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How to Blog to Build Your Service-based Business

This guest post is by Amy Harrison of Harrisonamy.com.

Earlier this year, through emails with ProBlogger about upcoming guest post ideas, I thought about an article about how blogging fed my business model.

This was the first time I’d really considered how my articles linked to the revenue I’d earned in the past three years.

I’m not a particularly prolific blogger, and I haven’t written anything outlandish, controversial—or even had a viral post. But business is very healthy, I’ve been booked solid all year and will be for the next few months, and revenue is growing year on year.

It was only when I sat down to write this post that I saw how 95% of my business is generated through blogging by:

  • clients hiring a service
  • businesses wanting coaching or training
  • customers buying products.

Whether you also have a combination of the above, or focus solely on client work or selling products, over the next three days I’m going to show you how blogging has helped me generate revenue for each of those models.

Hopefully this will give you ideas of what’s possible, and help you tailor your current blogging strategy to better suit your desired business model—whether it’s one of these, or one of the others covered in the recent Blog Business Model series here at ProBlogger.

Today, we’ll look at the first business model in the list: blogging to support sales of a service.

From readers to clients

If, like me, you’re a copywriter or other type of freelance writer, your blog naturally lends itself to promoting your skills. If people can see and scrutinise your writing online, they’ll find it easier to consider hiring you than someone whose work they haven’t seen.

But a blog also supports other freelance occupations when you’re working for hire. It showcases your expertise and personality, making it easier for someone to imagine working with you. If you’re in a service-based business this is very important. You probably know that people buy from those they know, like, and trust, and your blog is a way of building this confidence into potential clients.

If you’re a carpenter and your blog is filled with how-to articles, and the occasional video of you explaining a process, it is the equivalent of one long demonstration of what you are capable of and what you’re like to work with.

As a result, if someone studies your blog and likes what they see, by the time they do approach you to enquire about your services, beneath the surface, they’re already on the path of being “sold” on working with you.

Proving your expertise increases your value (and prices)

Generally speaking, if you approach a company or client looking for work, the balance of power lies in their hands. You’re asking them for something. (If you’ve ever cold called to get clients, you know what I’m talking about).

However, building a solid reputation online through your blog increases your value and lets you charge more because potential clients value your work more.

If you want proof of this, simply look at the difference between the rates of a copywriter, web designer, or developer who has a well-known blog, and those of of copywriters, designers, and developers on sites like elance. Huge difference.

You see, if someone gets to know you through your blog and wants to hire you, it’s not just to do your thing, it’s do your thing your way.

That sets you apart from the crowd, and the more unique you are, the less likely people are to treat you as a commodity that can be beaten down on price.

Specific blogging tactic to attract clients: guest posting

The strongest strategy I’ve found for attracting clients who want to hire me as a copywriter is guest posting and the relationships I’ve built through guest posting.

This doesn’t mean having to guest post everywhere. I can trace back about $20,000 worth of client work ($12,500 from one client for a month’s worth of work) to a handful of guest posts I’ve written on less than four different websites.

Pick the biggest, brightest blogs and make sure they are in your audience’s niche, not just yours. If you make banjos, don’t write on the best banjo-making site (where other banjo-makers hang out), write for the best banjo-playing site (where the players—your customers—hang out).

A few tips that I’ve found to work well include:

  • Pick blogs that have integrity and are well respected among the audience of your ideal clients.
  • Go big! Don’t be intimidated thinking you have to start small—write great content and aim for the best sites!
  • Study the site. Study popular posts, comments, and posting guidelines.
  • Work hard to write an article that will give the audience value.
  • Be polite but persistent if you don’t hear anything. Submit your article and follow up in a week, then a week after that. Try social media, email, and online contact forms to get in touch (but no more than one or two different types of contact methods a week).
  • Prep your own website. Don’t write guest posts before you have any decent content or a newsletter on your own site!
  • Follow up. If you have a successful guest post that increases your traffic and enquiries, start planning more, or even pitch a series of two or three articles so the audience can really get to know you.

What about you? How have you used your blog to attract clients for your service offering? Have you noticed a difference in how potential clients deal with you if they come to you after reading your blog? Let me know in the comments! And stay tuned: tomorrow we’ll talk about blogging to support your coaching or training business.

Amy Harrison is a copywriter and content marketer for Personality Entrepreneurs wanting to connect and sell authentically to their audience. You can now download her free report on how to write sales copy when personality is part of your business at Harrisonamy.com.

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Comments

  1. Great post Amy!

    Building a service based business gets really difficult when you haven’t proven your expertise. By starting a blog you not only create a two way communication channel with your prospects, but also create your personal brand.

    Having a uniquely positioned blog can become your service based business’s unique selling point. After all, how many of those service providers bidding on freelancing sites focusing on creating content to attract their audience? Not many.

    Gone are the days when you searched for clients because the competition is very steep. Today it’s all about how you leverage content marketing to brand yourself, build a strong audience, create a sense of trust and have them hire you for what you’re worth.

    Call it the law of attraction of the blogosphere ;)

    • Amy Harrison says:

      I have to agree about the law of attraction of the blogosphere – it definitely works. When you increse your exposure through quality content it also makes it an easier sales process for your customer. You are giving them plenty of opportunity to evaluate what it’s like to work with you. And the more they sample what you do, the less likely they are to look for a competing brand.

  2. Brankica says:

    Hey Amy, I like how simply you explained the process. Mine was pretty much the same and I can not agree more on following those steps to get more clients.
    I also noticed that sometimes, unless you make it real clear by telling people you are for hire, they may think you just blog for sake of blogging, lol, so any time I would remind my readers I provide services it would bring more clients at the same time.

    • Amy Harrison says:

      Hey Branikca!

      It’s the same with offering products, sometimes people forget that you are a resource for buying products and services. We can feel uncomfortable about reminding poeple, thinking that we’re pushing ourselves on people, but when you do it in the right way, you’re just building a bridge between what someone wants and what you have.

  3. Hi Amy, i am curious on your opinion; how old should a site be before you’d suggest contributing guest posts to more prolific sites within one’s content niche?

    • Amy Harrison says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      It’s not so much to do with the age of the site, but you need to think about how you want to use that traffic. If you’ve only got a couple of blog posts, no services yet and no newsletter, you’re better waiting till you have a method of at least capturing interested people’s attention with a few posts, and definitely a newsletter before you start to guest post.

      Hope this helps!

  4. Matt Plamen says:

    You’ve made some good points there. I checked on the internet to learn more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.
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  5. Those are very great points and have learn some new things through the post. thanks for sharing

  6. Stanley Rao says:

    great points have been represented in terms of blogs but at times building a business gets really difficult

  7. Mohamed Anan says:

    Hey Amy

    Thank you for the great post. I viewed your website and I think it looks awesome.

    I would recommend adding “HIRE ME” page and collect all of your clients -logos only- your testimonials and your areas of expertise.

    I am a business coach and stated this clearly in my “hire me” page. Surprisingly it got a high CTR, Even this is a brand new blog.

    Truly benefited from your post. Wish you success

    -Mohamed

    • Amy Harrison says:

      Hey Mohamed!

      Funnily enough this is on the agenda, the whole site is getting a revamp. The irony is I’ve been flat out with client work all year to get round to doing it! :-)

      Love the logos though – they’re a great tool for leveraging social proof.

  8. Thomas says:

    Some really great points. I have a service based business and your tips are indeed going to help me find my way in this huge competitive online world.