How One Hack the System Reader Multiplied Her Website Subscribers by Over 800%


in Make Money

Hi all,

I spoke at a conference in Portland last year about how to build an online business. The session, called Digital Nomading for Fun and Profit, discussed my method of building a successful blog using guest posts and landing pages. I wrote an in depth analysis about how to do this in a guest post on

While I was speaking, one attendee raised her hand. “I used your method,” she said, “and managed to increase my email subscriber count by 8x!.”

“You have to write a guest post for me.”


So, I’m extremely proud to present a guest post by Darlene Hildebrandt of Her View Photography. Check out how she managed to build a profitable list in just one guest post, and how you could do the same.

Take it away, Darlene.


I’m a regular reader of Think Traffic and on April 10th I read this article by Maneesh Sethi – How to Earn $12,840 from a Single Guest Post (Plus: Email Scripts & Checklists). I had previously inquired about writing for a few sites months ago but hadn’t done any guest posts yet. Partly due to not knowing how to approach it and partly fear. This post was very timely for me!

My site, Her View Photography is about teaching photography to beginners and hobbyists. I went right to a major photography site, Digital Photography School run by Darren Rowse (yes THE Darren Rowse of ProBlogger fame) to make my pitch. I don’t start small – go big or go home is my motto, LOL! I’m not 100% sure of his stats but I believe he has something like 500,000 subscribers and over 5 million views a month. I did have previous contact with him and he knows my husband through blogging so it wasn’t completely out of the blue.

I followed Step #1 “Getting the guest post” almost exactly. I scoured the site looking for what was already written and to see where there were some gaps that I could fill, using my expertise. By April 23rd I had put together a proposal giving him three potential topics (with short descriptions of each) from which to choose. I also offered to send it in plain text or HTML whichever he preferred.

Step #1 – success! He wanted all three articles! In fact he was quite eager for good quality content.

Step #2 writing an awesome article – done! Great headline, thorough content and a call to action – check, check, check! I gave him a short 2 sentence bio and he gave me links to my Twitter, Google Plus, and 2 links to my site including my new landing page, Step #3.

Step #3 – Create a landing page and offer subscribers something for signing up. I created a special landing page so I could track who signed up from that site and gave them a free ebook. Oh wait – I didn’t have an ebook yet! Crap!

Step #3b – write an ebook. I sat down and hammered out an ebook of photography exercises in three days, from start to design to published! I had all the content in my head, and just needed to get it down on “paper”. I formatted it myself and even did a short ebook design crash course to make it look half way decent.

Step #4 – Have a give away on my landing page – check!

Data and screen shots showing my actual results.

The first article was published May 18th, here are the stats:

Screenshot of Aweber weekly stats Weekly Aweber stats in graph form

Second article June 22nd

Weekly page views Some Google Analytics stats showing all my stats went up after my guest posts including Page Views, visit duration. Bounce rate dropped. Google analytics showing that even a month after my last guest post that site is still my highest referring site.

Note: stats show traffic and subscribers from May 14 through the end of July, 2012 so from near date of first guest post to a full month past 2nd guest post

As well as following his advice on how to have a successful guest post, I got personal advice from Maneesh after a seminar at the World Domination Summit. He suggested that I do a webinar to promote an online class of which I’m an affiliate member. While I didn’t have time to put together a webinar, and they guy doing the class is super busy and just moved to New Zealand – I did manage to get an interview with him. My first ever, no less! I did the interview with Trey Ratcliff (the most circled photographer on Google Plus with 3 million followers) and while I didn’t sell as many as I’d have liked, did sell 4 seats to his course. But more importantly I did my first interview and now have the confidence to do more! Trey also shared a link to it on his site and I continue to get traffic from that too. I would not have attempted or even considered doing this without Maneesh’ suggestion, so I thank him for this.

An 830 Percent Increase In Subscribers

To summarize, the result of doing just these two guest posts has taken me from about 90 subscribers to over 750, and tripled the traffic on my site. In addition to that I’ve now been asked to write for the DPS site on a monthly basis. He’d actually like more but I don’t think I can handle that volume and stay current on my own site just yet.

Now it’s your turn

So I’m living proof that this stuff really does work. If you’ve considered doing a guest post but have doubts or fears, follow the outline in How to Earn $12,840 from a Single Guest Post (Plus: Email Scripts & Checklists) like I did. I challenge you to push yourself a little. Step outside your comfort zone and take a risk. Chances are it may pay off for you like it has for me. If you’ve done guest posts please share your experience here in the comments. If you are interested in learning or improving your photography – hey come on over and get a free gift for Hack the System readers.

Darlene Hildebrandt is a professional photographer and educator who teaches aspiring amateurs, hobbyists and pros how to improve their photography skills through private tutoring, photography classes, and photography travel tours. Darlene has written the ebook 10 Challenges To Improve Your Photography which you can find as a resource on her website. She can also be found on Twitter at @ProPhotoTutor.


Roberto May 16, 2016 at 7:42 pm

Loved the part where you needed an ebook and remembers “Crap! i don’t have one yet”. This shows the beauty of the method.


Rob January 20, 2013 at 5:10 pm

It’s awesome to see other implementing tactics and getting great results. It’ s obviously a good amount of work.

I wanted to put it into perspective for my business, but I’ve had trouble with that. I provide technical support to new online entrepreneurs, so it’s different then being a photographer and teaching or sharing with other photographers…technology services and training doesn’t get bought by other tech guys…so my market are new online business owners getting their systems setup, do you have any suggestions for a few websites to go guest posts on? Other technology support providers? … I can’t seem to find many, suggestions?


Sayan December 8, 2012 at 10:34 am

Outlining those 4 steps is great, so thanks to you (and of course Maneesh) for this. For newbies like me, it’s great to have all the internet marketing fluff boiled down to the basics.

Your posts were definitely well written by the way. I found myself snooping around your site even though I have very little interest in photography at this time (no offense!). Great work!

FYI – those analytics screenshots are a great addition. As I start focusing full throttle on building an online presence, it’s nice to see the hard data that shows this stuff actually can work!


Ryan November 29, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Wow, Congrats Darlene! Not only did you have a good script to follow for guest posting, but you also pushed through your fear and got the eBook done in 3 days…you know, the less glamorous things about blogging!


Darlene November 28, 2012 at 10:34 am

Hi guys, just an update to this info since I wrote it a while back.

#1 – my first article published on Digital Photography School now has well over 3000 Facebook “likes”. It was also listed by Darren Rowse in a newsletter as one of the top 15 most popular articles in the first half of the year. So that got it a lot more traffic. He’s also Pinned it on Pinterest as one of the better articles on the site. So it continues to give!

#2 – my subscribers are now about to hit the 1600 mark! I had my biggest month ever traffic and subscriber wise in October 2012 as I managed to get two guest posts published during that period and it really showed. I had over 30,000 hits that month (my previous high was 13,000) and over 600 new sign ups that month alone!

Thanks again Maneesh for your great step by step on how to guest post. It really does work if you do it right!


Nick November 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Nice work Darlene. Great to see what happens when people pick things up, run with them and execute well. Congratulations.


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