How to Create an Expert Roundup Post for the First Time Part 2 [EP 36 The Blog Chronicles]
Roundup posts. They can bring your website lots of traffic…but you have to do the work first.
Have you ever tried to collect 100 expert opinions via email?
If you pull it off, many positive results will follow.
Interested? Check out my conversation with roundup post collaborator Maddy Osman.
Here, you will find out the results and what we learned from the experience.
If you have any questions, let us know in the comments.
Maddy Osman Interview Transcript Part 2
( For those who like to read.)
I Help Businesses Grow Traffic and Sales with Content Marketing.
Matthew Loomis: Hey Maddy.
Welcome back to The Blog Chronicles once again!
Maddy Osman: Thanks for having me back!
Maddy, You’ve Been on The Blog Chronicles Previously with Part One of – How To Create an Expert Roundup Post for the First Time – Part One
Matthew Loomis: Yes, that’s right.
You were on with me previously on an episode called – How To Create An Expert Roundup Post For The First Time – Part one.
And today is part two.
Maddy Osman: Seems like it’s been so long since our first episode.
Matthew Loomis: Well, it kind of has actually.
Maddy Osman: Hopefully we accomplished what we set out to do.
Matthew Loomis: Yes. We did and that’s what we want to talk about today.
We did, in fact, create an Expert Roundup Post.
We have some things to go over and we hope that part one and part two will help bloggers to decide first of all if they even want to create an epic Expert Roundup Post and how to do it.
Maddy Osman: Yeah.
Can You Tell Us More About the Google Forms?
Matthew Loomis: So you can learn from our mistakes.
Which we will talk about here in a minute.
When I say ”mistakes” we’re going to talk about anything that we might do differently now in hindsight. What we actually did learn from this and things like that.
First of all, let me talk about the topic real quick.
In our initial Part One conversation, we did not have a topic nailed down. We finally came up with how to make money using curation. That was our topic.
So let’s see… We created an opt-in form, do you want to talk about that for a second?
Maddy Osman: Sure.
So basically we made use of Google Forms.
Which seems to be a popular way to go about this type of thing. We sent an e-mail to a bunch of people it was probably two-hundred people or something like that maybe more.
We basically told them about our project. We set them up for the topic and then asked them to fill out the form which was simply – Name, Email, Response, Twitter Handle.
We also included a link for them to add a headshot.
That’s an important thing to touch on because with Google Forms you can’t directly upload an image. So you have to think through how you’re going to get those headshots because you don’t want to wait obviously until the minute that you’re putting up the Roundup to get that separate person.
Can You Tell Us How it Went Getting the Headshot Images Uploaded?
Matthew Loomis: How did we get those headshots?
Some of them had to directly email them to us. Right?
Maddy Osman: Right.
What happened was, we asked for a link to Dropbox or Google Drive.
In some cases even when they did provide the link sometimes there is a permissions issue. Sometimes it’s definitely something you want to look into or maybe test the links that you have before crunch time.
Matthew Loomis: Very true
That is one thing that we would do a little differently if we could.
Yeah, I wish I had somebody on here that has done like a ”hundred” of these things
Maddy Osman: That would be interesting.
To see how they would find better ways to do those little things that are active thoughts until they become important.
Matthew Loomis: Exactly!
I know somebody that does them for a living.
But she doesn’t like to just tell you everything she knows.
Which is understandable.
Maddy Osman: Fair enough!
Matthew Loomis: Maybe I should just hire her!
Maddy Osman: Get her secrets.
Matthew Loomis: Exactly.
So actually I think it was around a hundred and fifty folks that we sent an invitation to.
If you go to the post… There is a link to that in The Show Notes you can see that we ended up with (not counting you and I.) We had a response of thirty-eight people.
Which I think that is interesting because on the part one show we were talking about how a lot of people get a result of about 30% here and that’s not too far from 30%
Maddy Osman: Yeah, I would say overall we did pretty well with that conversion.
And I think also what may be helped is that we extended the deadline with a couple of days. So a couple of people who must have been initially overwhelmed with the first e-mail or two that we sent we like ”Okay, I really do want to participate and now I have the time to do that.”
Then we got in a couple of more responses at that final hour.
Don’t Feel Bad If You Have To Send Two or Three Emails to Your Prospective Expert
Matthew Loomis: I think that’s a good lesson right there.
Is to be not too shy about asking or don’t feel like you’re bugging the expert if you do need to send two or three emails.
Ten is probably going overboard. But if you need to send maybe three…
Let’s see, in our process, we had initially… and if you’re wondering why some of these details are a little fuzzy? Because you know this has been over a few months in the process.
But yeah, we typically just emailed them. We had the initial invitation and then we had a follow-up if they had not responded (I was trying to remember how we did that.)
Maddy Osman: I think if somebody had contributed already we just took them off of our follow-up list.
Matthew Loomis: Yes I think that’s it.
Maddy Osman: Or if somebody said ”I’m just not interested in doing expert roundup contributions right now.”
Then, the same thing.
Matthew Loomis: Oh yeah, right. For sure.
And then, of course, we had the announcement that the Expert Roundup Post is now ready and published, of course, once it was all done.
So let’s see, anything else on that you want to talk about on the Google Form?
Maddy Osman: No.
I think that obviously with the conversions mindset on you want to keep it as simple as possible. Or make it as easy for people to contribute. With the headshots, we just added some extra text on there to just say send the link to Google Drive or Dropbox.
Closing any gaps there might be. But just making sure that you don’t have too many fields because that gets overwhelming and that will affect the responses.
Matthew Loomis: Right.
I think our Form was pretty good. Not overwhelming.
Didn’t get any complaints so…
Maddy Osman: I will say that… Some people…
It might have been useful to expand a little bit more on the topic in the email we sent. I think we did T it up a bit and gave people an idea of what we were looking for without biasing their responses.
It could have been helpful to add just a little bit more of a context to our question. Just because we picked the topic that we thought didn’t have a lot of coverage and so of course when people were responding to it. Then it was a little bit more of a mental challenge to come up with an answer.
Matthew Loomis: Maybe so…
Maddy Osman: It’s hard to say because you don’t want to bias responses.
Matthew Loomis: Right. Right.
And if you lead them on too much or if you give them too much direction then you’re limiting their response too.
Maddy Osman: Right.
Matthew Loomis: So yeah.
I mean we got a pretty good diversity of responses. I thought that was helpful for the reader.
Maddy Osman: And a diversity of respondents I would say too.
Because we had some smaller niche bloggers but then we also had some of the big names that anyone would know.
Matthew Loomis: Yeah.
Like Ted Rubin
Whom I have discovered recently has twelve Twitter accounts, so…
Maddy Osman: Wow.
That must be a ”biach” to maintain.
Matthew Loomis: Yeah, I would imagine so.
That’s true there was a good diversity of folks
Maddy Osman: That was helpful in getting a diversity of responses too.
Obviously, someone who has a super large audience like Ted Rubin or Adam Connell.
It’s going to be a different story when they are trying to promote affiliate products or something like that. As opposed to someone like Cat who has a blog about Spain. Obviously, her content is going to appeal to a very specific type of person.
Matthew Loomis: True.
Maddy Osman: But there’s money in it for either any of those people.
If they find the right products or the right strategies it’s Monetised Curation.
I Found That the Headshots on a Roundup Post are Definitely Important to the Whole Attitude of the Post
Matthew Loomis: I know having some bloggers included like Cat was really helpful for my audience.
And so that diversity was really helpful on my end.
Probably your end too.
The formatting, it was interesting that you talked about the link of the photos and collecting those headshots. Which, I recently came across a Roundup where they had no headshots at all. I found that just to be not a good experience.
And so I think you definitely want to include those headshots.
Maddy Osman: It helps if nothing else to break up all those walls attached.
We had people that sent in a couple of sentences but then we had some people that wrote novels. And just looking at that without anything to break it up would have been awful.
Matthew Loomis: Right. It would be.
And so because we got those links to the photos of those headshots and we ended up with various sizes of photos. The one criticism that I heard from someone was that the headshots were different photo sizes.
So it didn’t look good in the formatting.
Maddy Osman: I think that is a fair enough criticism.
I guess my counter to that would be if we expected each contributor to do a 150 x 150 or something like that and we were rigid about it? That could have gotten in the way of them contributing because possibly they are just not good with image manipulation?
Matthew Loomis: Right.
Maddy Osman: Maybe they just don’t have the time to do it.
So maybe from our end that could have been something that we could have standardised from them. But also we just got so many different types of headshots.
Some of them were bust shots. Some of them were full body shots. It’s one of those things where we could have maybe customised that a little more. Or added some direction for that.
But I don’t know if it would have had a big enough effect to justify the effort that would have gone into it.
Matthew Loomis: Right.
I think the more stipulations you put on people the less likely you are going to get results.
Or returns. You know people turning things in.
Maddy Osman: Right.
One thing that I will add to that to finish off my thoughts on the matter is an Expert Roundup that I participated in.
I think it was RankWatch or something. They made these really cool custom graphics for each person. Kind of like what you do on your blog.
Where it’s a bit of a cartoon caricature. And it’s like yeah we have unlimited resources that could have been pretty cool. That’s something for the bigger guys I think to think about when they’re putting together Roundups that they want to get as many shares as possible.
But if you’re just like regular Joe putting together a Roundup and you have limited time and budget. Even access to your graphic designers… I think it’s just a small thing in the grand scheme of things.
What’s more important is having good representation with the types of people that participate.
Matthew Loomis: Absolutely true.
You want them to look good.
I think the photo size thing is just a matter of opinion.
It also depends on how much time and sweat equity you want to put into your post. So if you want to change the sizes and spend more time on it, then, by all means, go right ahead.
Maddy Osman: I think that’s a good take away in general from this experience.
With unlimited time you go do so many things with it.
You have to decide what are the most important things to make this successful.
If you do have the time, then focus on those things, but not the bare minimum. The important things to focus on.
Matthew Loomis: Absolutely.
The post got some good shares.
It got around one hundred and fifty to two-hundred shares on all the social media. Which really isn’t a whole lot but…
Maddy Osman: How does it compare to your typical blog post on your side?
Matthew Loomis: It was good.
I’ve noticed there’s been a drop in shares in general over the last year. And I think a lot of sites are seeing that. So I think it’s all relative to what your site is used to. I think it’s pretty good but not as good as I would have liked.
Maddy Osman: Sure.
So maybe a takeaway from that too is maybe we needed to have a better promotional plan in place where we followed up with the contributors more.
Where we had more regular scheduled content to promote it and to encourage people to share it. You know stuff like that could have helped.
What Could We Have Done More to Make a Roundup Post Attract More Attention?
Matthew Loomis: Yeah. Very true.
If you can scale that. That’s great.
more power to ya on that one too!
What else do you think we could do differently next time is there anything else that stands out to you?
Maddy Osman: I’m trying to think, is there any other major stuff.
I think the most important thing is just coming into it with the right structure.
So that you’re not duplicating your efforts. So that you get the best responses so that you’re not deterring anyone from getting involved. I think a lesson learned for me from this experience is doing this once helps you to identify and collect contact information from influencers and people that like to contribute to these things.
So that you can then tap that again for the next one and not have to duplicate that initial sort of information in gathering stuff.
Matthew Loomis: Oh yeah.
That’s true. Good point.
Maddy Osman: That’s probably one of my big takeaways.
Is just, you do it once and then it’s like investing in the next one.
Matthew Loomis: That’s true. Yeah, good point.
You know we started the spreadsheet and you know we’ve always got that there to access later as well.
You can always add more to that.
Maddy Osman: Exactly.
Then you can always leave yourselves notes on who is the most responsive or who would not prefer to be contacted for Expert Roundups and things like that.
Matthew Loomis: Right.
We did find out maybe a couple of people that we did see in the past on Roundups were no longer doing them.
Well known people. There were a couple of guys I can think of that we found out are no longer doing Roundup posts.
So, that’s good to know.
I thought it was pretty cool that Dave Pell liked my Tweet.
NEXTDRAFT – The Day’s Most Fascinating News From Dave Pell
He was someone that I was writing about in the roundup post so that was fun. And would I do this again? I think so…
I think I would do another Roundup Post.
I think it is a good way to make connections because I’ve seen since that Roundup Post that the connections that I made through that have actually grown stronger over time.
Maddy Osman: I think that that’s the benefit of us using our personal emails to get in touch with those people just gave us an extra touch point with them.
That also brings up another point and that is it would be nice to know the people that do these mega Roundups, how they’re going about communication in an efficient way? As far as that initial email… The follow-ups.
Because like you said if we were to have sent it through something like MailChimp then it’s possible we could have been marked as ”spam.”
Different metrics would have been affected.
So I would really love to know what other people are doing just to have efficiency around communication.
Maybe the Better Route to Take Would Be to Hire a Professional in Roundups?
Matthew Loomis: Right.
I would like to know that too.
And probably the only way I’m going to do that is to hire someone that does it for a living.
Maddy Osman: Sure.
Maybe that’s the thing.
Those people just basically outsource those tasks to assistants or something like that.
Matthew Loomis: That’s true. They might.
Maddy Osman: It’s been my experience with some of the Expert Roundups I’ve been asked to participate in.
It’s someone besides the publisher reaching out to me and telling me where it’s going to go. But they’re just the facilitator essentially.
Matthew Loomis: Oh yeah, yeah. I see that too.
Maddy Osman: Then the question is…
Is that the efficient way to go about it?
But then, like we were just talking about we’re missing out on the chance to make those personal connections with the contributors. So you’ll have to figure out what are you willing to sacrifice on either end?
Matthew Loomis: I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these mega sites that get tonnes and tonnes of traffic…
Like Smart Blogger.
I know that they do some Roundups and people do Roundups for them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they do them as a guest post.
So they might not even be actually paying that person. But that person is probably doing all the legwork.
Maddy Osman: It seems like a possibility.
I mean… Even if they’re not getting paid. Again it’s still the chance to make connections. So you can justify the time spent on it in that regard.
Matthew Loomis: Very true.
So that’s about it for this episode of The Blog Chronicles.
Maddy, would you create an Expert Roundup Post again?
Maddy Osman: Yeah. I think I would.
I don’t know what the topic would be but definitely having gone through this experience you.
Having someone to bounce ideas off. That makes me less nervous about the prospect of taking it on again. So yeah, I would definitely take it on again.
Just one final thought for the future is using something like Help A Reporter Out. That’s something where I’ve been featured in a lot of Expert Roundups.
Just do the responding to queries that people send out for that tool. So for a future Roundup, I would probably use that in addition to the contacts that we’ve already made to get to more people essentially.
Matthew Loomis: Oh, that’s a good idea.
Help A Reporter Out.
There’s another service called HARO.
Maddy Osman: Yeah, that’s basically what it is.
Matthew Loomis: Oh silly me! 🙂
Maddy Osman: Collection man 🙂
Matthew Loomis: Help A Reporter.
Maddy Osman: I just got an email from them so that reminded me.
Matthew Loomis: That’s funny, yeah.
I get those emails too… so that is so funny. I just call it HARO or whatever.
Maddy Osman: Right.
Matthew Loomis: Well Maddy, it was great working with you on this.
I really appreciated your help and let’s hope that this experience can help other bloggers out there that might be thinking of doing a Roundup Post for the first time.
Maddy Osman: Absolutely.
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step! Got to keep that in mind.
The Show Notes