Your Blog Is Not Your Business
Some of us love to write, so we decide to blog. Sometimes we continue to blog just to feel like we’re doing something for our business. But without a plan, we could be wasting our time.
As I’ve said before, I believe blogging is good for business. Yes, websites with blogs tend to get more leads, more sales, and more page visits. But, you need a business first if you want to set up your blog up for success.
As David Risley so aptly points out over at the Blog Marketing Academy, a blog is not a business. Trying to make a living with advertisements and affiliate links is a never ending uphill battle.
First, that strategy requires a ton of traffic. Second, you’re going to annoy your readers if your site is full of ads and popups. They won’t want to come back and visit you again. Finally, you will have a difficult time getting website traffic without a cohesive message and benefit you give to your readers.
Your blog or website is like a store or commercial space. You probably wouldn’t open a store without any merchandise or service to offer. The space is not your business, but a place where you market and sell your product or service.
Start With A Business Plan
Just like a storefront, a blog supports a business. In reality, a business blog is a marketing tool, and a good one at that. Here are a few of my favorite blog marketing statistics:
- Business websites with blogs receive on average 97% more links.
- 94% of people who share blog posts do so because they think the post will help someone else.
- Business-to-business marketers who use blogs get 67% more leads.
If you want to set up your blog for success, develop your business plan before you start blogging. Once you know what service you’re offering or what product you’re selling, then you can setup your blog to build your business.
What is Your Blog’s Purpose?
Once you’ve figured out what your business is, then decide how your blog will support it. Although your blog can serve many purposes, below are three of the most common ways business use their blogs to support their businesses.
Get Business leads
Your blog can help potential customers and clients find your business. However, to be successful at this, your blog must get a lot of traffic and have good search engine optimization (SEO). Ranking high in Google search results takes time and effort, so using your blog to build your client or customer base may be better for long term growth than a short term spike in business to get your business off the ground.
Validation for Potential Clients
Your blog can show off your expertise and show your potential clients that you are legitimate. When I get a referral for a business, I usually visit its website first thing. If I can’t find a website or if the website is poorly written or maintained, I begin to wonder if the business is viable. On the other hand, a well written blog with lots of useful information can convince me to reach out to that business first.
Finally, a blog can be a tool for transacting business. Perhaps your business is selling some kind of digital download. Or, you are an affiliate marketer. You can use your blog to get readers to actually buy something. You can weave links and asides throughout your blog posts that lead to your online store or marketing pages.
Your Blog Is A Marketing Tool
Ultimately, your blog is marketing. It is the perfect tool for sharing your knowledge and expertise. For example, your business plan may have identified some type of problem you solve for your customer or client. Now, you can write blog posts that explain how you solve that problem. Or, you can teach your readers how to start solving the problem on their own. Regardless, you can break the problem down into small bits, and create separate posts for each bit. Each post draws your readers in, leaving them wanting more.
Likewise, your business plan probably also identified your ideal customer or customers. Now, you can tailor your posts and writing style for that audience. For example, your audience might be busy moms. In this case, you might want to keep your posts short and easy to read on mobile devices.
Similarly, you can use your blog to connect with your audience in a personal way. If you offer a personal service, you want your readers to build a bond with you so they want to work with you. Perhaps you can share personal stories or struggles. You could write in a conversational tone. In short, the more personable you make your content, the more likely you are to connect with your audience.
Build an Email List
Believe it or not, using your blog to build your email list is a great strategy. At first, I was reluctant to do this. I personally am overwhelmed by email and dislike spam as much as everyone else. But then I stopped to think about how I could build an email list effectively and use it without annoying people.
If I let my readers opt-in to the email list voluntarily, they are asking to hear from me. I can offer my readers a chance to sign up by inserting blog opt-in forms throughout the site. Also, I try not to litter my site with too many popup windows that slow down the site or make the blog hard to read. Fortunately, WordPress users can choose from a variety of plugins and themes that let you set up a wide range of forms and connect your opt-in forms to services like MailChimp and AWeber. So, adding your new subscribers to your email list is seamless and easy.
Get Help with Optin Forms
Connect to Landing Pages
A landing page is page that is about one thing only and that asks your reader to do one thing only (your call to action, or CTA). For example, an author may have one page asking readers to buy a specific book. The page provides a brief synopsis of the book, an image of the book, the price of the book, and a link to purchase the book. That’s it. A landing page should be simple, easy to read, and have a clear call to action.
Landing pages work for services too. A dry cleaning service could create a landing page just for wedding dresses. You get the idea. The landing page ideally addresses one pain point or problem your client is trying to solve. Then, you make it easy for them to solve that problem.
Here’s a great blog over at Elementor.com about how to create effective landing pages. Not coincidentally, Elementor is one of the best tools I know for creating a landing page. In fact, the Elementor Template Library includes some really nice landing page templates you can use to start building your first one. Once you get the hang of it, they’re kind of fun!
Now, that you’ve spent time and possibly money to build a great landing page, you can connect it to your blog. One of the best ways to get readers over to a landing page is to create links to it from relevant blog posts! For example, the dry cleaner may write a blog about a new cleaning technique good for wedding dresses, and then include a link to the wedding dress landing page.
Plan Your Blog For Success
I believe your content and business goals should influence what type of site you build. Obviously, an online store will need a different design than a services business. But even different types of services can benefit from different layouts and designs.
Let’s use two types of blogs to quickly illustrate the point. I write a blog, Faces from the Neighborhood, where I share the stories of local business owners in Portland. I showcase cool people doing cool things in Portland, and I also express my love for Portland, Therefore, I wanted a design that was a bit magazine-like, but also focused on the people I write about. I also wanted a design with clean, polished lines, and a home page to introduce my readers to the blog.
On the other hand, another blogger might share health news updates as part of a wellness service or even a wellness marketing business. In this case, the blog might benefit from a masonry layout, and the blogger could consider setting up the homepage more like a news site.
Make Your Plan
If you want to set up your blog for success, I believe you should do some homework before you start building the website. Your plan should focus on your business goals. Just as I wouldn’t build a house without having a blueprint, I wouldn’t build a blog or website without a plan either. I believe it is important for you to know what your business is and then build your blog to support that business. Remember, your blog is not your business.
I’ve put together a list of questions to get you started.
- What services do you provide or what products are you selling?
- What are your goals for the website? How will it support your business?
- What types of content will you provide and how does it relate to your business?
- How much content do you actually need?
- Can you start with a simple one-page design, or do you need something more robust?
- Do you know what types of pages you will need (product pages, services page, pricing page, blog)?
- Have you identified any website designs you like that might work as a template for your site?
- What design requirements do you have (colors, logos, style, etc.)?
- Do you want to build the site yourself or hire someone to do it for you?
- Do you want to maintain the site yourself?
- How much time are you willing to spend updating the site?
- What is your budget for building the site?
- How much are you willing to spend monthly to host and maintain the site?
Share Your Ideas
I’d love to hear about the plans you’re dreaming up. Please share in the comments or contact me directly.