When I struck out on my own, free from the 60+ hour workweeks of the full-time journalism rat race, I decided to start a blog. I was an award-winning local food writer, so a local food blog seemed like a perfect fit. I knew people made money from blogging (though I didn’t know how) and it seemed like something I’d enjoy.
As I talked about in my post about Marie Forleo’s BSchool, that first idea was a flop, and when I was forced to rebrand and start fresh, I got a lot clearer about what I wanted to do. I created an ideal reader profile and started writing a blog for people who wanted to live like a foodie on a budget.
And it worked! I attracted a decent-sized following over my first year.
What I didn’t attract was a decent paycheck. I had created incredible resources (in this case, ebooks) and attracted a group of readers who needed my service. The problem was that they couldn’t (or weren’t willing to) pay for those resources. They were—and still are—happy to engage and consume my free content, but by picking a niche of extremely budget-minded consumers, I made it that much more difficult for me to turn that passion into a profitable business.
You’re sending out mixed signals.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t alone in making this mistake. We might see it in the graphic designer who provides lots of amazing web design tips and attracts an audience of DIYers looking for education because they can’t afford to hire her. Or maybe from the PR expert who writes about promotional advice for cash-strapped entrepreneurs—who can’t afford to hire her to do their PR for them.
In fact, I almost did it again with this blog! Because I’m passionate about teaching what I know, I started writing blog posts about—what else?—how to blog. But I quickly realized that the people who want someone to write their blog for them (my VIP clients) aren’t actually reading blogs about how to blog! (Read on to find out what I did to fix that.)
What happens here is that many passionate and heart-centered entrepreneurs (hat tip to Heart Centered Business Bootcamp for the term!) focus so intently on the people who need their services, they forget to also focus on the people who want to pay for their services.
A lawyer might take on dozens of pro-bono cases in a year to support a cause she’s passionate about—but you can bet that the rest of the time she’s hustling the high priced clients whose payments support her charity work. And that may be the tactic you need to take, too.
It’s not you, it’s me: How to attract the right readers
If you find yourself attracting the wrong readers to your blog, it’s time to do some serious soul searching. Here are some things to consider:
- Why are your readers the “wrong” readers? In other words, what qualities do they have that are preventing them from converting into customers? Are they unable to pay for your products or services? Unwilling to pay for some reason? Have you somehow attracted an audience that disagrees with you about something fundamental in your business?
- Are your readers willing and able to become your customers? If not, why not? If you can’t figure out the answer to this question, you might need to ask! If you have a few people who comment on your blog regularly, you can reach out to them personally, or send out a survey to your entire list.
- Has something changed? It’s no sin! We’re dynamic human beings, never sitting still, and if your ideal business—and therefore ideal customer—has changed, it’s OK to change your blog too.
- Are you talking to your customers or your competition? It’s the number one mistake I see small business bloggers make.
- Are you talking to your readers at the right stage? It could be that you’re attracting the right kind of readers, but you’re not giving them the information they need to make the leap and hire you. For example, if you’re a business coach attracting newbie entrepreneurs, but what you really do is take established entrepreneurs to the next level, you might be writing the wrong kind of content. Ask yourself, “What does my ideal customer need to know right before she makes a purchase?” And then see if you’re actually writing that content.
Once you’ve figured out where things are going wrong, the shift you need to make might be subtle or significant.
I realized that I really enjoyed teaching to DIY bloggers, and so I adjusted my planned offerings to include services that would appeal to them (you!). I still offer and do well with my VIP service, but most of my VIP clients don’t find me through this blog—and that’s OK.
A business coach I know started out by offering low-priced programs to entrepreneurs of all stripes, but later realized her real talent was in taking entrepreneurs into six figures. She retooled her message and now easily sells out her mastermind program, which costs tens of thousands of dollars a pop!
Be your attractive self
If you find that your problem is a subtler one—you attract people willing to buy, perhaps, but they’re not your favorite people to work with—you might need to look more carefully at your message. Are you truly being yourself when you blog, or are you trying to be someone else?
Perhaps the most important bit of advice I can offer is this: you must blog from a place of your own values in order to attract the right customers.
Our first (and most important) niche as entrepreneurs is “people who like me.” It’s that know, like, and trust factor again. But if you’re not being yourself, you’re not going to be attracting people who really like you—you’ll be attracting people who like whoever it is you think you’re supposed to be.
And that’s not going to end well for either of you!
Are you attracting the right readers to your blog? I’d love to hear about any challenges you may have had in the process of finding your ideal reader in the comments below.