Originally published in Blogger and Podcaster Magazine. I write for a variety of magazines and publications online and off. Blogger and Podcaster has graciously allowed me to republish my articles.
When blogging began, many of us started blogging for fun. Blogging is fun. It’s a great way to express yourself, to meet and greet people, and spread your social self around.
It is also a way to make a little extra cash. However, once you start making money with your blog, your blog becomes a business. It’s no longer just about the fun, it’s about the business of blogging.
When your blog becomes your business, you need to treat it as a business. Whether it is a blog or podcast, the process of conversion begins with a mission statement and purpose – with knowing what you are going to do and how.
The purpose of your blog is called many things. It’s your blog purpose, blog goals, mission statement, and blog focus. It’s what you blog about and why.
In the business world, your blog purpose is described as an explicit description of your customer demographics and the niche market and industry the blog covers.
In other words, it’s the end to the following statement:
“My blog is about ____________________.”
Your blog purpose must:
- Be specific.
- Be easy to remember.
- Be recognizable.
- Make a promise.
A long drawn out blog purpose, with too many words, is not specific nor easy to remember. It’s boring before you even get started. Your blog purpose is your focus, thus, it should be in focus. Clear. Think ten words or less to keep it short, sweet, and memorable. Something you can say quickly at parties and conferences when asked, “What do you do?”
It must have recognizable words within the statement. This is not the time to use creative language. It’s time to use keywords and search terms that define your blog’s purpose. Words anyone can read and instantly understand what you do and what your blog is about. Words people use to search for your content.
It must make a promise, a commitment, that you can follow through on. People trust people who speak clear and specifically, but also those who keep promises.
It must also endure. A blog is a commitment to time, not just a few weeks or even months. If you are turning your blog into a business, you are making an agreement for a year, two, maybe even five, to your blog. Make your blog purpose be a commitment you want to keep for the next five years.
Your blog purpose may shift and evolve over time. That’s natural. Start with a strong, clear purpose, a statement describing your blog’s content for the next year, and it’s amazing how much better you will blog.
A clear blog purpose sends a message. It says “This is what I do” without any doubt. The words help keep your blogging on track, reminding you not to stray from the path. It also sets you up as an expert because the world knows the moment they arrive on your blog that this is what you do and know.
Define Your Customer
When your blog becomes a business, it also turns readers into customers. When they walk through the door of your blog, you want them to make you money, right?
It’s no longer about watching your blog stats and increasing your blog traffic. It’s now about keeping them and making they come back for more.
Defining a blog customer is much harder than traditional demographic estimates. With a brick store front, you knew your neighbors and community. You knew who would choose to shop in your store. You knew them, you knew what they wanted, and you did your best to meet their needs. These were your people.
On the web, anyone in the world can type in the search terms that bring them to your blog, if you write about what they are looking for. So how do you clarify your customer base if it could potentially be anyone?
In my research about blogging and building blog network relationships with Liz Strauss, we discovered that there are three core ways to identify your blog customers.
- The ideal customer for your blog is one who is a member of your group. They enjoy the same things as you do and visit the same types of sites. They are interested in what you are interested in.
- The ideal customer for your blog is someone who wants to communicate and share. They want to learn from you and ask questions. They want a relationship built upon your blog content.
- The ideal customer for your blog looks and thinks like YOU.
It’s a new way of thinking. Blogging is changing the world of communication and interaction. Thus, the customer base is changing. Your blog customer is you.
They think much like you. They like how you think. You like what you write. They like what you write. You want to help them, they like being helped, and in turn, they will help you.
Blog for you, and you will attract customers like you.
How do you describe you?
According to Liz Strauss:
We learn as writers that individual readers share common interests. We learn as marketers to meet each individual where he or she stands. I learned as a publisher that a well-defined prototype is exact and as explicit as possible. A strong prototype is like a single stone in the water — we can extrapolate it in rings to larger and larger views.
Start with a description of you and your needs and how your blog would meet your needs as a customer. Then extrapolate that description to your ideal readers – your customers. Now you have a picture of who you serve and how to serve them even better on your blog.
Ask yourself, “How do I sell my products and services to me?”
What Are You Selling?
Before you can start your blog, you must be clear about what you are selling on your blog. Your traditional options are:
- A product or product line.
- Your services.
If you are selling a product or product line, your blog becomes about the item, its manufacturing, processing, distribution, quality, integrity, and reputation. It’s about the industry your product is in and the latest news and activities.
If you are selling a service, such as a freelancer, public speaker, consultant, broker, or agent, you are selling two things: you and your expertise. Your blog’s purpose emphasizes that you know what you are talking about, you’ve the history and expertise to back it up, and “you” as a person and expert are worth knowing and working with.
If you are selling you, your blog is your resume. Every word, every graphic, every comment – on your blog and off – and every microscopic detail of your blog is about who you are, what you know, your expertise, and your character.
Many employers are looking at blogs before hiring, or even to find potential employees. It’s now part of the normal background check to search for the person’s name and find their blogs, comments, and other mention of their potential or current employees. Let your blog speak well of you, as well as all your online activities.
Blog Content Sells
Knowing your blog purpose, customer and product line is critical, but when you arrive on a web page from a search engine or referring link, what’s the first thing you start looking for?
It’s a hunt. You skim past the pretty, blog title and post title. Your eyes fly around the page, and it comes to rest on the content. The content holds the answers, not the pretty and fluff.
To build web traffic and readership, it’s all about your content. Your content is true product you are selling. The rest is incidental. By-products, if you will. Content is your inventory. It’s what keeps them coming back for more.
Your blog content must do 5 things:
- It must sell you and your services.
- It must establish you as an expert and convince the reader that you know what you are writing or talking about.
- It must make them want to participate in the process.
- It must make them want to tell others.
- It must make them want to come back for more.
In order to do this, you must first know how to write and convey your message. Blogging is about writing, even if you use multimedia. It’s about the words. Search engines only read words, not pictures, so your skill with communication and language is critical.
A blog is not static like a website, a one-time, sometimes updated block of content about you and your business. A blog needs feeding, like a pet, with quality content published consistently over time.
When working with new blog clients or those changing from a personal blog to a professional blog, I recommend they email me three to five blog posts a week on their chosen speciality for one to two months, before the blog is ready for business. I review and critique it. It’s a lesson in learning how to write a blog, but more importantly, it’s a lesson in learning how to produce blog content. If you can keep up the content on a consistent and timely format for one to two months, without getting bored, running out of ideas, or procrastination, you’re on the right track.
Once you start blogging, you have to keep producing content, so choose your blog business close to your heart, one you are passionate about. You may be writing on the subject for a very long time, so make sure you enjoy it and can keep talking about it for one to five years.
Defining the Blog Title, Description, and Structure
Once you have your blog purpose and a clear understanding your customer and what and how you are selling your product or service via your blog, it’s now time to structure your blog, using these as our guidelines.
- Strong Blog Title: Your blog title, the name of your blog, must be immediately recognizable as serving your blog purpose and customer. This is the time to not create a disconnect. Make the blog title explain the blog’s purpose.
- Strong and Clear Blog Purpose Statement: The description of your blog is your blog purpose. Put it near the top, in the header or top of a sidebar so it is among the first things people see upon arrival. This gives them a clear message as to what your blog is about and reminds you of why are you blogging.
- Let Nothing Interfere With the Content: Let nothing get in between your message and your reader. Don’t put ads all over the page, or blinking graphics and pictures. Help them get right to the reason they are here: the content. The sooner they get your message, the faster they are hooked on the quality and intent of your message – and the sooner they will come back and bring their friends.
- Instantly Recognizable Look and Feel: The moment a visitor arrives on your blog, the blog must be instantly familiar and look like it has the answer to their question. It begins with the blog title, backed up by the rest of the content, supporting text, and design. Make every design element count.
Think of your blog as an office not a playground. It’s a business, so treat the visitor like they are entering a professional office. Make the design appropriate to the type of business you are running. You wouldn’t expect pink and purple walls and painted clowns in a funeral home office, but you might in a family dentist’s office. Make the design reflect the content and be instantly recognizable as the place with the answers they need.
Turning Your Blog From Personal to Professional
When you turn your blog from a personal blog to a professional blog, the blog is now about the expert, not the person. You can no longer write about your sick parent, troubles at work, stupid people you meet, or other personal and “unprofessional” subjects. It’s not longer about whatever you think of that day. It’s now about your customers, your readers, and meeting their needs and expectations.
It’s about turning your blog into your office. One that is open and friendly while still being the office of a personable expert in your field.
Originally published in Blogger and Podcaster Magazine
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- Linking Relationships
- Building Relationships With Your Most Popular Posts
- Building Blog Relationships: Making a Good First Impression
- Blog Relationships: Fishing With Lures and Bait
- Blog Relationships: Are You Listening To Your Readers?
- The Relationship Conference: Building Blogs Through Interaction