If you haven’t come across Business2Community.com, you haven’t been paying attention. Still relatively young for such a successful blog, Brian Rice transformed his own marketing musings into a juggernaut of a blog that ranks close to the top 5,000 most visited sites online, garnering three quarters of a million visits per month.
Humble and always eager to learn, Brian allowed his role to evolve from being a solo author into being a catalyst for a large and eager community of contributors. His vision has most certainly paid off.
Tell us about how you got started blogging. When and why did you start? What where your plans?
I started blogging in early 2010 and just wanted a place to share my thoughts on marketing and social media. My initial goal was to blog a couple days a week and build my personal brand over time while connecting with others interested in the same topics.
When did things start to take off for you? Tell us about what happened.
After about 3 months, I was fortunate that AdAge added my blog (B2CMarketingInsider.com) to their list of the top 150 marketing blogs and as a result I began receiving guest post requests. The idea of accepting additional contributors on my blog was interesting so I began with colleagues, and based on the positive response and experience, I slowly started opening it up to others. After about 6 months, I was publishing something every single day and the traffic numbers quickly grew.
By the end of 2010, the site was averaging roughly 40,000 visitors a month. In early 2011, the blog relaunched as Business2Community.com and by the end of the year the site was averaging about 220,000 visitors a month. In 2012, we redesigned the site which significantly increased engagement and by the end of the year the site was averaging 750,000 monthly visitors. Currently, the number of contributors and traffic continue to grow and we are planning another redesign later in the year.
It’s interesting that you turned guest content into a huge advantage so quickly, while many bloggers report frustrations with it.
Did you ever struggle to manage guest bloggers, and how do you manage so many guest contributors now?
In the beginning it was very easy to manage because the inbound requests were only a handful a week and most of the requests came from me asking colleagues or bloggers that I admired to guest post. Currently, there are about 50 unsolicited guest blog requests a day and I read through everyone of them at night and filter out the obvious “spammers” (roughly 10% of the requests). For the other 90%, either Renee or I will follow-up to make sure they are taken care of and provided support.
Early on, what did you find most difficult about publishing a blog?
It took a while to find the right voice. For example, looking back at my first post it lacked any personality at all and after a month it was only read a handful of times.
Like most successful bloggers, you focused on a niche to start. Unlike most bloggers, however, you’ve been able to expand your topics widely with great success.
How and when did you start to expand your topics? Did you worry about it affecting your blog’s brand?
Initially I was organically increasing the topics covered as I got more comfortable with my own writing and my interests grew. However, eventually contributors and / or readers began suggesting additional topics for the blog to branch out into and based on the interest level we expanded into those areas.
I never really worried about the impact on the brand because the blog isn’t about one author or a single topic, it is all about the community and we continue to grow based on their feedback.
Now that your blog is such a popular site, what are your challenges today?
In regards to the site today, I look at everything as an opportunity rather than a challenge. We have a great team (Dan Criel and Renee DeCoskey), amazing contributors and loyal readers. I look forward to learning as we go and continuing to grow the site while highlighting the content from our 5,000+ contributors.
What advice would you give to a blogger who’s struggling to figure out how to gain a loyal audience and increase traffic?
Before you start, make sure that you are willing to commit to regularly publishing something for at least a year. To help keep you on track, create a content calendar and write out several posts ahead of time so that you aren’t always rushing to write the next post. Based on my experiences, I created the following infographic to show some simple tips for creating better blog posts.
Check out Brian’s full post with additional advice and lessons learned here. If you have any questions for Brian, we encourage you to ask them in the comments.