Bloggers To Watch: Jen Bishop talks about how to become a full-time blogger

Jen Bishop is the creative force behind Interiors Addict, the leading Australian blog dedicated to interiors and home wares. She was made redundant a year into starting her blog and was accidentally thrust into the world of full-time blogging.

I’ve loved watching her journey. She started off with a hobby blog on Tumblr and now reaches over 60,000 readers each month. In this interview, we discuss what she has accomplished since becoming a full-time blogger.

You became a full-time blogger earlier than planned. Did the need for immediate income affect your blog strategy?

Not really. I always wanted my blog monetization to be more display ads than sponsored content. What I did do earlier than expected was start working with an agency, who sell my ads on commission. That’s proven to be a good move.

What have been your most successful methods of monetization?

Banner advertising, without a doubt. Now that’s more established with bigger names on board, booking multiple times, I wanted to concentrate on the sponsored content side too. I also make money from social media consulting work with businesses in the interiors industry, and a little from job ads.

Your blog posts tend to be more newsy, with the occasional in-depth feature. How much time do you spend actually writing the blog content?

That really varies. I’m a very fast writer, after 14 years as a journalist, but I spend an minimum of 2 hours a day writing. Some days I’ll write from 7am to 3pm and suddenly realise I’m starving and have missed lunch!

You’ve turned your passion into a full time job. Have you ever felt sick or writing about the same thing repeatedly?

Never! I still feel like I’m living the dream, writing about what I love, day in, day out. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that I make my money from advertising so I have absolute freedom with the content. I can write whatever I like and about whoever I like. I can honestly say I have never put any thought into SEO or link-baiting or what might rank well. I just write about what I love, and know my readers love, and lots of it, and I hope that I write it well.


You do a lot of in-person networking at events and conferences. Has this contributed to your success?

It’s definitely good for raising your profile as it’s good to be seen at the right events and in the right places. Now I’m more established, I’m fussier about the events I go to, because time is money. But it’s still very important to me. Plus, I enjoy it!

You are very well connected and have interviewed some of the leading people in the industry. How did you get people to trust a ‘new’ blogger?

I think I was lucky to get a few high profile interviews in the early days and it was a case of people thinking “well if they’ve been on Interiors Addict, I want to be on it too!”. I also suspect that having a background in publishing and journalism helps add credibility and give people confidence you’ll write something professional and engaging about them and their brand.

I also made sure, in the early days, that I went to every industry event I was invited to and took every PR opportunity I was offered, however small, without being snobby or picky about it.

You’ve recently started adding extra contributors to what has mostly been a personal blog. How has your audience responded to this?

My audience don’t seem to have had much of a reaction either way. It’s not something I do very often and am wary of doing so in the future, because the blog is very much about me and my personal brand. I think, as the blog grows, I might have to get over that!

How do you plan to grow Interiors addict over the next 18 months?

I’m trying to write even more content (I’d love to get up to 5 posts a day most days but it’s a tall order!) and grow my email database. I’m also going to start doing some blogging events in Sydney, publish my first eBooks, and there’ll probably be a stint overseas where I’ll cover international trends as well as continuing to report on the Australian scene. Watch this space!

I launched a second, sister blog, Appliance Addict, a couple of months ago, and that’s part of my business growth strategy long term.

7 Vignettes Challenge

7 Vignettes is a creative online community centred around Instagram. Participates take part in a 7-day challenge, which starts on the first of each month.

Each challenge is focused around using elements from a key theme. Jen posts the themes on her blog the week before the challenge starts. Users have shared over 20,000 images so far. They even have guest judges and prizes.

You can learn more via her interview at Australian Businesswomen’s network.

You run the 7 Vignettes challenge on Instagram. Has it led to increased traffic to your blog?

According to Google Analytics, no! It only shows 218 visits in the 6 months I’ve been running it. That said, those people spend an average in excess of 5 minutes on the site which is a long time!

I believe I get a lot of traffic indirectly though, and my unique browsers have consistently gone up since November. It’s just hard to measure. Instagram only lets you link to your site once in your profile, that’s it; nothing in captions.

But there’s been a lot of buzz around 7 Vignettes and a lot of people must be coming to the site directly or via Google after hearing about it. I really believe, and hope, that Instagram will start letting you put links in captions in the near future.

How did you get such awesome judges and prizes on board?

I have a list of offers for prizes and judges as long as my arm! In general, they hear about it and approach me.

You reach over 50,000  (more than 60k this month!) readers a month. What are your main sources of traffic?

Most of my traffic comes from search, direct or referred from social media. A large percentage comes from Facebook, where I have the most engagement.

You were an early adopter of Pinterest. Has that helped attract interest in your blog?

To be honest, I haven’t used Pinterest anywhere near its potential. I do get a lot of traffic via Pinterest, but mostly due to readers pinning my images and then other people seeing them and finding me by clicking through. I’ve had a lot more success with Instagram and found it has been the best tool for building community off the blog.

Over to you

I love Jen’s story. She has accomplished so much since I first interviewed her in 2012. Her professionalism and hard work has allowed to accomplish quite a lot in a relatively small period of time.

What did you like most about Jens story? And, do you have any questions for her?

12 Lessons from 4 Inspiring Local Business Blogs

Earlier this week I explained why every business needs a blog. Today I want to show you just how much potential there is for businesses to connect with their customers through a blog.


Image courtesy stock.xchng user zd

The blogs I’ve chosen here are all for small businesses I know of. I’ve tried to look at local businesses, so most of them are Melbourne-based, though the lessons they teach should be useful for any business thinking of starting a blog.

The bookstore

Readings, a small bookstore chain, has a very frequently updated blog that supports its online store. This makes sense, since new books are always being released, and there’s always something to say about them.

The blog is an important element of this site. Go to the site’s homepage, and it’s all about shopping. But shoppers can buy books online anywhere. As we know all too well here in Australia, price competition on books is a major factor in deciding where to purchase. So Readings augments that offering with personality. As a small book store, they focus on range and catering to the tastes of their specific clientele. Quality reviews are important, as are in-store events and promotions. The blog is an excellent way to support those goals.


  1. If your industry is highly competitive, a blog can help communicate your competitive edge to a highly receptive audience.
  2. Take in different aspects of your industry—this interview with a bookseller is a nice way to go “behind the scenes.” It show off the passion that exists in the industry, and inspires a passion in readers, too.
  3. Use posts to subtly inspire readers to purchase. These posts are followed by links to the books by the authors discussed in the posts themselves—a great, logical, unobtrusive tie-in that would certainly boost sales.

The bakery

A cupcake bakery with two outlets, the Cupcake Central blog is interesting in that it’s so light on text.

If you’re not a writer, you could take a leaf or two from this blog. Images play the main role, but as you can see, they also really support the strong branding of the business. This is probably true with a lot of product-related businesses whose physical output is the strongest evidence of their brand.

The blog’s only updated monthly, to focus on recipes, promoting cupcake workshops, and giving attention to seasonal events like Father’s Day. Interestingly, video is also used to supplement the blog content. The posts may be few and far between, but they’re rich with visual interest.


  1. Rather than trying to “come up with” content, let seasonal variations and your industry itself guide your posting schedule.
  2. Not a writer? Try video, imagery, or even a podcast.
  3. Let your blog’s design support your branding. Cupcake Central’s logo is echoed in the blog’s post and header design, as well as all the other pages on the site.

The enthusiasts

Probably the least “bloggy” of the blogs we’ll look at in this list is Motorcyclerides, a site that’s been developed specifically to connect enthusiasts—in this case, motorcycle enthusiasts.

It’s not a business blog as such, in that the blog doesn’t support an individual business. But it does support an “industry” of motorbike riders and bike-related businesses. And it’s a really interesting example that many business blogs could learn from.

The blog itself is on the site’s homepage: it’s the list of maps below the header. Each map links to the details of a ride that a motorcyclist can do on their own, or with friends. And each ride (or blog post) is contributed by a rider, rather than made up by the business owners. They’re great rides that actual riders recommend.

This makes the blogging task more about editing and approving content than starting it from scratch‚ and looking at the Suggest a ride form, I wouldn’t expect the site’s owners would need to do too much work to get the content onto the site. Riders can also contribute events to the site.


  1. Crowdsource your content to reduce the blogging burden and expand the reach and relevance of your blog.
  2. Find good ways to link provided content that provide the greatest value to users. At the end of each ride listing on this blog, we see links to related businesses, events, and other rides nearby. That’s pretty useful to riders!
  3. Make your blog into a resource for your customers, and they’ll be unable to resist coming back again and again. A great way to build authority in your industry.

The design studio

A small screen printing business in Melbourne, Ink & Spindle runs this blog as part of a larger website.

The site targets “customers”, which in this case means members of the public as well as current and potential stockists of the fabrics that Ink & Spindle make. The blog itself is updated between two and ten times a month, and keeps customers informed of sales and events like open studios. It shows how different designers, customers, and other clients use the studio’s fabrics—which inspires other readers and undoubtedly sparks purchases through the site’s web store.

The blog really helps the studio’s owners promote their brand values: quality, aesthetics, social and environmental awareness, and community involvement. The great thing about this blog is the way it helps the business connect with the people who buy and use its products at a local level.


  1. You can easily add a free blog to your existing website, and start blogging for your business in minutes.
  2. If your business’s product or service is visually appealing, use imagery wherever you can.
  3. Bring your customers into the picture with case studies, to inspire others, and reflect your customer focus.

Get inspired about your business blog

As you can see, small businesses in a range of industries and areas are using blogging to promote themselves online. These examples show that you don’t need to be a technical whiz to make this work. You don’t even need a massive online presence.

The main thing you need is a clear understanding of the ways your business meets the needs of customers or clients, and what it means to them. Using that as a foundation upon which to build, you’ll be able to create a strong, unique web presence that builds loyalty and keeps your customers coming back for more.

Are you starting a business blog? Tell us about the challenges you’re facing in the comments.

6 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Blog

Last week’s Blogging in Brief post looked at a really surprising business blog post. In fact, this was a post from a government body, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention—not the kind of place you might expect to have a raging sense of humor.

At work

Image courtesy stock.xchng user wagg66

Business blogging doesn’t have to be dull

Many business owners I speak to who aren’t bloggers scoff at the idea of having a blog. They look at their business and wonder who on earth would want to read about it.

But whether you’re a mechanic, baker, home cleaner, or a landscape designer, you can be sure that a blog could benefit your customers if you do it right.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at Dominick Del Santo’s story from earlier this year. His business—industrial dust collection solutions—isn’t what you’d call glamorous. Yet he tackled the job and owned his niche. Ryan Chritchett’s doing the same with his tech repair company blog.

You could do the same with a business blog in your industry.

Six reasons to start a business blog

Despite the possibilities, I know that business owners can have plenty of good reasons not to blog. They don’t have time, they don’t have experience, they don’t think it’s worthwhile—and these all seem like valid points. So I’d like to suggest some reasons why businesses should blog.

1. Most businesses think it’s too hard, too scary, or too much work

Your competitors are probably saying much the same thing you are about blogging. “It’s too hard. I don’t have time. I don’t even know where to begin!”

That means you have a great opportunity to jump in, get started, and engage with your target clients while other businesses in your niche are procrastinating. So do it, and build your competitive advantage before they have time to step in and take up the slack.

2. Audiences are more open to blogs than ever

Blogs are everywhere. The web is so chock-a-block with great content now that many readers no longer differentiate between what they call “blogs,” “news sites,” “websites,” and other content forms. What they want is to be informed and entertained.

If you can manage either of those goals through your business’s blog, you’ll be able to build a readership.

3. We’re more connected, which means more time to consume your content

Five years ago, at least here in Melbourne, Australia, smartphones were pretty rare. We might text or make a call while we were on the train, or waiting for a friend. We weren’t flicking from our email to Facebook to the news, following a link from Twitter, or clicking on an email newsletter to “Read more…” And no one, no one was reading an ebook on a tablet.

Things have changed now—and for the better. The web is constantly maturing, and so are its users. If you think your business’s clients aren’t too web savvy, think again. I’ll bet they use Facebook, download music, and read the news online just like most others. So this is a great way to get your brand and message in front of them.

4. It’s a great way to build deeper customer relationships

A blog is a place where your business’s individual style can really show through. Okay, you have a business card and some letter head, designed by a designer to reflect you as a person, and the professionalism of your business. That’s great, but it doesn’t establish a personal connection on its own, day or night, all week long.

Your business blog can do that. It lets you express yourself and your brand, and focus on the things that unite you and your clients. But it also lets them connect with you—through comments, feedback, and social sharing. The benefit is that you don’t need to staff a call centre to support this new method of communication.

With a blog, you can get closer to your clients than ever before—getting ideas for product or service developments, finding out what bugs them and what makes them smile, and unearthing new ways to make your business indispensable to them.

5. It’s an excellent way to stand out from the crowd

Put the points we’ve already discussed together, and you get a great opportunity to stand out from your competitors. The more you can differentiate yourself from the other suppliers in your market, the more reasons you’ll give customers and prospects to engage with your brand.

Blogs provide a great opportunity to support and build your brand, and explain and show what you’re all about. They also give you the chance to connect deeply with readers. The more you connect readers with your brand, the more you can develop your brand to meet their needs, and help them connect more deeply with it.

What that means is lasting loyalty, more repeat custom, and stronger word of mouth for you and your business.

6. Technology lets you do it your way

It’s not just consumer technology that’s evolved in the last five years. Producer technology has too.

You can create a blog in minutes, on a free platform if you want to. Or you can integrate your blog completely with your business website—again, using any of a range of platforms. And you can create and share content in a wide variety of formats—video, audio, text, imagery, you name it.

There are also plenty of blogging apps—apps that let you plan content on the go, access your blog remotely, and even publish posts from your phone.

The mechanics of creating great content have never been easier to manipulate. Blogging has never been easier. If you ever thought of starting a business blog, now’s definitely the time.

How will you do it? And what will you blog about?

Okay, so blogging takes time and energy. I don’t have the space here to get into the details of starting and running a business blog, through there’s plenty of information on the topic here, and in our ebook on the subject.

As to the question of what you could blog about, well, the sky’s the limit. Later this week, I’ll show you around a few great business blogs. Each of them is unique, presents information differently, and connects strongly with customers and prospects. Don’t miss it.

Blogging for Startups: 10 Essential Tips to Make it Work

This guest post is by Gregory Ciotti of Help Scout.

Getting the word out about your startup is tough.

Blogs serve as a great way to increase organic traffic and establish the all-important relationship of “know, like, trust” through the provision of free content. In addition, few other marketing channels allow you to connect so well with prospective (and current) customers as well as giving you a platform to provide readers with a ton of value.

To become a thought leader in your startup’s industry, and to generate quality leads through your blog, be sure to follow these ten essential steps to creating a blog presence that thrives in the crowded blogosphere.

1. Create useful resources

You’ve likely heard (many times over) the effectiveness that resource pages and opt-in freebies play in generating more email sign-ups, and it’s all true.

But when it comes to startups, these resources become doubly important.

It’s critical that you create numerous resources that are both informative about your industry and your offering.

Maintaining an ever-growing resource section that employs multiple media types to help people become informed about both your industry and your business is essential for increasing conversions.

It’s important to branch out into visual media to promote these resources, too. One of my favorite methods is to create slideshows based on existing content.

Why are resources so important for startups?

If you’re just running a blog, your resources are likely going to be used to generate more subscribers.

But for a startup, these resources can be the deciding factor in whether customers are willing to try you out: your free content gets them on your site, but your professionally prepared and incredibly useful resources give them the info they need to justify a purchase.

2. On-site content + guest blogging = success

Don’t get me wrong, running a company blog is hugely important. It’s so obviously effective, it almost doesn’t need to be mentioned.

One thing I see many startups fail to do, however, is to embrace the power of guest blogging.

Although the process can be time consuming, and it may take an extended period before any fantastic results are achieved, it is hard to argue with the success of folks like the BufferApp team, who’ve utilized guest blogging to attract over 100,000 users to their service.

Great on-site content deserves to be viewed, and there are few things that work as well as guest blogging to get your worthy content in front of readers who will enjoy it. Speaking of getting the word out…

3. Content promotion doesn’t end with a tweet

This is a big one. In fact, I’d go as far as saying that this is the biggest mistake any blogger can make.

Once a great piece of content is written for your blog, you may think your work’s done. In reality, it’s just begun.

They don’t call it “content marketing” just for kicks: although the content itself is a good marketing outlet, you’ve got to market your own content in order for it to succeed.

What does this mean? It means reaching out to people who may enjoy your posts.

This exemplary tale of getting published on Lifehacker makes an important point: when your content really is interesting and informative, getting featured on a huge blog like that may only be an email away.

It’s all about finding the right places for your content, and establishing a connection with the sites’ owners through mutual interests. Don’t blast your latest article out to everybody you know. Find a few people who might really enjoy it, and send them a personal email.

If you don’t know where to begin, I recommend browsing a few sites in your niche via AllTop.

4. Repeat after me: it’s not about you!

This is content marketing 101, and although it’s pegged at point four on this list, this is really the most important tip.

Your startup’s blog is never going to be an industry leader if the only thing you talk about is you.

On occasion, an important company update is definitely necessary. Cool company stories also make the cut, because they’re something that anyone can enjoy.

The rest of the time, you need to be creating content that informs, delights, and solves the problems of potential customers.

One of my favorite examples of a company that gets it can be found over on the Mint blog. While Mint is a powerful tool that’s worth writing about, the Mint blog focuses on Mint’s customers’ interests, which in this case includes topics like personal finance, savings, and income (jobs).

People read what interests them. While the internal updates within your startup may interest you, few other people are going to want to read about them. That’s why, in order to become a thought leader, your content needs to serve customer’ needs and interests, not yours or your team’s.

Your goal is to turn your company blog into a resource of its own. When other outlets start doing round-ups of the Top 25 [your niche] Blogs, will yours be mentioned?

5. Use the “halo effect” to generate more links

Your startup shouldn’t be excessively worried about getting backlinks, but generating links is an importance process of establishing your company’s (and your blog’s) authority in search engines.

One thing that startups can utilize is the so-called halo effect.

The halo effect states that people will generally feel favorably towards people (and things) that give them a good impression (that impression can be through association, perceived intelligence, and even their attractiveness).

As an example, there are many entrepreneurial shows that startup founders can appear on for more exposure. The shows are popular and seen favorably, and so are the people who appear on them as guests.

Here’s a great interview with Jason Cohen (founder of WPEngine) on Mixergy, which leverages the story of his startup’s growth for additional exposure.

This is the halo-effect in action: people generally support startups and view a group of hard-working people toiling away at a new venture as admirable, and they will often be willing to tell your story if it relates to their audience.

6. Check in on the competition, and find what they’re lacking

You can’t create a great company blog without a unique selling proposition. It’s needed for your business and it’s essential for your content as well.

The best way to do this is to see what’s lacking over on your competitor’s blog.

One great example comes from the fine folks at StudioPress, where content creator Josh Byers creates some of the more interesting web-design content around.

Many other WordPress theme sites only update on new theme releases or new features. If they don’t do that, their blog posts are often uninspired or generic.

Taking advantage of this, Josh creates some really in-depth content like the Secret to Confidence with Color Design, a fantastic look (with some great visuals) on a topic that many rookie website owners struggle with.

While competitors are busy focusing on themselves, Josh and the StudioPress team produce a ton of content that helps readers, and that’s the best kind of content to write!

What gaps are your competitors leaving wide open? How could you come in and fill the void?

7. Collaborate to take things to the next level

One of the biggest advantages you have at a startup is that you have access to a lot of talented minds. You don’t need to rely entirely on yourself, as you do as a solo blogger.

I mentioned how effective resources can be, but these collaborative efforts can also be used to enhance your marketing.

One of my favorite examples comes from the excellent startup Grasshopper, which collaborated with Less Films in order to create a video entitled “Sh*t (Tech) Entrepreneurs Say”, a comedic spin in the same vein of the original viral video:

On your team you’ll likely have a multitude of talents, so if you are able to use different aspects like visual marketing, creating different kinds of media, or brainstorming other out-of-the-box marketing tactics, you’ll more than likely have the manpower to pull it off (this is a more difficult process if you work alone).

8. Don’t fall for the social media trap

Bring out the pitchforks! Yes folks, I said it: social media is by and large way less useful than its vastly superior counterpart: email.

Social media is great in that it lets other people share your content. That’s good for exposure, but it happens without you being there. While it is useful for your brand to engage on all of the essential social media platforms, you’re dooming yourself to failure if you aren’t placing emphasis on email.

Email is the greatest way to provide customers value, to drive consistent and reliable traffic back to your site, and to … oh yeah, make more sales.

This is especially true if your startup is in the enterprise software or B2B spaces, because email crushes social media in those areas.

So remember, it’s great to create a strong following on Twitter, but if you aren’t ending your funnel with email (and actual sales), you’re just wasting your time.

9. Simplify your SEO

Search engine optimization is a powerful piece of the content marketing puzzle, but it can be portrayed as a very complex subject, and that’s largely because at its deeper levels, it is.

For startups, the most important SEO rule is this: create content for humans, then target one keyphrase per article. That’s it.

Create blog posts that people will enjoy. Next, find a relevant keyphrase that you might be able to rank for that’s related to that article. After you’ve figured this out, you can contextually link back to that article from guest posts and other off-site features, as well as make headline adjustments in things like All-in-one-SEO to enhance on-site optimization.

Industry-leading content is made for people to read and enjoy, but by keeping search engines in mind can help get it in front of a larger audience.

10. Follow the leader(s)

Sivan Cohen recently did a great piece on Mashable entitled 5 Tech Companies That Get Content Marketing Right, and in it she outlined some of my favorite places to observe as I look to improve my own blogging efforts.

To make things a bit more concise, I’ll highlight my two favorites:

Here’s what I like about what they do…

For KISSmetrics: The focus was on creating industry leading content and large guides on complex topics within the field of marketing and analytics.

KISS also entered the scene early by focusing heavily on infographics that truly set the bar for design. They weren’t afraid to get very data-driven because they knew that’s what their customers wanted. It’s okay to ostracize some readers—you want the people that lap up the kind of content that relates closely to your brand, as those people will become your buyers.

For the Buffer blog: The two big highlights are the prodigious guest posting coming from Buffer’s main content guy, Leo Wildrich, and the subsequent pivot of the Buffer blog USP.

Leo has done a fantastic job with utilizing guest blogging to bring customers back to Buffer, and it’s also what got Buffer’s own blog off the ground (I should know—I was the first person to guest post there!).

Buffer also made a great pivot recently when it outgrew its original topic of unique Twitter tips. It now addresses an angle consisting of productivity, lifehacks, and customer happiness (since it now serves multiple social networks).

There are definitely other great examples to learn from, so pick a few favorites and start taking notes!

Blogging for startups

As you can see, blogging for startups is different than either blogging solo, or blogging for an established business.

How has your startup utilized blogging so far? Bloggers, have you ever worked with a startup? If so, what were your experiences? I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments!

Gregory Ciotti is the author of Sparring Mind and the content strategist for Help Scout, the customer service software for small-businesses that turns email support into a fast, easy and memorable experience for customers. Learn more about @HelpScout by watching this free webinar.

How to Blog to Build Your Product Sales Business

This guest post is by Amy Harrison of

This article is the final part of a three-part series on how your blog can feed different types of business models. In the previous two articles we looked at how blogging can attract customers who want to hire you to do your thing, or to be coached by you so they can do theirs.

The final piece of the puzzle is looking at one way a blog can be used to sell products to customers. These might be physical products, digital products such as ebooks, or events and training courses.

Writing my blog put my directly in touch with an audience of people who were interested in a subject that I could help them with: copywriting.

As I built readers I became more familiar with the struggles they had, and where they needed help. Their challenges influenced the creation of my first two products, which still sell today even thought I launched them almost 18 months ago.

There’s no way I would have been able to create products that responded well without having a blog to see which posts were popular, which ones received comments, which ones people shared, and which ones got the most traffic. Best of all, I didn’t have to wait till launch day to see if my product was something people wanted.

The blog didn’t just help me get a feel for what products to create; it helped sell the products without being pushy. Here’s how.

Using the blog to set the scene—preparing for a launch

Whenever I’ve launched or promoted a product, the blog has been an invaluable tool in the process.

Even though your products are geared up to help your audience, sometimes you need to raise awareness of the problems they solve, and your blog is a great platform to do this.

Planning your content back from the launch date, you can start brainstorming topics to attract the attention of your ideal customer. When I’m planning a product launch, I’m looking at the key issues and challenges that the product solves and then turning them into discussion topics for the blog. I might also release a couple of cheat sheets and two- or three-page templates or reports that will give my readers a sample of what the full product is like.

This does a couple of things. It raises awareness about the problems, but also the awareness of the “need” to fix those problems along with discussions as to why the problems haven’t been fixed before. That then allows you to introduce the benefits of a product that answers those challenges, questions and hesitations.

It’s like a long sales letter in pieces, except that you’re not pushing hard, you’re simply trying to attract the ideal customer for your particular product.

So, for example, if you were about to release an ebook or course on DIY car maintenance, what would be some of the key issues?

Perhaps the importance of having a properly maintained car, the safety aspects, or how much money you can save by a few home tweaks rather than having to rely on the garage all the time.

Then you could release a couple of checklists about the most important parts to keep maintained on a car.

You could also think about running a number of posts about why people don’t maintain cars properly: breaking myths like “car maintenance is complicated,” or “I’ll void my warranty if I start tinkering under the hood.”

While this is going on, you’re able to start attracting attention from people who are going to be your target market for this kind of product—simply by publishing strategic content on your blog.

Staying flexible

The beauty of your blog is it’s flexible, and you don’t need to decide from day one what your business model is going to be. If you’re still in work and want to launch your blog on the side, you can experiment, find your voice, and find your niche.

And once you do follow one path with your blog, you’re not committed—there’s nothing that can’t be changed. I use a combination of all three blogging models to generate income for my business, and I’m still tweaking and checking in with myself to assess where to place my focus. It’s not a “set and forget” process, but a constant state of evolution.

What I’ve learned the most in three years is that you can plan too much and have ideas about how you’re going to do something, but you learn so much more by just doing. So try things out, get going, and see where the blogging ride takes you in your business.

What about you? How do you promote your products through your blog? Do you use your blog to have seasonal launches or are your products evergreen? Let us know in the comments!

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

How to Blog to Build Your Coaching Business

This guest post is by Amy Harrison of

This article is part of a three-part series on how your blog can feed different types of business models. In the previous article we looked at how blogging can attract the attention of clients who want to hire you directly, for the right price. In this article we’ll be focusing on how your blog can feed a coaching business model.

Potential coaching clients are looking for two main elements when they hire you:

  • confidence that you can do what you say you do
  • the idea that they will enjoy working with you.

Whether you’re offering life coaching, technology training, or marketing consultancy, your client wants to feel like your service is worth their investment, and that you will be easy to work with.

And through your blog you can provide evidence of both.

Build confidence in your expertise

We looked previously at how writing on the subject of your specialty showcases your expertise. This also works well for coaching models because you are letting your audience do a little “try before they buy.”

Not only are they getting to know you and your personality, but they’re getting to sample what they can achieve if they worked with you one on one.

One of the most obvious ways to encourage your reader to move from visiting the blog to hiring you is by offering lessons they can use to see some results. There are plenty of blogs regurgitating generic theory, but if you can break down your blog post into specific lessons (with examples drawn from real coaching clients), you prove that you can do what you say, and build credibility by referencing people who have seen results through your work.

Obviously you won’t be able to name all your clients, due to confidentiality, but you can still use specific examples without revealing identities.

For example, if you’re a marketing coach, which of these pieces of copy do you think are more likely to build your credibility?

“To succeed in social media marketing you’ve got to get your business to stand out and be noticed. If you look different than your competitors, more people will visit your page and you can increase likes to your business…”

Or this:

Last week as part of a client’s Facebook marketing campaign we made a couple of tweaks to their advert and managed to increase clickthroughs by 20%, get 5% more phone enquiries, and generate two sales within the week. Here’s an example of the processes we used to analyse what to change…

What you’re doing with this style of blogging is proving you know what you’re talking about, and making readers more familiar with the way you work with clients (as well as building social proof!)

Remind them you’re a coach with a blog, not a blogger who sometimes coaches…

If you blog regularly, you might find yourself attracting people who were first looking for the kind of coaching that you offered, but then turned into a blog reader, got comfortable and forgot all about the coaching.

This can happen if people get so comfortable with a presence in their lives that they forget the reason they were there in the first place. (I’m getting married this year and in no way is that an analogy to how I think married life will be—honest!)

Sometimes you need to remind your readers that you can also work with them one on one if they need a little extra support. Otherwise your coaching business is taking a backseat to the blog, and you might find yourself with a large audience, being very popular, and getting all the retweets you can handle, but no sales.

If you offer purely free content, people may go to another coach simply because they forget about your services. You don’t want that to happen.

Every now and then, whether on your blog, or on your newsletter, remind your audience about the services you offer—but position that message in a way that’s relevant to them and their problems.

For example, if you’ve done a rocking blog post on the power of NLP and increasing confidence for presentations, let people know that you offer a specific “confidence for presentations course” that can be done intensively over two days by anyone with an upcoming speech, pitch, or presentation to make.

The key is to make it relevant to the topic at hand, and not simply a plug to sell your services.

Tip: Don’t be afraid of giving away “too much” in your content

I’ve worked with coaches who have been afraid of giving away too much about how they work. They feel that if they explain their processes online, people will just use the advice and not need a coach.

However, reading an article and working one on one with a coach is not the same. In my experience, the more content you publish on your expertise, the more people know, like, and trust you, and want to work with you directly.

Remember, someone who wants you to coach them doesn’t just want your knowledge of theory—they want access to you. They want the accountability that comes with having a coach. They want to be able to ask you questions directly rather than interpret a blog post. They want specific tailored answers that they can apply to their life or their business.

They want you. And your blog is a way of attracting them to you.

What about you? Do you attract coaching clients through your blog? Do you find it’s easier to sign up a new client if they’ve been a blog reader previously? Let me know in the comments! And look out tomorrow for the final post in this series, where we’ll look at blogging to support a product 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

How to Blog to Build Your Service-based Business

This guest post is by Amy Harrison of

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

Blogging Business Plans 101

This guest post is by Adarsh Thampy of

Do you know what the biggest mistake is when starting your own blog?

I’d argue that it’s probably lack of proper planning. At the starting point, you should consider writing a business plan for your blog.

“A business plan?” you might ask. “A blog is not necessarily a business!” I have guest posted over at branding personality about this topic. Blogging is a tool to promote your business or brand. So it’s essential that bloggers too have a business plan.

One of the successful entrepreneurs I respect the most, Neil Patel, is not a big fan of business plans, and he’s written about why you shouldn’t write a business plan in the first place. However, the plan I am talking about in this article is not based on any traditional models. Most people search the Internet to create a business plan and finally give up. It’s probably because they find it too difficult. I have to agree with this feeling: writing a business plan is no walk in the park.

But there is good news for people looking to start a blog, who want a plan that’ll help.

Unlike traditional business plans, the one you need to create for your blog is fairly simple. You don’t have to worry about structure, wording, or content. Your business plan will be short and easy to prepare.

Why do I even need a business plan?

All entrepreneurs know they need a business plan. But not many know why they actually need one. If I am talking on a high level, I can say that it is needed to acquire venture capital, optimize business operations, and so on, though I bet most bloggers never even remotely think of such things before they start a blog.

In layman’s terms, here’s why you need business plan:

  • It can give you an overall idea about your business (even before you start one). This makes sure that you approach blogging from a business perspective, and not just the mindset of content creation alone.
  • You will have a better understanding of the requirements of your business. (Can you provide consulting through your blog? Or how is it that you are going to make money from it?)
  • You’ll have a better overview about cash flow in your business. (Cashflow is nothing but how and when money comes in and goes out). How much are you going to invest in your blog, and how much do you expect it to make over a given period of time?
  • It encourages you to take a more realistic approach towards your business.
  • It helps you discover the challenges that lie ahead for your blog and the business associated with it.

How to prepare a business plan for your blog

Here comes the good part, and I must say that it’s actually fun too.

To create a blog, you’ll have to do research on your target market, figure out the operational and start-up costs, and so on. So why not document those things along the way, in a business plan that guides you, and provides a reference for the future?

Step 1: Business idea

In this section, you will have to note down what your business idea is. To make it more fun, write down how you actually zeroed down on your business idea. Make it short: don’t go over one page. In fact, try not to go over half a page.

Example: “My business idea is to start an online store which will sell superman merchandise to kids. I wanted to do this since my children love Superman toys and there isn’t any store that exclusively sells them online. I can entertain my kids as well as make some profit. I’ll use my blog to engage my customers and build a loyal following.”

Step 2: Business requirements

What does your business or blog require to get started? What is the timeframe in which you expect each task to be completed? It’s good to make an Excel spreadsheet and paste it into your business plan so you have all the information in the same document.

Don’t include costs here. When it comes to the timeframes you’ll need to factor in, be realistic. Optimism is good, but your business decisions needs to be based on facts.

Example for small blog business: “My online store will be ready in approximately three months’ time. I’ll also need the help of some web designers and developers to build my online store. Then I need to get a decent hosting for my business website.

“I will spend three hours a day on this project, as I have a full-time job as well. For my blog, I’ll write the contents. I’ll also hire an editor to manage the content of this site (and occasionally contribute to it while I am busy with my main business).”

  • “Designing the site: 15 days (I am smart so I’ll use the StudioPress theme for my blog—the one that powers
  • Coding for the site: 45 days
  • Tweaks: 5 days
  • Setting up merchant account with Google Checkout: 5 days
  • Getting necessary stock: 10 days
  • Planning for the launch: 1 day
  • Hiring people to maintain my business: 10 days”

“So that makes it a total of around three months for the site to go live. I’ll also need to put some money aside for this. I think I have it in my savings account. If not, maybe I’ll ask my wife really nicely.”

See how I broke down the requirements into smaller requirements? This makes it easier to adjust your plan if something goes off track. Also, don’t try to be formal in the way you phrase things. Your business plan is for your reference, not for someone else.

Step 3: Business model

There are many business models you can choose from. Normally for ecommerce stores, the business model is kind of traditional: you make a product, then customers pay for items they want. But in certain businesses, the model may be different. For your blog, your business model might be selling services, selling other peoples products for commission (affiliate marketing), or something else.

Whatever it is, make sure you have a very clear idea about how you are going to make money from your business. This is very important.

Example 1: “I’m going to use my online store to sell products. I will get product from <insert your vendor here> for a nice discount if I buy in bulk. Then I will sell it for a slightly higher price.

“My payment processor will be Google checkout. I have set to receive weekly payments and they will pay straight to my bank account. I will also sell customized services through my blog.”

Example 2: “I have a blog on health and wellness where I post articles on health-related issues. So, my main income source would be Google AdSense. Whenever user clicks on an advertisement on my site, I will get paid. The payment threshold is $100 and I will receive checks via mail when I reach that threshold.”

You need to document this business model very clearly. This will ensure that you do not lose focus on your end goal.

Step 4: Finance

In this section, you need to focus on the start-up costs as well as the running costs of your blog, and your business. Do some research and find out how much it will cost you to keep your online business going.

Again, this is very important as it will help you get an overview about business cash flow and profitability.

Example: “My online store will require the following to get started.

  • Domain: $30 (Registered for three years with Namecheap. Billing is every three years.)
  • Hosting: $85 (Registered with Hostgator for a year. They will bill me yearly.)
  • Design: $250 (Paid a freelancer for the excellent design. Was delivered in PSD format as well as JPEG.)
  • Coding: $3000 (Will pay another freelancer with good reputation on Odesk. Work will be completed in 45 days from start of payment.)
  • Miscellaneous costs: $250 (Includes a launch party for my friends.)

Total: $3615

Operational costs

  • Domain: $40 (Every three years)
  • Hosting: $85 (Every year) [Note: I may need to upgrade to a more expensive plan as my site grows]
  • Shipping costs: $5 (per shipment)
  • Promotions and discounts: Vary from 2% to 10% discount depending on the market conditions”

This is just a small example. In some cases the finance required might be very small; in some cases it’ll be huge. If you want to factor in your time as well, then you can come up with an hourly rate that reflects your work, and put it in the operational cost section.

Also note that the running costs will vary over time. When your blog starts getting popular, you might need to move to better hosting, or you might need to develop more features, which will require a larger investment of money.

Step 5: Business goals

In this section, you need to set business goals. Make sure they are achievable. Relax your goals a bit. It’s better to achieve a small goal rather than fail to achieve a big goal.

Example 1:  “I need to break even in one years’ time. In another year, I will expand my collection to include more toys. After three years, I will launch my own brand of toys. My goal for profits is 0% the first year (that is, I’ll break even), another 5% the second year, and increase by 2% in the coming years.”

Example 2: “Right now I am going to start with just my blog and offer consultation services. Later on I will be adding informational products. So I expect to break even in one year, get a minimum of 1000 subscribers and land two or three consulting gigs. I also want to set a monthly traffic goal of 25,000 site visitors by the end of year one.”

You need to constantly refer to your business goals so that you do not lose focus.

Step 6: Operational model

You need to figure out how you’re going to run your business. Is it a one-man show? Are you going to hire employees to manage certain tasks?

Example:  “Here is how I plan to operate my blog and the business associated with it:

  • Work part-time for three hours a day during the first six months.
  • Write content myself. My blogging schedule will be to post three articles each week.
  • Quit my full-time job and work 12 hours a day for my site for the next six months.
  • Allow guest posts from the sixth month onwards. Hire an editor to take care of managing the guest posts.
  • Hire an accountant to maintain records so that I can easily file my tax returns.
  • Hire marketing people to take care of site promotion, or do site promotion myself.
  • Teach my wife how I run this business and ask her to take on some of the roles.”

Step 7: Marketing strategy

Here you will define how you’ll market your business. Don’t go into depth while laying out your marketing strategy. Marketing strategies vary greatly over time. In the early 1900’s no one would have thought about marketing online. Yet, now online marketing is one of the best ways to get customers for your business.

Put in the main points and leave it at that—you can always revise the plans in more detail as you come to put them into practice. This will also help you evaluate how your previous marketing strategy helped you, and how the new one is doing.

Example:  “I am going to promote my online store in the following ways:

  • Use blogging as a powerful content marketing tool. Create awesome content and post it on my blog. This will attract a loyal audience.
  • Hire a good SEO consultant/learn SEO myself.
  • Ask friends to recommend my site to others.
  • Buy a small ad in my local newspaper about my online store.
  • Write articles on related sites for free, in exchange for a link to my site (guest posts).”

Step 8: Exit strategy

This is something not many entrepreneurs want to think about. An exit strategy is something you use when you want to close your business.

People don’t want to think about it because it spreads a negative vibe, and you don’t want anything negative in your business. However, you certainly need an exit plan.

Most entrepreneurs never make an exit strategy the first time, so if their business or blog isn’t as successfully as they’d hoped, they get disheartened and quit. If you have an exit strategy, you can save all the stress and exit gracefully. I have personally started around ten blogs and only few of them were successful. I lost several thousand dollars initially because I did not plan on a proper exit strategy.

Example:  “In the rare case that my business fails or I decide to quit my business, here is my plan:

  • I will try to sell my business online for what it is worth at the time.
  • I will cancel all services associated with my business.
  • Customers will be informed of the business’s sale well in advance.
  • I have kept a reserve amount in my bank account should anything bad happen.
  • I will take a break for one month before I venture into another business again.”

A blog business plan in 8 steps

So there you have it: eight steps and you’re done. Now you have a well thought out, personal business plans for your internet business.

I highly recommend that each year you review your business plan and create a new, more specific one for the coming 12 months. The old one should be kept to provide a yardstick against which you can manage your business growth, chart the change in strategies, and so on over time.

Have you created a business plan for your blog? Let us know how it’s helped you in the comments.

Adarsh Thampy is a blogger, inbound marketing consultant for small business and a SEO guy. He writes about getting more customers for your business over at You can add conversionchamp to the Google plus circle.

How I Took the Toughest Blog Niche, and Owned It

This guest post is by Dominick DalSanto of Baghouse.

Imagine you are called into your boss’s office and presented with the following assignment: head a new marketing initiative for your entire company.

You are to do so using a medium and associated technologies that you have absolutely no experience with, and the plan you are going to follow is one that a great many other companies have tried/are trying to do, only to see failure. You are to do all of this without any training or instruction of any kind.

A tough industry

Image copyright Cowboy in the Jungle

Needless to say, you might a be a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of the task assigned to you. I know I sure was when this very thing happened to me a few years ago. I found myself tasked with running a new online marketing strategy for our company, with little experience, and hardly a clue on how I was going to do it. Quite a daunting task for the new guy at the company.

Our company,, which sells industrial dust collection systems (a type of air pollution control technology), had decided that we needed to exploit of the overall lack of internet presence in our industry, and use that to our advantage by initiating a new online marketing strategy. This new strategy included a redesigned website with a focus on useful, practical content that would increase our company’s reputation as a industry leader, and bring in new customers.

My job was to figure out how we were going to do it, how to do it for a reasonable price, and then put it into action. Some of the challenges that lay before me included:

  • a lack of experience in both blogging and web marketing
  • my competition was fierce and included a Fortune Global 100 corporation with nearly endless resources
  • a very small potential audience/target demographic (industry professionals who deal with air pollution control equipment, and specifically dust collection equipment).

Where was I even to begin?

I found advice, but it wasn’t quite what I needed

As with most people in my generation, I figured that I would be able to learn all I needed about blogging by reading about it online. I did manage to find a number of great sites, such as Problogger and Copyblogger, among others. I also managed to run across Darren’s book about blogging, which also was an immense help.

Over the next few months, I read more articles about blogging than I can even number. Most of them had excellent tips for starting, maintaining, and promoting blogs for success. While some of these articles were very helpful (such as ones about SEO, design, software, etc.) I began to realize that a lot of this advice was not quite as applicable to my blog as it was to others with a more mainstream niche target.

For just one example, many articles talk about the importance of using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites to promote your articles, and to engage your readers. Here’s a cold hard fact: middle-aged industrial engineers (a large part of my target audience) looking for ways to decrease static pressure drop across their pulse-jet dust collector at the advanced manufacturing plant where they work are not the types that sit around and go looking for articles on Facebook while they are at work.

I quickly realized that while there was a wealth of valuable information on these sites, I needed to adapt it to my unique market, and combine it with more traditional industrial marketing methods to have any success.

Fast-forward to the present day, we rank #1 for five of the best keywords in our industry, and have increased overall traffic, traffic quality (more focused), and conversions (contacting us for a quote). Here’s what I did to take my blog from its beginnings to where it is today.

1. Learn your topic well enough to teach others

One problem I encountered was that to be a successful blogger, you need to know your topic well enough that your writing offers something valuable to your readers. Your articles can inform, they can teach, they can warn, they can do a lot of things, but you as the author need to know your niche well enough to identify what stories will fill these roles for your readers.

Despite working in the industry from a young age (it’s the family business), I, as the simple high school graduate, now needed to know enough about dust collection technology to write something with appealing value to guys with engineering degrees from MIT.

I needed to learn everything I could about the industry, but you can’t just go to Barns and Noble and buy a book on dust collection. I needed to find other ways to educate myself. This lead me to asking people at our company with decades of experience, finding other professionals on LinkedIn and asking them specific questions, and devouring whatever reading material I could get my hands on from websites, to trade publications, etc. In such a specialized niche as mine, tracking down this kind of information often proved exceedingly difficult.

In the end, my education did not happen overnight, but little by little I learned more and more and right away I started to use my still growing knowledge to write. Initially my writings were a little simpler, and harder to do, but I always worked hard to use what knowledge I had to prepare interesting, informative, and useful content for my readers.

Two years on, I still have a lot yet to learn, but I have gone from writing simple news stories to being featured in major industry trade magazines/blogs, and large environmental advocacy sites among others.

2. Do what you can for SEO, and recognize that pros can do the rest better

One of the most valuable of the many things I took to learning about when I started was search engine optimization (SEO). In many ways the potential SEO benefits to our main site were the driving force for establishing a blog in the first place. I learned quickly, however, that simply adding a blog to your site, and filling it with a few articles is not all it takes to shoot straight to #1 on Google.

As with the technical aspect of my niche, I made sure to subscribe to several of the best SEO sites out there, as well Website Magazine to learn all I could about SEO. After a while I became pretty knowledgeable about SEO and our site saw a marked improvement.

However, it is very important to avoid becoming overconfident in your own newly-acquired abilities. In time I began to realize that there was a limit to what I could accomplish with SEO, while still devoting sufficient time to content research and authoring, webmaster duties, as well as other marketing endeavors.

So we made the decision to hire an outside SEO firm to help us. After doing extensive research (well over 20 quotes) we settled on a smaller company out of Idaho that impressed us with their knowledge and vision for our site. We managed to negotiate an innovative agreement with them that would see us pay a reduced rate upfront, and then pay a higher total price only if we obtained a set number of goals (in our case, a first-page listing on Google for each of our five target keywords).

This allowed us to make the initial investment even with our tight budget. If we then should we see success from the campaign, we would be able to afford the higher rate. (I find it utterly laughable that SEO companies claim that they cannot offer any sort of promise that you will rank well after they take your money. What other business in the world could get away with such a brush off of responsibility for their work like that?)

The results that have come from this partnership are astonishing. With their skilled staff, they were able to correct several technical errors on our site that I had endeavored in vain to fix on my own (still working on learning web programming). Additionally, since they were taking care of the mundane SEO tasks (technical tweaks, press releases, etc.), I was able to focus my attention on higher value SEO initiatives (guest posts, high quality link exchanges, recommendations from other sites, etc.) which required more effort, more time, and an actual expert knowledge of the industry.

All of this has lead to us in less than five months improving three out of five of our target keyword rankings from an average of 60 to between #1 and #3 on Google.

3. Find creative ways to network

With such a tight focus, and a niche that in general has almost no internet presence, finding networking opportunities was by far the most difficult part of developing our site. To say it required extensive research to find other sites in our niche online is the understatement of the year. Besides other competitors, the number of directories that include our industry is limited to around five. After you get a listing there, there is really not much else out there for us to go for.

LinkedIn proved itself deserving of the accolades it frequently receives, by filling in the gaps in business marketing like it has. By creating a custom profile for myself, and for, we were able to introduce ourselves to others in our industry. Along with that, LinkedIn groups provided us with not just one, but a number of different forums to post our articles, find help with technical questions, and introduce ourselves as industry problem solvers to potential customers.

In fact, the most visitors we ever received was when I posted a link to an article on five ways to increase dust collector efficiency to one of the LinkedIn groups, and then asked for everyone to share their thoughts on it, and let me know what if any additional items I could cover in the next article in the series. It resulted in a traffic increase of over 200%, and brought me to the attention of several major players in the industry, which then lead to several offers to write for several important trade magazines.

4. Guest post like your life depends on it, and expand your topic’s reach

Of all the SEO/web marketing tactics out there, few provide as many benefits as guest posting. Guest posting simultaneously provides means for direct marketing relationship building, and immense SEO value.

Yet I had an extremely difficult time locating sites with a similar focus to mine that allow guest posts.

My initial efforts to post on the few larger, directly related industry sites (industry trade magazines, pollution control equipment directories, etc.) ended in failure because no one would take me seriously as I did not have an established record of content that was up to their standards, and more simply because I was a nobody. So this again forced me to adapt my methods.

I started looking for ways to broaden my articles’ reach, and make new connections between what we do at and the rest of the world. I then began seeking out a wider range of sites that I could then guest post on.

I began to write articles that focused on the environmental aspects of our work, how our equipment is playing a part in protection the environment (environmental advocacy sites), how it protects workers from health hazards at work (workplace safety and workers’ rights sites), and how the recent legislative developments (stronger governmental pollution regulations) would soon require upgraded dust collection equipment (political blogs, environmental and corporate law sites).

Keys to success in industrial blogging

It was not easy, it did not happen overnight, and the battle to be and stay #1 will be ongoing. Nevertheless, I believe that we owe our success to these four points:

  1. Study your topic enough to be able to inform, educate, and motivate your readers: You can do this by reading trade magazines, subscribing to blogs and sites, and asking others in your field and learning from them.
  2. Learn all you can about SEO, but find a pro to help, allowing you to use your time pursuing the most valuable things: You can do this by: Reading, and studying about SEO online, and in print. Find an SEO firm that fits your company size and scope, and that can provide their services at a reasonable price with reasonable expectations.
  3. Find creative ways to network with other industry professionals and potential customers: you can do this by digging deep to find directories, news outlets, and other sites that deal with your niche. Utilize LinkedIn to the full, by creating complete profiles for both personnel and the company, and by joining Groups that fit your niche.
  4. Use guest posting to increase your prestige, improve SEO, and attract new visitors: You can do this by identifying all blogs and content publishing websites in your niche, and broadening your scope of your content as much as possible to take advantage of “nearby” niches and their blogs.

Whether blogging about industrial dust collection systems or other less common niches, you will find success if you are willing to be adaptable, insightful and creative enough to take methods that have guided countless others to blogging success, and use them to find success yourself.

Dominick is a dust collection systems expert and author, having published numerous articles, whitepapers, and news pieces covering the benefits of baghouse filter technology in controlling industrial air pollution. California born, Chicago raised, in his spare time, he writes about travel and life abroad for various travel sites and blogs from his current home in Buenos Aires, Argentina.