Become a Star on Someone Else’s Site

Imagine getting free web space to promote yourself on a site that someone else is investing heavily in to attract visitors. Sound like a fantasy? It’s reality for numerous savvy experts I know. Some even earn money through this kind of arrangement.

What makes this strategy effective is the craving of many portals for pertinent traffic-building content. They look for a name, personality, and set of credentials to help anchor visitor involvement. For instance, iVillage has around 50 “resident experts” in topical areas ranging from alternative medicine to workplace rights. Each expert is introduced with a lengthy bio and photo and contributes articles, answers visitors’ questions, or hosts scheduled chat sessions.

To get this kind of visibility at established sites with such a setup, first check to see if your arena of expertise is up for grabs. Most sites that already have a featured expert covering a subject won’t boot him or her to make room for a newcomer. Where you spot an opportunity, look around for instructions on contacting those behind the scenes at the site. Explain how you can help make the site a more compelling destination by sharing what you know.

Opportunities to do this sort of thing are endless because you needn’t limit yourself to portals and special-interest sites that already have featured expert programs. You can propose this sort of arrangement to just about any site that’s attempting to target a population that would value what you have to offer. The less obvious match-ups might prove easiest to arrange and most fruitful. For example:

  • You own a mail-order seed-and-gardening-books business: Answer gardening questions at a site selling garden furniture.

  • You run whale-watching tours: Serve as the resident marine expert for a kids’ homework site.
  • You’re a psychologist who counsels women: Set out your shingle at a menopause support site.
  • You sell skin-care products: Dispense beauty advice at an ethnic portal.
  • You present time-management seminars: Deliver tips on becoming more productive at a site selling software for law firms.

Find a site that’s content hungry enough, and you might even end up with your own no-cost site within a site that you’re free to develop as you like. Barbara Brabec, a home-business expert I’ve known for many years, had initially pooh-poohed the idea of going online, claiming that she was too old. “I can see sixty from here, and I have no interest in networking with millions of people on the Internet, wasting time browsing computer bulletin boards or learning new software programs,” she wrote in the mid-1990s. In 1999, though, I learned that she had an online home through a site that welcomed her reputation and expertise.

“Of course I was wrong about ‘too old to go online,'” she wrote me. “I was just too old to want to have to figure out how to do this myself. So the good Lord solved my problem by putting someone in my path who was delighted to do all this stuff for me in return for my presence on her web site. It has been a win-win situation from the get-go, as she has the technological expertise and I have the ability to attract visitors.” Her many-page web site at CRAFTER.COM cost her nothing. Brabec later overcame her technophobia to the extent of acquiring her own domain and creating her own site. (Her site at CRAFTER.COM is now closed.)

The “resident expert” strategy works best when you negotiate links from the minisite the host makes for you to your own, which remains completely under your control. That way, if your benefactor loses its funding, becomes unresponsive, or says enough changes have already been made to please you, those links lead visitors intrigued by your content to updated information.

“Free” can be a great deal, but sometimes its limits reflect what you paid!

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