Becoming a successful business blogger is a lot harder than many people think and overnight successes are rare. However, with hard work and the right strategies, anyone can find their online niche and start to build an audience.
World-renowned blogger and Social Media Week Sydney special guest, Jeff Bullas, examines his key learnings from five years of blood, sweat and tears, online.
1. Find your passion and purpose
Blogging about something you’re passionate about gives you the fuel and drive to persist and keep going. So when considering the content of your blog, you should consider the point where your passions and skills merge; writing about a topic you are ambivalent about is a sure-fire way to lose interest and make what should be a fun and interesting process, into something that is an effort.
2. Identify your target audience
Observe the audiences of your competition: the major bloggers, websites and influencers. Watch how they interact, and make sure you read their comments and responses. Now think about your own skills and identify who would benefit from your own knowledge. Everyone wants to reach out to the whole internet, but finding an audience that cares about the content you have to offer and trusts your expertise is key to keeping them engaged.
When you’re clear about who you’re reaching out to, it makes creating content so much easier as you understand your audience and know what they want to read.
3. Creating free content
Creating content has to come after finding your passion. Identify your topics and then put yourself in your reader’s shoes and ask yourself: what are their problems, their challenges and their aspirations. The content you produce should meet the answers to those questions. Monitor the reaction to your content and continue experimenting and marketing it relentlessly.
If you are struggling with what to write about there are blogger topic databases that can be used to spark an idea. Other than that, pick a key topic, and what industries that topic could be used for, and write a tailored article for some different industries. When it comes to actually writing content, I try to set aside some time every working day before distractions get in the way. For me, that is early in the morning. I also have guest writers, which help free up my time to focus on other important tasks.
4. Building your distribution network
The key to marketing your blog is in building the largest distribution network through social media and email that your time and resources will allow. These days there seems to be a reduction of organic reach on social networks, so instead of solely focusing on social media to build a distribution network, it is important to build your email list as well.
When doing this, there are a few key points to remember. Firstly, make it easy for people to subscribe; give them options on your home page and at the end of your blog posts, and create non-annoying pop ups. Secondly, give readers an incentive to subscribe, even if it’s in the form of exclusive reports or white papers. And finally, write good content with added-value, on a consistent basis. That’s what makes readers want to keep up with your blog.
5. Creating and packaging your knowledge
Blogging can be a great source of revenue, but for that to be the case you have to properly ‘package’ your knowledge. The key is looking at innovative and compelling ways to share your passion and skills. For example, why not look at writing a short e-book or demonstrate your skills through an online video? Or could you host a Google Hangout?
6. Building joint ventures
Joint ventures can help amplify your marketing efforts; they let you reach out to other networks of readers by working with other bloggers and businesses. The important thing with joint ventures is that content must be high quality and produced with care, as there is a lot of credibility and trust on the line. When looking to build a joint venture it is important to find relationships with both competitors and non-competitors that have very similar audiences, but that also have large social networks and substantial email lists.
7. Launching and marketing your products
Using social media to launch and market your products gives you multiple platforms to reach different communities and share your messages. Marketing for your blog happens on three main levels: social media, email and optimising for search engines, so think about how you can leverage these channels.
The best advice I can offer when it comes to being a successful blogger is to start, learn and persist. Put simply: “Being done is better than being perfect.”
Jeff Bullas is hosting a number of seminars and master-classes at Social Media Week Sydney. For ticketing details, visit www.socialmediaweek.org/sydney.