Guest Blogging Guide

guest blogging - internet concept - text in vintage letterpress wood type stained by color inks with a cup of coffee

A powerful way to build relationships and increase traffic to your blog is to invite people to be a guest blogger on your site.  People are generally flattered to be asked, and, if done correctly, both of you benefit. Conversely, even if you don’t have a blog, have you considered writing a post as a guest blogger on someone else’s blog?

Inviting Guest Bloggers to Write Posts on Your Blog
  • The first step is to decide on your guidelines. That way you know who to invite. Write them out. At a minimum, this makes it easy to email your guidelines to prospective guest bloggers. Or post your guidelines on your site. Hubspot does a good job with this; you can read their guidelines here.
  • Extend invitations. I have a CTA (call to action) list I use when I call other business owners. It reminds me of all the ways we can potentially help each other. Extending a guest blogging invitation is on the list. If appropriate (i.e. they meet my guidelines), the list reminds me to extend them a guest blogging invitation.
  • Once the post is submitted, edit as necessary, then post. Because you sent your guidelines, the editing should be minimal. I generally add an image to the post. I prefer to do it myself (or delegate to my assistant) just to be sure it is a royalty-free image without copyright issues. It’s a nice practice to send a link to your guest blogger of your edited version for any final feedback before posting.
What Does a Guest Blogger Add to Your Site?
  • A new perspective for your readers
  • Expertise of use to your audience
  • More readers and traffic for you
  • SEO benefits

WordPress has a great article “Widen Your Circle with Guest Blogging” expanding on each of these benefits and more.

Want to See Guest Blogging in Practice?

Here’s an example of a recent guest blog post on my site. Fellow NAWBO member Suzana Roclord shares her expertise on how small businesses can improve their SEO.

The Value of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for Small Businesses

The Value of SEO is from both On page and Off page SEO

What is SEO?

In English: Increasing the exposure and ranking of websites in search engines; Google, Bing and Yahoo. Here I will be focusing on Google.

SEO is a set of processes of getting your website listed as high as possible in the SERPs (search engine result pages), it is making sure that it is visible in the organic listings of the search engines. The quality of your SEO will determine how quickly potential clients will find you when they search online for a local business which carries a specific product or service. When a business is easily found, it can attract more clients and increase its profitability.

You can be better than anyone else at what you do, but if you don’t have an online presence, potential clients won’t be able to find you.

On page SEO

On page SEO refers to optimizing the content and pages of a site. It is about creating a positive user experience. It is important to make sure that potential clients can quickly find what they are looking for. A recent study by Forrester Research found that 45% of consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns aren’t addressed quickly.

One example of on page SEO is loading speed of the pages on your website. You can check the loading speed by going to Google and typing “Page Speed Insights”. Type your URL in the box that appears. The speed of your pages should be green. If your pages load slowly, potential clients will click back in most cases, which will affect you negatively in two ways: you will lose a potential client and your website will be penalized by Google since Google can read that someone tried to land on your website, but clicked back.

Another important aspect of on page SEO is having a mobile friendly website. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized. Starting May 1st, 2016 Google started penalizing non mobile friendly websites by ranking them lower, as this article shows.

You can check if your website is mobile friendly by typing into Google “mobile friendly test”. Type your url in the box that appears and you will be able to see if your website is mobile friendly.

Off page SEO

Off page SEO refers mainly to link building. The more quality links you have going to your website, the better it is. Google looks at links going to your website as votes of confidence. The quality of the links going to your website is going to affect the ranking of your website. Because of this, you should try to get links from high authority websites going to your website. Even one high quality link is better than many low quality links.

Social media is an important element of off page SEO. When people share your content through social media, it gives your website credibility and affects its ranking.

The cost of SEO

SEO isn’t cheap. It is important to be aware of that and if someone does offer you cheap SEO, it more than likely means that it is low quality.  Poorly done SEO can hurt your website, it can for example cause your website to get penalized by Google and lose its ranking, or even worse, get de indexed (stop showing up in Google).  In the best case, poorly done SEO won’t do anything, your website won’t get penalized, but it won’t get ranked either.

Suzana Roclord

Infinite Results SEO

The goal of Your Chief Simplicity Officer is to offer you information on how you can run your small business more simply and effectively. To do this, I occasionally invite a guest blogger to bring in expertise that fills in my gaps – and hopefully yours. Thank you to guest blogger Suzana Roclord.

Ever Have a Nagging Feeling It’s Time for a New Headshot?

Maura Raffensperger headshotIf you hesitate using your current headshot, even for a minute, it’s time to get a new one!

If people meeting you for the first time look at your headshot and incredulously ask “Is that you?”, it’s definitely time for a new headshot.

If your last headshot was taken when a Republican was president, it is past time for a new headshot!

Even if only 2 out of 3 of the above statements apply, it is time for me to get a new headshot. I made an appointment with the talented Natalie Jean Ruffing of Natalie Jean Photography. She was the official photographer at the recent BRAVO award ceremony where I was an award recipient, and her event photos were outstanding.

Natalie is coming to my home office to do the shoot, and we thought it would be fun to open it up to  all of you who want a new headshot – and get you the group discount. I’ll provide some munchies and we can make it a party.

When: Thursday, June 30  from 4 – 7 pm.

Where: Oxnard Harbor area

Details in brief: Natalie will bring a backdrop. Your shoot will last 15-20 minutes. You’ll get a choice of which photo you want as a hi-res digital download. See her pdf for more info.

If interested, please email me or comment on this post, so we know how many to expect and can give you an estimated time to arrive. I’ll send you directions once you RSVP.

Remember, your headshot is part of your branding. It’s what you use on your social media profiles. It should be on your website. I use it on my business card. In the past six months, I’ve also been asked to provide it for an award booklet, a press release, promo for a speaking engagement, and 1 magazine article.  Don’t find yourself cringing when you are asked for a headshot. Make an appointment for a new headshot.

AWeber or Infusionsoft for Email Marketing?

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Why have I been an AWeber customer since 2011? Because they provided the best and most customizable email marketing platform at the best price. In fact, AWeber was voted #1 among 25 leading email marketing service providers (ESP) by PCMag readers.

And they keep getting better! You can now add tags to customers automatically using questions in your sign up form. Really, AWeber is getting closer and closer to what you can do with Infusionsoft, at a price much more comfortable for a small business owner.

I chose AWeber originally for their autoresponder features, which I wrote about in another blog post. They also have tremendous real-person phone customer service, and helpful free resources.

Want to learn more about Growing Your Business With Email Marketing? Download your free AWeber guide and see if AWeber is right for you – or just click the image at the top of this post to start a 30 day free trial.*

By the way, I did try Infusionsoft, and it was a nightmare for me. The learning curve is very high, even with their ‘training’, which took hours of my time. When I had a problem, their customer service gave me incorrect advice, and ended up erasing an entire campaign. Finally, I concluded that in addition to the considerable amount you pay Infusionsoft, you will also need to hire someone familiar with Infusionsoft to manage it for you – adding to the cost. AWeber is a much better choice for me – and for most small business owners unless/until you have a responsive mailing list of at least 3000 that is making you money with each mailing. At that point, a comparison of AWeber or Infusionsoft is merited – although AWeber keeps adding features that make it very competitive.

*Disclosure: I earn an affiliate commission if you purchase through my link. What you pay remains the same – and I am recommending what I use myself.

How to Get Media Coverage for Your Business

Getting featured in the media is GREAT for credibility, traffic, and sales.

How to Get Media Coverage for Your Business; picture of reporter

Here’s a simple free technique to make it more likely a reporter or producer will call you.

Organize a group on Meetup.

Why does this work?

Turns out producers and reporters are always looking for people and businesses to use as real-life examples in their stories.

How do I know this?

My sister is a former television news producer, and Meetup is one of the places she searches for sources.

Surprisingly, many times the producer gets no response to their email inquiry.

Remember, reporters are on a deadline, and need a fast response. Even if they can’t use you for their current story, they’ll remember you if you do respond, and you may become their go-to source the next time they have a story in your niche.

So make sure to:
  1. Set your email preferences in Meetup  to ‘Email me when someone sends me a message’.
  2. Write a good description of your group.
  3. Keep your Meetup group active.

If you’d like even more tips on how to get media coverage for your business, check out this interview with an Emmy winning news producer How to Get Featured on Network TV.

Banish Overwhelm, Not Enough Customers, Not Enough Money From Your Business

Being a business owner is hard.

It can also be immensely rewarding, both personally and financially.

There are a lot of numbers bandied about, but the SBA reports that only 50% of start-ups last five years or more.

The trick is to be in the 50% who thrive … without becoming a slave to your business.

The top three problems you face as a business owner are how to banish Overwhelm, Not Enough Customers, Not Enough Money from your business.

That’s what this book will help you with.


A Compilation of the Biggest Takeaways, Strategies, Tips and Action Steps Shared by 21 leading small biz experts, trainers, coaches, and authors.

Your editors, Maura Raffensperger and Rachel French, interviewed small biz experts in the areas you care about most and asked the tough questions that YOU want asked. The calls were recorded, then Maura and Rachel wrote a one-page action sheet of the top points made in each one-hour interview – including links to added resources. These folks have helped thousands of entrepreneurs build more profitable businesses with techniques and strategies that work. Now they’re going to teach you.

You’ll have access to the top tips of experts and authors, coaches and consultants, speakers and strategists…all sharing their very best secrets, proven strategies and practical approaches to help make sure THIS IS THE YEAR YOU GO BIG IN YOUR BIZ!

Topics Covered Include:
  • Marketing
  • Getting Paid What You are Worth
  • Time Management
  • Search Marketing Secrets Revealed
  • Effective Networking
  • Secrets of Getting Free Publicity 12 Month a Year
  • Make Money in Your Sleep/Creating Information Products
  • 5 Tips to Crank Up Your Impact and Results on LinkedIn
  • How to Be Successful Without Burning Out
  • Magnetize Your Marketing: How to do Less Marketing and Make More Money

You don’t have to lose your sanity to build a profitable business! You already invest your money and time, but are you sure you’re investing them in the right things? Let the experts teach you how to work smarter in your business – all for only $14.97.

How to Banish Overwhelm, Not Enough Customers, Not Enough Money from your Business book cover


When Is It Better To Give Than Receive in Business?

time to share visual for business sponsorship. 5 tips to decide if your business should be a sponsor

With the holidays approaching, the question of how much your business should give to sponsor worthy causes comes to the forefront – and may provide a basis to create a sponsorship budget for 2015. Maura Raffensperger, founder of Your Chief Simplicity Officer, and a proud Elite Member Sponsor of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Ventura County (NAWBO-VC) knows this dilemma well after 17 years in business. “Like many business owners, I am frequently asked to sponsor non-profits;” says Maura, “It used to be hard to say ‘No’, but I have found answering five key questions makes the decision easy, and creates a ‘win-win’ for both of us.”

Maura offers these 5 tips to help simplify your business sponsorship decisions:
    1. The organization aligns with your values.
      NAWBO, for example, is ‘a cohesive community of women business owners sharing best practices and support for each other’ which is a great fit for my mission statement and business and personal values.
    2. The organization has a written sponsorship policy.
      What do they expect of you? Are there multiple types of sponsorship? Pick the best fit.
    3. There is a responsive contact within the organization for sponsors.
      In a non-profit, this person may change every year. Do you know how to contact them? Do they get back to you? Ideally, you would like to build a relationship with this person.
    4. You will take advantage of most, if not all, of the sponsorship benefits.
      You may think they just want your money, but they want your participation, too. If your sponsorship includes seats at a banquet, for instance, they want to see those seats filled. You can be creative, and offer the tickets to clients, employees, or a student who might benefit, but it is your responsibility to make sure there is not a lonely empty table with your company name on it.
    5. They want to recognize you – make it easy for them.
      Respond promptly with their initial requests for your logo and company description, so they can add you to their promo materials and website.

You are free to publish and repost this content as long as long as you attribute to Maura Raffensperger and link back to this post.

As part of my sponsorship of NAWBO-VC, I am the title sponsor for their November 20th meeting and I would love to see you there. Click here for more information and to register. Use Promo Code MAURA to receive a 10% discount on your (non-member) registration – if you register by Monday, November 17!

Giveaway Tools to Grow Your Business

Rafflecopter has crunched the data from 50,000,000 giveaway entires to answer the question “When do giveaways receive the most entries?”  If you have considered a raffle giveaway as a way to promote your business, their infographic below is a great resource.

One of my goals this year is to increase the size of my mailing list. I’m experimenting with different ways to do this. Running an online raffle is what I’ll be trying this month. A search for giveaway tools gave me a few options; Rafflecopter is the giveaway tool I chose.

It’s important to choose a giveaway that will appeal to your target market, yet not be so generally appealing that people enter the raffle (and your mailing list) with no interest in your product or service. If you have written a book, offering a copy of it as your raffle prize is ideal , because the people who enter the raffle are obviously interested in your subject.

One of the features I like most about Rafflecopter is that you can have multiple ways for someone to enter, and you can assign points for each entry. My plan is to give points for blog comments and liking my Facebook page, for instance. But what I really want to test is the ‘viral sharing’ feature, which allows me to offer points if someone shares the raffle link on their social media profiles. This is where I see a potential for list growth.

The Rafflecopter blog suggests that running a giveaway for a month seems to work best. I’ll write a review of how well Rafflecopter worked as a giveaway tool when the month is up.

Courtesy of: Rafflecopter

Just Won $7000 on a Scratchy

Just Won $7000 on a Scratchy money tossed in air‘Just won $7000 on a scratchy’ got 38 likes and 27 comments when I posted it on Facebook. When my father died, I got 13 comments.

It was an unexpected lesson in marketing.

It started when a Facebook friend posted she was pregnant. I commented. Here’s the response I got:

I’m really not pregnant… You should not have liked or commented! Now you have to pick one of the 14 below and post to your status. This is the 2014 breast cancer awareness game. Don’t be a spoil sport; choose your poison, and change your status. Post with no explanations. Sorry, I fell for it too!

#13  on the list was ‘Just won $7000 on a scratchy’. It seemed the least obnoxious of the choices.

In retrospect, I should have ignored the instructions. I manage to do this with internet chain letters. I didn’t stop to think, as another blogger did, how does this ‘game’ actually help breast cancer awareness? But I like and respect this Facebook friend, and support breast cancer awareness. My friend would see my post, know I had followed through, and that would be the end of it; I would not ask commenters to post on their profiles. And, after all, how many people would even see it? More than three comments on a post is a rare event for me.

The Marketing Lesson

Money sells. A title doesn’t even have to promise the reader money, the mere mention of money piques interest. 

It was gratifying how many of the commenters were genuinely happy for my good fortune. But good news by itself does not generate this many comments; another post mentioning that I was honored to receive the Volunteer of the Year Award from Women’s Economic Ventures did not get nearly as many likes and comments.

The sheer number of responses to the simple phrase ‘Just won $7000 on a scratchy’ proves that mentioning money is much more compelling than mentioning good news.

How can you use a reference to money in your marketing messages? Try it. Even better, do a split test, and see which message gets a better response.

Using Google Alerts to Make Prospects Love You

using google alerts to improve customer management; image is customer management spelled out.My MileIQ review has been by far the most popular post on my blog this month – people really want what this app promises to do. And evidently the people at MileIQ are using Google alerts, because I got a very nice email from them less than 12 hours after I posted my [unsolicited] blog review of their app. What a great way to use automation (a google alert set to your company or product name) to provide a ‘high touch’ customer experience.

‘High touch’ because the email I received was obviously personalized. It didn’t just use my name, it also referenced my blog, the review I had written, and even included a link to a help article on a problem I had mentioned. Here’s the email:

Hi Maura,

Thank you very much for writing a review of MileIQ. Your blog seems like it would have a perfect audience for our service.
We noticed that you might have had some trouble with a few of your drives and wanted to share this support article with you that will ensure all your drive data is captured.
The answer to your question about turning Wifi on is yes, it helps a lot. iOS relies on this to provide significantly better location information for the iPhone. This method is also much less battery intensive than asking the phone to use the GPS chip.
Of course if this doesn’t resolve the issue we’d be happy to help you troubleshoot further.
Nat Robinson | MileIQ
Are you using Google alerts in your business? Please share what you are doing with Google alerts in the comment section, so we can all benefit from sharing best practices (or learning what did not work out so well). And, if you have yet to start using Google alerts, click the link in the first paragraph to learn how easy it is to set one up.