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Do you kiss on the first date? The Art of Courting as a Blogger

KissI was recently emailed by a blogger asking me to take a look at their brand new blog. The blog was very new (it only consisted of 3 posts) and it’s purpose was obviously to convert readers into sales of the blogger’s new e-book.

The first three posts on the blog were all fairly strong sales pitches for the e-book and while they made a good case for the book I came away from the blog feeling like a stranger had walked up to me and asked me to give them a kiss.

I strongly believe that blogs can be a great tool for driving sales to products (whether they be tangible ones or e-products) however when attempting to drive sales with a blog a blogger needs to be aware of the way they ‘court’ their readers.

While I’m sure plenty of good relationships do start with a kiss (and more) on the first date – most dating advice experts would argue that if you want to grow a sustainable, ongoing relationship that the best time to take a relationship to the next level physically is when there’s other aspects of a relationship already in place (ie some emotional connection and time spent together getting to know one another).

In a similar way – when you’re trying to sell something (whether it be yourself as an expert, a product, your email newsletter etc) to rush straight to the sales pitch can damage your chances of ‘conversion’ and lead to a premature end to the ‘relationship’ with your reader.

One of the things that I love about blogging is the ability it gives to connect on a deeper level with readers and to form ongoing relationships with them. However this only happens over time and perhaps bloggers need to keep in mind some of the principles of ‘courting’ before going in for the hard sell.

Help your reader to get to know you, build trust, get to know them and show that you’re interested in more than a quick sale and you could just end up with a lasting relationship.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Dimitri says:

    Fantastic post! While I have not yet started a blog, I often find those trying to sell a product take the “hard sell” approach instead of using the blog as a method of building trust between the writer and the audience. I’ll keep your advice in mind when I begin blogging. …which is one project sitting in the pile. ;)

    Dimitri
    http://MILRUMINT.com/

  2. Dimitri says:

    Oops! I apologize: the link in my sig was part of a TextExpander that I habitually type. I realize it violates your site’s comments policy, and I apologize. …I am a creature of habit…

  3. LOVE THE ANALOGY and it applies to marketing messages IN GENERAL not just blogging.

    Developing trust is such an integral part of any marketing campaign. Great advice to anyone in any business…blogging or not!

  4. Shane says:

    This advice is true even in cases you might not expect. When I was considering enlisting in the army, I built a friendship with the recruiter. Though I had moved during the process, and could easily have gone down the street to see a new recruiter, I drove several hours out of my way to ensure my original recruiter got the credit for my enlistment. After I was in, I came across a study that found that many, if not most, enlistees questioned said that liking their recruiter was crucial in deciding to enlist.

  5. Evorgleb says:

    When I started Highbrid Nation, though I also have a indie record compnay, I didn’t push my music on my readers. Now that we have built up a decent readership for the site (which is a entertainment news blog) I have slowly started introducing the readers to our artists and have even started having some of the artists blog on the site themselves (a few also have jounalism backgrounds). So far this has worked good for us. We have increased sales and our readers feel like they actually know the people who’s music they are listening to.

  6. ashok says:

    I agree with the post, but am curious: Isn’t it the nature of this medium to be direct? A lot of what differentiates most blogs from other sources of media seems to be a frankness that would be shocking in other contexts.

    Also, I should be honest: Not everyone is a really strong reader, or particularly careful. In fact, it looks like people depend on repetition and on the assumption that they’ve seen one’s idea before in order to be able to comment at all.

    I’m just curious as to your thoughts on this – I think you’re right, but I think you’re going to see more direct sales pitches, finding newer and newer ways to be more direct and more frank and able to work because of their “garishness,” for lack of a better term.

  7. We should have patience to achieve anything in life either selling e-book or achieving gold medal. build trust man! wonderful post.

  8. You make some really strong points and using relationships to illustrate your point was a great choice.

    These might be a few good questions bloggers or anyone in the people business might want to consider

    Are you in it for a one time deal?
    Are you building long term deals for life with your clients (readers)?

    While you may pick up a couple of times and even hit it off hot and heavy it becomes a part of your reputation forever.

    How do you want to be remembered? Build value. Build wealth. Build long term.

    Great post.

  9. JohnC says:

    I’d chalk the “kissing blog’s” interest as simply as typical newbitus…the “OMG…who can I get to endorse/link/buy/love my site/product”. Remember those ads that started years ago where you could buy a toolbox and create your own moneymaking machine online overnight?

    Years ago we had blogs that had simply one banner due to hosting on someone’s service. Modblog.com was actually an offshoot of the them modding community that came from Mozilla.org actually endorsing it as one of only two places they referred people to get skins at one time for their browser. For the majority of the run…Modblog.com blogs…only had one banner on them…and that was for Modblog.com.

    People have visually seen what it is predominantly acceptable, before ever getting a chance to cut their teeth in blogging, let alone in marketing something they have that might actually be of value. Chances are the ‘kissing blog’ is simply leading by example.

    I’m just waiting for Web 3.x to roll out, with internet ordinances restricting advertising to a maximum percentage on sites. Ok…maybe it’ll be in the 4.x build. Just my thought.

  10. Matt Jones says:

    Blogging is all about building trust, it’s about the author as an individual which makes it so great for affilate marketing!

  11. Nick says:

    i totally agree about this. It was the perfect example of bad marketing. You will have to relate to your customer first before you try selling stuff.

  12. Ashish Mohta says:

    Its all about relationship wherever you go. A kiss can lead to a sustainable relationship if its kissed that way. Same is with blogs. Blogging Blogs can really be a seed to develop relationship around with many others even if you dont blog about blogging. We all know this but somebody should remind us all the time like our parents do. Thanks Darren.

  13. Rhys says:

    Interesting. I as somebody who doesn’t really “sell” more than advertising space on my blog, I thought how I connect with my regular readers.

    When I come to think about it, I don’t really go out “looking” for regulars, they more often than not come to me (got some nice traffic when I began my blog, and it kind of built from there), and then I build up from there.

    Ironically it’s similar in the dating game (I’m rubbish at asking people out!).

  14. Joanna Young says:

    Great post Darren thanks. For me a blog is all about rapport, building a relationship of trust over time. Even a casual or first time visitor should feel like they’re entering a place that is friendly, conversational, engaged and engaging. If you keep writing with your reader in mind, not taking them for granted, you’ll maintain that feeling of invitation, of courtship that you describe so well here.
    Re Ashok’s point on frankness: openness and honesty is a great way to enhance rapport and trust if you use it to ‘take off the mask’, reveal a bit about yourself, warts and all. It shows that you’re human too and people respond to that. How far you take it depends on your intended readership/audience though. Too frank, too shocking, too garish and you will break rapport very quickly (although if people are looking for shock value, they’ll keep coming back).

  15. Rick says:

    I really shy away from blogs where the obvious primary focus is to sell me something. If you’ve got something you’re selling, fine, but let me be able to read through your content and develop a dialogue with you BEFORE you hit me with the hard sell.

  16. Lokesh says:

    Darren why dont you write posts on preparing our visitors to buy something on our site.

    You are right ,customers believe bloggers than others.Most of will buy if you sell a cd because we know you and believe you. Infact i am waiting to buy a cd based on Darren’s life.

    Your upcoming posts on this topic will definitely help us to get our ebay and clickbank earnings improved.

  17. Aimee says:

    Very true, I have no interest in reading something that is only written to get me to spend money, especially if it’s an e-book. Free info is what blogging is all about!

  18. Cyndi L says:

    Romance me…don’t rush me! :D

  19. Andrej says:

    We’ll this is my first comment here on Problogger, i’ve been reading Darren’s blog for the past 2-3 years or so, but I never commented.

    I completely agree with Rick in the above post, a blog should not be (in most cases) devoted to selling a product without a strong, and good, reputation.

  20. Good point Darren.

    I don’t have ebooks for sale on my blog but your post made me think of the act of emailing another blogger to ask them to put you on their blogroll and/or link to your site when you’ve never even commented on their blog or built up any kind of relationship with them.

    I feel very funny about this (someone did this to me, suggesting that I put a blogroll on my site and then add them), and it really put me off.
    That’s the same thing that I get out of your post…there is no relationship there at all to begin with, but the other blogger wants to trade links with me.

    Maybe this is an effective way to market one’s blog like the blogger who emailed you to request you review their site (you did end up reading it after all), but I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing the same.

  21. Markk says:

    Blogs are very flexible and can be used for almost anything. This guy is obviously looking for a one night stand rather than a relationship with his readers. He might sell a few e-books this way, but I can’t imagine him getting many feed subscribers!

    You have to wonder why he chose a blog to do this rather than just a regular website.

  22. Janet says:

    Hi Darren, this post made me stop and think. I may be guilty of trying to steal kisses too. A couple of days ago, I joined a forum in the same niche as my blog (recipes), I made a few posts and them somebody started a thread looking for a specific recipe for ribs. I had one on my blog and responded with a link. I thought it was all innocent enough but I received a major slap on the wrist from the forum moderators who told me to take the link down immediately to protect their members from spam and advertising (new members aren’t allowed to post links). I was a little offended at first because I’m not selling anything. But I suppose I made a misstep?

  23. Ian says:

    If you are after a long term relationship then courting is fine, but sometimes you do just want a one night stand.

    After all, money in the till is sometimes better than a lot of readers of your blog.

  24. Vince says:

    I have a new blog (only 2 months old). I have posted almost every weekday since I started. Readership is still a little low, but I wanted to know, how do you know that you have established trust with your readers?

    In face-to-face sales, you can read body language and other signs to know that trust has been established, but how do you do it with an online audience?

    Also is it in poor taste to have Adsense and other forms of advertising on a blog that is so new?

    Many Thanks.

  25. Ian, companies who treat their consumers like unpaid tarts won’t get a repeat performance. And drive away other potential kissers err customers in the future. A dangerous practice particularly when they might end up on DontDateHimGirl errr I mean, DontBlogWithHimGirl. Oops darn you Darren, I’m getting my metaphors mixed up with cuddles and smooches. :P

    Janet, those mods are being rude. Yes in social networks you have to make clear Purpose and Etiquette and code of conduct statements to stop spamming, but it’s not something that can be run by a bot – it’s possible to judge wisely as to whether a link contributes to a conversation or not. They need to refine their Welcoming strategies and be a little more tolerant. Also forums are NOT blogs, their whole purpose is diametrically opposed to blogging so the linking question needs to be addressed differently. My advice: find another community. :)

  26. GiorgosK says:

    Yes I agree, build trust !
    But it does not mean that you cannot build trust if you actually put your sales pitch in their face as soon as it should be ….

    I say asking someone to kiss you when you feel its time shows some straight forwardness and could lead into a long term relationship anyway.

  27. Trula says:

    Oh wow, this is something that I really needed to read now. I am an author and haven’t done much in the way of marketing myself or my books. I’ve heard this a few times before but mostly I have seen books, whether e-books or print books, marketed in a certain aggressive way. This is awesome advice and one I’m going to take as I launch my marketing plan for the next half of 2007.

  28. Thomas says:

    Darren – good information.

    I agree with Joanne. Writing a blog is about building a brand – the brand being the blogger.

    A brand is supposed to create feelings of trust, respect and authority. When a user thinks of that brand / blogger that should associate those feelings.

    If the blog is too much of a sales pitch, you get that snake oil salesman feeling – they haven’t built trust, you feel like you are being distracted so they can put their hands on your wallet.

  29. Susie says:

    yet again another great post!!! Seriously how do you crank out so much good things? I am trying to figure out how to build readership. This is just what I needed although I think a lot people browse and click away. it’s so hard to keep a reader’s attention.. but according to my site stats.. they spend an average of 1:30 so I guess I should be happy about that.

  30. I have found that a great way to build trust faster is to give them something of value that you’d normally ask money for.

    Giving away a new song every week worked wonderfully for us, and has built us some relationships that are pushing us beyond the blogosphere (I guess there used to be nothing more than live music… then there were some studio bands, and now the blogosphere band has evolved too!).

    Giving the music away, no costs or conditions, allowed us to build trust with our listeners faster than anything else could have done, and if we didn’t make that crucial decision I wonder how much longer it would have taken to get where we are.

  31. Fantastic oops

    i would like have a try as the writer did:)

  32. Joanne says:

    I’m a newbie on building my own website and blog, this really a good reminder and advise to me. Could you guys please point to my website and give me your comments and advises?

    Thank you,
    Joanne

  33. Desi Baba says:

    No i didn’t kiss on my first date but I totally agree with your concept of blogging

  34. Mr_Gadget says:

    First of all, I’m shy and don’t kiss on first date. Perhaps hold hands but not kiss….*sigh* seems like eons ago…

    Second, good point. For the last couple of months, we’ve just been doing standard product description posts which looking back, are pretty boring. I’m now blogging a lot myself these days to add a personal touch to the front page and already seen an increase in traffic over the last week.

    Will keep you posted mate!

    P.S. Please don’t attempt to kiss me on our first date ok?

  35. Paul says:

    The blogger needs to decide – relationship or transaction? I suspect all bloggers who want a long term readership prefer a relationship with their audience. Two areas that might help thinking on achieving the right balance are Relationship Marketing – Loyalty ladder etc see Christopher , Payne, and Ballantyne, and also Eric Berne – Games People Play – in respect of the consequences for ‘snogging strangers’. OK a bit of theory but worth being aware of.

  36. al-fallujah says:

    i think that is a very bad title darren

  37. al-fallujah says:

    sorry got distracted…i think it’s a bad title cause i almost didnt read it as i assumed it dealt with dating which is not something i come here for…i was quite shocked and wanted to make sure so i read the last paragraph…i don’t read a lot of stuff based on the title alone

  38. Dee Stewart says:

    My blog is all about books, but it wasn’t created for me to sell books. In fact, I don’t have a book of mine own to sell. I simply love books. I’m a book reviewer for a few magazines and newspapers. A a few of my fans and bookstore owners asked to know more about the books I recommend and possible recommend more. That is what we do at my blog.

    Until I read this post had I thought about creating an e-book for other book reviewers or for newbie authors who don’t understand book marketing.

    Authors should also understand that just because you write a book people will flock to Walmart to buy it. They may need a daily buzz from a trusted source that fits your products demographics.

    Thanks again and thanks folks for the great comments.

  39. Brian says:

    Thanks a lot! That helps me out a lot too. I just started my own blog and was completely lost! But with the help of websites such as yours and others I’ve been learning a lot and hopefully will get a huge following just like you someday.

    I know the readers on this site are great too and if anyone can give me any help, I’d greatly appreciate it!

    (I’m a newb with all this!)

    Here’s my site! http://seamles.blogspot.com/

    Let me know if I can help you out anyway.

  40. ZHereford says:

    As usual you know how to put things in perspective by creating the right analogy.

    It’s important to hear that you just can’t slap something out there and expect people to flock to your site. You have to work at earning their trust and loyalty.

    Thanks Darren!

  41. karenlim says:

    Ha Ha, your title is really catchy and I was caught.

    Darren, you hit the nail on the head. It is true sometimes people mix up strategy and tactic.

    Although people want to make money (strategy) but this strategy can result in people trying to kiss too soon ( wrong tactic).

    I believe the same as what you say. I want to connect deeper with my readers who go to my blog. Because I believe every single person out there who is willing to make 1 step to improve their lives deserve me to spend time and energy to blog for that day.

    I market a music product called Attraction Accelerator which have helped me to increase my focus and energy in what I am doing. I highly recommend it in my blog and share my experiences about it is because it works for me. This same pdt is used and created by Stephen Pierce. He shares in his video how this pdt helps people:-
    http://secretofunlimitedprosperity.com/19/attraction-accelerator-a-word-from-the-creator/

    But whether my reader think/suspect it can work for them, I leave for them to decide.

    So I don’t want to kiss too soon. I too enjoy a relationship that is long and fulfilling and when my readers are ready to kiss, I am sure they know which lips to find.

    Cheeky, Karen

  42. horisly says:

    so interesting saying.
    you are right ” Help your reader to get to know you, build trust, get to know them and show that you’re interested in more than a quick sale and you could just end up with a lasting relationship.”

  43. Omaniblog says:

    Thanks Darren. I see that I’m not the only one who loved your post. I got to it via Annette Clancy’s blog, Interactions, and I thought: if Annette recommends you, I’ll see how I find you. This is the only piece of your’s I’ve read so far. And that ‘so far’ gives away the intention that I’ve formed: I’m going to go out with you again… at least one more time… Your catchy title, and inspired bridging across from personal to business, has hooked me.

    I’m saying to myself ‘if he’s written this, what else has he written?’ ‘Where is he coming from?’ ‘Why haven’t I come across him before’ – especially since I’ve picked up from the comments that you’ve been blogging for three years.

    What are you selling? I don’t know, and that’s what interests me. You sound like a person whose company I might enjoy and find enriching. And that’s what I want from anyone with whom I do business. Whatever the product on offer, the real opportunity, as far as I’m concerned, is the possibility of a new relationship within which I may come to know myself and others better. I’m probably an extreme type: one who is most interested in the potential that lies unrevealed in the project.

    I’ll be back again soon, so see if you had a lucky day, or whether I rightly sense all your DNA in this post.
    Keep well.

  44. Hi Darren:

    I just referred your blog to a newbie blogger who just started her blog today because I encouraged her to take that leap. I know how helpful you’ve been to your readers, particularly the newer ones. Even though I’ve been blogging a little over a year (Adversity University), I still consider myself new to the world of blogging. Every day I learn something new. What you see there is the result of months of tweaking, upgrading, updating and more of the same.

    It was therefore I read your latest entry with a mixture of amusement and admiration. I certainly relate to the need of courting our readers slowly. You don’t want to ask for a kiss so soon in the game, how true!

    My blog is about overcoming adversity because as a profoundly deaf person, I’ve had my share of it. Ever since I left the world of Wall Street in 1996, I’ve felt called to share my experiences with others and blogging is a wonderful way of publishing my thoughts, observations, tips and experiences with others. Just like you have.

    Darren, you certainly lead the pack with the notion of putting your readers first and then keeping them for the long haul. No one likes to be “sold” so soon in the game.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of romancing the reader in the least threatening way. If a blogger stays in the game long enough, he/she is building trust – a key ingredient that will come in handy if and when the blogger has a book or some other kind of service to be sold down the road. The readers will naturally progress to the stage where they will WANT a piece of you and one way of doing that is purchasing a book or product that the blogger might have available.

    Kudos to you Darren!

    Sincerely,
    Stephen Hopson
    http://www.sjhopson.com

  45. Rick says:

    I have been reading blogs for several years now and I still read a lot of the same blogs I first started reading. Blogging is about building relationships with people who share the same interest’s as the writer and this takes time. Why do people read Problogger? Because we share the same interest and want to learn how to be better bloggers and possibly make money doing what we love.

    Building a relationship with your readers involves writing everyday, reading other blogs and commenting on those blogs because you are part of that community. If you are going to create a blog for the simple purpose of promoting your product then you might as well spend the money and advertise with Adwords (etc..) and send your traffic directly to your sales page.

  46. Bad blog dating skills:

    1. Approach your date and use a bad one liner that is slightly offensive. “I have the best blog on the planet, so love it or leave it.”

    2. Go right in for the kiss. “Hey idiot, buy an expensive ebook before you read any posts. Limited time offer!”

    3. Take her for a night on the town to a hot dog dinner and bowling, while making her pay for everything. The equivalent to stealing blog content and giving little or no credit to original authors.

    4. Taking her to your place. “Subscribe to my RSS”.

    5. You make an unwanted advance & woman demands you take her home and she never ever sees you again. Getting your blog banned or shut down.

    But hey, what do I know? It seems to work for rock stars.

  47. JennDZ says:

    That is such a great comparison and I completely agree. Blogs that I go to that are all about ads or sales-pitches really turn me off – I like to build some trust and understanding of the person behind the blog and then I will be more likely to buy something they are advertising because you trust THEM to bring you to a good product!

  48. NOW SOME THEY DO AND SOME THEY DON´T
    AND SOME YOU JUST CAN´T TELL
    AND SOME THEY WILL AND SOME THEY WON´T
    WITH SOME IT´S JUST AS WELL

    – Supertramp

  49. “most dating advice experts would argue that if you want to grow a sustainable, ongoing relationship that the best time to take a relationship to the next level physically is when there’s other aspects of a relationship already in place (ie some emotional connection and time spent together getting to know one another).”

    Hey Darren,

    Yeah, in theory – but that’s just not how it works in real life. :-)

    Physical attraction is such a strong built-in imperative that it kicks in from the beginning for people we are attracted to.

    Seriously, agreed completely from the blog standpoint. I think Aaron Wall’s SeoBook.com is a prime example of a blog that really delivers value while promoting a product and a service.

    Have an awesome day!
    Dan

  50. WRITERLY, Darren!
    Following your posts for some time now, and as an author and professional writer, I am tuned in to what I’d call the deeper levels of your writing. This post was fun for me not only because you make your point well, but you are starting to show a whole new level of writerly skill. It’s a subtle thing, and it’s very cool to see that develop. I think lots of people know when they are reading good writing, but doing it for their own blog is a whole different beast.

    I’m working on a series of articles for bloggers to help them become more “writerly.” I’ll check in when they’re ready, maybe your readers would like them.

    Keep it flowing everyone,
    Suzanna Stinnett

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