How Buffer Got 70% of Their Traffic Through Guest Blogging – 5 Questions with Leo Widrich

Buffer is this awesome application that you can use to schedule your posts on twitter and facebook. Its design and usability is fantastic. Once you start using it, you won’t go to any other app. But to start using it, you first have to hear about it. And thats where Leo Widrich – Buffer’s co-founder comes in. He has been terrific with promoting Buffer and making sure that people hear about it. And his main strategy while starting out has been guest blogging.

But Leo’s guest blogging strategy is more penetrative and impactful than anyone elses. Unlike other guest bloggers, he doesn’t aim to get a link back from the bottom of the guest post – from the Author Bio section. He aims to get link backs from the content itself. When I noticed this, I had to ask Leo how he went about with it. His answers are fascinating. Make sure you read his answer to question 4.

“Guest blogging needs to be a  longterm project. One guest  post won’t do much. But one  a week for 10 weeks will.” - Leo Widrich

1. Can you share details as to how successful guest blogging has been for you and Buffer?

Leo: That’s a fantastic question. Up until about September of last year, over 70% of our daily traffic was solely created through guestblogging. We had around 60,000 users back then. Since then we brought in some other sources of traffic. Blogposts still are around 20-30% of our daily signups though.

So, purely traffic wise, guest blogging has already been extremely powerful for us. At the same time, I can’t stress enough that what the most successful thing we achieved was to build the terrific relationships with all these great bloggers out there. Through guestblogging I was able to get in touch with the biggest and most successful blogs out there.

As an example, when we then launched the Buffer button for blogs, it was no problem at all, to get it on lots of blogs and show how it can improve sharing of articles. This longterm effect is by far the most valuable thing!

2. Do you follow a strategy or a step-by-step system for guest posting? How much time do you allocate to it?

Leo: Haha, I’m afraid I don’t. Still, there is one very important trick I have used. It’s one of the best motivators that helped me scale my blogging.

How I go about guest blogging is this: I find a few bloggers whose content I think I could match, and then I do a brief brainstorm. I jot down an introduction and then send them an email:

“Hi, I have written this Twitter Tip/Social Media guest post and was wondering if you might be interested in taking a look.”

After I receive a “sure, send it over,” knowing that I haven’t actually written the post yet, I buckle down and am able to finish it in no time. The fact that I know it will be published as soon as I send it over makes it a lot easier. I would send out 10 of those emails in a short space of time before I go to sleep, then get on average 2-4 “yes” responses back and write the posts.

Originally I would spend literally all day writing these posts, but I have scaled back to around half a day of writing every other day now.

3. How do you find decent blogs to write guest posts on?

Leo: That’s an easy one. I would just start by googling “Top 50 Social Media Blogs” and then go through list posts that I found.

Of course, it’s important not to just cold email. Browse through the posts first, get familiar with the blog owners writing style, retweet them and leave comments. And then shoot them a quick email.

4. Most people write good content rich guest posts. And then expect a link back from the very bottom – from the bio line.  Your guest posts are unique, as in many of them are helpful reviews of BufferApp – and get links from the content itself. How did you manage that?  How do you pitch the idea for your posts to the blog owners?

Leo: Ha, great spot! Yes, you make a great point. So actually, I have 3 different types of guestposts that I am writing:

  1. content rich guest posts, Buffer is in the author bio, like here.
  2. reviews of Buffer, like here on Inc.
  3. list posts of “10 Top Twitter/Social Media tools”, where Buffer is one, like here.

The reason I was able to write reviews about Buffer itself is quite simple. Very early on, when close to no one would either know Buffer nor myself, but the post was very well written, the blogger wouldn’t care. I have after a while stopped to do that and switched to Twitter list posts.

List posts actually worked much better. They would spread much further and not look like an advertisement. I heartily recommend this technique to anyone. Since I provided a blogger with great content that would get shared hundreds, sometimes thousands of times, they didn’t care too much that Buffer was part of it. 1 out of 10 is something that a lot of bloggers would accept.

5. Can you share one big lesson – that would be beneficial to other folks who want to promote their blogs and apps by guest blogging?

Leo: Hmm, that’s a good one. I think it is this one:

Don’t get discouraged if you get rejected. At the start, you will do so plenty of times. In fact, I settled for a ratio. Only 40-50% of all my attempts to write a guestpost would get through.

If you are prepared to receive many many rejections, than you are able to make it through.

One more: guestblogging needs to be a longterm project. One guestpost won’t do much. But one a week for 10 weeks will. Try to focus on volume as much as you do on quality. You need to put out a ton of posts for it to give you a return.


Action Summary:

  • Guest blogging is an awesome way to increase your website traffic. But the key is to be consistent with it. As Leo says: focus on volume as well as quality.
  • Guest blogging is a numbers game. You’ve got to be persistent even if people reject your guest blogging requests.
  • Write list posts. And let one of the bullet points be about your website. Thats the best strategy to get link backs from the content of your guest posts.

Signup for Buffer. It really is an awesome tool for social media sharing and scheduling.

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