This is the first post in our series on Blog Business Models.
Marcus Sheridan runs The Sales Lion blog, where he explores the marketing approach he’s used to build a successful business. But his blog has helped Marcus springboard very successfully into the public speaking circuit.
Marcus has told us his story before, in the post From Small-time Blogger to Professional Paid Speaker: My Journey. Here, he talks about how the blog supports that business in a little more detail.
Marcus, what was it that drew you to blogging in the first instance?
Since 2001, I’ve owned an inground swimming pool company that installs pools throughout Virginia and Maryland. Things grew nicely until 2008 when the housing marketing collapsed, ruining many pool companies and forcing us to figure out a way to continue to survive despite so few potential clients.
During this time of struggle I stumbled upon a company called HubSpot and learned about inbound marketing, and decided to embrace blogging as a means of generating more traffic, leads, and sales through our company website.
Because of our willingness to be incredibly transparent and informative about all things swimming pools, the site’s popularity quickly exploded and it became the go-to source for the inground pool industry. It also saved our business because although it really didn’t cost us much at all to do, it sold us many, many pools.
With so much success in the swimming pool industry, I decided to teach others about what I had achieved, and these teachings became what is today TheSalesLion.com, a blog that has made its mark as one of the premier inbound and content marketing focused blogs on the web.
The blog supports your business as a public speaker. Did you develop the blog with the intention that it would support your speaking work?
I knew I’d never get the type of speaking gigs I wanted unless I had a platform to build my overall brand awareness and influence. With The Sales Lion, I accomplished just that as it allowed me to express my thoughts in all their forms. Because people saw I had a unique approach to things, I started getting more and more invitations to speak.
Forcing myself to write about all things marketing, sales, business, and personal development has allowed me to refine my message. It has also embedded these teachings into my brain in such a way that I can now speak for hours upon hours about business and marketing without notes. Such is the power of blogging if we go about it the right way.
So the strength with which the blog supports you as a speaker is no happy accident, then.
Make no mistake about it: my blog strategy is intentional. I want companies to see I can come in and speak to their organizations and assist them in their content marketing efforts. I want conferences to see that I’m wildly opinionated, thought provoking, and unafraid to say what’s on my mind—with a whole lot of passion mixed in.
you make it sound so easy! Do you face many hurdles in using your blog to build your business as a speaker?
I think the biggest challenge is continuing to plant the seeds while you’re reaping the harvest.
In other words, striking the balance between producing new content on my blog and continuing to network while I also need to be helping my actual, paying clients. One will help sales later, while the other will help my cashflow right now. I think this is a balance we all struggle with, though.
True. So what’s the secret sauce that’s helped you get your blog business to where it is today?
- I make people feel good when they stop by and leave a comment, because I care and I’m grateful.
- I’m opinionated and not just regurgitating what everyone else is saying.
- I’m dang good at storytelling.
- I teach/write in such a way that anyone can understand what I’m saying. In other words, my goal isn’t to try to impress myself or sound intelligent.
- I haven’t let off the gas in three years.
That’s quite the list! But how do you define your unique selling proposition?
I don’t try to be all things to all people. And I’m certainly not afraid to have some guts when necessary and put myself in the line of fire if I feel something needs to be said.
Also, I know my shtick. I’m one of the best in the world at content marketing—not Facebook, or Twitter, or Linkedin—etc.
Well, speaking of online tools, which ones do you rely on most in your blog business?
As I mentioned, I love HubSpot for their lead tracking and behavior software. Like everyone else, I use WordPress and my theme is Thesis. I also have a virtual assistant who helps edit my stuff and offers needed support.
So what words of advice would you tell a blogger who wanted to get into public speaking, using their blog as the platform?
- Answer every single question in your field. Be the wiki of whatever it is you do.
- Be bold and gutsy.
- Make your readers feel good about themselves.
- Stand up to the “big boys” when necessary.
- Be great at networking.
Great advice! Finally, Marcus, what does the future hold for you, your blog, and your business?
That’s a tough question, because stuff is changing at an incredible rate. But I see my brand growing, along with my speaking schedule. I plan on being one of the best keynote and business speakers in the world and feel I’m well on my way to reaching that goal.
I’ll always have a blog, no matter what, because I simply have to express myself and put my thoughts to pen. That’s just who I am. And I plan on smiling for the entire journey.
Thanks to Marcus for sharing his thoughts with us. To find out more about Marcus’s business model, visit his site at The Sales Lion and read his story in From Small-time Blogger to Professional Paid Speaker: My Journey.