To illustrate how this works, let’s take a trip down memory lane. The year is 1999 and the song “Smooth” by Carlos Santana featuring Rob Thomas has just reached number one on the charts.
That’s right- Santana; parents all over continue to express amazement at the fact that their teenage children are listening to one of the musicians that they remember from their own adolescence. It has been almost 30 years since Santana has had a single on the top 10 of the Hot 100, but now he is back with an album which will go on to sell 30 million copies, win nine Grammy Awards, chart in ten countries at number one, and win him a new generation of fans.
The secret to Santana’s success with Supernatural lay in his ability to collaborate with other musicians.
Rather than continue to play the same music which made him popular at Woodstock or in the two decades which followed, Santana invented a modern, innovative sound by combining his immense musical experience with the fresh perspective of younger artists like Rob Thomas or Everlast, both of whom won a Grammy for their work with the guitarist.
In fact, a well-executed collaboration is beneficial for all involved, not just for the “host.” Santana clearly understands this principle well and has participated as a guest artist on important albums such as The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson’s Invincible, and Shakira’s Oral Fixation Vol. 2- in all he has worked on 12 collaboration albums and has recorded 49 guest appearances.
At a certain point the parallels between music and blogging fall short, but they share two important characteristics. Both are personal- they are drawn from the writer or musician’s individual experiences, knowledge, and style- and communicative- their goal is to express some type of message to a certain public.
Blogging does not offer many chances for collaborations to occur on the personal level- while two musicians can play together and thus develop an interesting new sound, writers usually must write alone. In blogging, all of the collaborative potential lies at the communicative level. When Santana featured Dido on his 2003 song “Feels like Fire” he acquired not only her ethereal voice but her fans as well.
Collaborations always have four parties- the host, the guest, and their respective publics. When you blog you should always consider your public and try to be as communicative as possible; when you guest blog, consider how the different public and context will change the resonance of your words.
Finally, a single guest blog will likely never be enough to allow you to reap all of the benefits to be gained in a collaboration; it is best to think of things in terms of the long run. When you find a good place to guest blog, go back frequently and nurture the relationship. Santana again sets the example here; in 2010, 11 years after their first success together, he invited Rob Thomas back to record a cover of the Cream song “Sunshine of Your Love” for the album Guitar Heaven.
Relationship building is one of the most important activities of any business; guest blogging offers you infinite opportunities to connect. Focus on the relationship and tangible results such as linkbuilding will follow. If you feel a little bit like a rock star, you are probably doing things right.
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Image credit: Stoned59