I bet you've read enough about blogging to identify the obvious strategies:
- Write interesting blog posts focused on reader needs.
- Promote your blog posts via social networks
- Use your blog posts to generate demand for your products and services.
This three-step process works every time and I suspect you are doing one if not all of these items on a consistent basis.
What happens when you are consistently implementing a solid blog strategy but aren’t attracting new readers?
I believe that this is most frustrating time for any startup, solopreneur or business. When presented with this challenge, many bloggers double down on the big three. They write more posts, schedule more tweets, or get more direct with their sales pitch. Unfortunately this doesn’t work because the problem can’t be solved with more of the same.
The best solution focuses on improving specific tactics that have a big impact on your blog’s performance.
The challenge is identifying these tactics and putting a plan in place to improve their performance. We’ll tackle this challenge today.
The Little Stuff That Makes a Huge Difference
Blog Header Makeover
Your blog header establishes the tone of your blog. It is your best tool for making a great first impression. A slight tweak to your header can entice new readers to stick around and explore your blog.
Consider putting your photo in the header and limiting the links to the absolute essentials. Blog readers want to establish a connection with you. Integrating a professional photo of yourself into the header communicates the message that you are available and approachable.
Rebrand or Overhaul Your Email Newsletter
The backlash against email newsletters is in full swing for good reason. It seems that people love information but hate newsletters. It’s time to rebrand yours. The term “newsletter” sets the expectation that your email will be filled with a bunch of information that may or may not be relevant to the reader. Most readers have had a bad experience with newsletters so you will need to do something different to keep your email out of the spam folder.
Redesign your newsletter to focus on delivering one or two relevant articles. Use short benefit focused subject lines to get your email opened. Pair your subject line with attention getting headlines and a short excerpt of the article. Link them to the full article on your blog. Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.
Put Your Special Reports and eBooks Online
eBooks and special reports are usually PDFs a format that is are easy to make and simple for your reader to download. However, PDFs are also easy to download and forget. Offline PDF ebooks are also disconnected from your blog relying on links to take the reader back to your site.
Turning your PDF ebook into an online book. Readers can download it or read it online within the context of your site. Add an easy page by page index to give the reader an excellent experience. Kick your online ebook up a notch by creating a “Smart Sidebar” that offers specific offers that are relevant to your book topics.
I turned our 50 Blog Design Tweaks into an online eBook and immediately saw a 30% boost in engagement (Time spent on page). I was so impressed with the performance boost that I created a service to do the same for you. Check it out here.
Rethink Your Monthly Subscription Offers
Monthly subscriptions or “Continuity Programs” are extremely profitable. Having a few hundred people paying a monthly fee often leads to successfully monetized blog.
But, setting up a successful membership site is hard execute. Readers are skeptical of monthly payments especially if you aren’t a brand-name resource like Tim Ferriss or Copyblogger. They would rather make a one-time payment and access your material. Don’t fight this trend, make the most of it.
Offer your membership program with a simple one-time fee and focus on the lifetime value of your members. The one-time fee covers the cost of marketing to the new customer. Follow-up with high-value offers creates a profitable relationship
Use Smart Sidebars
Sidebars are a necessary staple of blogging. Their job is to get “the next click” by showing relevant posts, offers, and social network opportunities. The problem is that most blogs show the same sidebar on every page often showing offers that aren’t appropriate to the content.
Convert your sidebar into a page-specific engagement resource. The first step is categorizing your posts and pages. The second is understanding which tools and offers are appropriate for each category. Third, configure your sidebar widgets to show a specific offer based on the post category.
Resurrect Your Dead Confirmation Pages
What page will I see after signing up for your blog update notifications?
Is it a simple “Thank you. We’ll keep in touch?” page? If yes then you are missing an opportunity to quickly build an email list of targeted leads.
Adding a free or low-cost entry offer to every confirmation page. For example, Pushing Social blog update subscribers are offered my Blogging Business Guide at a discounted cost. I’ve also added blog update offers on product delivery pages. These small tweaks have generated a great income and accelerated list growth.
Transform Your Editorial Calendar
An editorial calendar is just a list of topics with dates. While I love editorial calendars, they have limited utility. They are great for scheduling work but inadequate for providing an overview of your blog promotion strategy.
Transforming your editorial calendar into an Editorial Marketing Calendar. Here’s how:
- Identify 4 key features of your product or service.
- Write one sentence describing the problem the feature solves for the customer. Next map out 4–5 blog posts for each benefit leading to 16–20 topics designed to generated interest in your product.
- Take this one step further by developing a lead magnet such as an eBook for each of the 4 features.
This process turns a simple editorial calendar into a powerful business building tool.
Create Better Welcome Emails
Blog update welcome/confirmation emails generally suck. Most of the time, readers are signed up and dumped into a blog notification autoresponder without a welcome email or a terse - “Hi and wait for the next issue” message. This is a missed opportunity.
Add a welcome email that establishes rapport with the new subscriber using a conversational tone. Let them know what to expect and give them 3 steps to take to get the most out of their blog updates. Add these 3 steps to your blog update template so that the reader is reminded of your welcome email when you send a new update.
Do More With Your Blog
This blog uses PHP a database-friendly programming language and CSS, a powerful design-based scripting syntax, that makes the graphics, typography, and layout look great.
You can run your blog without ever touching PHP or CSS but that means you’re stuck with your theme template and basic blog functionality. If you plan to use content marketing and blogging as your primary marketing strategy then you need to have “novice” familiarity with CSS. Adding this single skill-set will dramatically increase what you can do with your blog’s design and functionality.
Take a CSS online walkthrough course at CodeAcademy. You’ll get the basics and learn enough to start tinkering with your blog’s design. If you use WordPress, install the Jetpack Custom CSS module. With Custom CSS it’s easy to change headline fonts, body text size. widget colors, etc without tinkering with the core CSS code for your blog. If you make a mistake, just delete the pertinent code and start over.
Create a VIP Section for Loyal Readers
I only publish the basics on Pushing Social. Specific tools, tips, and advice is reserved for clients and red pill takers. My strategy isn’t unique but relatively few solopreneurs, businesses, and organizations take the extra step to create a special “VIP” area reserved for fans and buyers. My tests show that 2 out of 100 regular readers are “Super Fans” that register and buy almost everything. You have a few of them in your email list. These folks are looking for ways to support you. It’s up to you to identify them and give them a seat at the VIP Table.
Use Premise or Wishlist Member to create a simple password protected member’s area. Stock this area with exclusive content like audio recordings, video demonstrations, worksheets, tool reviews, step-by-step checklists, etc. You can charge a one-time fee see tip #4 to get the ball rolling. Make the VIP area a priority for the next 12 months and you’ll be surprised by how this community rallies to support your blog with sales, leads, referrals, and sharing.