This post is by Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project.
It’s the sixth and final post in our series on Blog Business Models.
I’m well-mannered, I like pearls, intelligent opinions, and fine French cheeses. (Ditto fine French wine.) (And fine French men.*)
I also happen to run a six-figure blog and business called The Middle Finger Project.
As in the bad finger. The vulgar one. The one that angry New York drivers, hormone-laden teenagers and Roseanne Barr use regularly.
And, apparently, me. The overly polite one with the master’s degree who considers herself educated and knows when to use which stupid little fork when.
I won’t attempt to explain this blaring contradiction, but what I will tell you is this: success online comes with confidence accompanied by an opinion you’re willing to fight for, and having a business named like I do implies both.
Certainly those aren’t the only factors, but they’re two of the most important—you can try to be as “useful” as possible, as the standard advice goes, but if you’re lacking confidence—or an authoritative spine—no one will care about you.
And if no one cares about you, you don’t have a blog—or a business.
Right there—there’s an opinion of mine. You can take it or leave it, but one thing’s for sure—you’re listening.
And really that’s the first step in building a successful blog that sells your consulting business—wrangling some attention. And then learning how to keep it. And then learning how to leverage it.
The Middle Finger Project started as just that—a platform for attention. It wasn’t developed as a business first, and a blog later—the platform began as a blog, and quite deliberately. And the reason is because you need attention first and foremost: if no one’s listening, no one’s buying. Particularly in the online space.
I should know; I’ve tried both. In 2006 I opened my first copywriting business, sans blog. Blogging wasn’t even on my radar at the time, quite unfortunately, and that business quickly plummeted to a gory, bloody, bone-shattering demise. Closed-casket style.
It failed because no one knew about me.
But realistically, it failed because I didn’t make anyone know about me.
I had if-you-build-it-they-will-come syndrome, and I still see a lot of that around these days, too. It’s not intentional, of course, but we all get so excited about our businesses, and think the world will share our excitement as soon as we open our doors.
Little do we realize that we have to give them a reason to get excited. Just like hanging your swankiest panties out on the line won’t cause Prince Charming to show up at your door (trust me, I’ve tried), hanging your swankiest web design on the internet won’t cause your customers to magically show up, either.
You’ve got to give ‘em a reason to care about you
Blogs help that process along. Blogs give you a way to make that happen. Blogs give you a chance to prove yourself. And blogs give you a chance to snag their attention long enough to hook, line and swoosh ‘em into your world for the long term. ‘Til dentures do us part.
These days, things are different. My blog is entirely responsible for my success in the copywriting industry. That’s not an exaggeration, or a feeble attempt at sounding like I know what I’m talking about. That’s fact.
Typically I post around two to three times a week, but I have a dirty little secret to share: While the bread and butter of my business is copywriting, I don’t blog about copywriting.
I don’t blog about copywriting for a number of reasons, but the primary one is that my clients don’t care about copywriting. And honestly? Your clients don’t care about what you do, either.
It’s a mistake I see often made—well-meaning businesses trying to blog about their business. The reason it’s a mistake is because, again, your clients don’t care about your business; they don’t even care about what you can do for them, per se.
What they care about is feeling better any time they interact with you and your content. While it may sound oversimplified, this is key.
Whether feeling better translates into them having more confidence in themselves, having more confidence that you’ll be the solution to their problem, or just feeling inspired by your message, this really is the key to running a successful blog and, by extension, consulting business.
One thing I can promise you is this: the blogger who makes his reader feel less alone and more understood wins this game—and wins the business. Because it’s that blogger who will create excitement, and it’s that blogger who will ultimately give the world a reason to actually care about his message.
And didn’t I mention that was step one? Wink.
So how do I pull it off at The Middle Finger Project?
I’ll tell you how.
The Middle Finger Project isn’t just a blog; it’s its own movement, so to speak. It isn’t the blog itself—it’s what the blog represents for my readers and customers. Hope. Hope there is more out there, and it isn’t too late to come alive and be the person you were meant to be. It has nothing to do with copywriting; it’s about having fun in this one racy little speck of life we’re given, and doing what our anxiety-bent insides are mercilessly clawing at us to do.
For one set of my customers, this often means starting their own businesses—then, at that point, my copywriting services are there to support them in making that leap. Another set of customers—for example, my tech start ups—hire me because they, too, tend to be forward-thinking companies led by entrepreneurs who can relate to the core message of TMFproject as well.
The take away here?
Don’t just blog
Think about what your blog represents, and how you can connect it to the underlying beliefs and values of your target readers or customers—and how this can help them get excited and care about you.
If you’re a divorce lawyer, don’t blog about divorce. Blog about the inspirational stories that come out of divorce. Blog about the client who found herself again. Blog about the client who reawakened his love for bowling. Blog about the client who re-married her husband for a second time. Blog about the client who found his real soul mate the second time around.
Give your clients a reason to get excited—and feel better. Give ‘em a reason to want to read. And once they want to read, they’ll naturally want you.
And only when they want you, are you then in a position to successfully sell them your services.
Then, it’s just a matter of aligning your service offerings with the things that you know will make your customers feel better—about their lives, about their futures, about their businesses, or about their decision to choose you over the next guy.
Making it work
For example, one of my most successful offerings at The Middle Finger Project has been the One Night Stand—a rapid-fire copywriting service for those who need hot web copy that sells, at a price that won’t send them hurtling into debt with no pants on. (We like to, ahem, save our debt for things like Victoria’s Secret and The Cheesecake Factory.)
The reason it’s been so successful is two-fold. First, clients feel better because they’re gaining confidence that their business or website is going to be successful, since mouth-watering copy is one of the most important pillars of any online space. But second, this offering has been a success because I deliberately have made it fun—and fun always wins over not fun, as any kindergartener will confirm. And who wouldn’t want to go with the service provider that’s guaranteed to make a more pleasant—and exciting—experience for their client?
For example, I could have just called this, “Copywriting service,” but I didn’t, and deliberately so. I named it the One Night Stand, and furthermore went on to label each part of the service as:
- Innocent Flirting, AKA Pre-Session Jamming
- Intimate Discussion: 1-hour call on the day of our session
- Down + Dirty Sweat Sesh: Up to five pages of cunningly cool copy
- Nightcap + Pillow Talk: Your Feedback
- Oops, You Forgot Your Panties: One round of final edits
While the simple act of naming of a product or service might seem trivial—and is often an afterthought—it isn’t just about naming. It’s about the anticipated experience. I know my customers intimately (look who’s got puns!), and I knew that this type of offering would be something they’d not only get a kick out of, but would be racing to purchase particularly because of the element of fun that The Middle Finger Project brand has become known for. And a fresh start, with fun at the helm, is what many of my clients are so desperately craving.
Moving forward, The Middle Finger Project will continue to stand for having more fun than everyone else, in both life and business.
Registration has just closed for a six-week online copywriting workshop I’ll be hosting, and before the year is out, The Middle Finger Project (the book) will be released: because life is short and vodka tastes better abroad.
Selling consulting through your blog
I’m beyond honored to have the opportunity to make a living doing what I do—the (mostly) prim and proper chick rocking the hell out of a rebel’s brand. Yet, it all started that fall afternoon in 2009 when I began the blog as a way to build a platform, connect like-minded folks, and really give the world a run for its money.
- It’s about standing up for what you believe in—and rallying others to do the same.
- It’s about reaching for your megaphone—and not just expecting attention, but going out and grabbing it.
- It’s about helping people care—first about themselves, and then about you.
- It’s about generating excitement—from your message to your brand to every single thing you sell.
- It’s about remembering that every single one of us is human—and most of us just really want to feel understood.
- And above all, it’s about getting off your backside, and making it happen already.
You got this. Roseanne Barr and I believe in you.
*I’ve never actually dated a French man, therefore that statement was partially false. Okay, entirely false. However, I do imagine that I would thoroughly enjoy one.
Ashley Ambirge is the sassiest freelance writer, entrepreneur and digital strategist on the block. She authors books on leveraging the internet to make a business out of your passions, runs her semi-insane but lovable blog (click here to subscribe), and does one on one strategy sessions with new bloggers, entrepreneurs & small businesses looking to rock their online space with the brilliance of a diamond (and finally make some damn money). She’ll also kill you at beer pong without batting an eyelash. Just the facts, Jack.