Blogging is a big deal these days. It’s an easy way to add regular content to your website for search engine optimization purposes while leaving the rest of your website clear and uncluttered.
But do you know how to actually make money off your blog?
How the Problem Starts
Often, you, the small business hear “You need a blog. Oh yeah, blogs are the big thing, they’re great for driving traffic to your website!” So you start to write something, anything, and post it up in hopes that this will, as your friends have told you, magically attract new customers. But it doesn’t work. Then you get frustrated and stop blogging or only blog sporadically. Your website traffic goes down, your website dies and you throw up your arms in the air saying “Well dang it I tried but it just doesn’t work!”
I did this for two years, but thank goodness I wasn’t actually running a business yet – I was just writing blogs and hoping I would get some freelance work on the side. (Hint: It also, didn’t work!)
Step One: Blog on the right topics
Make sure you’re covering topics your customers want answers to. Blog titles that include their question are great for Google offering these up high on their search results. For instance if your customer often writes something like “How to Fix a Hot Water Heater”, even though you know that the correct term is just “Water Heater,” not “Hot Water Heater” your title should be the way your prospects would phrase things.
Offer to answer people’s questions they email to you. Write down questions people ask you in person. (We’ll get more into how to use your blog in-person later.) Don’t forget to always add in keywords that you’ve chosen for your topic/business/website. The more often they show up, the more your online small business marketing will improve. (See what I did there? Wink wink, nudge nudge!)
Step Two: Position yourself as an expert
Write your expertise. Illuminate difficult to understand problems into simple easy to understand terms. All the while keep in mind your job with your blog is to show you know what you’re talking about and that the people reading want to talk to you because you make it look so easy. Are there new regulations you can explain? Is there a common misunderstanding you can break down ala Mythbusters? Are there questions you wish people would ask but they never think to? Are there fears that you can alleviate or, things people should be wary of but they’re walking into the lion’s den blind?!
Step Three: Call to action
This is still your website, include a call to action in your blog posts. Encourage them to share this blog with friends, download something, sign up for a list, schedule a free call, etc. Pick something, it doesn’t have to be invasive, but it should be there.
Step Four: Share on social media
If you use WordPress there’s a great free plugin called Jetpack that can do this for you automatically every time you publish a blog. Mine automatically posts to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Jetpack is a combination of a lot of useful features. The feature you want to activate for this is called Publicize. (As a side note I’m also a big fan of Jetpack’s WordPress.com Stats for a secondary analytics and Sharing since it adds social media sharing buttons for visitors to click.)
Step Five: Take your blog offline
This may seem counter intuitive, but your blog is actually an amazing networking tool. For instance, you might have someone ask about what you could teach a workshop about at their upcoming event. You can easily say “Well most recently I’ve been writing articles on Topic A and Topic B. They seem very relevant right now.”
You can also use them when someone asks you a question you’ve already answered on your blog. “Oh wow, yes that’s a big deal. I could talk about it for hours, but why don’t I send you a link to my blog on the subject, I think you’ll find it answers your questions. Do you have a business card?” And now you’ve started a conversation with a potential prospect! You can follow up later the next week asking if they had any questions or if it was useful, and just keep touch with that person in a helpful way until they become a customer. (Within reason please. Be neighborly, don’t stalk the poor person!)
If someone at an event asks you a question and you don’t have a blog about it – great! You can answer it and then say “You know I’d love to explain this more in depth on a blog post, would you mind if I used your question? Would you like me to send you a link to it when I’m done? Sure, can I have your business card?” Do you think that person might brag a little that they had someone personally write an article just for them? Do you think they might share that blog link? … I think they might!
Step Six: Don’t post affiliate ads
Don’t play small fry and put a dozen affiliate ads that generate you a couple of pennies every time someone clicks on them. You look cheap, you look unprofessional and people will treat your blog and your website as such. Plus you’re confusing your prospects by too many calls to action – ones that don’t make you real money either!