One of the most rewarding things that I get to do is talk to readers. Everyday I jump on the phone with one or two readers and discuss their business. These discussion keep me sharp and my advice grounded in day-to-day reality. The conversations have taught me that blogging, content marketing, and running a business isn’t easy.
Today I’ll talk about some of the more difficult questions I get. Hopefully you’ll be able to glean something from my responses.
Why should I blog?
A: First ask yourself what you’ll lose by not telling your business’ story? Blogging is a business story-telling tool. Your story gives you the chance to explain why you are special and why the reader should become a customer. If you can tell that story on TV, Radio, and via a website then you don’t have to blog. But if you don’t have the budget or market leading presence then consider blogging.
What is the best thing I can do to guarantee success?
A: Define success. For many people, blogging success is a moving target, so they try everything and achieve nothing. Take a moment to quantify what success looks like: 1,000 monthly readers, $500 in blog-generated sales, A book deal, it’s your call. A funny thing happens when you define success, you tend to get it.
What does a good blog strategy look like?
A: I’ve written a report on this but here’s the short version. A good blog strategy explains why readers “need” your blog, explains how you will deliver the content they need, and has a simple plan for converting these readers into leads or sales. It’s a three-point plan that should be easy to implement and evaluate. Most blog strategy’s fail because they are too complicated.
Why do my blog posts suck?
Do they? Who says they suck? We are our worst critics so it makes sense to ask your reader what they think. Offer a free consultation or product in exchange for a 15-minute conversation. Tell the reader that you want their honest opinion about your blog posts and what they want to see.
Ok, Stan, but my readers say that my blog posts suck.
Practice. You need to practice writing to get good at writing. Find someone who write’s amazing content and study their methods. It’s a little embarrassing, but I copied out Copyblogger’s top 10 posts by hand. This exercise gave me “mental muscle memory” which made it easier to construct a decent post. From there I made a point of writing a thousand words a day. Practice.
How do I get more blog readers?
Focus on SEO. It actually pains me to say that because I want to believe that great content magically draws thousands of daily readers. Not really. People search Google for answers, showing up there will attract readers. Thankfully, blogs are already Google-Friendly. All you need to do is use Google’s keyword tool to find the words your readers use to research your subject. From their, write posts that appeal to those readers using the keywords you’ve uncovered. It ain’t glamorous, but it works.
How do make money with my blog?
You don’t. Your blog builds a database of prospective buyers. Email turns those subscribers into customers. Of course, you can make money by selling advertising. Advertising is a numbers game, attract readers, generate page views, make money. In this case the real question is “how do I get more blog readers” so consult the last question.
I’ve got subscribers AND an empty bank account – what now?
You have two problems: 1) Your product sucks and/or 2) You can’t explain why your product is worth the selling price. Start with your product. Does it solve a real need? Is it easy to purchase? Is it easy to use?
Next, evaluate your marketing. Are you explaining benefits and features? Is the product priced correctly? Are you selling to the right audience? Are you telling a clear problem/solution story? Focus until you’ve figured out these two questions.
9. Which blogs should I read to learn how to blog better?
Wrong question. You should be focusing on who can teach you how to “market” better. In this case, study the methods of people who are great marketers.
For me, that’s Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi, Neil Patel, Apple, Brian Clark, AirBnB, Southwest Airlines, and about 20 others. The point is that I’m not looking for something to study, I’m looking for strategies and tactics to test and implement. It’s a big difference.
10. How do I get help if I’m broke?
I have a reader that is truly broke. No cell phone. No cable. No car. They are emailing me from the library. They volunteered to intern at Pushing Social for free. They figured that they can learn while offering some sweat equity. They were right.
You always have something of value to give – identify it and make a proposal.
I often hear “Make me some money and I can pay for your services.” This is not a win/win proposal. It’s offensive. Think about it.
I believe that you will succeed at blogging. You’re a lot closer to the answer than you think. At the end of the day, the best answer to any questions is “Persistence”.
What do you think?