Have you ever sat down to write a blog post without any thought or preparation? Then you'll know how tough it can be to get started.
Before you start you need a list of ideas and some rough notes sketched out the night before so that when you sit down to write, you know what you are going to be writing about.
An even better way of working is to do the next day’s post the evening before you want to publish it because then you can go over it with a fresh mind first thing in the morning. Often you'll think of things to add or edit a paragraph to make it more readable.
Don't Wait For Inspiration
When I first started blogging, I would sit for ages staring at the screen looking for inspiration. More often than not I'd end up visiting websites that were totally unrelated to the task and waste hours trying to get the job done. You don’t have that kind of time to lose so preparing is paramount.
The first thing you need to do is to keep a record of all your blog ideas. This is the foundation of your blog. If you don’t have a stock of ideas for writing your next post to draw from then getting into the habit of writing down your ideas, so you don’t forget them is a good start.
I like to use Evernote to keep track of all my blog ideas, and I have a different notebook for each project so that the ideas don’t get mixed up. Often the best ideas come when you least expect them so creating notes using speech to text on your mobile is a good habit to get into. That way you can quickly create notes when out for a walk or do other activities where quality uninterrupted thinking time is available.
If you keep adding your blog ideas to a list every day over time, you will build a quality stock from which to write your posts and never have to start a session with “what shall I write about today” which is the absolute worst way of approaching the task.
Sometimes just the thought of having to sit down and write a blog post can put you into procrastination mode. If that’s the case, you might like to read Eat That Frog! By Brian Tracy.
Brian Tracy is one of the best-known authors in the field of setting goals and personal achievement and Eat That Frog! Is one of his shortest books, running to just over 100 pages. However, the advice to eat a live frog every day before doing anything else is a classic.
Of course, you are not going to eat a live frog. The frog is a metaphor for your biggest and most complex task of the day. The one that always gets put to the back of the pile in favour of shorter tasks that are easier to do.
When it comes to writing your post, imagine a really ugly frog sitting in front of you. Pick it up by its hind leg and dangle it over your mouth. Open wide and eat the frog. It has to be done. There is no alternative. If you don’t eat the frog, then your most important task will not get done.
Eating frogs every day for breakfast (doing the challenging work) is what makes the difference. If you keep leaving your blog task to the end of the day because it is your biggest and most difficult task, then the likelihood is that it will never get done or get done sparingly.
Is it more important for you to watch that episode of “The West Wing” before doing anything else? There is nothing wrong with a bit of quality TV – just make sure you have eaten your frog first!
The act of publishing your blog is self-perpetuating. One blog gets published, and you start thinking about the next. Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is where all of your ideas will originate from. Stay away from drugs and alcohol because they cloud the mind and prevent clarity. Clarity is the foundation block for creativity.
Is It All Worth The Effort?
The magic happens when you have built up a body of work that is worth reading. You know the kind, you set out looking for information on a subject and when you come across a well thought out blog with all the information you need you can spend hours reading there, absorbing it all like a sponge.
Building a blog like this takes a ton of time and effort but being known as the place to go for information in your field of expertise is a big reward for all of that initial hard work.
The alternative – a token or sparse effort reflects poorly. More and more companies are launching websites and coming to the Internet to do business.
Start Writing Your Blog
There is only one person interested and dedicated enough to make a blog worth reading and that’s you.
If you are a CEO of a large company, then you probably don’t have the time to write a 500-word blog post a couple of times a week to express your ideas. But you do have a voice recorder and several people that can take your rough sketch and fashion it into a decent blog post.
But don’t let them ruin it by producing middle of the road music. Add your personal touch. Own the piece.
Claiming That You Don’t Have Enough Time is Not An Argument For Not Doing It
If you are the sales or marketing manager for a medium sized company, then this is your chance to shine and make the gig your own. To get started put together a few blog ideas and refine them with help from your team.
Producing a blog on your company website is akin to having your very own lead generation machine. Do not leave it to the office junior to cobble something together.
Saying You “Can’t Write” Isn’t An Excuse Not To Put Your Work Out There
The more often you hit the publish button, the better you will get at doing it.
If you are a small business owner, then this is the most important item on your agenda. Sure your time is taken up with a lot of other urgent things that have to be done yesterday but putting aside the time to write a good blog is one of the best uses of your time.
Only you understand the product complexities and why you are bringing them to market. Only you know why you are putting yourself through the wringer to make this work.
Taking the time to extol product virtues and explain why you are doing what you do is THE single most powerful method you have at your marketing disposal.
It's a waste of my time is not a valid argument.
Here Are Some Guidelines To Help Get You Started:
1. Decide what content you want to produce in advance and how you will theme it. Always carry a notebook or a device for recording blog ideas wherever you go. I often get blog ideas when I’m taking the dogs for a long walk, and I use Evernote on my mobile to jot them down.
2. Make a publishing schedule. Similar to any other business activity decide when you are going to get it done by and put it in your calendar of jobs to be done.
3. Ask your customers what they would like to read about.
4. Have patience. The most successful blogs are born out of two or even three years of consistent development. You are producing a body of work that can be a legacy for your company or product for years to come.
And lastly always keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to educate, inform and gain trust. This is not a sales pitch or a race to see how many new email sign ups you can garner.
Building a blog takes time and energy which can seem daunting and unrewarding in the beginning, but the payoff is there for those who are prepared to take the long view.
If anyone can do it, You can.
Telling Your Story – Engage Your Audience And Sell More Product.
When I was 20, I gave up a reasonably well-paid job working at a timber merchant to go and make my fortune selling double glazing. It was a big step considering I’d only just moved out of the family home and was trying to stand on my own two feet by cooking more than beans on toast.
The fortune didn’t quite work out, but I did meet someone along the way who had a massive impact on my life and helped me understand the psyche of selling. It isn’t difficult to sell things if you ask the right questions and have the right solution. The problem comes when you have a sub-standard product and a barely interested audience.
Ronnie arrived on the scene in a whirlwind of enthusiasm. He was a very experienced salesman and had landed the gig as the area sales manager. He had come along to see his “crew” working the stand in one of the big DIY stores.
You know the type, stand and harass anyone that made the unfortunate mistake of making eye contact by forcing a leaflet into their hand and asking them if they needed their windows “done”.
Of course, it was a futile waste of time, and I’d been standing there for a couple of weeks without even a whiff of a lead when Ronnie rocked up in his white shoes and expensive suit. He explained who he was and then beckoned me to follow him out of the store and into his car.
Learning The Direct Sales Approach
What followed was a tour de force in how to make money in direct sales. For the next couple of months, I did nothing but learn the script and knock on doors from 4 pm to 7 pm every day. Saturday mornings and Sundays were good days as we knew people would be more likely to be in.
Trudging through the snow, I’d approach the door and give it a good knock, and as it opened, I’d spring into action with a great big smile and start reciting the “pitch” which I knew off by heart and could counter almost any objection before the house owner had even finished the sentence.
The whole idea was to get the customer interested enough to book an appointment later that evening or for the next “as we were only in that area for a short time”. Creating urgency is the name of the game in direct sales.
I was good at getting the appointments, one of the best in fact and I won many awards for being a top canvasser.
Ronnie though was something else. He had customers eating right out of the palm of his hand from the get-go. No extended sales pitch for this guy, it was a simple “If I can do the front of the house for £1,500, would you be interested?”
Once they said yes there was no going back. It was brilliantly simple in its execution, and more often than not they took the bait and asked how much it was to do the rest of the house.
Ronnie was a top salesman by a long way, and our Clacton area was the top revenue producer – even though there were only two of us and six or more in most other areas. He used to wind the old pro’s up chronically at the sales get together and ask why they weren’t standing in their store to get more leads and make up the deficit.
Then he’d wet himself laughing in the car on the way back from London – “Did you see his face” he’d guffaw with tears in his eyes.
Remove As Many Barriers To Purchasing As You Can
You see what Ronnie knew, was that understanding your customer's mind was crucial to selling to them.
Everyone “wanted” new windows on the council estates where we were plying our trade. A lot of people had bought their own council houses, and they really wanted new windows to replace the rotten ones they had – the question wasn’t of motivation but affordability.
So Ronnie developed a slick entrance where he immediately laughed and joked and was likeable and then within a flash his line would come out:
“So if I could do the front of your house for £1,500 – that’s £10 per week – would you be interested”.
And of course, they were. Ronnie understood he was primarily selling finance and the customer was happy to pay the £10 per week. It was a relief to them not to have to sit through the ordeal of someone measuring every window and taking two hours to tell them it was going to cost 5k and how were they going to pay for it at the end of it all.
Tell Your Story And Engage Your Audience
We sold them a story from beginning to end and made it easy for them to buy.
From standing on their doorstep with a pretend shiver in the freezing cold snow to Ronnie cracking quick-fire jokes we made them smile and feel fuzzy warm inside.
One time I had a lead from someone who just wanted their toilet window replaced because it was broken.
Now in that situation, many salespeople would try to pitch for more business to make it “worth their while”.
But not Ronnie. He was too savvy to seek to make a deal where none was possible. He walked in, took one look at the cracked window and said: “yes no problem, £235 please”.
No measuring up, no extended small talk or anything else. He knew the customer just wanted to get the damn eyesore replaced as quickly as possible.
Ronnie held out his hand, the customer hesitated, pulled out his wallet and counted out the cash before handing it over. He signed a contract, and we walked out of the house in fits of laughter with Ronnie holding a bundle of notes.
The customer could see the funny side of it and was laughing at himself for being "fleeced" so easily. He’d just parted with £235 in short order for a toilet window, and it hadn’t even been measured up! It became one of our favourite anecdotes that year.
Good stories are what make the sales world go around. From direct sales to newspaper advertising, TV advertising to your website blog.
How you tell your story makes all the difference between connecting on a higher level with your audience or them moving on to someone who has a better tale to tell.
You've been blogging away solidly for three months or so, and you are beginning to see more traffic to your site. How do you measure the success of your blogging effort?
First of all, while three months is a good shot, your best results will come after two years. This is why many people give up or write sporadically. Spending three or four days writing consistently and then forgetting all about it, while not entirely a waste of your time, can make you appear amateur and lame. In most cases, it is worse to make a weak attempt at creating a useful resource than it is to not start in the first place.
Having said that, three months of blogging deserves some return for your effort so let's look at ways in which you can measure it.
While link building is mainly aimed at trying to rank for your main keywords, blogging is all about the long tail and for that reason trying to apply traditional conversion rate optimisation techniques is not a viable option.
Why? Because your blog is an information resource - or should be, and trying to measure conversion is applying the wrong metric. A much more accurate measure, apart from the overall growth in traffic, is bounce rate.
Bounce rates, of course, vary widely from industry to industry and the type of website you are viewing. In addition to that if you have a lot of people returning to see a new post having read everything that has gone before, then your bounce rate is going to be a lot higher overall.
The way to measure bounce rate is to set it against “new visitors only”. This will give you a true reflection of the value of your blog to people who have discovered it for the first time.
If you are doing the job properly, then your bounce rate should be well under 50%.
I like to see my sites have bounce rates of around 20% -30%. Don’t be put off by high bounce rates when you start out, over time you will see the figure drop as you add more information to your resource.
Pages Per Visit
In conjunction with bounce rate, pages per visit will give you a good indication of how successful you are at providing “depth of content” for your visitors. Five to ten pages is a good start. If you are only achieving 2 or 3 pages per visit, then you might look at your site navigation as being at fault. Low pages per visit ratios indicate a problem with content and customer engagement.
Comments And Feedback
Comments are one of the most useful feedback tools you can use, but they are a double-edged sword so take the time to think about the following:
Using comments is a good idea because it allows the visitor to comment on your article and add to the discussion. If you use comments in this way, then it goes without saying that you need to stay on top of the game and thank people for commenting.
Ignoring comments is poor form. If you come across a blog with lots of comments and little or no input from the blog owner, then it can appear that the blogger is disinterested in the customer. The exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
Using comments is a bad idea because if you create something truly worthwhile, then a lot of your time will be spent cleaning up spam, answering customer questions and dealing with the admin of the comments system.
This is the drawback of allowing comments in your blog. The time spent dealing with comments could be better devoted to another blog post.
It’s a matter of personal preference which you choose. In the early days of creating your blog, it is nice to get feedback via comments, and it can give you the motivation to keep providing more information.
The Email List
Building an email list is such a good reason for producing a blog in the first place. Email lists are a topic worthy of discussion all on their own, and that’s something we will cover shortly, suffice to say that having a subscriber form and gaining signups will give you a great indication of how well your content is being received.
Social Media Coverage.
Are people tweeting your blog posts or liking your pages? Social interaction can give you an excellent indication of which posts people are enjoying and sharing.
Lastly, don’t get too hung up on measuring statistics. The overall proof of the pudding is in how well your content is received, and the above is plenty to measure it by.