You sit down at your desk.
You start your computer.
You check Google Analytics and your email provider dashboard. A deep sigh escapes from your soul.
Why is your number of email subscribers still so low?
Why aren’t readers flocking to your blog?
And when will those business inquiries finally arrive?
We all know that blogging is hard work, but what should you do when your efforts don’t seem to pay off?
Should you cross your fingers and keep plugging away? Hope that your readership will snowball? Pray that business inquiries will soon flood your inbox?
You need a new blog strategy, not wishful thinking.
When your blog isn’t doing as well as you’d like, don’t simply step up your efforts. Don’t keep slaving away.
Instead, take a step back and review what you’ve done so far. Do you have the right building blocks in place to seduce readers and win clients?
If you want to create a simple blog plan that will help you win more readers, fans, and clients, answer the five critical questions below.
Let’s start with understanding your reader.
1. Who is your one fan?
You might be aiming to gain 100, 1,000, or even 10,000 blog readers.
But when you think about large numbers of readers, you turn people into a faceless crowd. And when you write for a faceless crowd, your writing becomes colorless, drab, and boring.
Do you think Stephen King focuses on millions of readers when writing his bestsellers?
In his book On Writing, King tells us he writes for one reader only — his wife. When he writes, he doesn’t wonder whether his millions of fans will enjoy his new book. He wonders, “What will Tabitha think about this section?”
When you write for one reader, your blog instantly becomes more engaging, personal, and persuasive. You’ll get more comments and shares, which will help you generate ideas for new blog posts.
Do you know your one fan?
Can you imagine picking up the phone, sharing a joke, and asking her view on your latest blog post?
Your ideal reader, your one fan, can be an imaginary person, your favorite customer, or a composite of various people you know.
To visualize your one fan, go beyond demographics. Understand her dreams and struggles. Empathize with her, and inspire her.
If you’d like a little help with creating your fan’s profile, download a free form here (no opt-in required).
2. Why would your fan read your blog?
Your blog might help you achieve a number of goals — generate more traffic to your website, raise your profile, boost your authority, gain more clients, etc.
But have you thought about what’s in it for your favorite fan?
Why would he read your blog?
Your blog reader isn’t interested in your company objectives or your personal aims. He doesn’t want to hear your promotional messages, your sales pitches, or even your company story.
He simply wants to know what’s in it for him. How can you take away his problems? How can you make him happier or more successful?
Here’s a quick exercise:
- Don’t think about your objectives.
- Quit worrying about business and sales.
- Finish this sentence: My favorite fan reads my blog because I help him …
A few examples:
- As a marketing coach, you might want to help freelance writers find higher-paying clients.
- As a web developer, you could help small business marketers create websites that convert more web visitors into leads.
- As a premium social media app marketer, you could teach entrepreneurs how to network with influencers on Twitter.
Your blog purpose defines how you help your readers and keeps you focused on engaging and inspiring them.
That’s how your blog becomes a must-read resource in your niche.
3. Does each blog post help your fan?
Do you write for yourself or for your favorite fan?
To engage your readers and win business, you must write for your fans. You must write about the topics they crave.
Don’t wait until you have to write your next blog post to generate ideas. Spend 30 minutes this week brainstorming at least 30 ideas.
Here’s how you can generate 30 ideas in fewer than 30 minutes …
First, get away from your computer, and think about your favorite fan. Now, kickstart your brainstorming session with these questions, keeping in mind ways you can help:
- What are her dreams?
- What are her struggles?
- Which difficult decisions does she have to make?
- Which hot industry topics does she follow?
- Which mistakes does she make?
- Which buying decisions does she need to make?
- Which resources could educate her?
- What could experts teach her?
- What questions does she have?
Stop creating content for the sake of creating content.
Instead, create a business blog for your readers.
Inquiries will flood your inbox once your authority grows.
4. Can your fans find you?
As a Copyblogger reader, you know about content marketing. You know you need to create quality content and promote it.
But this is where many of us get stuck.
Promoting content feels like a giant time-suck — an endless list of must-dos that you’re never able to complete.
How can you promote your content without going crazy? Let’s add some sanity to your content distribution plan:
How can you make time for guest blogging?
Guest blogging is the quickest way to boost your authority, gain valuable links, and increase email subscribers. If you struggle to find time for guest blogging, consider reducing your publishing schedule. Write a guest post one week and a post for your own blog the next week.
Which social media channels do you currently enjoy the most?
Be active on the platforms where your fans hang out and where you enjoy hanging out. When you enjoy yourself, you gain a wider audience and create more engagement. To start, choose two or three channels.
How well-established is your site?
Driving SEO traffic to a totally new site isn’t easy. If your blog is new, and you don’t know much about SEO yet, focus on other traffic-generating activities first. You can plan for future traffic with some smart SEO fundamentals, but don’t expect SEO traffic to be significant in the early stages.
Can new fans find your blog?
A blog without a promotional strategy is like a restaurant that’s not listed on a map. The establishment lacks diners because nobody knows how to get there. Guide readers to your blog with simple tactics, and don’t spread yourself too thin.
5. Do you build long-term relationships?
It’s easy to forget that people buy from people. The concept is a cliché, but it’s true.
Before people will hire you or buy your products, you need to build relationships:
- Invite them to your email list with an ethical “bribe.”
- Include opt-in forms on your Home page, About page, sidebar, and below each blog post.
- Allow readers to get to know you by infusing your writing with personality.
- Be insanely helpful with a strong dose of empathy for your readers’ struggles and a large dollop of inspiration and pep talks.
- Turn up regularly — whether your schedule is weekly, daily, or monthly, ensure your readers know what to expect, and be there.
- Take advantage of your honeymoon period — use an autoresponder series to build a stronger relationship with new subscribers.
To turn your readers into avid fans and loyal buyers, be a good friend. Don’t treat them like numbers.
Here’s what to do next
Ready to generate some serious business with your blog?
Follow these steps:
- Over the next five days, block 30 minutes for reviewing your blog.
- On day one, create a profile of your favorite fan.
- On day two, write down your blog purpose and discover why your fans come to your blog.
- On day three, think about your favorite fan and write down at least 30 blog topics that he’d love to read.
- On day four, review your blog promotion strategy. How can you reach more people in the time available to you? Which activities can you cut? How can you experiment?
- On day five, consider your email strategy. How can you build a closer relationship with the fans on your list?
The simple truth about your business blog
Of course you’d love to get more clicks, shares, and comments. But the truth is, these factors don’t matter.
Authentic engagement with the people who might want to buy from you is what matters.
Develop relationships with your readers. Put them first.
That’s how you win more business.
Your opportunity to seduce
Does your blog strategy keep readers engaged with your writing and serve their needs?
How does your content help readers know, like, and trust you?
Let’s discuss turning your audience into buyers over on Google+!
Flickr Creative Commons Image via HarshLight.