’s not a coincidence. It’s the way the blogosphere works.

Everyone talks about building a relationship with your audience — and that’s critical. But few talk about building those relationships behind the scenes. Not sucking up or trying to exploit anyone, but making yourself useful and valuable.

Becoming a contributor to their success is one of the best ways to build your own success. That makes guest blogging a smart strategy.

Stay tuned and I’ll give you some quick tips for exactly how to do it.

About the Author: Jon Morrow is the Associate Editor of Copyblogger. Get more from him on twitter.

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Comments

  1. I knew guest posting was important and very beneficial for getting traffic. But I did not know that guest blogging is such a powerful strategy.

    Your example of the glass ceiling is classic, and looks true.

    Thanks for sharing and I’m looking forward to the next post on the tips for guest posting.

    Kindest,
    Nabeel

  2. Hey Jon,

    You got me convince on guest blogging. This is great content you put together to educate individuals on the power of being a guest blogger. The key is to build relationship with individuals first. I always say that successful people always leave a trail behind. You just left a nice trail to follow. :)

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  3. As I’m starting out on two new blog projects (after several failed attempts) I find this post equal parts inspiring and terrifying. Inspiring, because it gives me hope that I can be successful, and terrifying because you have to wonder if that inner circle will accept you – if you’re stuff is “good enough.”

    Guess I’ll just keep trying and hustling. Thanks for the insight, Jonathan.

  4. I love what you said about a guest post allowing the host blogger to take a day off, which is a creative necessity. I’m so grateful to my guest posters for giving me that time to refresh and renew. I appreciate their hard work, courtesy, and attention to my readers, and am always happy to boost them up any way I can. Guest posting really does build a bridge to the next level.

  5. Guest posting is indeed one of the powerful ways to build a strong foundation for your blog. I have been gearing up and honing my writing skills (together with my guts) to dive into the guest blogging world.

  6. I was sooo intimidated at the thought of guest posting that I felt like I was staring at a bear coming right at me every time I considered it. That’s just dumb when you think about it. The whole reason we start blogs is so people will read them, right? So why not use the easy way to get more people reading? It’s funny how our minds work sometimes.

    I just recently overcame this fear and the results have been stellar! More readers, more engagement, more relationships, more momentum, and definitely more fulfilling.

  7. Stout post – one of my all-time favorites here. And the concept goes way beyond just creating blog traffic. Getting those who are already where you want to be to care about your success is the key to advancing anywhere, especially in the corporate world. It’s so much easier to climb the ladder when you have somebody at the top pulling you up.

    And if I might add one thing – Once you get there, pay it forward and help somebody else up. Not only are you helping somebody else, but you are investing in your own longevity. Being a mentor is a great way to sustain relevance.

  8. I can definitely attest to the power of both providing AND receiving guest posts. Works wonders both ways.

    The glass ceiling… I really don’t like that reference but it does seem to illustrate a real phenomenon. The other possibility, of course, is to try setting up shop in unexplored territory and conquering that instead of working in a more established niche…

  9. Jon, thanks for sharing such valuable information. Relationship is such a key concept in business, but we tend to think more about building the relationship with the client. I’ve often wondered about the “big guns” and how they keep a balance between life and work, with such a heavy commitment to daily posts.

    I look forward to more insights and quick tips about this topic.

  10. Guest posting and working behind the scenes has brought me to the popularity I enjoy today. It’s still a method I counsel to all my readers if they want to be the next star (or at least gleam a little.)

    I guest posted my butt off for a long time on several big-name blogs, and Copyblogger was a regular hangout for me. Still is. Always will be.

  11. Sounds like the best way to building a popular blog is to suck up to the popular kids?

  12. Thank you for this behind-the-scenes perspective, Jon.

    I have heard that your guest posts should be fresh, new content and you need to offer your best stuff. Which makes me wonder how I parcel out great, new content between my own blog and guest posts I want to write?

    Your thoughts on that would be appreciated.

  13. Tyler, sucking up pisses most of us off. Of course, you’re never in danger of that yourself. ;)

  14. I can see how this can work for some, I just find it awkward when someone asks if they can guest post on my blog. I think it should always be by invitation, what do you think?

    Steph

  15. I can’t find time to write a guest post. I know it’s a good idea but keeping my own blog updated daily is enough to manage. How do you find time to write extra posts for guest posting?

  16. Guest posting is also great for expanding beyond your niche.

    Let’s face it. Sometimes you just don’t like writing about niche related topics all the time, so by posting somewhere that has nothing to do with your own field, you’ll introduce yourself to new readers who may be able to benefit from your services and might not hear about what you do every. single. day.

  17. Such a great article and really makes you think. The world of guest blogging and being a blogger is like going to school as there are always going to be clique’s but if you make it or not is up to you.

  18. Looks like instead of putting all my content on my fledgling blog I had better find some other blogs to guest blog for.

    As Marsha said: How do you decide what you want to post to another blog?

    Trying to save the best for your own blog may be counter productive in the sense of trying to build traffic, no?

    After three months I haven’t even hit 50 readers a day for more than three days, thanks for the advice.

  19. I couldn’t agree more. I started my blog about 3 months ago and didn’t concern myself with statistics too much at first. I just wanted to get better at writing and find my voice.

    However, I guest blogged on Smartblog on Workforce twice and had an incredible spike in visits. Then, I hit an all-time high when I wrote a posting about a talk Chris Brogan did here in Madison, WI and Smartblog on Social Media put it in their daily newsletter! 800 hits to my site in one day where sometimes I get maybe 30. So I not only experienced the guest blog phenomenon you described but also the “inner circle” one.

    Both of those things increased the number of followers I have on twitter.

  20. Thanks for that wonderful insight. I am working on a starting a blog as we speak, your thoughts were brilliant. I will continue to soak up all your knowledge..THANKS…

  21. @Steph, interesting, I think most guest posting relationships come from the guest poster asking if they can write for the blog. Not all, of course. But I started with CB by asking Brian if I could write something for him, and that’s how nearly all guest writers start. Occasionally we’ll reach out and encourage someone to send us something. :)

    @Tyler, now did you not read the part at the end where he specifically says not to suck up? :) Sucking up mostly just gives people the creeps.

  22. Great post Jon,

    So for a new blogger like myself, do you recommend first blogging for about a month or so, establish some traffic to atleast 50-100 visitors a day, than start trying to guest blog on others blogs? Or do you think it even matters on how long you’ve been blogging before asking for guest blogging gigs.

  23. Jon,

    I published my first guest post for another blog on Monday.

    I thought it was a good post, but something which others would share. 72 hours later, it’s still being shared across the web. I’ve found it’s all about finding a collective like-minded group of individuals.

    Once you get the ball rolling (as in your case!), things really start to happen. It’s an amazing thing to watch.

    I want to share with all those who doubt the power of guest blogging. Today (Wednesday), I’ve got an email from someone interested in using my virtual assistant services.

    All this from one blog post. The power of the web knows no limits. I’m truly indebted to it. :)

  24. I never suck up.

    The flowers and chocolate I send to Sonia come from the goodness of my heart, and the underwear to Brian is just because I think he’d like a change of pace.

  25. Great post and it came at the perfect time for me, too. I was literally lying awake in bed last night thinking about why my blog can’t seem to get past the 100 visitor mark. I’m going to start looking for places to guest post now.

    Thanks!
    -Moki

  26. @Marsha: Sometimes, there is enough of a difference in topic where you can come up with fresh ideas for both, but when there’s not, I’m a firm believer in giving your best work to the biggest audience. It gives you the greatest chance of your ideas being noticed, and it also helps that most people.

    @Laura: If you need to, cut back on the number of posts on your own blog. I had a consulting client who went from five posts a week on his blog to one post a week and one guest post, and his traffic tripled. :-)

    @Tommy: I agree, although I usually try to find at least a little bit of a connection. For instance, my last blog was about personal finance, but I posted on Brazen Careerist, which is about careers. Different topic, but your career has a lot to do with personal finance, so there was at least a little overlap in audience interests.

    @Monte: We’ll be covering that shortly. Stay tuned for the announcement tomorrow.

    @Asim: I’d start as soon as possible. You probably want to have at least five or six posts up on your blog, just as an example of your work, but that’s probably enough.

  27. Thank you Jon!

    This is really valuable information. I’m managing a couple of blogs for people (who know I’m new at it!) and I’m soaking in as much as I can. You gave some really great resources in here for a newbie like me, as well as a great tip on guest blogging.

    Thank you!

  28. @jon

    Absolutely! I try to guest post on things that still have some connection. While I’m starting to focus my blog a little more on internet marketing strategy, my guest posts so far have been about working for yourself, personal branding, and the next generation of communication.

  29. I’ve done lots of guest posts. Admittedly, they’ve virtually all been on writing/blogging blogs.

    What I really need to find are large humor blogs to guest post on. But, what humor blogs are out there that accept guest post with a byline? Maybe I haven’t done enough research, but I really don’t know of any.

    My main blog is primarily humor and I need to find that “inner circle” of humor bloggers if they exist. I need to do some quality guest posts for them. If anyone knows of humor blogs like that, please let me know and I’ll submit my best.

  30. Thanks for the advice. I would never have thought of guest blogging – all I can think of is audience, audience, audience. But you’re right, they can only get you so far.

    And as I think about your advice further, I realize that most of the blogs I’ve really enjoyed have been promoted or mentioned on a larger blog’s site. Before I waste my time reading, I like to know that someone I admire likes the writer too. I’m sure that a lot of people feel that way.

    Thanks!

  31. I love guest posting, and oddly enough, some of my best and favorite posts end up becoming posts for others. Awesome post, Jon!

    P.S. – Brian, I love your shoes, and Sonia, your hair looks lovely today! :D

  32. As a newbie to blogging, I am still trying to find “my voice.” However, you’ve shared a few things that have helped me to understand how folks get “big time numbers” visiting their blogs on a weekly basis. Heart felt thanks for sharing. I don’t have it in me to “suck up” to someone just to reach or break through the glass ceiling. I’d rather do it by posting something worthwhile on another’s blog and let the chips fall where they may.
    Have an awesome day!!

  33. Hi,

    Caught me in a thinkin’ & evaluatin’ moments after a long walk around the Park across the street. 4 months now since I began my vid-blog and it’s been an experience. Getting about 1200 views/month between my blog, YouTube, blip, and Vimeo… but somethings missing!?

    Figured I should consider Guest Posting, but #1) I’m doing Video not writing, and #2) In my field of Speaking, there’s a “Ton” of sites many of which are just plain bogus and I don’t want to be associated with.

    So, considering I’m trying to break new ground in a Huuuge category, How to separate the “wheat-from-the-chaff” is a challenge in deciding Where to Guest. Maybe not a Speaking/Presentation site?

    Thanx for this post. As usual they always set an elevated standard.

  34. Jon,
    Thank u for this. Collaboration and value are the key aren’t they? It gathers even more clarity when it comes from true life experience. Great post.

  35. Thanks for the advice Jon. As a new blogger, it’s nice to have advice from those who have already “made it”. I was fortunate to have a guest post accepted by Zen Family Habits but it has yet to be posted. I will be interested to see what it does for my traffic and it was a lot of fun to write.

    If anyone one else needs a guest post, I would love to talk. Plus, I have many leather bound books and my house smells of rich mahogany. (Who knows the movie that came from?)

  36. I just loved this advice…I am inspired to put more energy into my blog and truly work on what is unique about me and share. I also believe “confidence” will have to come forward in the process. I just love copyblogger!!! ALWAYS excellent posts that are ultra informative…THANKS!

  37. @Jon: I want to Guest “Host” a party at your beach condo. Let me know when that is.

    @Tom Dolan: Anybody doing video should befriend Gideon Shalwick: http://gideonshalwick.com/

  38. Guest posting seems to be the article marketing of 2010. It is funny that few talked about guest posting several years ago. I think that it is one of the best ways to ramp a new blog.

  39. Thank you Jon. As a member of the Third Tribe, I caught some of your guest blogging insights on the interview you did with Brian Clark.
    A question, we’re talking blogging. What are your thoughts about applying the same guest blogging principle to Facebook Pages? I believe Facebook Pages are going to become the new medium for many folks replacing the more time consuming blogging models. Do you have any thought on guest “commenting” on popular Facebook Pages can help your own Facebook work? As you know, there is an automatic viral affect with Facebook commenting. Your thoughts are appreciated.

  40. Thanks, Jon.

    Got it. Answers the question I’ve had rattling in my head for weeks: educate on my blog with “cornerstone content,” and give my best ideas to guest posts to “seed” across the blogosphere.

    Thanks for the help.

  41. You look very nice today, Mr. Clark.

  42. @James, thanks for clearing that up, the chocolate and all.

    (On a more serious note…) Blogging is starting to look a lot like academic publishing, something I’m both intimately familiar with, and stopped doing (after 10 years) because I got tired of giving everything away. Quite a conundrum for me.

    @Jon, thanks for calling this out. I can think of a few other things I’d like to see called out too, perhaps I’ll do so when I have little more traction.

  43. “Teaching Sells is currently closed to new enrollments.”

    lol.

  44. @James – we just had this conversation *last week* and you DID give me exactly this advice. :D

    Jon, I can’t wait to see your quick tips!

    Thanks!
    Heather

  45. Well there you have it… it’s NOT what you know, it’s NOT who you know… it’s who knows YOU.

    Guest posting is tough, big bloggers get requests all the time, so I don’t think guest posting is the end all be all. You need to establish a relationship with the blogger somehow… and have some great content of course.

  46. Thanks Jon! I always appreciate reading your insights as you always get me thinking. :)

  47. Jonathan this was EXCELLENT!! I read from the email and felt compelled to share. You got my few minutes attention. And that is HARD to do these days :)

  48. @Joe, not sure what’s all that amusing about it, but glad to give you a giggle anyway. :)

    Teaching Sells is a program with limited enrollment, we typically open to new students once or twice a year.

  49. There are some methods which are direct earning methods and some methods which are indirect earning methods through blogging. The direct earning methods are the ones which will earn money directly. They are advertising, sponsorships, affiliate commissions and paid reviews. The indirect earning methods include writing works, signing of book deals, consultant jobs and any other service contracts. These opportunities are indirect as they come because of the blog that you have and they completely depend upon how famous you blog is. Popularity of the blog is volatile and you should put in constant efforts to upkeep its popularity. The attention span and also the interest span of the readers very small and you need to renew their interest by constantly innovating your blog and keeping the readers engaged. Only this can save your blog and make you some money.

  50. Thanks for yet another interesting article. Good quality & valuable info.

  51. Ey Jon! Thanks for this post. Badly needed by me bro!

    I run a blog that’s ABSOLUTELY, COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY unrelated to internet marketing and all and have hit a plateau of some sort at 300 visitors. I’m slowly reaching out to the inner circle of my niche (or industry( and hoping I could breakthrough the glass ceiling.

    Thanks for this inspirational and important reminder.

  52. You didn’t expect to be let into the “inner circle” that easily did you?

    I do a lot of guest posting in my niche, and plan on doing some in the marketing niche, and I’ll tell you this: if you’re going after the top bloggers, be ready for rejection…

    Guest posting is incredibly powerful, but you gotta pay your dues. Build a site of your own that’s already noteworthy before you offer up guest posts. Top bloggers are busy, the last thing they want to do is read a sub-standard guest post.

    It’s actually better to guest post on smaller sites in your niche first. Sites like MyBlogGuest (Google it!) will set you on the right path. That way, when you email an A-lister, you have a strong reputation (remember social proof?)

    *Kanye West left Chicago for New Jersey to work on his music. He didn’t shower for days, that’s how hard he worked before Ja-Z finally took notice.

    *Eminem didn’t get a record deal till he was an old man (like 29!), and it was a tumultous life before that.

    *Dave Chappelle was offered $50million for his show after years of embarassing roles in silly movies.

    *Don Cheadle played a goof ball in the Oceans 11 series’ before he got to be in Hotel Rwanda.

    *Kathy Griffith worked forever as a comedian before she got big (scratch that, she’s still on the D-list)

    I’ve failed a lot and learned that you gotta pay your dues. BUT, if you stick to it, you won’t be IN the inner circle, you will BE the inner circle.

  53. @raza, you’re dead on. When the guest post craze started (publicly) up about a year ago, I figured, rightly & wrongly, “Once everyone is talking about it, it’s way past effective.”

    Rightly because the competition is now insane.

    Wrongly because if you do make the grade, it still pays off, big.

  54. Good post, I think that knowing the right people could be the key to success in any industry. I mean, yeah, you got to have skillz but having them is only about 50% of the equation.

    I remember in eighth grade, I forgot to put my name on a test that was otherwise a perfect score. As I remember, I got a 100% — and it was the ONLY 100% in the class.

    When everybody got their papers back, I was the only one without a test in front of me. The teacher apologized when she found I was the one who didn’t put his name on the test. Then she gave me a 50% because that was her policy. I was pissed for weeks and still remember it to this day!

    But I guess the moral of the story is that when people don’t know you, you’re not going to get very far in life. If your stuff is really good but nobody knows who you are, you’ve only got 50% of the equation — which is not a passing grade!

    True for blogging, true in life. Thanks for the words!

  55. @Raza, @Dave: I don’t think it’s as much about paying your dues as being good. Experienced bloggers get rejected all the time, and new ones get accepted everyday. It all depends on how good they are and how hard they work.

    The trick is getting good, which is something I’ll be talking a lot about in a couple of weeks.

  56. Thanks Jon! I’ll let you into a secret, the first thing I do when I see the latest Copyblogger post in my email box is skip to the bottom to see who it’s by. If it’s by one of my faves (like you, Sonia, Johnny B, James or even Brian:) then I have to read it immediately. How can I resist? Actually I might turn this into a game in the future to see if I can actually guess who wrote the post without peeking.

    I’ve discovered the joys of guest posting too. It seems like a scam at first, hearing that you have to give away your best content but it’s definitely worth it. I see guest posting as free advertising for my blog. That makes it a brilliant exchange and win win win for all concerned. The host blogger gets some fab new content and a chance to help a lesser blogger climb their way up the ladder, the readers get a new voice, story and resource and the guest writer gets their name out there and some lovely new readers.

    I’m not in the inner circle yet but I think I’m getting warm. Maybe if I stop brown nosing sucking I’ll get there quicker but I can’t help it. If I see people doing a good job I like to tell them:)

  57. @jon, thanks, that’s extremely encouraging to me. One of the joys of academic publishing is that you do, in fact, have to be good. Professors writing crappy articles get denied, grad students writing good articles get published. Anonymous peer review is a beautiful thing. Judging by my publication record (quantity and venue), I’m damn good at academic writing.

    Copyblogging is different… coming at this with respect. I have a _lot_ of writing to do before I would consider my good at this style.

    @annabel, you’re moving your way in, definitely. Your notion of best work being advertising is very smart. I know that in my head, my heart isn’t so sure. You’re totally right about new bloggers coming up: this industry is turning into a celebrity machine. It’s gonna start eating it’s young pretty soon… but that’s good: the ravenous appetite for novelty ensures there’s always opportunity.

  58. Well I knew that doing guest posts is something I should do… something down there on my To-Do list, like yeah, maybe later, I’ve got so much on my plate right now. But obviously I’m missing a big opportunity. Thanks for making this abundantly clear Jonathan!

  59. I like the way that you use the english language. I am new at blogging and feel like I need to go back to to class and learn what I missed about the language.

  60. Absolutely brilliant, helpful and insight article.

  61. I don’t think sucking up gets anyone anywhere, but I do think it is necessary to show certain levels of respect to their niche forefathers, as they do open many doors, but not all of them.

  62. You’re absolutely right. Thats the way to do it. you have to give before you can expect to get.

  63. @Jon: No matter how you do it, you’re right, you have to reach the inner circle of your niche somehow. In the past few months, I’ve written almost 15 guest posts about my niche. I’ve probably reached out to 3 times that number of sites though. When bombarded with dozens of emails per day, I have to stand out somehow if I want my guest post request to stand out.

    This post and “Why No One Links to Your Best Posts” re-inforces one thing: to be popular, you gotta approach things like a coup. You need to have a solid platform that people adopt (killer content), but you gotta get support from the power brokers like the military and the media (inner circle)

  64. Great post. Thanks!
    Having multiple writers has certainly helped my blog (though I do most of it) but the notion of seeking out a guest blog slot on a popular site had not occurred to me. Great idea.

  65. Thanks for a great post and thank you for revealing some insider information.

  66. Perfect timing and great inspiration. I am ready to start building those relationships. No matter how “good” the content, if no one reads it the blog doesn’t set out what it aims to accomplish. Thank you!

  67. I like the way you always progress from pragmatic and personable to stunningly insightful.

    It’s more than just cadence … it’s like you Tango with the mind.

  68. Wow Jonathan I really learned a lot from this post.

    I have also been wondering what the heck to do to move past the 100 or so visitors a day too. I have known about guest posting and not taken it very seriously because I thought one just had to wait be invited to guest post but you are right, one has to put one’s hand up.

    ~Marcus

  69. I have just been a few days on copyblogger and boy! what an eye opener. I am currently going through the experience Jon went through during his early stages of blogging so I am beginning to learn what to do.

    This is very an insightful article. However from my observation the most successful blogs are ones that write on how to succeed in blogging and technology blogs like Mashable and Techcrunch.

    Can anyone point me in the direction of blogs outside these fields that are as equally successful i.e. niche blogs? What is it they are doing that makes them successful? What will be the one single lesson one can take away and put into practice?

  70. I just suscribed to Copyblogger a few days ago and am honestly amazed at how inspiring and encouraging the articles are. This one in particular helps me to demystify the blogsphere and encourages me to do what I’ve always done in my personal relationships – be a good neighbor! :-)

  71. Starting your own blog, In my opinion, is more rewarding and can generate more personalized messages. The glass ceiling can more easily be lifted, even if you’re marketing a business.

    Katie Frothingham

  72. I’ve been asked to post my first guest blog and I haven’t acted on it. Yet. Getting over my own glass speedbump with this post – thanks.

  73. Hmm everything seems to come down to relationships and hard work! Who figured?

    But thank you. It’s nice to know what it takes, and it’s nice that you tell it in a story-tale way :)

  74. @Rick, heh, I like “glass speedbump.” :)

  75. @Sonia :)

    But you know, there’s more than just one ceiling/speedbump, right? You reach a level with this much and plateau, something helps you reach higher and then plataeu, something new to get through before next plateau, etc. Maybe it’s just called growing up?

  76. Jon, loved the article! The read was quick because it was informative and entertaining. Will be watching for more…

  77. I agreE with the part about guest blogging allowing you to take a break. I’m trying to get guest bloggers regularly to help when I get writer’s block.

  78. @Rick, Growing up? Eeeeek!

    Never been much good at it. :)

  79. Guest posting is a win-win situation. You get the exposure and the Blogger gets to semi retire. I wonder if these popular bloggers will start charging to let people guest post on their blogs?

  80. Having had around 25-30 guest post bloggers on my blog, I can assure everyone who hasn’t had this experience, it’s not that simple:

    1. Editorial standards: unless you’re Inner Circle, you’re going to find yourself putting some work into cleaning up submitted articles. Because they aren’t going to come in perfect, and you’re not going to get the pick of the litter.

    2. Anyone serious about having guest post bloggers is going to have to get out there and recruit them, at least in the beginning. This is time consuming.

    3. Bio boxes, links, all kinds of other little details conspire to eat up time that you do not normally spend when you’re writing your own articles.

    In short, accepting guest posts can be more work than one would think. TANSTAAFL.

  81. @David Doolen: You’re absolutely right. Guest posting takes work (if you’re a guest and host)

    @Everyone: Has anyone noticed all the guest posting blog posts that have come out in the past day? SocialMediaExaminer, SearchEngineJournal, Hubspot Blog…

    Looks like you got a lot of people thinking Jon!

  82. Sorry, SME said how to write a Great Blog Post in 15 Minutes… I thought it was a Guest Blog Post in 15 Minutes.

    But still…

  83. @Raza – we’re seeing a cultural change in blogging here. It’s very cool, and kind of scary too.

    Part of what attracted me to blogging was my perception that it was a venue where one’s work could speak for itself. And, indeed, it used to be much like that. Now, it’s not.

    Bummah.

    What I believe we’re seeing is the birth of an entirely new model for publishing. And, as in most other (at least) technical ventures, first movers can pull ahead at a faster rate… simply by dint of being first!

    Ok, I’m off to find something to be first at.

  84. I guess I have to try guest blogging to finally surpass the glass ceiling I am in to. Great article to read and very informative. You are right, no blog is an island, if they do, they are certainly will be isolated.

  85. Guest blogging can be beneficial or detrimental. Really just take the black or white approach. Try a guest post if you get more traffic then continue if not then drop it and move one.

  86. This is great advice – and I’ve also benefited from guest posting, but I have a question.

    What if the top blogs in your niche are very, very ordinary – yet they attract 1000s of followers because they’re continually offering amatuerish giveaways and or are home to well-subscribed weekly memes?

    I blog in such a niche.

    What would (or do) others do in this case?

    As the ‘B list’ blogs in my niche are awesome, I’ve decided to focus my guest blogging efforts there. But is this cutting off my own nose to spite my face?

    What do others think?

  87. People can only do some much themselves – theres only so many hours in the day. Its the concept of Synnergy. 1+1 truly equals… 134.

  88. Really good article it tells me how I should be developing my blog. Albeit I will never have enough time to devote, at the least the time I do allocate can be more effective.

  89. I totally understand the glass ceiling. It seems like no matter what I do lately, I keep maxing out my readership. I am going to try and push for more guest posts out of myself.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  90. Thank you for a great insight. Its amazing to find out that this CAN be done. I am not even sure if my ‘niche’ is nice enough to be called a ‘niche’… wouldn’t it be great to be the inner circle at the get-go? ha ha

  91. Zounds, the thunderbolt of clarity: I just fold in all of the greatest SEO terms around (heavyweights like Lindsay Lohan, Tea Party, Buttocks Augmentation, Justin Bieber), weave in narrative tension and a blockbuster conclusion, submit it to the most boffo guest blogs and crash my hosting server within two hours. Bitchin’!

    No, but really: This is good stuff. I signed up to get your “1000 subscribers” video. World domination to follow. Thanks!

  92. It is great to hear that Brian Clark was so helpful to you. I have been lucky enough to have a very successful blogger in my niche help me also. The generosity of fellow bloggers is inspiring.

  93. I knew there was power in Guest Blogging but I had no idea the magnitude of it. How cool of Brian Clark to do that for you!! I have only been blogging a couple of months but it is so rewarding helping others!
    Great article
    cheers

  94. I know starting a blog can be the hardest thing to do but rewarding at the same time if it made successful. For most of websites, I try to focus on just material & not have to worry about the codes & what not.

    Honestly, my greatest challenge right now is getting to the first page of google.com. Anybody successful yet? care to share some of your tips.

    Guess Blogging, is powerful because you are posting in blogs that are mostly very popular. Except for the two days I am normally off at work would normally be the time for me to research crazy about getting up in ranks… Sigh!!! It is a very long road up to the top… :(

  95. Glass ceilings are imaginative but still it does make sense when someone who is capable enough to succeed but hasn’t all this while ;)

  96. @Joshua, I think an awful lot of us can relate to that glass ceiling metaphor. I certainly remember that sense of being at a plateau and at a loss about how to keep going.

    @Bryan, it all depends on what you’re on page one of Google for. But yes, I happen to know that Jon has some interesting things to share on that. :)

  97. Jon, we connected on Twitter recently, but it doesn’t sound like we’re related–we just have the same last name.

    I’ve started… and stopped a number of blogs dating back to 2007 and I can completely related to the “glass ceiling” effect in your metaphor.

    Experiencing the “glass ceiling” effect can be incredibly discouraging for bloggers. For me personally, it was frustrating enough to let go of several previous blogging projects.

    Recently, I’ve started blogging again and resurrected a few of my earlier blogging endeavors. I’ve resigned myself to blogging for the enjoyment of the experience and accepted the glass ceiling as a reality.

    If for nothing other than my own innate sense of curiosity, I look forward to learning more about how to connect with established bloggers.

  98. Although I knew blogging was all about “building relationships,” I can’t believe what a difference guest blogging has made. Although I’ve been a regular guest on several larger blogs, the biggest difference for me has been in opening my blog up to some “younger” bloggers….I’ve had a 100% increase in traffic this month after a concerted effort to invite new writers and established bloggers onto my site. I’m looking forward to reading your tips on getting more guest blog gigs!

  99. I like the idea of guest posting just fine, have even done a few. Maybe, it’s the very idea of being accepted by the “circle” reminds me of high school and never being one of the popular girls:( On second thought,maybe my traffic will grown and I’ll forget that the motive behind guest posting with the “big dogs” leaves me feeling a bit like a sell out:)

    Clara.

  100. @Clara, ponder, for a moment, potential ramifications of Facebook’s “Like” button, now appearing everywhere near you.

    In some sense, this is another nail in the coffin of “private privacy.”

    That is, our privacy used to be private. Now, we publicly show what we consider to be private, including what we “like” or not.

    High school: Good practice for the real thing.

    Curiouser and curiouser.

  101. Hey Jon,

    Killer content again!

    What comes to mind are two quotes:

    1. “No man is an island.”

    2. “You become successful (rich) by helping people become successful.”

    3. “It is not what you know but who you know.”

    You continue to reinforce, as in life the web is still made of people. People want to connect with people. They want to hang out with nice people and people like themselves (ie niches).

    Looking forward to Monday’s video.

    Mark

  102. Jon,

    I am inspired. And for a guy who is supposed to inspire others, that brings a tear to my eye. Thank you for taking the time to share this information. Your laid-back style and clarity of message is awesome.

    Now it’s time to go change the world…

    Dan

  103. Interesting thoughts, and I’m a big fan of Guest Blogging, but I’d suggest creating your own inner circle.

    There are always “top guys”, the niches I’ve seen as that a lot of people who are considered to be in the inner circle are actually not that much different. Heck some of the bloggers I follow now I wasn’t following 6/8 months ago, but are now considered amongst the top guys.

    They are being created every week, you need to find out where they are to begin with & then push for the top together :).

    Good post!

  104. So this might be a stupid question, but does anyone want to be in my inner circle ;-P

  105. I’v just started guest posting on a few mid-sized blogs and really connecting with people who are a few steps ahead of me. Now I gotta find a few bigger “players” to be in my inner circle.

  106. I am fairly new to blogging even though my blog has been up for more than a year now. I am learning. Your post is excellent and I would like to thank you for the effort you put into sharing your experiences with us.

  107. Hi Jon,

    I just stumbled across your awesome site, and just wanted to say that I love your videos. I’ve just started a new blog on Microsoft Apps. THis is helping me learn a
    lot. I will be sure to subscribe.

  108. An interesting post (and great site) – like the idea of guest blogging, I can see that really helping.

  109. Jon, you really hit the nail on the head. I’ve been at that ‘hovering point’ for a little while now – but I’m starting to realize blogging is truly a community effort. Put that time in, connect with people, and you’ll grow like crazy.

    The hard part? Working up the courage to take that first step and talk to the ‘big dogs’.

    Superb.
    Danielle

  110. So. . . do you need a guest blogger?

  111. The more I turn on the internet the more I keep hearing “guest blog post.” I’m thinking about inviting some people to guest post for our work blog but I’m more afraid of what I will do if the boss doesn’t agree with the actual content. I feel more confident asking someone to guest post on my personal blog.

    I’m thankful for the University of CopyBlogger and would love a sweatshirt.

    :)

    bridget willard
    @youtoocanbeguru

  112. The more I search about, the more people are suggesting to try guest-blogging. Perhaps is time I pulle dmy head out of the sand and listened to those in the know…