Blogging is easy to pick up, but difficult to master.
There’s a lot of nuance that separates the professionals from the newbies.
Here are 3 big mistakes that make you look like a rookie.
1. Blogging is Not a Business Model
Why are you blogging? What is the purpose?
It takes a lot of work and perseverance to build a successful blog. So you’ll probably want to start making money from it at some point.
And contrary to popular belief, it takes money to blog. You need to spend money on good web-hosting, design work, your email marketing software, and other tools that help you succeed. Because otherwise you’ll look like a newbie, and these issues will actually prevent you from building a massive blog – no matter how good your content is.
But there’s a problem.
Blogging is not a business model.
Blogging is a marketing tactic that helps you get attention and gain trust. That’s why subscribers are so important.
But then you have to do something with that attention and trust if you ever want to start making money.
Forget about online advertising, because you’ll never make any real money.
If you want to make money from blogging, then you either have to (1) provide services, or (2) sell products. That’s pretty much it.
Let’s take a deeper look at these two:
- Services: You might already have specific, valuable services in mind that you can provide to other people. But you might also be lost. If you have no idea where to begin, then I highly recommend you read Built to Sell, and follow it’s lessons to create a systemized, recurring service offering.
- Products: You can either create your own product(s), or help sell other people’s (as an affiliate). Either way, you should look for high margin products that will actually make a dent in your income. You might have dreamed about writing a book. But I hate to break it to you: books don’t make money. Create a revenue stream you can live off first, and then write the book you’ve always wanted to.
2. Not Using Search Engine Optimization
Most bloggers don’t care about SEO.
They think it’s too difficult, or just a waste of their time. Who cares about SEO when Google updates their algorithm every day, right?
But good SEO fundamentals are eternal, and they’re actually pretty easy.
And SEO is still one of the best ways to consistently drive traffic to your site. It works day-and-night for you, without you having to put in a lot of extra effort to keep it going.
Ed Abrams, Vice President of Marketing of IBM Midmarket Business, told Lisa Barone that, “85 percent of the time, customers’ decisions to interact with a brand begins with a search”.
Take a look at your blog analytics. More traffic, means more subscribers, which means more customers.
When you boil everything down, there’s only two major things you need to worry about:
- Make it easy for readers (and search engines) to find and browse your site
- Proactively look for ways to do quality link building that will also get you more traffic and build your brand
A good, simple SEO strategy will help you address the “low hanging fruit” of those two categories, and you’ll get 80% of the results with 20% of the effort.
If you want to go deeper and make the extra effort, then start reading some good SEO tutorials, like the Beginners Guide to SEO from SEOmoz.
3. Priotizing Social Media Over Email
I know I know. Social media is wonderful.
It drives you traffic and creates more engagement.
But email marketing still has the highest ROI of any online marketing tactic.
According to online market research firm MarketingSherpa,
B2C marketers report an average 256% ROI from email marketing — pulling in $256 for every $1 invested.
But incredibly, 59% of the companies polled had no way of quantifying the ROI of their email marketing. (Probably because they were spending too much time on Twitter and Facebook).
So forget about social media for this week, and get your email marketing in to shape.
It’s not enough to just set up a “newsletter” opt-in on your sidebar and call it a day. Blogs are great for getting attention, but your email marketing needs to build trust with your subscribers.
Here are some tips:
- Offer an incentive to join: People generally won’t do anything in life unless it benefits them. So offering an incentive to join your mailing list is a great way to gain the interest of strangers and get them on your list.
- Write killer headlines: The headline (or subject) of your email is probably the most important part of your email campaign. Because if the headline doesn’t grab people’s attention, then they’ll never open your email and read what you have to say! Make sure you study Headline Hacks by Jon Morrow. It’s an incredibly helpful guide.
- Keep your emails simple and direct: You should always stick to one goal when sending your email campaigns. So don’t load up your emails with 10 social media buttons and 5 different links. You can improve email marketing by focusing on the (1) open rate, and the (2) click-through-rate (CTR). Writing better headlines will help improve your open rate, and keeping your emails simple and to-the-point will improve your click-through-rate (CTR).
- Decide on a consistent format: Now how are you going to send these emails, and what will they look like? One of the biggest problems with email newsletters is that people don’t follow a consistent format or schedule. Weeks might go by without another new email, and then people will forget about you. So figure out how you’re going to follow up with your list on a consistent basis, that also works for your current workload.
- Don’t be afraid of automation: One of the most effective things you can do is lifecycle email marketing. Each time an event is “triggered”, you can automatically send a sequence of emails to that person. Maybe you want them to eventually buy something, or perhaps you just want them to come back to your site more often and engage with you. Either way, event-triggered tactics perform beautifully. Market research firm, Gartner, found in their 2011 study that “using event-triggered techniques results in a 600% lift over traditional outbound programs”.
Blogging is creative and fun. You get to express yourself, and interact with a lot of interesting people.
But it’s not easy. If you’re going to dip your toe in the water, then you might as well dive in.
And if you make a serious effort on these three things, then you’ll take a step to the next level and start to see more growth, and results that reward your efforts.