Since refocusing and rebranding my business as The Write Copy Girl last August, life has been a bit like an episode of Star Trek. The ship blows up two minutes in. You’re sat there thinking, “What the damn hell?”, then time jumps back and it all happens again. And again. And again.
The same series of events playing out repeatedly, always ending the same way:
I love the Groundhog Day trope in Sci-Fi, but I’m a little less enthralled by it in real life. And yet for over a year now I’ve been stuck in a time loop.
You see, I keep having the same conversation. It goes something like this:
“What do you do for a living?”
“I’m a Content Marketer.”
“Oh, cooooool….wait, WTF is that?”
“I help entrepreneurs sell their stuff by blogging and creating other fab content for them.”
“Blogging? Is that a scam? Come on, blogging doesn’t sell shit!”
This seems to be a commonly held belief.
Blogging is fun and all, but it doesn’t actually sell stuff. It’s not, like, a viable business model…
I understand it coming from people who aren’t involved in online marketing. I find it worrying coming from digital marketers and entrepreneurs, yet many genuinely believe blogging isn’t capable of actually selling anything.
It’s useful for, like, SEO and stuff, but it’s not really marketing is it? You need ads and stuff for that…
Today I’m addressing the issue head on and telling you exactly how to make your blog convert like magic, turn readers into paying clients, and sell your shit.
How I Know Blogging Sells Shit
Before we go any further, I want to reassure you that I’m not full of shit myself.
I know blogging is a viable marketing model, fully capable of not only selling your stuff, but selling enough of your stuff to build a successful business.
That’s exactly how I built mine.
Since I started as an entrepreneur I’ve never had enough money on hand to pay for advertising. The few times I tried Facebook ads in the early days I didn’t have enough of an understanding about how marketing works to make them effective.
It took me a long time to figure out exactly where my Zone of Genius lay.
I finally realised my focus should be on writing and nothing else when I noticed the most successful offering I had was writing blog posts for other entrepreneurs. My clients used the posts I wrote to sell stuff, and the more people I worked with the more I learned about writing blog posts that convert.
Trial, error, and a lot of experimentation led to the development of my signature service, The Divine Blogging Design.
In August 2016 I shut down my old business and started The Write Copy Girl, offering the same blogging services I’d had such success with, and my newly developed content marketing service as my core offerings.
So I know blogging sells. It sells for my clients every day.
It’s also the only form of marketing I currently use.
With the exception of a four week long AdWords campaign with a very low budget, run in February this year, which resulted in a couple of small pieces of work, the only marketing I’ve used in The Write Copy Girl to date is blogging.
No adverts. No PR. No paid marketing methods of any kind.
In 2017 I tripled my income with zero marketing budget, and nothing but a killer content marketing strategy.
How Blogging Tripled My Income
It’s currently the beginning of November and I’ve already TRIPLED my income on last year.
See for yourself…
I may end up more than tripling my income, given that there are almost two months left in the year. I also turned down a lot of work between April and July as I was managing some health issues and limited myself to work that was already on the books during those months.
So for four months of the year I was actively turning away work, and still, I’ve tripled my income.
And I had zero marketing budget.
Zip, nil, nada.
That’s an incredible amount of growth, entirely achieved by blogging.
There is, however, a caveat to that, and it’s a big one: blogging sells when structured effectively.
Too many people dismiss content marketing as an unviable strategy for generating sales because they try it, and it doesn’t work.
But converting readers into paying clients isn’t easily done.
Just because blogging works, doesn’t mean it works without effort.
There are a litany of mistakes people make that prevent their content marketing strategies from ever earning them a penny.
The kicker is, any one of these mistakes can put a serious dent in the profitability of your content marketing efforts. And making more than one or two of them at once will keep you from making any money at all.
Rather than writing a post explaining how to blog for profit, I thought I’d collect the various reasons I’ve observed over the years that cause blogging efforts to fail.
#1 You’re Not Writing For Your Ideal Client
When your goal is to earn money it can colour the way you write. You start coming up with topic ideas and posts that you think will effectively promote your stuff.
The problem with this is that it results in writing for yourself, to promote your objectives, rather than writing for your ideal client, and provide them with valuable content.
Content marketing runs on the value your readers perceive in the content you freely offer.
And they’re not stupid.
If you write something from the perspective of a seller, rather than a provider, they will see through you.
They won’t respond well to your writing, and may be turned off completely.
Think about what their wants and needs are. Write stuff that will genuinely help, entertain, inspire, comfort, or inform them.
If you do that, they will naturally want more, and happily pay for it.
#2 You Have Fuzzy Objectives
Just because you’re writing with your ideal clients’ needs in mind doesn’t mean you should abandon your own needs.
You need a crystal clear objective for every post you write.
Your overall objective is ‘to make money’, but that’s a big picture goal. It’s extremely rare for a blog post to achieve it, and even rarer for it to achieve it for any length of time.
Instead, each of your blog posts will achieve a small victory that builds into a greater whole.
Here are some key objectives your content needs to achieve on a regular basis:
- Raising awareness of your brand
- Informing readers about the value of what you’re selling
- Providing social and statistical proof that you’re the best person for the job
- Building the know, like, and trust factor with your audience
- Driving signups to your email list
- Encouraging people to follow you on a social media platform
While your posts may help you achieve more than one of these things, you should only have one goal for each post. A core objective that the whole post is designed to further.
If you’re unclear on your objective when writing, you won’t successfully guide your readers to a specific action.
#3 You’re Using The Wrong Blogging Model
This is by far the biggest mistake I see people make.
There are different ways of blogging, and some are more suited to selling than others.
Hobby bloggers, for example, rarely try to actively sell through their blog. When they do, they’re not selling products or services in a business, but have byproducts of their hobby on sale.
Book versions of blogs are really common.
A knitter might sell their own knitting patterns, or finished products.
An artist might sell their paintings or pottery.
At some stage the amount being sold dictates that the blog is a business, not just a hobby. Yet the method of blogging used only shifts to a business model if the core goal of the blogger ceases to be ‘writing about something I love doing’, and becomes ‘earn money from doing what I love’.
If you started off as a hobby blogger, the odds are you’re still blogging with a hobbyist’s mindset. And there’s nothing wrong with that if you’re happy for your business to tootle along.
But if you’re looking to maximise your profits and grow your business, you need to stop blogging like it’s a hobby, and blogging blogging like it’s a business.
And even then, different blogging models exist depending on what you want your blog to achieve for your business.
Some people use blogging as a means of improving search engine rankings and driving traffic to their site. Blogging is only part of their marketing strategy, it’s by no means the whole, and its core function is SEO, not content marketing.
In this model, blogging helps with sales, but there is no direct correlation between the blog posts written and the money earned.
Because of that, it’s easy to think that blogging isn’t selling anything.
Entrepreneurs who use this blogging model are the ones that say things like, “Yeah, it’s great for SEO, but it doesn’t actually sell stuff.”
Technically, it doesn’t sell stuff. They’re not wrong. But SEO blogging forms a cog in a much bigger machine, and that machine does sell stuff!
That machine wouldn’t run if the blog cog suddenly stopped turning.
Content Marketing, on the other hand, has a direct correlation between blog posts and profit. You can see how effective it is.
You know which posts have led to the most signups to your email list.
You can even see how much money you make from each person on your list, and backtrack it to figure out how much has been earned from each individual post.
It’s tangible profit, and therefore a lot easier to understand.
Whether you’re a hobby blogger, an SEO blogger, or a content marketer, all three forms of blogging have the potential to sell your stuff, earn you money, and convert readers into clients.
BUT if you use the wrong blogging model for your business model, you won’t get anywhere.
#4 Your Posts Are The Wrong Length
Using the right blogging model impacts your ability to sell through your blog for a lot of reasons. One of those is post length.
Content marketing requires long-form posts and is most effective when you consistently write c.2500 words.
That requires a lot of time and/or resources, as well as expertise. If you are a hobby blogger, or only writing blog posts to boost your search engine ranking, content marketing is likely a greater investment than you’re willing or able to make.
Even if you are willing to make it, it may not be the most productive and profitable way for you to spend that time and those resources.
Boosting your SEO can be done quickly and easily using short, c.500 word posts, and this is the form of blogging favoured by a lot of business owners, especially those with product-based business models, or bricks-and-mortar businesses.
It can work very well, but it is not an effective form of content marketing.
As I mentioned last week, the days of content marketing being synonymous with blogging are long dead.
If you’re trying to drive signups and establish your expertise in a niche, a 500 word post just won’t cut it.
So it’s important to understand post lengths and create content that is the right length for your business model, blogging model, and core objectives. (This only emphasises why it’s so important to clearly understand your objectives!)
#5 You’re Not Search Engine Optimising Your Blog Posts
One of the biggest ways blogging will earn you money is by boosting your search engine ranking, and driving a massive amount of organic traffic to your site.
Great SEO means you have no (or very little!) need for paid advertising.
The majority of my own traffic is fairly evenly split between organic traffic coming from search engines and social media.
If you’re not optimising your blog posts effectively for search, you will miss out on all that traffic. That will not only eat into the number of people on your website, it will massively diminish the number of new people who find you through your content.
Unless you have 100% client retention, any blogging strategy that doesn’t consistently attract new readers is going to fail eventually, even if it makes money initially.
I mentioned SEO blogging and content marketing as separate models, and they are, but long-form blog posts are actually much better for your SEO when properly optimised. The reason they’re not used in SEO blogging is that the benefits drawn from SEO alone aren’t usually worth the effort and resources they require.
The reverse is not true. The SEO benefits of a full content marketing strategy are massive and in order to leverage your strategy to earn you as much as possible, SEO is essential.
Just because your core objective is list building, or launching a service, rather than building your search engine ranking, doesn’t mean SEO isn’t vital to your objective.
#6 You’re Not Building Your List
Just as content marketers often forget about SEO, search engine bloggers often neglect to build their list.
In fact, list-building is one area of blogging that entrepreneurs across the board often shy away from. They may not believe it’s worth the effort, or think it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Some of them simply don’t know how to do it effectively. Others know they should, want to, and are fully aware of how to do it, but they haven’t started yet.
They’re waiting until they have money or time to achieve it, or can afford to outsource it.
But one of the most powerful ways your blog can sell your stuff is by growing your email marketing list. Your list is usually what actually sells stuff, but your list won’t sell a thing if it’s not populated by your ideal clients.
That’s where your blog comes in.
People don’t magically materialise on your email list, they have to choose to sign up to it.
Your blog’s power comes in its ability to demonstrate you have expertise people need in their inbox.
This is done through the creation of a lead magnet – a free resource that has enough value that you could actually charge money for it, if you chose to. Instead, you’ll give it away for free, but only in exchange for people joining your list.
If you don’t have any lead magnets, you’re not actively doing anything to build your list.
That’s going to seriously curtail your earning potential!
#7 You Don’t Have Any Content Upgrades
Most business owners who use email marketing are aware of the concept of using Lead Magnets to achieve. They may not have any, but they know they should, and plan to create one (or more) soon. A lot of entrepreneurs already have lead magnets and are using them to great effect.
The trick they miss, however, is the ease with which you can build optin opportunities into your blog posts through content upgrades.
These take far less time and resources to create, and can easily be added to your blog posts. You can work them naturally into the text, compelling people to signup at multiple opportunities.
#8 You’re Not Promoting Your Content
There is a myth in online marketing that I refer to as The Cornfield Paradox.
The notion is really simple: if you build it, they will come.
This is the biggest lie told in marketing. Building a website and writing blog posts IS NOT ENOUGH. Your blog will never sell if you’re not promoting your posts.
Before you start screaming, “Hey, hey, hey! You said you didn’t need adverts!”, cool your tits.
When I say ‘promote’ I don’t mean paid promotions. I mean sharing your blogs on social media, sending out email newsletters, spending time networking, and sharing your content in targeted groups of your ideal clients.
There is a bucket load you can do to promote your blog that doesn’t involve spending any money at all.
If you’re not promoting your content, nobody knows it’s there. SEO is one form of promotion, and effective SEO will raise awareness of your content, but even that, on its own, isn’t enough.
Like I said, my website traffic is half SEO driven, and half social media driven.
To really make money from your blogging, one is not enough.
You need both.
#9 You’re Not Promoting Your Content ENOUGH
The next mistake people make is massively underestimating how much they need to share their content. One Tweet isn’t going to do much good. One share on Facebook is likewise not going to get you very far.
If you’re already promoting your content, I applaud your efforts, you’re doing great, but ask yourself, are you promoting it enough?
#10 You’re Promoting The Wrong Thing
I’m a great advocate for promoting ALL your content, but there are certain types of content that need more attention than others. There are certain types that don’t really stand to be shared a lot.
Seasonal posts, for example, are only relevant for a brief window and shouldn’t be promoted after that window has passed.
Evergreen content, on the other hand, can and should be promoted for extended periods.
There’s also the question of those times you choose to pay to promote your business.
If you’re going to pay for people to look at anything on your website, drive traffic to a killer blog post that includes a solid call to action to sign up for an amazing lead magnet.
Don’t advertise your sales page!
Unless you’re in the middle of a launch, when things work a bit differently, you will find it far more effective to drive traffic to the content most likely to get people on your list.
#11 You Don’t Have A Nurture Sequence
Which leads me to the next mistake people make. They expend so much energy in getting people to sign up, and then do nothing with them.
You need a carefully written nurture sequence with a solid structure and strategy, bolstered by more of your amazing content, in order to convert people from subscribers to clients.
Your blog is a catalyst compelling people to sign up. Once they’ve signed up it’s also the fuel that keeps them moving down their journey.
Your nurture sequence is the delivery mechanism for all that fuel. Without it, your conversions will stall.
#12 You Aren’t Using Multi-Media Formats
Blogging isn’t all about writing. Not anymore.
Recording your blogs in video or audio format maximises the opportunities for people to absorb your content.
Video is only going to become more vital to your marketing as time goes on. Start now!
#13 You’re Not Effectively Explaining The Value Of Your Services
The biggest gap in any blogging or content marketing strategy is that which lies between your audience’ knowledge of you, affection for you, and trust in you, and their ability to grasp the value of your products and services.
If they don’t understand why the thing you’re selling is valuable to them, it doesn’t matter how much they know, like, and trust you, they will still never buy.
Your content is the perfect opportunity to explain the value of what you’re selling to people in a non-salesy way.
Pack your blog with posts that demonstrate you understand exactly what your readers’ problems are, and you have the perfect solution to fix them.
Paint them a picture. Show them a world free from their pain points. And make sure they’re fully aware that all they need to do to get to that shiny Nirvanaesque place is buy your shit!
#14 Your Content Is Inconsistent
Lack of consistency is another big problem a lot of people have. A blog post here and there won’t do any good.
You need to produce content that is consistent in quality and regular in its publication.
The frequency with which you post isn’t nearly as important as posting consistently!
If you post once a week for 12 weeks and then nothing for nine months, you’re not going to get very far at all.
If, on the other hand, you post once a month for a year, you’ll make better progress.
Of course, you would ideally post once a week for a year, but that’s not always possible.
Choose consistency and quality over quantity every time!
#15 You’re Not Automating Your Content
I’m not going to lie, creating a blog that converts and earns money is tough.
Good blogging doesn’t happen without effort.
Content marketing is hard work, and a lot of it.
You can quickly exhaust yourself and your resources. The more you streamline the process the greater your ability to achieve quality and that much-needed consistency becomes.
Automate as much as you possibly can. This is especially true of the promotional elements of your content strategy. There is no reason not to automate your social media! You can still post and interact with people in real-time, it doesn’t have to be 100% automated, but automation ensures consistency and takes a lot of the pressure off you.
#16 You’re Not Repurposing Your Content
Tied to this is the need to repurpose everything.
A Tweet will get almost the same amount of engagement the second time you post it than it did the first. It may even get more!
Not everyone will see your content when you share it, so sharing it multiple times isn’t an issue.
In fact, it’s a necessity.
Once you have content created you can not only recycle it but repurpose it for other uses.
This is one of the main reasons I encourage everyone to record content in video form. Videos can be converted into any other form of content. You have visual, audio, and written options.
Every time you create a blog repurpose it. Use bits and pieces for social media messages, take quotes from it and create memes, pull it apart and put it back together in as many different ways as you can.
Got long-form content? Write short-form versions for use on different platforms!
The possibilities are endless and there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
#17 You’re Trying To Do It All On Your Own
The number of things you need to do to make your blog convert like magic is seemingly endless. A fully functional content marketing strategy takes a phenomenal amount of work.
Research, writing, editing, SEO, proofreading, formatting, designing, image creation, recording, uploading, promoting…
If you’re running a business you also have a few billion other things to do.
The main reason blogging fails is not a lack of understanding on the part of the blogger, but a lack of time, resources, and inclination to get it all done.
It’s just too much.
At least, it’s too much to do all on your own.
I am a professional content marketer and I don’t do all my own content marketing!
In the early days, I did everything myself. When business was relatively slow and I could spend the time on it. Then business picked up and some of it fell by the wayside. My social media promotion has been virtually non-existent this year because I no longer had the time to do it.
Sorting out my clients’ social media took priority. My marketing suffered as a result and something had to give.
Despite this, I still tripled my income this year. Had the social media strategy I use for my clients been up and running for my business, I’m quite certain that figure would be even higher.
I’ve spent most of the year building a cracking team around me to take off as much of the load as possible. I now have a VA who handles my newsletter, a social media manager who deals not only with promoting my content (you may have noticed a huge boost in activity starting last week!), but all my clients’ content too. I have a web developer, a web designer, and a technical assistant who collectively handle the website.
The strategy and writing are still my responsibility, because that is where I excel. That is my Zone of Genius. But the rest of it is stuff that is best left to other people.
It’s too much to do on your own!
Identify the areas of your content marketing strategy you’re amazing at, do those, and outsource the rest.
If you feel you’re unable (or disinclined) to do any of it, outsource the whole lot!
#18 You’re Genuinely Trying To Sell Shit
There is one final point that needs to be made.
Sometimes the reason your blog isn’t selling shit, is that you’re literally trying to sell shit.
If the services or products you’re offering are no good, no amount of blogging in the world will sell them. There are loads of reasons they might be bad, from being over (or under!) priced, to being poor quality, failing to effectively solve your audience’s problems, failing to meet the genuine needs of your audience, and much more.
It could easily be that they’re good offerings, they’re just not right for the people you’re trying to sell them to. If that’s the case you either need to retarget at the right people, or change your offerings.
When you’re doing everything I’ve covered in this post, and doing it well, you should be selling your shit left, right, centre, upside down and backwards.
If you’re not successfully selling, and you’re absolutely sure you’re doing everything right, the problem is not with your blog.
It’s what your blog is trying to sell.
If that’s the case, go back to your ideal client and figure out what they really, truly need. Find the point where those needs crossover with your skills and Zone of Genius, and create something new to sell.
Something you can show the value of, that they will fall over themselves to have.
Something they can’t live without.
And if you’re looking for help developing a complete content marketing strategy that covers all the bases, and gets your blog converting like magic, check out The Divine Blogging Design (aka the system that tripled my income this year) and book a FREE discovery call now…