By Sharon A.M. MacLean
You’ve written 52 blogs, so far. You sat down every Sunday to faithfully compose your best thoughts that illustrate the advantages of your whatsit.
Does anybody care? How do you even rank among the 101.7 million blogs posted by Tumblr.com this year or the 44.6 million posted by WordPress? Are any influential people sharing your content?
These are the real-world questions that most scribes ask when it comes to carrying on business in the digital world. Interesting for me because these were the same types of questions that writers asked me about when writing for my print magazine.
The big difference? There’s a lot more people asking the same questions.
The answer is yes—if certain steps are taken. U.S.-based Kim Garst and Ian Cleary of Ireland recently hosted a webinar to tell us how. It’s worth listening to Kim’s been named by Forbes among the top 20 bloggers in the world and top 50 social media influencers in the world. Ian writes for VentureBeat with 6 million unique monthly users, The Huffington Post, and Social Media Examiner. He guest authors on the topic of social media tools.
Why do we labour over our blogs? Well, because traditional advertising is too expensive say the social media purists. They do have a point. My advertising rates were priced to publish a monthly edition for 21 years while regular advertising in the dailies, radio or television could be formidable for all but those with healthy budgets. Small business could barely afford advertising space and knew that face-to-face networking was their best form of marketing.
Ian also emphasized that every new piece of content helps Google to index pages. Bingo. That is a very important message because content enables search engine crawlers to find your business online. A crawler is a program that visits Web sites to read pages and other information in order to create entries for an index. It’s how your website gets placed at the top of a Google search without paying for advertising.
Finally, Ian says that writing a blog contributes to the overall development of a business. It’s more than writing for the sake of driving traffic. I can vouch for that, too, from the traditional side of publishing. Most business writers filed their column as part of a marketing plan to build their brand. We had ongoing pitches from business people who wanted to get published but we could only bring on the best of the best; space was at a premium.
Bloggers don’t have to deal with space.
Where do these two social superstars make their money? At speaking events, delivering training courses, consulting, and building affiliate partnerships. Their blogs brand them as much-sought after experts. Affiliate marketers, by the way, pay a commission on sales when their partners refer a product or service obtained through their website, email campaign or webinar. I learned about affiliate marketing from Todd Farmer who’s heavily involved with the Affiliate Summit in New York City, August 10-12, 2014 and at Salt Lake City, September 30th. (Note: this blog is not written by an Affiliate Partner.)
Now, on to 4 building blocks that Kim and Ian described for a profitable blog.
Make a list and research your top competitors
- Research their marketing online but don’t forget to learn about their offline activities, as well;
- Discover the type of content they write about;
- Investigate if there’s an area that nobody else has focused on in your business space;
- Determine if your content can be delivered in a different way. For example, has anybody done a podcast to stand out;
- Produce quality content with posts that are better than your competitors;
- Answer the questions asked by your customers;
- Think about detailed posts greater than 1,000 words; this post is about 1002;
- Know your key words;
- Include imagery and infographics in your posts.
3. Promote your content
- Automate the sharing of your content. My own preference is for Mike Koenig’s Instant Customer but there’s Buffer, dlvr.it, and Swayy to consider, as well;
- Share to communities such as Tribrr, Scoop.it, and Twitter. Kim shares her evergreen (long shelf life) blog on Twitter and her powerful connection with 266 thousand followers;
- Use a repetitive sharing strategy. This means that you can post the same content on Twitter, for example, at several times during the same day.
Online sharing of content beats traditional publishing any day. Bloggers have so many more opportunities to expand their reach through direct and indirect ways.
My collaborators use Traffic Geyser to distribute videos to over 50 video sites on cients’ behalf.
Direct methods also allow you to connect with influencers, support other people’s blogs, tweet and retweet, and meet your peers face-to-face at conferences. You might even arrange to meet your contacts after engaging online.
“There are way more lurkers on social media than engagers,” notes Kim Garst. “But just because they are not engaging with you does not mean they are ignoring your content; you still are valuable to them.” Amen, sister. We saw this all the time at the magazine. Readers may not have communicated directly with a writer but, we knew they regularly followed the columnist because of the details they talked about months, sometimes, years later.
In either case, you are able to attract potential customers to a sales funnel ranging from free content to high-ticket services or products. Free products might include ebooks, white papers, and trial offers. Interest in these free items lead to low-ticket items that include video and audio training while mid-level items are detailed training courses, webinar series, and group trainings. High ticket? Think Done For You Services.
Content is the core of your business model. And a blog is absolutely essential to build a sales funnel that generates traffic, gets visitors to take action, and converts visitors to making a sale.
Bottom line? People buy from those they know like and trust.
Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.