Ian Cleary founded RazorSocial.com and built it into an award-winning blog in only six months. I invited Ian to Marketing Smarts to discuss his approach to content creation, as well as the tools he used to build his blog audience, email list, and social media following.

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Ian is a social media tools and technology specialist; he is also a respected speaker on social media, technology, and blogging. His blog, RazorSocial, was named one of the Top 10 Social Media blogs of 2013 in the annual Social Media Examiner blog awards after only six months of operation.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation.

Writing for other people's blogs helps to build your own blog's audience (11:35): "When you start off a blog initially...if you don't have an audience...you need to borrow that audience of somebody else. So, writing guest posts on other sites helps build up your name, build up your reputation, and also bring regular traffic back to your site. And it also helps from a Google perspective, because Google wants to see you interacting in other high-profile sites in your niche."

Guest blogging opportunities arise when you meet people face to face (13:57): "I've never actually sent an email to somebody saying 'can I guest post on your blog.' I meet them at events, we've interacted online, they know me, they know the content. Then we sit down and have a conversation. Everybody struggles for content, so if it's relevant to their audience, they'll ask you to guest-post."

Incorporate social proof on your blog's homepage to increase subscription rates (8:48): "For social proof—which is just having somebody saying something good about you that's recognized within the industry—I have that within the box [at the top of the page], and that improves conversion. I have Amy Porterfield, Mike Stelzner, Mark Schaefer, all saying something nice about the blog, and that helps improve the conversion."

Blogging starts online, but offline relationships are key to making your blog successful (10:18): "It's absolutely crucial... I'm very much an online person...but at least every couple of months I go to the US...and go to conferences...When you actually meet people, that's when it really happens. You can bring the relationship so far online. You can go from exchanging tweets and then you might get onto a Skype call, or a Google hangout, but when you actually meet the person and sit down...and have lunch, or have a drink, or just chat with that person, the relationship changes. It brings it to a completely new level, and that's where the the strong bonds happen."

Share and share alike (9:21): It's about building relationships with people online and offline... Sharing other people's content, interacting through their blogs, and as you build that relationship, then people want to share out your content. You never have to ask them to share out the content. And if you focus on helping other people and promoting other people's content, well then people will start looking at your content. And as long as it's good, and it's relevant to their audience, they'll start sharing it out."

Tools Ian mentioned during this episode:

My conversation with Ian included much more. I encourage you to listen to the entire show, which you may do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

For the visually oriented, our own Veronica Jarski created these visual sketch notes of my talk with Ian:



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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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