Your key points so far (I added a few to it and we'll ask SBIers to submit their best tips, then turn this into an article for the TNT HQ) are...
1) It is not easy to get high-quality links. You can waste hours chasing people, so it's worth it to spend an hour or two to write a high-value
2) DO make that guest post FANNNTASTIC. You want to make both your "problogger" and his/her audience happy. As you say, Oghenekaro, offer "something they can hardly refuse! Uncommon content."
3) Don't lose sight of the fact that your bigger goal is to create content on YOUR site. Guest-blogging should not overtake creating your own content.
4) Be patient and wait until you have 30+ quality pages. Any serious blogger wants to see a quality site and person. They won't "endorse" anything less than a quality presentation (and publishing your article is kind of an "endorsement").
5) Don't paraphrase existing articles. Write from scratch. It can be on a similar subject that you've written about, but if you write from scratch, you'll almost surely come out with a different angle and new ideas.
6) Look for bloggers who are generous, ideally people who have allowed other guest bloggers two links. Use one of the links for your home page and the other for an important deep link. Obviously these links should NOT be "nofollow" links -- you are writing a high-value article, not commenting some drivel. Finally, include the link for your RSS feed in your sig.
7) It's just the beginning. Build relationships with the key bloggers in your niche. They do not compete with you. They complement your SBI! site...
Bloggers are usually writing time-sensitive, newsy posts or are making pithy commentary. For example, take my daughter's SBI! site, anguilla-beaches.com.
There are now several Anguilla blogs. None of them are real competition for anguilla-beaches.com. People who want NEWS on Anguilla follow them. But tourists worldwide follow anguilla-beaches.com.
And vice-versa... Bloggers won't look at you as competition. The nature of your visitors and businesses are usually going to be very different, so working with bloggers like this should yield results for most niches.
8 ) You can figure out how important a blog is by searching for your keyword at blog-search engines. See the Blog/RSS Search category of Search It!...
The blogs in the top 20 (sorted by relevance) are usually the heavyweights.
Cross-check how much traffic they get by using the Popularity category of Search It!.
9) No need to check how many people subscribe to a blog (although FeedBurner will give you that, if they use it). Here's a more important indicator...
Check to see how many comments a post gets. That's the acid test of engagement. Most blogs get near-zero comments, including some of those that claim to be getting high traffic. Maybe they are getting that traffic, but I'd rather post in a blog with half the traffic and 100 comments every time they post!
10) If you have trouble contacting the blogger via the "public" contact info, use the Vital Statistics category of Search It! to get private contact info...
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