Blogging is a huge commitment for most of us…it takes up valuable time and energy to produce your once a month, or once a week blog. And whilst you may write your blog for fun or to purely engage with your audience, there will come a time when you want to try and make money from it. So, what can you do to help make that happen?
Absolutely know your audience
I find myself writing this all the time when talking about marketing, but it is really so important that you know your audience, especially when you’re writing content for them. Your audience will dictate how you write and what you write…and the language that you use. For example, if you write for a young, gaming audience, you will write for them – you wouldn’t write a blog the same way if it was aimed at a business audience or an older audience.
I’m a marketing consultant so I sometimes have to reign myself in when I’m writing. I love writing about marketing, but when I read my blog back, I have realised in the past that I’m writing for my own peer group of marketers…and that’s not who my audience is! My audience are owners of small businesses who want to increase their own profile online, engage their audiences and of course, sell their products or services. My aim is to teach my readers about marketing, so they have the choice to have a go at it for themselves, and of course, I want to help them with their choice, but ultimately I want my audience to come to me to help them with their marketing and content creation. It’s a fine line!
Just knowing who your audience is isn’t enough – you need to find out a bit more…ask these questions…
- What age are they?
- What gender, if appropriate?
- What is their marital status?
- What do they do for a living?
- What are their interests outside of work?
And the biggie…What are the problems and challenges they face?
Once you have this information, you can pull together a profile of your ideal customer and use this to direct your blog content at.
Choose the right subject to write about
You’ve sorted out your ideal customer and you know what problems and challenges they face. Write them all down and work out how you can solve those problems.
Once you have a list of solutions, there’s your content. If you’re helping your ideal customers solve their problems, they’ll know that they can turn to you. The right way of course, is not to provide all the answers, which is something I’m guilty of! But this doesn’t mean you don’t provide a detailed article about how they can solve their problem – you can give information that is useful and actionable, but leave something that they can come to you for.
Call to action
It’s important to leave room for a CTA (call to action) that will draw your audience in, make them want to know more, or ask you for more help. I don’t mean asking directly if they want to employ you. It might be you encourage them to sign up for your newsletter, join your mailing list, download a freebie, listen to your podcast or watch a webinar you’ve set up. This won’t immediately make them a customer, but you’re leading them down the right path, and can help them see how you can add value to their business, or to their life.
For example, say you’re a life coach. You write a great blog post, and your CTA could be you point your readers to your website. You might talk about a particular subject and point them to a free webinar where you talk in more detail about that subject. You might have a free social media group they can join to talk to other like-minded people. Ultimately, this could lead to them booking a coaching session with you.
Content and the buying cycle
Think for a minute about your own buying cycle. Let’s take a recent example at my home. I was out on our sit-on lawn mower and it stopped working and made a strange whirring noise. I told my partner about it when he got home. I know nothing about lawn mowers and certainly wouldn’t have a clue how to fix it.
- So, our first problem was THE NEED to get it fixed, but we’re not sure how.
- The next obvious step is to find out what could be wrong. My partner goes onto YouTube and investigates the problem. He tries to work out whether it’s worth trying to fix it himself or whether it just needs a new part. This is the INITIAL RESEARCH stage. His research tells him that he needs a new drive belt.
- My partner now has a solution to the problem. Now we have to find out who sells drive belts and where we can buy it. This is the FINAL RESEARCH.
- Finally, the PURCHASE stage and we order the drive belt and pay for it.
If you are writing a blog with the idea of getting customers from it, you need to be targeting those that are at the INITIAL RESEARCH stage. Then you can give them the answers they’re looking for. But, it doesn’t stop there – you also want to make your content give total confidence in your product or service, so the blog takes them from that initial stage right through to the purchase…and show that your business is the right place to do just that!
The content needs to be in long-form, so that you have time to engage your readers, gain their trust and ultimately help them to see that you have that perfect product or service that solves their problem or meets their needs.
Content needs more than that…
OK, so you’ve let them see that you’re the perfect fit for what they’re looking for, but not all our readers look at an article in detail, so it’s really important to think about the format of your blog.
If you just write plain text, they might miss the point, so you need to make your content visually appealing.
- Use bullet points to draw their attention to the important bits
- Use short paragraphs
- Use subheadings
- Make sure that the font you use is easy to read and a decent size
- And of course, use images to break up the text
- If you want to draw attention to a particular part, use CAPITAL LETTERS or BOLD text…or both!
How many times do you buy something without looking at the reviews of a product? I know I always do, as it gives me an idea of the product I’m going to order. For example, with shoes, some reviews will say ‘buy one size bigger, as these shoes are on the small side’. This helps me to make my decision to buy or not. So, include a testimonial in your blog if you can to sway your audience that your product is the best. Find a testimonial that says why your product is the best.
Don’t go off on a tangent and start talking about something else, make sure that you focus on the one product or service that you’re trying to sell or engage your audience with.
By all means, lead up to your point slowly and build a picture, but try not to get too distracted and don’t use too many links, as this will distract your reader.
Try and create some urgency around buying your product or service. I’m sure you will have heard of FOMO – personally I hate this expression, but in marketing it’s an effective tool. The ‘fear of missing out’ on something makes us want to buy it now.
Using language that suggests an urgency to buy can persuade your audience that it’s now or never. Things like:
- For a limited time only
- Only three spaces left on my course
- At this price for a limited time only
You get the idea!
And if you’re building up to a sales pitch, using one of those FOMO phrases…
Start using shorter sentences.
It makes you sound breathless.
You need to do this now.
This makes your readers read faster and they’ll feel the urgency.
Don’t be too salesy
Finally, don’t be too salesy. Your audience will know you, they’ll follow your blog because they like to see what you have to say. They don’t want the hard sell all the time.
You need to be giving advice and showing a solution to a problem and that should take up most of your post, but you can weave a subtle sales pitch into the content. Selling your product or service is only a small part of it.
Your readers trust you and trust your content. As my readers, you’ll know that I rarely use my posts to sell my business. Rightly or wrongly, I enjoy writing as it’s my happy place and I’m passionate about helping small businesses to grow. If I suddenly came over all salesy, I’d lose that trust and I’m sure, a lot of my followers.
It’s about getting the balance right. You don’t want to sell so hard that you destroy your reputation and your credibility. Writing a blog lets people know that you are an expert in your field and your followers will be confident that you know what you’re talking about. They may take a while to get to know you, but if they can see that you are knowledgeable and helpful, they will come back, and that will increase the chance that they will buy from you, or work with you in the future.