Andreas Kambanis of the London Cyclist blog didn’t start as a blogging or a cycling expert. But hard and smart work have turned his cycling blog into his main source of income. Andreas is the first subject of a new series of Link Building Heroes and Ken McGaffin, co-author of Wordtracker Masterclass: Link Building - How to build links to your website for SEO, traffic and response discovers how Andreas uses quality blog content to build links for SEO and an email list for marketing.
Looking for top blogs
One of the first searches I do when starting a link building project is a ‘top blogs’ search on Google. Doing so brings me across lots of great sites and the fantastic people behind them.
Recently I did a search for ‘top bike blogs’ and the search brought me to a list of 50 of the top bike blogs. The list has been painstaking compiled by Andreas Kambanis who writes the London Cyclist blog.
His blog was so good that I decided to interview him to find out what drove him to create such a valuable resource.
What I found was an example of great content, clever link building, good public relations and a strategy that has now created a full time income for Andreas.
As well as the list of top cycling blogs, The London Cyclist has got some great free content.
The blog features regular posts such as “Turn your mobile phone into the perfect cycling computer and save around £300”. Andreas gives two substantial free e-books to people signing up to his email list – “A Guide to Cycling in London” and “Bicycle Maintenance Made Easy”.
These free guides are professional, full of useful advice and well designed.
They pave the way for his two paid-for products – an iPhone App on bike maintenance, and a guide to “25 London Cycle Routes with GPS”.
Objective of the blog
I asked Andreas why he started the blog.
“I was an absolute beginner at cycling. I looked for good tips on the internet but could not really find the information I was after. Most of the available information was inconsistent and incomplete.
“So I decided to create it myself. I was literally learning and writing as I taught others.”
“I was after a niche of ordinary cyclists – not the serious, lycra clad types that most of the cycling magazines were aimed at.”
Where the whole enterprise really took off was with the publication of that blog list.
According to Andreas, “it was a lot of work but it was the pinnacle of all my efforts. I’d advise anyone who is really serious to do a similar thing.”
Great effort went in to compiling the list. Andreas looked at over 100 cycling bogs using his personal judgment and some objective measures of quality, as he explains on the list:
Andreas then emailed each of the blogs featured with a quick email simply congratulating them for being included. Around 80% linked back to the list which hugely boosted the SEO.
Guest blog post strategy
In order to gain more links, Andreas looks to place guest posts on other relevant blogs. He has a very careful guest post strategy as he explains, “I look for high traffic cycle blogs that I like and approach them first by email.”
“Remember, these are very busy people and will usually not respond immediately. I’ve learned that you have to be patient and persistent. Success comes from following up – perhaps 3, 4 or even more times.”
Here are his tips for running a good guest post strategy:
- Approach only high traffic, relevant blogs – these are more difficult to get links from but the extra effort will be worth it.
- Keep your email short and to the point – busy people don’t want to sift through waffle.
- Suggest a few of the headline ideas you have – your headline ideas lets your target visualize what you can provide and your request becomes more tangible.
- Don’t become disheartened if you don’t get an immediate response – persistence will be eventually rewarded.
- Follow up politely – follow-up is essential but don’t pester people and don’t get annoyed if they refuse your request.
Andreas has now moved from being a novice to becoming an expert on cycling in London. This has brought him some high profile coverage and links such as this story from the BBC, Cycle superhighways 'a gimmick':
An important note on getting PR coverage.
Journalists love to build up contacts they can trust. So if you give good, quotable comments to journalists, you’ll be added to their contact lists and they’ll come back time and again when they need a good quote.
Many website owners think it’s difficult to get covered by the media, but it’s not - provided you make the right approach.
The resulting profile has helped establish the blog.
“I get traffic from all over the world including tourists coming to London, but my core audience is people who live in the city.”
“I also get a lot of emails from people who are looking for ideas on what they can do in their own city. ”
How much time is invested in the blog?
Of course, one of the questions I had to ask Andreas was how much time he put into his blog.
"Now it has become a full time occupation and sometimes I write from when I get up in the morning until I go to bed at night."
“The blog is now my main source of income and makes between $3-5000 per month. The income comes from sales of the e-books, affiliate commissions on cycling products I really like and some advertising. However I don’t sell text links as I think that takes away from my blog.”
But it’s not all hard work as Andreas is just back from Brazil. “I’ve had quite a few holidays because of the flexibility in writing the blog. I can stack up the content and then go on holiday.
I think there are a lot of lessons in how Andreas has approached his job. Here are my important takeaways:
• Writing lists of good blogs in your industry can bring you lots of attention – it’s what brought me to the London Cyclist Blog.
• Free e-books offer real value to your readers and help you build an email list.
• You don’t have to be an expert when you start writing – you can learn as you blog.
• Keep your quality standards high – that means you must invest time in the project.
• Be clear about how you’re going to get an income from your blog.
• A guest post strategy can be a great way to get additional links – but focus on quality.
• Make yourself available to journalists and other bloggers – have ready quotes at hand.
You can find out more about London Cycle Routes from Andreas.
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About Ken McGaffin
Ken McGaffin is an experienced internet marketing consultant and has worked for major pharmaceutical companies, advertising agencies, government bodies and non-profit organizations.
Ken unveils the secrets of successful link building in his 384-page e-book, Successful Link Building
You can watch recordings of his extremely popular (and free) Link Building Webinars