As you know, WordPress was originally developed as a blogging platform, so it’s worth thinking about using it for that purpose. There are two basic approaches to blogging: publishing under your own name, to express your personal views and perhaps connect with your friends and colleagues, and blogging under the identity of your business.
These days the blog as a personal web diary is increasingly being replaced by Facebook and Twitter, and for most users is unlikely to achieve anything much from a commercial point of view. Unless you’re a celebrity, it’s probably much more effective to create a blog under the name of your business rather than your personal identity – unless your business is your personal identity, such as a Coach, Counsellor etc.
What’s the point?
As a businessperson you’ll want your blog, like everything else you spend time on, to have a specific business function that contributes to your bottom line; if you feel the need to vent your spleen on anything, a personal blog is the way to go. Having said that, don’t make the mistake of thinking you need to be balanced and neutral with all your blog entries. Your aim is to have people return on a regular basis or subscribe to your blog, and nothing is more likely to put people off than a bland, corporate-style blog. The key is to keep it on-topic and avoid any really outrageous views that might alienate customers.
To contribute to your profitability, your blog must either make it more likely that your customers will buy your products/services, or it must make money for itself.
1. Know Your Audience
In developing your product or service, you will have defined who is your typical customer. Every blog entry you consider writing should be relevant and interesting to this target audience. You should always be writing to that individual, using a voice that suits and appeals to them.
2. Write with Personality
Think about the personality you want to project in your blog. It’s unlikely to be “boring, middle-aged corporate-speak”. Look at some of the best business blogs and analyse how the way in which they’ve been written affects how you perceive them and their company. You can also find inspiration in magazines and books that appeal to your target audience.
3. Write what’s Interesting
Nobody will read a boring blog. Come up with interesting angles or be the first with news or opinions. If you solve a problem that’s relevant to your customers, blog about it. Whatever you do, don’t start a blog that is nothing more than a list of links to other blogs.
4. Link it to Your Business
A common mistake is to expect visitors to understand how your blog relates to your business. Most people don’t want to think that hard. Make it clear who you are and what your business does. Include obvious links to your business product/service.
5. Capture their Details
Blogs should be open to all visitors, it’s not a good idea to require them to register to view your posts, unless there’s an intrinsic value in the information or resources on the protected pages. By writing an eBook, recording an interview or buying resale rights to useful resources, you can offer the visitor something in exchange for their details. Once you have these, you can begin to establish a longer-term relationship that might lead to multiple sales.
6. Keep Updating
How many blogs have you come across that look interesting on the face of it, until you notice that they were updated months or even years ago? An outdated blog is worse than no blog at all. Services such as Posterous make it easy to update your blog, Twitter feed and Facebook page via email. There’s no excuse.
How to Blog for Money
First, build an audience. The more relevant people who visit you, the more sales you’ll make from your main business and the more potential there will be to make money from the blog itself. Once you’ve established your blog and populated it with useful articles, you can then drive traffic to it using SEO techniques and a low-cost Google AdWords campaign.
You can make money directly from a healthy blog by selling advertising space or selling products as an affiliate. Ads are very simple to set up, espeically if you use Google AdSense, but unless you have a massive audience, ‘ only generate a small income. On the other hand, many bloggers have built entire businesses around affiliate marketing, not least because of the low setup cost.
Keep in mind that you want to create a blog that people want to revisit and recommend. Making money from advertising or affiliate schemes depends on having a viable blog in the first place. This is increasingly important, as Google appears to be preparing to eliminate blogs that only “review” products for which the owner is an affiliate. If you want to add affiliate products to your site, here are some recommendations:
- Don’t overdo it Make sure that no more than 10-20% of posts link to an affiliate product. This will prevent it feeling like a pure sales page.
- Buy the Products There’s no excuse for selling a product that you haven’t personally used. By buying and using a product you will see how it works and be able to write a balanced review (it’s essential to include cons as well as pros). This will also ensure you don’t recommend duff products to your audience, which will alienate them and could result in costly returns.
- Stay Relevant Stick to products that are only truly relevant to your audience. Your blog will only succeed if it is focused, and your credibility only counts in areas in which you’ve built that credibility.