Recently, I had two different people, in two different forums, ask me, “If you were starting your blog from scratch today, what would you do differently than you did way back when?”
Well, there’s a loaded question! Blogs change. Businesses change. I think I had to make the mistakes, try things out for myself, and write the embarrassing posts in order to get where I am today.
But I think hidden behind that question is a bit of an easier one to answer, which is, “What advice for new business bloggers can you share?”
When I made my answer inside one of my Facebook groups, the asker said, “P.S. I thought you were going to say, ‘There’s a post for that!'” It’s a running joke that I have a blog post to answer just about every question that gets asked — but not this one. Not directly.
So I decided to remedy that, and write my Advice for New Business Bloggers: In 5 Acts
1. Understand what you want your blog to do for your business.
This is the number one piece of advice for new business bloggers I’d like to dispense, and it’s important for new and more established business bloggers alike.
I think a lot of people have heard that they need a blog for their business, but they don’t know why. So they diligently start blogging, start writing, putting content out there, and while I believe that no content is ever “wasted,” there’s no strategy to it, no grand plan.
And so they begin to get frustrated, because they don’t see any “results” — although in most cases, they’re a little vague on what they want those results to be.
I think, therefore, the best place to start when you’re starting a blog to support your business is to focus on what you want your blog to help you achieve. Do you want to grow your list
? Sell more product? Become a thought leader? Grow a Pinterest following? Feed your Facebook group?
Each of these is a worthy goal — but each should be approached in a slightly different way.
For myself, my blog has always been a way to introduce me to new readers and then entice them to sign up for my email list. So one thing I would do if I could go back to the beginning, knowing what I know now, is to more actively try different strategies to get people on my list.
2. Make a plan.
Once you know what you want to accomplish, you can work backwards to figure out how to do it. Say you want to grow your list. Well, then every post you write had better have an opt-in form attached to it. And maybe you try content upgrades, or a challenge, or some other content strategy that will help grow that list
Spaghetti isn’t a strategy. A lot of new (and established!) biz owners just throw posts out there randomly and try to see what sticks. But that’s just not a good use of your time. If you’re not blogging with a strategy towards an end goal (see 1 and 2), you’re probably wasting your time.
Because (for most businesses) your blog is the center of your content marketing strategy, you have to be strategic about what you post and when you post it.
Even if you don’t have anything to sell yet, you can work on attracting traffic, getting them on your list, getting them to know like and trust you, getting them to engage, etc. In fact, many of my blogging teachers over the years (I’m thinking of Brian Clark, Neil Patel, and Derek Halpern in particular) advise growing a list long before you try to sell anything.
And if you do already have something to sell, that’s good too — and it’s even more important to blog with purpose and develop a strategy. (That’s what my course, Content Intelligence Academy, teaches— coming soon!)
3. Get comfortable with the numbers.
I am not naturally a numbers person. I’m a creative, innovative, word-loving emotional Pisces — numbers are not really my bag. But I discovered that when I started actually paying attention to them, tracking them, and actively working towards growing them, a magical thing happened:
My numbers improved.
So if I could go back to the beginning, I’d start defining the metrics I wanted to track and actively working to track and improve them much, much sooner.
The second half of this is that growing your business is just math. When I first figured this out, I about fell out of my chair. I kept saying, “Really?? It’s that easy??”
Here’s the math you need to know:
- Take how much you want to earn this year, and divide that by the price point of what you sell. That’s how many sales you need to make.
- Then take that number and divide it by 12. That’s how many sales you need to make each month.
- Then multiply that by your conversion rate (how many people buy divided by how many people saw the offer). If you don’t know your conversion rate, use an average. If you’re doing phone calls or in-person conversations to close a sale, a good average is 20%; if you’re using a sales page online, a good average is 3–5%. This number is how many leads you need each month — that is, how many new email sign-ups.
Once you know how many leads you need each month, you can work backwards (see No. 2) and create a plan for how to get there.
A lot of newbie biz owners and bloggers have shame or embarrassment around their numbers. I have several people in my FBI program right now who were daunted when they first looked at where they are versus where they want to be. But they’re just numbers — and everyone starts somewhere.
4. Be yourself.
The other major thing I have learned over the past four years — mostly through trial and error — is that the more I am able to be myself and embody my brand
, the better the results I get.
When I first started out, I made the same mistake I see many new business bloggers make: I tried to “sound like a business.” But in this internet economy, we more often buy from a person than a business.
Just like you, there are dozens of people out there who do what I do: who teach blogging, or offer copywriting services. I am not a special snowflake when it comes to my niche — and I would bet you five shiny internet dollars that neither are you.
But I am unique as a person. I am unique as a brand. My unique selling point (USP) is not so much what I teach (though I do try to differentiate myself there a bit) but how I teach it, because of who I am.
Therefore, the more I can be myself, the more I can attract my true tribe. (I kind of hate the word tribe, but you get what I’m saying there, right?)
My Voice Identification Process
was developed to try to help people uncover their true voice — because so often I see people for whom their voice has gotten buried through years of corporate or academic writing, the weight of messages that they have to “be professional,” or simple plain old self doubt.
But time and time again I see that people who find a hook for their brand voice make everything so much easier on themselves when it comes to writing and creating content. So definitely work on that.
5. Treat your blog like a sales tool.
Finally, my best advice for new business bloggers is to remember that your blog is a sales tool; in fact, as far as I’m concerned it is one of your most powerful sales tools.
But blogging for sales is a long game. You can’t slap a “BUY NOW” button on your blog post and expect it to convert very well.
Blogging is an investment in both your business and your customer. By providing useful/entertaining/inspiring content consistently over time, you’re proving to that potential customer that you’re not just some fly-by-night out for their money, but rather a person they can trust to be there for them when they need you.
Blogging is about educating your consumer. It’s about building relationships. It’s about listening as much as it is talking. And it’s about understanding that a sale rarely happens in a single step. Rather, you’re building a path to sales that your customers can follow.