10 Tips for building a blog that “sells”

How to build a business with blogging

Dean Street Society and Jane FranklandHow to build a business that pays your rent and fills your heart, without checking into the hospital for exhaustion. It sounds like mission impossible doesn’t it? I’ll answer that for you….

Yes!

Seriously, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about if you’ve ever tried to do it or are still trying to. Despite all of the challenges, I’ve got to tell you that it’s worth the trade-offs and sacrifices you’ll undoubtedly make along the way.

As you know, the other week I was lucky enough to interview the amazing abundance coach and big wave surfer, Mercedes Maidana. Give me a Hell Yeah! I hope you’ve watched the interview, as she shared some incredible tips to help you manifest more into your life.

This week, however, I’m excited and honoured that my friend Hilary Rushford from Dean Street Society has invited me to be a part of her Happy Hour Blog Tour, which is celebrating her new book launch The 4-Part Entrepreneur Cocktail. In her new book she tackles 4 main elements in business and blogging.

And, this is what I’ll be speaking to you about today. As one of 30 female bloggers and entrepreneurs from around the world, I’ve been asked to share my personal experiences around blogging, including both my struggles and successes.

Yay!

So this is exactly what I’ll be tackling:

  • Why I started a blog and what motivated me.
  • How my blog has brought me joy and fulfilment.
  • How I’ve tackled the days/weeks/months when I didn’t feel like blogging.
  • What I’d encourage you to ask yourself before a) starting your blog; b) quitting your blog; c) taking it to the next level.

So here goes…

Why I started a blog?

When I started my blog a year last summer, it was purely to position myself as an authority in my niche. I’d just worked out what it was I wanted to do, having spent the past 16 years in IT, building a successful 7-figure information security consultancy. I was ready for my next challenge. I therefore wanted to build a platform that would enable me to connect with other like minded entrepreneurs who were starting out, and help them develop more business.

How my blog has developed

When I look back and see how my blog has developed I’m rather proud as I can see just how far I’ve come.

Interestingly, when I started blogging I was rather nervous. I actually felt like a caged animal and was afraid to “speak.” For a long time I’d written corporate copy for a very conservative, risk averse market, and I was genuinely wary of using my real voice and writing as me! I was worried about what my corporate peers may think, which was daft as they weren’t the ones I was targeting. Once I opened the cage door, however, and tip-toed out, the beast was released…and it felt good. I was finally free – free to communicate on my terms. It was, and still is, incredibly empowering and a whole load of fun!

If you’ve followed me from the start you’ll know that I began a blog with pure text, but that very quickly I added in video. I knew the benefits of doing so and despite my initial fears and hyper ventilation around being filmed, I soon found that I actually loved the medium. Furthermore, it got me more exposure. To date I’ve had more than 110,000 views, which is pretty good going for a newbie.

Whilst it is time consuming, I have to tell you that I’ve experienced the benefits. By using video I’ve been able to better connect with my audience, rapidly build trust and see conversions. On average it takes me about 3 hours to write and optimize a blog, but when I add in video, it doubles this.

How I’ve tackled the times I don’t want to write

Often I’m asked what motivates me to be consistent with my blogging and it’s this one thing. I don’t want to let you – my audience – down. Out of all the months I’ve been blogging I’m happy to report that there have only been about 3 blogs that I’ve missed. Contrary to popular belief though, I’m not Superwoman, but I do try my best to impersonate her. She’s pretty hot! 😉

Being serious for just a moment, as a single parent to 3 kids, I’ve got my hands full. Most of the time things get done, but every once in a while something slips.

How do I tackle the days when I don’t feel inspired to write? Well that’s simple….I don’t write! I honour my creativity. Instead I wait for a moment or a day when I get the urge. Then I batch. Batching or chunking enables me to get more out of my time. I’ll aim to write up 4 blogs in a day. That then takes care of the month’s blogs. Easy peasy!

What I’d encourage you to ask yourself about blogging

Whether you’re about to start, quit or take your blog to the next level ask yourself this one question….

What’s your objective for your blog? Your answer will then determine your plan.

If you’re like me and want to set yourself up as an authority in your niche and derive sales from a product and service, then I’d advise you to do the following:

1. State your objective. Write it down. Commit to it by telling others. This increases your chances. Ask yourself what does your blog specifically stand for; what do you want to achieve from it, and by when.

2. Make a plan. Ask yourself how often you’re going to blog, whether you’re going to use text, or video or a combination; who will blog – you or another or guest bloggers, will you be selling from your blog etc.

3. Determine your style of blog. Consider your voice and image. Research blogs that inspire you and consider making a blog board by using Pinterest. Remember to be yourself though – ALWAYS. When you’re authentic with your voice and brand you’ll stand out from the crowd. So many bloggers fail as they say the same thing as everyone else and people please, which is a total turn off. As Derek Halpern from Social Triggers says, get controversial….for what stands out gets remembered. He walks the talk!

So make your point and if your readers don’t like it, consider it a good thing.

4. Build your list from day 1. Everyone advises you to have an opt-in (above the fold) and there’s good reason. Quite simply, without a list you have no one to sell to! So create an e-Book, or a report, or a video series ,or some kind of offer to attract your target clients as soon as you can. Then use your autoresponder to keep in contact, add value and sell.

5. Make a list of all the blogs that you’d like to guest blog on. These are your new targets and will become as important to you as your clients and customers. Guest blogging is vital if you’re serious about building a business from your blog. When you get this right it drives traffic (readers) to your blog like there’s no tomorrow. So, figure out what sites you’d like to send you traffic. List your 1 dream blog that you’d love to get a link from. Then, list 5 other blogs that you’d also love to get a link from. Note, you can be ambitious and pick the biggest, but you don’t have to. Smaller sites that you think would serve your brand well will also do the job.

6. Make a list of all the guest bloggers you’d like for your blog. This can work in the same way as the point mentioned above if you chose your guest bloggers wisely. Ideally you want bloggers who have a reasonable readership so they can promote your site and send you traffic. You can check their ranking status on Alexa. Whilst this appears extremely strategic, guest bloggers have other benefits. They give you a breather from blogging, and they enable you to share valuable content, that compliments your services. This is always my favourite part – the value this adds to you.

7. Make a list of blog topics. Adopt the KISS (keep it simple stupid) rule by focusing on no more than 3. You’ll then find that you have themes that stem from them. These tend to be the questions your target market asks the most. You can research these topics with your audience by asking them directly or alternatively go and do some competitive research. Sometimes you don’t have to reinvent the wheel! Short cuts can be good!

8. Create and complete an editorial calendar. This enables you to get organised and to know what you need to write and by when.

9. Schedule times and dates for blogging and your blog broadcasts.  This will help you stay committed to blogging. This has worked wonders for me as it’s forced me to keep on track.

10. Be vigilant. Keep an eye out for comments on your blog. Having worked so hard, you don’t ever want your readers to feel neglected at any point.

What 1 piece of blogging advice I wish I’d had

Although I started to build a list pretty quickly, as everyone advises, ironically, the one thing I wish I’d done sooner was promotion. Looking back I should have started to sell from my blog much earlier. You live and learn, euh?

Now I want to hear from you…

Tell me how you stay motivated to blog and what your biggest challenges and successes have been. Share your stories and experience here and if you’ve got a question, just pop it down here.

Thanks for participating!

With love and gratitude – as always,

 

P.S.

Finally, if you know someone who’d LOVE the insight from this post, please send them a link. You’ll find solo entrepreneurs, consultants and yes, even sales and marketing managers who manage people who’ll be interested to hear about this.

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P.P.S.

If you want a few more tips or candid thoughts you can read what Michelle wrote about yesterday and catch Hayley from The Tiny Twig tomorrow, and all of the other bloggers here. I cannot rave about their work enough.

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JaneFrankland

Jane Frankland is a successful cyber security entrepreneur, consultant and speaker who has had a diverse career encompassing art and design; business development; and operations. Having held directorships and senior executive positions within her own companies and at several large PLCs, she now provides agile, forward thinking organisations with strategic business development solutions. Right now she is writing a book on gender diversity in cyber security and is focused on increasing the numbers of women in the profession.
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