This guest post is by by Kevin Cullis of MacStartup.com.
“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” —Benjamin Franklin
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime; sell him fishing supplies and a fishing guide and you’ve got a business.
Most of us start a blog with not much thought other than just to begin writing. But at some point you say: “I’m putting in all of this time into my blog, how do I make money from it?”
There are two parts to any business, including blogging: there’s the craft of your business (graphic art, doctor, lawyer, blogging), then there’s the business of your craft (making a profit from your craft).
Starting a blog first requires answering three main questions:
- Why are you writing a blog, what is your purpose for writing?
- How will you get it done, what specific actions will get you the results you want?
- What will be your expected results of writing your blog?
So what do blogging and fishing have in common? Let’s take a quick look at points 1 and 3, and a longer look at 2.
Question 1: Why?
Ask anybody if they’ve been fishing, and most people will say “yes.” However, when asked, “what are the steps to take to go fishing?” most people are stumped.
Blogging is no different. While you can start a blog and begin writing posts, it’s much like casting your fishing line in the nearest puddle, pond, or stream with no fishing lure, bait on your hook—or even a hook. You need a good reason to be out there.
Question 3: What?
If you’re fishing for fun or the love of fishing, that’s one thing: grab some fishing equipment and hang the “gone fishing” sign up. If you’re fishing because you’re hungry, this takes on a whole new perspective and you’ll hopefully put in some serious thought, or search for answers to help get food onto your kitchen table.
Getting results happens in two ways:
- taking action and learning from your mistakes and finding out what is the better way to get results, or
- learn from others and their mistakes, thus cutting down the time it takes to get the results you want.
Question 2: How?
Learning the how means having the right answers, and implementing them in the right sequence, to increase your chances of catching your fish (writing your blog). Even then, there are no guarantees. So here are those steps to a more successful blog (and catching fish):
- Step 1: Who is your ideal customer/blog reader? Describe who your ideal customers are, and in some detail. You have to know the “fish” that you are fishing for, whether that ideal fish is salmon, tuna, or rainbow trout. If money is no object, you can pay the money to travel to Alaska and begin fishing for salmon. However, most of us don’t have that kind of budget, so we grab a fishing pole and head to the nearest fishing hole to cast a line out. Blogging is no different in that you need to know who your audience is and have a small enough niche to become the expert that everyone goes to.
- Step 2: What problem does your solution/blog solve? What is your audience looking for? What is their ideal solution? In other words, what are your “fish” hungry for? What a salmon eats depends on age, species, and location, and fishing is about finding the right four or five baits or lures that work to increase your chances of catching salmon. Blogging means providing answers your audience is looking for. You can write blogs and guest blogs all day long with no focus, but you’ll go business- or results-hungry if you don’t watch the results of your blog and make the necessary changes. Sometimes blogging, much like fishing, requires trial and error to become successful. I blogged about how to create initial and drop caps in iWork Pages for my book because I worked out the solution, and within weeks it became one of my top viewed posts. If you don’t cast the line, you’ll never get a “bite.” Keep testing and changing to get results you want.
- Step 3: Where are your customers/readers? Where do they visit, hang out, and connect with other readers of their tribe of offline and/or online connections? You have to know where are the ideal locations or “awesome fishing spots” for your customers/readers. Try fishing for salmon in the backwoods of Kentucky and you’ll go hungry. Write a guest post about Typepad for a WordPress web site and you’ll be rejected because it may not connect with their readers. So, fish where your ideal fish are.
- Step 4: Why would your customer choose your product/blog over a similar one? What makes your product different, better, or makes it stand out? Choose the best “bait” at your local fishing store or what’s in your tackle box that works for salmon. Your blog “bait” is having an ideal message for ideal reader’s problem. What are the differentiating benefits of your blog from others? What’s your hook?
- Step 5: How do your customers make buying decisions about your product? What makes them tick about how they choose your product? You have to have the ideal technique to lure your “fish.” Just plopping the hook into the water may not attract a fish. It takes a different technique to “hook” each type of fish. Blogging is no different in that your audience is different from those that read books or magazines. Google Analytics gives you the advantage to change your content overnight to meet your audience’s “starving” needs.
- Step 6: When is the best time to promote your product to your customer? How often do you have to talk to your customer to get them to consider and then buy your product? You have to know the ideal time to “cast” your line to “hook” your fish. Fish have specific times they feed, which is no different to marketing during holidays, birthdays, or special events like weddings. In this case, as with most any audience or customer, you need to cast your line when they are ready to buy, not when you’re ready to sell. The great thing about blogs is the internet guest blog “chum” you can spread around the internet “waters.” Then upload a relevant post (casting your line and lure) and watch the “chum” guest post lead traffic to your blog site.
These six W’s—really five W’s and one H—are the basis for creating a successful blog. While it is easy to “spray and pray” your blog’s content with the hope of being successful, it’s better to watch your post results to see where your “hungry” blog reader’s are taking you. If you get a blog post comment nibble, “Hook ‘em, Dano!”
Kevin Cullis is a former US Air Force officer and considers himself an Entrepreneur, Mac Evangelist, Business Geek, Husband, published author of a Mac business book, readaholic, analytical, balding. He is the founder of MacStartup.com.