Previously, I shared my story with you. I told you all about how my blog was purchased by a start-up website called OfficeArrow. I explained “The Package Deal”, which miraculously changed the direction of my life and career almost overnight. Today, I’m going to share with you a few of the strategies I employed that helped me achieve this. Even if you’re not looking to do this for yourself, these strategies will help build your business. And YES, your blog is a business! If you want to take advantage of any of the opportunities blogging presents, start embracing that concept now.
Pick a Niche
Your blog should appeal to a very specific segment of the population. It’s not enough to simply focus on “people who want to be productive”. Get detailed! Know what you’re typical user looks like. Understand what motivates them to read your blog. Research their purchasing habits. Don’t be afraid to really narrow your focus.
For me, I chose Executive Assistants. Sure, much of the content included information that anyone interested in personal or professional development (including EAs) could use. But I also had a lot of laser-focused content just for EAs. I referred to my job often and truly sought to have a tightly focused audience. This hugely increased the value of my audience to the purchaser. Any company or person who buys your blog is, essentially, buying your audience. The more targeted you are, the more valuable you are.
Of course, you need to choose a niche that you’re familiar with and have respect for. The cardinal rule when creating content is that the audience can sniff out insincerity and inaccuracies from a mile away. You’ll lose your audience quickly if you don’t understand their needs and have a desire to help them.
Lastly, select a niche target market that is not saturated already. I started my site for Executive Assistants because there were simply no other sites out there that met my needs as an EA. Any successful business fills a void in the market. Research your competition. If you find that your niche is overwhelmingly saturated, tweak it a bit.
Build a Brand
From the day your website goes live, you’re building a brand – for yourself and the blog. Think carefully about what you want the brand to say about you and your business. You don’t have to spend a ton of time and money creating a logo. You can build a strong brand through your quality of content and the overall look and feel of your site. Keep your brand consistent all over and carry that brand with you in all of your activities around the internet. Create a slogan and add it to the footer of forum posts. Create a persona for yourself. Look at Perez Hilton. He is the definition of his brand! My point is this: you need to be original. Using a standard issue free template doesn’t help build your brand. Minor tweaks (that require minimal technical know-how) will make all the difference in the world.
Develop Your Community
As a blogger, you are nothing without your audience. Don’t take them for granted. Ask them what they want, what they like and don’t like. Utilize polls and other research tools to help engage your readers and get to know more about them. Let them contribute freely by allowing guest posts and encouraging comments. If you have the technical ability, add a forum to facilitate conversation. Give your audience a platform to share their thoughts and build a community. You may be the creator, but you are not always the leader. Let the community lead you.
Just like in any other business, it’s all about who you know. Nothing helps build recognition like a loyal fan, who happens to be a blogger as well. The very first post I wrote on my blog impressed a man named Jay (of Dumb Little Man) and, thanks to him, I was motivated to continue moving forward with my silly little idea. Throughout my blogging “career”, Jay has been an enormous inspiration and an incredible supporter.
Of course, you shouldn’t wait to be approached by others. Stick your neck out and say hello to your favorite bloggers. Ask for nothing – simply introduce yourself, share a few sincere compliments, and start a dialogue. These are your colleagues. If they’re willing to share advice, listen to them. When they post articles you think you’re readers would enjoy, share them. Reciprocal relationships are one of the most valuable tools in building your business. But they don’t happen overnight.
Create Original Products
A hugely helpful tool for increasing the value and visibility of your blog is the use of original products. Create an e-book, special report or podcast. Sell it or give it away free for people who subscribe. Whatever you do with it, the product helps firmly establish your brand and it proves the interest level of the audience. When I was negotiating my deal, I was able to point to the sale of my e-book and say, “Look. My audience is not afraid to purchase helpful tools. They are actively seeking resources that aren’t available elsewhere.” I was able to show income reports and the value of my blog increased significantly because of that.
My final and most critical piece of advice is to simply remember this: you are not building a blog, you’re building a business. Be thoughtful in your approach. Study and track your numbers consistently – everything from subscribers to pageviews to revenue. If you’re going to pursue any of the options mentioned above, this advice will serve you well.
Chrissy Scivicque is the Senior Content Manager at OfficeArrow.com – the world’s first online community created for office professionals, by office professionals. She writes a wide variety of articles to help people do their jobs more effectively and with less frustration. You can follow her journey by joining the OfficeArrow Community today – membership is free!