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Achieving “The Package Deal”

Today Chrissy Scivicque from OfficeArrow continues her two part series of posts on Blogging Your Way to a New Career.

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.

Create Relationships

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!

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. Shanel Yang says:

    Excellent, on-the-money advice! Another one to add to my bookmarks. Thanks, Chrissy!

  2. Trisha says:

    Good advice, especially about developing a product. I’m working on an ebook for my blog and I’m worried that selling it might affect my traffic in a negative way.

    Will readers get offended when I try to sell them something, or will they realize that I’m offering something good and deserve to get paid for it?

  3. This was a fantastic read, Chrissy. Jay from Dumblittleman.com is also the inspiration and motivator for me to be successful with my blog, and that’s just from reading his! I found it one day while searching for Google gadgets, I think I was searching for “productivity”, and there it was. It led to one thing after another, and here I am. :-)

  4. Very enlightening read Chrissy. I personaly feel that these are all great tips to help bloggers get the ball rolling and start interact with their readers. Putting out polls is fun for everybody, so I am currently working on ways to integrate them with my site. Thanks for the article!

  5. Very enlightening read Chrissy. I personally feel that these are all great tips to help bloggers get the ball rolling and start interact with their readers. Putting out polls is fun for everybody, so I am currently working on ways to integrate them with my site. Thanks for the article!

  6. Karen Zara says:

    Chrissy, I’d read your previous post but I was saving my comments for this second part.

    What I love about this article is the emphasis put on the need to view your blog as a business. This can never be stressed enough, because too many bloggers tend to forget about this — myself included. If you stick to the appropriate mindset, you are less prone to make mistakes that might hurt your blogging business.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. :)

  7. Sandy Naidu says:

    Good advice…The last piece of advice you gave about running it like a business is very critical (like you said). It was when I started treated my websites as business and not something to pay my grocery bill or a hobby that it all changed – Treating it like a business forces you to be disciplined, focussed and goal oriented.

  8. Ryan Mac says:

    Great advice
    Very useful

  9. TopsyTechie says:

    I would also add that no matter how much business acumen you have, the writing still has to be of superb quality to keep readers coming back for more!

  10. amirulcyber says:

    i appreciate your advice.Thank a lot.

  11. Josh says:

    Nice post Chrissy, will definitely keep these in mind whilst developing my new blog. :)

  12. Brad says:

    Great advice, Chrissy. I’ve been at this for about a year now and it still tends to get a bit overwhelming to me. There are so many areas to focus on that sometimes I wonder where I should give my attention. This advice will definitely help me to focus on the fundamentals. Thank you!!

  13. Wow, great advice. Surely these will improve my readership :)

  14. Liz says:

    This is great advice. Creating a niche is important, because it’s best to cover something that isn’t being covered sufficiently somewhere else. Your audience will grow from there.

  15. TG says:

    Thanks once again, your story is a huge source of inspiration for me right now! I have actually found the root of my problems with blogging – my niche is too general in an over-saturated market, what was I thinking?!

    Thank you and best of luck with your blog! :)

  16. I’m so glad you liked my advice, everyone! These things were all enormously helpful to me. One word of caution: beware! Once I really started taking blogging seriously, it became an obsession! And before too long, I was basically working two jobs (my full-time day job and building my blog/business). It was incredibly time consuming but ultimately, very rewarding. I’m sure you’ve all experienced the same thing (or certainly, you will at some point in the future). Choosing a niche you are passionate about makes a huge difference. Then, it’s a topic and a group of people you’re really connected to on a personal level. Have fun! And thanks for the very kind feedback…

  17. Reginald says:

    The content of the post is not only practical, but also applicable to any blogger at any level, as far as I am concerned.

    I enjoyed the content and commend you for taking the time to package the content so nicely.

  18. Todd says:

    Over the last year I’ve read quite a bit of advice on how to make my blog sticky. You just gave me such a great idea. My site is a home improvement site and last year I created a spreadsheet calculator so that people could compare different fuel types when deciding on a new furnace. I’ve been offering it up for free. I think I may still offer it for free but ask that they first sign up for my feed. My site has been growing rapidly but 75% of my traffic is organic search and not returning. Thanks so much and I hope one day to be as successful.

  19. Crissy – this is an excellent article and frankly it’s something that all bloggers should pay attention to.

    The one piece that is critical though is writing. When I sent my readers to Chrissy’s blog, it was not because her blog design was cool, it wasn’t because she had well placed ads, and it wasn’t because I knew her (I didn’t). It’s because her article had a great title, the opening paragraph grabbed my attention, and the body of the article was immaculate.

    Good, fresh, insightful writing eventually gets noticed. In Chrissy’s case, I happened upon her first blog post and while that is not generally realistic to expect, each post you write should be written as if a big famous blogger like Darren was looking over your shoulder. You just never know what will get picked up.

    When it comes to writing and wanting to get noticed, quality sells and apparently so do blogs as Chrissy has pointed out.

    Good Luck guys.

    Jay White

  20. yes, I now realize that I missed an H in Chrissy’s name :(.

  21. Lenin Nair says:

    Thanks for the post, Chrissy. I believe I am doing exactly that: building a niche for myself and focusing on only a spcific topic that is creative writing. However, I occasionally post on various off-niche topics, which may generally interest my readers, never, however, straying away from the staple topic of the blog. Please check my blog out.

    Lenin

  22. Billy says:

    Congratulations on your success, Chrissy. And thank you for sharing your experiences.

  23. Thanks, Chrissy, for sharing your ideas and strategies.

    I am going to have to think about whether I narrow my niche or not. At the moment I write a travel blog, and I feature everything from luxury holidays to backpacker information. Why? Because I have done both types of holiday myself, and I tend to think that today’s backpackers are tomorrow’s luxury travellers. Or, the way the economy seems to be going, people could be turning their noses up at the luxury travel, and opting for more budget conscious holidays. So this leaves me thinking, should I focus more, or not? For the time being I will try to encompass all travel I think. But I could always change my focus later.

    Also, you’ve set me thinking about a logo – that could be the next thing on the cards. I think I’ll design my own, as art is another of my “things”!

  24. Reginald says:

    Jay @ Dumb Little Man,
    I appreciated your post. I found it insightful!