Throughout the month of July 2019, the Public Speaking Super Powers blog hosted “Speaking Palooza 2019.” This “reverse blog tour” honored “Freedom from the Fear of Speaking Month” and shared 31 days of content focused on helping readers overcome their fear of speaking and become a better speaker. In this post, I will detail the results and lessons learned.
What is a reverse blog tour?
With a traditional blog tour, an author or other expert does a series of guest posts, interviews and podcast appearances on other people’s blogs and podcasts. This is a great way to increase visibility and create backlinks to your own website.
A reverse blog tour turns this concept on its ear. Instead of you going out to other people’s blogs, you invite others to come guest post on yours. This not only increases your visibility but also can greatly increase traffic to your site during the event. And, of course, it fills your blog with great content, which can keep people coming back.
How I came to host a reverse blog tour
I first learned about this idea in a book marketing webinar. The webinar host shared a case study of an author of a zombie book who gathered a bunch of fellow zombie authors and hosted “Zombiepalooza.” This event increased her book sales, as well as the book sales of those who participated.
I thought it was a brilliant idea, and so in 2017, I hosted one for my book Your Perfect Pie on the Carma’s Cookery blog. It didn’t provide the results I had been looking for, but I learned some lessons and thought I’d give it a try with Public Speaking Super Powers.
My Goals for the Speaking Palooza 2019 Reverse Blog Tour
Before you take on any project as large and time-intensive as a reverse blog tour, you need to have clear objectives that you want to achieve. My goals for Speaking Palooza 2019 were:
- Increase sales of Public Speaking Super Powers
- Increase traffic to the Public Speaking Super Powers website and blog
- Increase visibility for Public Speaking Super Powers, as well as myself
- Increase subscribers to the Public Speaking Super Powers email list
- Increase book sales for partners who contributed to the event
- Increase awareness of partners who contributed to the event
Clearly, some of those goals are easier to measure than others. However, those were the goals I had in mind when I started working on the project and creating the strategies and tactics I would use to support them.
Logistics for a Reverse Blog Tour
Taking the lessons I learned from Piepalooza, I created a much more detailed plan of action for Speaking Palooza 2019 and started working on the project six months in advance. Here is a high-level overview of what I did:
- Developed a detailed Action and Marketing Plan
- Drafted partner recruiting emails and follow up emails
- Developed a detailed task list and assigned due dates for each task
- Developed a list of potential partners to recruit
- Started recruiting partners and tracked results
- Assigned partners who said “yes” to a specific date in the event calendar
- Developed a list of promotional assets needed
- Created promotional assets
- Developed the promotional calendar to-do list
- Scheduled posts as they came in
- Followed up with partners who did not turn in their content in by the agreed upon deadline
- Made course corrections along the way
- Implemented promotional plan starting in June
Some of the task listed above are more complex than others, but this gives you a bird’s eye view of what went into hosting the reverse blog tour.
Strategies Used for this Reverse Blog Tour
To make this event a success, I implemented several strategies.
I focused on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram for promoting Speaking Palooza 2019. For each platform, I created platform-specific assets that I used myself and provided my partners for their use, as well. Each social media platform has an ideal image size. Therefore, I created images in those sizes for each platform.
For Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, I posted three times a day:
- Once in the morning promoting that day’s content.
- Once about mid-day promoting that weekend’s bonus content.
- Once in the late afternoon teasing the next day’s content.
On Facebook, I posted about Speaking Palooza 2019 on my personal page, the Public Speaking Super Powers page, and a newly created Speaking Palooza 2019 group. To add interest, I created different versions of the promotional assets for each of these three places I posted.
I used Tailwind to optimize the timing of posting pins. I created three different versions of every pin image so that I could pin the post on three separate boards on three separate dates.
Several things went well with this event. The first being that I gave myself plenty of time by starting six months in advance. But there were other ways I was successful, as well.
I was able to recruit all the partners I needed before July began. I only had a few open slots by mid-June. What was in my favor in this regard is that I already know or am connected to a large number of speaking content providers. I used four sources of potential partners:
- The 89+ speakers I interviewed for the book. I gave them first dibs.
- I used Amazon to find authors on books about overcoming the fear of speaking or basic speaking skills.
- I asked friends I knew in the speaking community who weren’t in the book.
- I posted in the speaking-related groups on Facebook I belong to—with permission of the moderator, of course—a call for contributors.
In June 2019, the Public Speaking Super Powers website had 2,054 visitors. In July, it had 3,196. That’s an increase of 55.6%.
Of the visitors to the Public Speaking Super Powers website, 56.98% of them were new. In July, 91.1% of the visitors to the site were new. That means about 2,908 new people were exposed to me and my website.
I had 39 new subscribers in July, compared to 4 in June. That’s an 87.55% increase.
I had a few wins in with social media during Speaking Palooza 2019.
- The average reach of my Public Speaking Super Powers Facebook page increased 75% from June to July, and the page gained 8 new followers.
- 461 more people visited my Twitter profile in July than in June and my impressions doubled.
- There was an increase in profile views on LinkedIn, but I didn’t collect the data I needed to give a more precise metric on this.
- Pinterest saw the most benefit: My impressions increased 234%, my total audience increased 195%, and my engagements increased by 217%.
I believe the reason that Pinterest saw the greatest increases is two-fold: Not only was I posting every day, but I started a new strategy of posting three versions of every pin over three boards and three days.
What didn’t go so well
As with all project, there are aspects that could have been better. Here are the highlights of where my goals weren’t achieved and why I think that happened.
I experienced a very small spike in sales of Public Speaking Super Powers during the month of July. I think this may be because I really didn’t promote the book as much as I did the posts themselves. I did not think through this part of my plan and so a call to action to buy the book was not well integrated into the event. I used only passive, unobtrusive tactics.
Visibility and Book Sales for Partners
Frankly, I have no idea what the metrics were on these two goals. I did not plan a way to measure them and so I don’t have data to show that I reached or did not reach this goal. That said, since traffic to my site did increase in July, it is highly likely that at least some of my partners increased their visibility.
Decreased Engagement on Facebook
I noticed that fewer people were engaging with my posts the further into July I got. I believe this may have been due to posting fatigue. For 31 days the vast majority of my posts were about Speaking Palooza 2019. There wasn’t much to break things up—just promotion, promotion, promotion on one single topic. Yes, I wasn’t selling anything on these posts, and they all provided useful information, but I think my followers got bored. I know I did!
What I Would Do Differently
So what did I learn from Speaking Palooza 2019 that I could do better the next time I host a reverse blog tour? Here are my thoughts:
Don’t be as ambitious—unless I have a team to support me!
I did this project on my own. I had no staff or virtual assistants to help me. I created all the assets. I scheduled all the posts. I did all the work. That would be fine if I had held the event for only a week, but I did this for 31 days. I was exhausted by the end of the month.
I think that reducing the length and/or frequency of the event would help reduce topic fatigue in my audience. Perhaps only posting three times a week instead of seven or holding the event for one or two weeks instead of a whole month would work better.
Also, having a team to support you in a project like this would be very, very helpful. I would have been able to much better with recruiting, scheduling and promoting if I had the help of the following types of people:
- Graphic designer: Although I enjoy playing around with Photoshop, the volume of image content I needed to create was too much on top of all the over tasks I needed to perform.
- Virtual assistant: Having someone keep on top of the recruiting email and follow up would have been very helpful. I had too much on my plate to do this well.
- Social media manager: There was a lot that needed to be done with social media, and some of it just didn’t get done. If I had a dedicated social media person, I think benefits might have been better and the detriments would have been averted or lessened.
Another team member that would have been nice to have was someone to shoot and edit my video. Again this is fun, but I’m not an expert and someone who is would have done a better job than I did.
Choose a Better Time of Year
July proposed two challenges that were hard to overcome well. One, it was in the heart of the summer months and many of my target audience members—and partners—were on vacation or just not thinking about this type of content. I think I would have had better engagement and an easier time with recruiting and partner promotions during some other time of year.
Two, my husband and I had more getaways planned than usual—things were not planned until June, so I couldn’t have anticipated them. This meant that I had to push myself to schedule social media posts ahead of time, as well as take moments off during our time together to quickly do the posts that had to be done manually.
Be more granular and specific with my social media strategies
To save time and sanity, I pretty much used similar posting schedules across all the social media platforms I used. However, each platform really does need its own strategy. I should have been posting more often on some platforms and less often on others. And, some platforms have features that I didn’t use that might have improved my results.
Start even sooner
I gave myself six months to work on this project. During that time, I also had other things on my plate, so I wasn’t able to devote my full attention to it. Because of that, some things fell through the cracks or were done less than optimally.
I believe that allowing nine months to a year would have helped. That would have given me the time to really think through my marketing plan on a more granular level. I also would have started recruiting six months in advance, rather than the 4-5 months I did for this event.
Plan for data collection and analytics in advance
I must admit that measuring my success with this event through hard numbers and data was an afterthought. By the time I thought of it, I no longer had access to some of the data that would have helped me evaluate this event’s success. In addition, I could have asked my partners to monitor their results, as well. It would be nice to know that they actually received the benefits I intended for them.
Case Study Conclusion and Final Thoughts
Overall, I’m happy that I was able to achieve some of my goals with Speaking Palooza 2019. And, I’m glad that I was able to improve my results over Piepalooza. Would I do this again? Yes! However, I would do it differently as suggested in this post.
There is no evidence to support or refute this, however, I suspect that reverse blog tours would be much more successful for fiction and creative nonfiction books. But, I’ll keep on experimenting until I know for sure.
Is a reverse blog tour in your future?
- Would you like to benefit from my experience hosting reverse blog tours?
- Would you like to avoid the mistakes I’ve made?
- Would you like to have detailed tools to help you do it the right way out of the gate?
I’m thinking about putting together a training program on how to do a reverse blog tour to promote your book. In addition to live or video training, it would include checklists, templates, planners and more. This training would help you be better prepared than I’ve been in hosting this type of event so that you’ll get even better results.