Does blogging really help bring in sales? Or is it a giant waste of time?
I am here to tell you that content can generate sales, but only if you do it right. I have sold consulting services, software, books, digital goods-;you name it. All from blogs.
So why are so many business people doubtful or disappointed by the results they’re seeing (or not) from blogging? Because most of them are doing it wrong. Their blog posts either are hard sales pitches or seem disconnected from their business strategy.
If you focus on hard selling, you won’t keep the reader’s attention long enough to develop a relationship. On the other hand, if you don’t show off your business, you lose the opportunity to turn that reader into a customer. Either extreme is bad.
Here’s a 12-point checklist for a blog that can generate sales:
- Write for your target customer. The biggest mistake I see is irrelevant content. Do not write for your peers or the world at large. Write for the type of customers you want to attract. If you run a handmade soap business, don’t write about March Madness, politics, and global warming. Topics unrelated to your line of business may interest some readers, but will readers like that turn into customers?
- Educate to sell. Use your blog to educate. Become the go-to resource where prospects, customers, and information-seekers get their questions answered about anything related to your type of product or service. Write down a list of questions prospective customers researching a purchase would want to know, and then write posts answering each question.
- Have a prominent lead collection form. Include something to collect leads on the sidebar or header of every page. A lead capture form to sign up for a free trial or download a free ebook is ideal.
- Create an emotional connection to trigger sales. Blogs give you an opportunity to speak conversationally. Wipe away that stern corporate face. On a blog, you can present a warm friendly visage. This helps make that emotional connection so important for triggering sales. Just don’t confuse this with revealing too many personal details.
- Connect your blog and website. The visitor must be able to jump over to your website via obvious links on the blog, and vice versa.
- Be easy to contact. Wanting to avoid spam mail is understandable, but are you throwing the baby out with the bathwater? So often, sites have contact forms but no email address or phone number. Many readers don’t trust a contact form because they are never sure their submission will be seen by a human being. Give multiple contact methods.
- Post at least once a week. People ask me, how did you grow traffic on your blogs? My number one secret: publish more! The amount of content and traffic are directly correlated. The more content you add, the more reason you give others to make the blog a regular destination. You also create more content to feed the search engines so searchers can find you.
- Link to other sites. Your posts should link out to other sites from time to time. The purpose of linking out is to share other resources and get others to take notice of you. Many bloggers fear they will “send people away” by linking out, but all they are doing is creating their own insular world.
- Pay attention to comments. Blog comments help develop relationships that turn into sales, but only if they are “engaged comments.” Nobody wants to comment on a blog that’s overrun with spam. Use spam-fighting tools like Akismet and manually approve comments. And when you get comments from real readers, respond. I hired my trademark attorney after coming to know him through blog comments.
- Get people to subscribe. You want readers to come back ... and regularly. Encourage readers to sign up for your newsletter or to be notified every time a new blog post is published, with a prominent subscribe box.
- Share, share, share. Actively share posts on social media platforms, especially Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. Social media sites are where you find an audience; give them a reason to visit your site.
- Write guest blog posts. Step outside your blog to reach out to new audiences. One way is to be seen on other sites. Approach other blog owners, and ask if they’d be interested in your contributions.
A blog can definitely bring in sales. You may not see the numbers jump right away, but blogging regularly can develop customers and foster relationships with those customers. And from those relationships can come a lifetime of future sales.