Imagine you decide to throw a dinner party for your friends. You don’t say this out loud, but deep down you secretly want them to see what an amazing cook you are. So, you set the date, you prepare everything, and it’s perfect.
But let’s say you don’t send out invitations, how many of your friends will be able to taste your masterpiece?
That’s right, none!
Let’s take it a little further, and say that one of your guests was just passing by and you invited him in. You chat for a while, but you never offer him to taste your recipe.
We can safely say that all your efforts were a phenomenal waste of time. Unfortunately, blogging is similar for most creative service businesses.
But before we go in any depth, let’s quickly take a look at the definition of a blog. According to Wikipedia,
A blog (a truncation of the expression “weblog”) is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (posts). Posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order so that the most recent post appears first.
Here’s the thing, when you look at blogging that way, it’s useless for your business. But with a slight tweak, you can make it super powerful and allow this channel to send you leads every day.
What’s the tweak?
Think “content marketing” instead of blogging.
Yea, that’s it. A slight twist in the term and now you are on your way to getting a positive return on your investment.
How is that different? You ask.
When you look at blogging as a content marketing tool, your objectives change. Now you have something that is actually a marketing activity. And content marketing has rules and constraints that you can use to guide your writing.
At the very core, content marketing is about generating inbound leads or clients. It’s not there to get comments, engagement or likes, although those are nice to have as well. The primary goal is now to eventually make a sale.
But wait, it does not stop there.
Content marketing without a strategy is still useless. Here’s what typically happens: You hear that you should be blogging. So, you go out and create some posts, or maybe you hire writers to the job for you.
Then nothing happens. No visitors. No results.
At this point you’d do what most people do when they can’t see results: you quit. Sometimes, you may get back to on the wheel, then quit again when they don’t see results…
This is what many advanced marketers would call “random acts of marketing”.
Look, it’s supposed to take time. Anything that is inbound marketing is long term. But the missing piece of this whole situation is a strategy. Blogging should be part of your overall marketing strategy.
The three main components of an effective content marketing strategy: traffic, content & call to action.
Let’s take a quick look at traffic
I think that it goes without saying that you need traffic and that traffic should be engineered so that your article gets read. It’s not enough to just wish for people to read it. You have to drive people to it. And, you can do that by promoting and sharing your link in many places such as social media, forums, other blogs, your email list if you have one already.
You can also choose to pay for the traffic, that’s my main channel. As with most things in life, you can either spend time or money to get things done. Currently, time is not something that I have…
Now, you may be asking: but what about search engines?
Sure, blogging definitely helps with SEO. But as a small creative service business, I wouldn’t rely on SEO. Because it takes really long to get a good Google ranking and most people don’t even go to the second page of google. Especially if you have a lot of competition (which you should in most cases), you’ll have a really hard time making it to the first page.
My advice for SEO is simple: write outstanding content that people will love. You will get the best ranking as a by-product of sharing massively useful information.
That takes us to the second component of an effective content marketing strategy: the content.
What should you actually write about?
First, let me ask you a couple of questions: how many times have you read an article, but you don’t know who wrote it? How many times did you actually care about the author or the business? Why is that?
People have very short memory on the internet. But here is one thing that they won’t forget anytime soon: their problems. If you can solve their problems, you’re golden.
So, how do you solve peoples problems? The easiest way is to teach. You teach them your methods, you teach them about their underlying problems, you teach them about possible solutions.
Of course, you need to mention your own solutions as well. Remember, we are ultimately trying to get a sale. Teaching helps you get closer to the sale. When you teach, you are the expert. And people trust experts.
Once you have demonstrated your expertise, you can then gently lead them to the next step.
The call to action
Your call-to-action is simply what you want your reader to do next. Is it to share the article, to leave a comment, to subscribe to your email list or to buy your service?
This is where many people make a huge mistake. They try to go for the sale right away. In most cases, that won’t work. Except maybe for low-value products, or commodities. But when you are asking hundreds or thousands of dollars from your reader, you will not see results by going for the jugular in one step.
It’s like a guy having a 5-minute conversation with a hot girl and then proposing right away. Maybe some girls might say yes, but do you really want to marry that one? Isn’t she the one who will leave you as soon as possible?
Instead, ask your reader for something that has a low barrier. What you offer depends on your service and also the awareness level of the reader.
The best approach that is used by most online businesses is to ask for permission to contact that reader later. That typically means asking for their email address and asking them to join your mailing list.
There lies another problem, and I know that you don’t want to hear it, but I have to tell you. No one wants to join your mailing list. No one wants to receive updates from you. And, no one wants to get your “tips”.
They always want the same thing. They want you to solve their problem.
You have already solved part of their problem with your content, how do you go about solving more? Did you guess? That’s right, more content. That additional content is known as a lead magnet, or in certain cases, it’s a content upgrade. But, I like to call it an ethical bribe.
Because to access that bonus, they need to give you their email address. It’s actually a very simple technique, and it works. Now you have their email address, and you can start building a relationship with them and sell your services.
There you have it, a very simple and concise content marketing strategy to make blogging worthwhile so that you can see returns on your investment. Whether it’s an investment of time or money, if you apply these principles you will see results.
Unlike that failed dinner party, in this case, you will actually be rewarded for the efforts you put into blogging. You’ll achieve your goal, your guests will be able to get a taste of your expertise, and they will see how amazing you are.
Did you notice the pattern in this article? I got you to reach the end, even though it’s a rather long article. How? Again, it’s by solving your problem, which was an internal dilemma: should you blog or not?
I gave you the solution.
And now you have more questions like what type of ethical bribe should you create? How long should it be? What content to include? What are some examples of effective ethical bribes?
Don’t’ worry, I’ve prepared a checklist that answers these questions just for you. To get the Ethical Bribe Checklist, click the button below and enter your email address. I’ll send it directly to your inbox.[content-upgrade id=”2298″]
So, what did we discuss in this article? First, we saw that you need a mindset shift around blogging, and instead of looking at it as blogging, you should switch to content marketing.
Then we looked at the 3 core components of an effective content marketing strategy. We saw that you should not just wish for visitors, but instead, you need to drive them to your content. We discussed the type of content that you need to write, and what type of call-to-action you need for your articles.
Finally, I gave you the Ethical Bribe Checklist for free.[content-upgrade id=”2298″]
Have you tried blogging? If not, why? Let me know in the comments.