When you started your blog, you undoubtedly had high expectations. After all, if a blog is a must have for your online business, it must be because it’s going to do amazing things for you. Right?
In a perfect world, yes. In reality, sometimes.
In the first part of this article, we talked about 3 things your blog does that could actually hurt your online business. And here you were, just trying to help . . .
Here we’re going to look at those 3 factors again, and this time talk about how you can use each of them to help your business. (Now would be a good time to take a look at the first part of “Is Your Blog Hurting Your Online Business?,” if you haven’t read it yet.)
1. Are You Updating Your Blog With Great Content?
The issue here is two-fold. One, you have to be consistently updating your blog. And two, you have to be providing your audience with great content.
Perhaps the good news, and the bad news, is that “consistent” might mean something different to your business than it does to mine. I’ve been blogging for five years and I’ve had people tell me I needed to post every day, once a month, and about every number in between.
And the thing is, none of them were wrong. They were all successful with the way they were doing it.
Here’s what I can tell you about the meaning of “consistent:”
- You need to have a schedule. Don’t post 3 times this week, then just once next month. Pick the day(s) of the week you are going to post, and stick to it.
- You should post to your blog at least once a week. Once you get famous, you can do less if you are staying involved with your audience through email marketing, product releases, or some other effective means.
- Consider how much time you have to post. Don’t work on your blog to the exclusion of product or program development, and other direct opportunities to generate some cash.
- Let your audience help you decide how often to post. If you are getting a ton of interaction, and it’s driving sales, and you can do it, consider twice a week. Maybe vary your posts. On Monday do product reviews and on Wednesday do teaching posts. Whatever is appropriate for your market.
Defining “great content”
I told you last time, readable is not enough. Even “good” is not enough.
The age of content marketing we are in is fabulous in that it levels the playing field in many ways. You don’t have to be a big company to be successful online, you just have to produce lots of content and know how to market it.
The downside to this is that there’s a lot of content out there. Everyone’s blogging. And most of them are saying the same thing. Some, much better than others. But still, it’s the same. So, you have got to find a way to stand out.
How to produce quality content that stands above the rest is way more than we can tackle here. But, these starting points will get you going in the right direction:
- Blog about the “breaking news” in your market, but not just as a reporter. Add your opinion, point out how the market will be effected, take the extra moment to include a relevant image or screenshot.
- Go against the grain when it’s authentic. Always be true to yourself, but when you disagree with the popular opinion, shout it from the rooftop. As long as your opinion is backed up by solid reasoning, you should be thrilled when you find yourself in the minority.
- Mix it up a little by using different media. How-to video tutorials are a great addition to your blog. You can use screencasts, or even better, record yourself so your audience can really get to know you.
2. Is Your Opt-In Working for You?
One of the most important jobs of your blog is to build your email subscriber list. The best way to do this is to offer your reader something of value in exchange for his email address.
The temptation is to create something quickly, put it up there, and hope it works. Long-term, however, it’s going to require more effort than that. Here are the best practices for creating an opt-in offer that will help grow your business:
- Provide a solution. Think of the one thing that would be most helpful to solving a problem or question your reader has, and give it to him.
- Test different offers. There is an advantage to one page of valuable information your reader can go through immediately. There is an advantage to a 5-part series, meaning your name shows up in your reader’s inbox 5 days in a row. See what your audience prefers.
- Make your offer valuable. Although he isn’t paying for it, this is your reader’s first impression of your non-public content. You want him to feel like you over-delivered. If he feels let-down, unimpressed, or tricked, he’ll never open an email you send.
- Require only an email address, or email and first name, to opt-in. The more information you ask for, the fewer people you’ll get subscribing.
- Follow-up consistently with your subscribers. Send your blog posts to your subscribers’ email inboxes. Don’t just mail when you are trying to sell something. That won’t work. Keep in touch so they’ll remember who you are, and grow to trust you as someone who gives valuable information.
- Put an opt-in box at the top right-hand side of your blog, and at the bottom of each blog post. Your reader may not subscribe on the first visit, but if he has a chance in each of these two places, he won’t forget to do it when he’s ready.
3. Is Your Home Furnished and Organized?
Last time, we compared your blog to the physical building that houses a brick and mortar business. I really want you to visualize this. It’s important.
When your reader visits your blog, you want her to feel good. And how she feels will be a combination of how your blog looks, and the content that’s there.
Think of your favorite local business. What do you love about it? Not only does it have a pleasing atmosphere, it has the products (i.e. content) you’re looking for too.
We’ve already talked about content, so let’s talk about your blog’s atmosphere now. Most people will land on your blog as the result of a link to a specific article that is there. But if they like the article, or you’ve made a positive impression on them in some other way, they’re going to click around your site to get to know you better, and to decide if you’re the “real deal.”
So, while the “Blog” tab on your website will be the “main room” in your house, you’re going to need more than just your terrific content to impress your readers. Here are your starting points:
- Have a professionally designed site layout. Don’t try to do this yourself (unless you’re an experienced graphic designer). If the colors aren’t pleasing, and the content isn’t laid out in a completely intuitive way, no one’s going to stay around long enough to discover how terrific you are. Web design will cost you money. And it will be the best money you ever spent.
- Have a clear message. People shouldn’t visit your site and wonder for more than 10 seconds what it is you do. Pick a tag line that describes the results your business gives people. Have a static “Home” page that clearly but briefly identifies the benefits of your business.
- Have an about page that reveals a piece of your soul. Make your “About Me” page about you, not about your business. Update it at least once a year. Make sure it tells your story. Make the audience feel your passion while they are reading it.
- Have a website that loads fast. The technicalities of this aren’t my specialty, but either your webmaster or Google can teach you more about how to ensure this. Visit Alexa.com and check out your page load time. Several factors, like too many plugins or too much flash, can slow down your load time. Again, this is something that will cause potential readers to flee, never knowing your awesomeness they missed out on.
There are more considerations here, but the above will more than get you set up with a nice-looking and effective “starter home.”
How Do You Measure Up?
Before you start blaming your blog’s ineffectiveness on Google’s Penguin Update, the bad economy, or the fact that others in your market are “lucky,” take a hard look at how you’re doing in the above 3 areas.
Take responsibility for your blog. If it’s not working the way you want it to, can you honestly tell me you’re doing each of these things the right way? If the problem doesn’t lie in one (or more!) of these areas, what’s your assessment of why your blogging brilliance hasn’t made you famous? Share with me in the comments below, I’d love your input!