I recently undertook a free webinar from a web marketer, Kimberley Ann Jimanez, who was sharing some tips on what it takes to start and maintain a profitable blog. It was really interesting, and you can find more great advice on starting a blog and content marketing it over on her site.
This is part two of a two part series on why blogging is good and how to be great at content marketing. (Includes a free content strategy pack link at the end 🙂 )
Making Your Strategy
Once you feel like you want to start a blog, you need to get some things crystal clear first. Like all aspects of business, you need to know your mission and objectives for the blog – what your goals are – as this will help you to create the consistency that is needed in order for a blog to succeed.
Step 1: Get Clear on Your Purpose
It may seem silly to need to have this clear, but writing down exactly why you are creating your blog is important. Why does your blog exist? Having your ideal outcomes in mind and why they are important can help beyond keeping you motivated. When you are struggling with a tough decision, they are your compass guiding the way so that you make the right decisions for you, your blog and your brand.
Take the time to think about who you want to be talking to. What sort of audience do you want to attract? If it’s something more serious, you would want to make sure you are using a more formal tone in your writing. If it’s something fun, you want to keep your tone upbeat and enthusiastic.
Once you have determined your blog’s purpose and who you want to reach, the next step is to connect the dots. How are you going to serve your audience? What benefit is your content going to bring to them, even if it’s just information on how to use your product, or an interesting article in a related capacity.
Step 2: Plan & Produce Amazing Content
Now that you have your purpose clear in your mind, you can proceed with churning out all the good stuff. If you have an audience (of any size, even 3-4 persons is enough) in an email list, you can survey what topics they really want you to cover.
If you have phone numbers of clients, give them a buzz and ask about their pain points and challenges. Look for problems that your current client base has, and then blog about a solution to the problem. It could even work out to a whole series of posts if there is enough scope.
Running a quick internet search on your industry can reveal the questions people are asking, and plan content to respond. Places you could look aside from the top results in the popular search engine of your choice include (but are not limited to) Yahoo! Answers, forums, and popular websites and messaging boards that are related to your industry.
You might even want to take this a step further and find popular blog posts and content from your own industry, remixing the content for your own blog. If you do this, it is important to do so sparingly. Re-spinning the content ideas is better than just tweaking a word here or there, as clear copying is never a good idea.
Step 3: Build a Content Calendar
Content calendars can be so useful when it comes to organising a content strategy. Having when you are going to post what content tied up in one place can ensure that your blog is being kept fresh. Then you can have things lined up in scheduled posting for a whole quarter, or even the whole year, with pre-prepared content.
Some of the sites that support this, such as co-schedule, not only let your plug-in the dates for content, but will publish what you attach to your schedule to your blog for you automatically. In so doing, you could well have all your content ready for a whole year in advance so you can concentrate on another area of your business.
Currently, I am using Trello. Whilst you can’t have it publish your posts to your blog for you, there is enough functionality to have a team gather ideas and create a schedule for content, but you will have to add it to your blog yourself.
Step 4: Monetise Your Content
Gone are the days that you could sell space on your blog to advertise to the highest bidder. You can still get things like PPC (paid-per-click) and other similar schemes, but unless you actually do have a monster blog, this just isn’t going to work out for you.
Sell a Product
Really, to monetise your blog, you are going to have to do one of two things (or both, maybe). The first thing is to sell your own product. That could be a special, step up access level on the content you regularly run on your blog such as a course or a short e-book.
Level-above content may be something related to the article that the reader was looking at, such as making a pair of gloves. Say you got really good at that, you could run a webinar showing a set number of people how you do so live. Giving support and that extra touch of value to people’s lives is ultimately what your audience will invest in.
Or it could be something that you actually have for sale, like a product. You could sell it directly on you blog or provide links to your online shop, for example if you have an Etsy store.
Join an Affiliate Program
The second thing, is to have affiliate advertising. While this method is a great choice, I recommend using it only if you are not selling a product or service. It can be a bit much if you are selling and advertising at the same time and may deter repeat traffic. ( It is okay to switch between the two, so long as only one is active at any time.)
Affiliate advertising is a pay-per-action rather than pay-per-click. Your reader needs to not only click through, but either sign up, or register, or even make a purchase before you get paid. The more relevant the ad to the content, the more likely it is your reader will be interested and click through to get the product or service.
If you aren’t sure where to start, you might consider signing up to Amazon Associates. As they have many products available, there should be something relevant that will be available. There are other programs you could sign up to, also.
If you don’t fancy signing up to every affiliate program available (and who could blame you, there are so many) you may consider using a service which will do this for you automatically, such as VigLink. While this type of service signs you up to the majority of the programs and monetises your links for you, they do take a commission on top. Make sure you find out more about this before handing over a share of your profits to this kind of service.
You can maximise the chances of a click through becoming a purchase if you have written a review discussing the product advertised. Do keep in mind that your product of choice should be relevant to your blog and be something of interest to your audience. You will also need to make sure you are frank and honest, including as much relevant information as possible in this instance. Keeping your opinion authentic will ensure your reader knows that the information you provide is reliable.
When using affiliates, keep it a tasteful balance of ads and a great user experience. Sometimes a small handful of links in your side bar or footer should be enough. Keep in mind your purpose of having the blog in the first place and how it is going to benefit someone else, and you will have an easier time making the decisions that work the best for you, your blog and your audience.
To help you get started on creating your content strategy, I have made some worksheets that you are welcome to use. The link below will take you through to a google document where you can download and print them.
This article is free advice from me to you. It has not been sponsored and none of the provided links are part of an affiliate program, but are helpful to show you what I am talking about. Make sure you do some research beyond this article before signing up to an affiliate program, or a service which does so for you. Best of luck! 😀