I’ve Googled every version of “blogging tips” known to humankind.
I’ve read thousands of blog posts and follow dozens weekly, studying the structure and strategies.
I have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication-based fields.
But the best stuff didn’t come from ANY of those places.
Where is this fountain of wisdom, you ask?
We’ll get to that later.
First, the meaty stuff – what did I learn?
Google will never share your content, subscribe or buy anything from you.
As bloggers, we seem to forget this little insight. We celebrate over Google rankings, cheer over social media shares, and high-five over traffic boosts.
We often forget that as cool as it is to see our blogs on the front page of Google search results, what pays the bills (and our salaries) are the conversions.
Amidst all the number crunching, the readers who become customers are the ones that justify our job’s existence.
Certainly there are dollars to be made from advertisements in the sidebars and networking connections through members of the blogging community, but if bloggers aren’t running their own business, they need to justify their paycheck to the higher-ups.
I’d love to get paid to sit around and write about Die Hard (maybe three times), but unless I can justify that my content is driving customers to the business, I’m going to have a whole lot more time to write about Die Hard… without the “getting paid” part.
Figuring out how to measure ROI can be tricky, but it’s an important conversation that bloggers need to have with their employers. Not only do you want to be able to show concrete results for your efforts, but you also want to know what works and what doesn’t.
What I took from Robert’s advice: You can’t be accountable if you’re not counting anything.
*This piece of advice was so important to me that I even forgave Robert’s neglect of the Oxford comma.
The role of salespeople has changed a lot since the emergence of the internet. Before they had the job to inform customers about product features and prices, but this has largely become redundant as people already know that. The information is up for everybody to see.
Instead today’s salespeople should take on the role of a consultant, finding ways to cut costs, optimize the production process or increase revenue. It’s about discovering needs and presenting tailored solutions.
While I firmly believe that electronic spellchecking programs are making us stupider, I believe that technology on the whole is making us smarter… customers, at least.
Whether you use a Shop Savvy app on your smart phone or simply search Google for an exact product name, price comparison is easy and immediate.
All products being equal, the lowest price wins, right?
Wim gives those who are unable to compete price-wise an opportunity to stay afloat and even thrive in their industries. In fact, his analysis of the role change for salespeople is a fantastic tenet to remember for blogging, copywriting, and all other written communication with customers.
Bottom line: Solution-based copy will trump a product or service push every time.
After all, as Theodore Levitt said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”
What I took from Wim’s advice: If an online form can do your job, an online form will soon have your job.
… Good writing doesn’t make readers feel stupid. It makes them feel smarter for having read it; it finds a way to include them. That’s how you grow an audience. That’s how you make believers out of naysayers. That’s how you make more sales.
Jen and I had a delightfully productive disagreement over Groupon’s ad copy. While I thought the copy was generally clever and engaging, she believed it was an excellent example of poor writing.
Our conversation evolved into the concept of taking risks in good writing. For example, a pop culture reference will make some people laugh extra hard; it will leave others in the dark. The key is making sure your target audience is in that first group.
Good writing – that is to say, well-written copy directed at an ideal audience – should be inclusive, not exclusive. Making references to sources your audience scratches their heads over means a) you picked something too obscure or – more likely – b) you don’t know your audience. Either way, you risk losing engagement.
However, that is not to say that risk-taking in writing is ALL bad. You just need to be extra broad or extra careful: the source needs to be familiar and appealing to your target audience.
For example, the hottest new “children’s” book is by newcomer Adam Mansbach and is elegantly titled, Go the F**k to Sleep.
The language in this book speaks to specific kinds of parents: the ones who are willing to admit to the aggravations of raising kids instead of getting lost in the poop-filled miracle of it all.
Mansbach wrote to his audience: other loving parents who are running on just a few hours sleep per week and need a good laugh.
The expletives will alienate some parents, but its unique take on an old trope has excited others enough to push it to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list in both Humor AND Parenting & Families.
What I took from Jen’s advice: Write to include your target audience, not the whole world.
The Secret Fountain of Business Blogging Tips
All right, you’d love to know where I got all this advice, right?
Here’s my dirty little secret, but you have to promise not to tell ANYONE.
That’s right, these gems were all provided to me in response to comments I had left on blog posts. In Robert and Wim’s cases, they were replying to my comments on their own posts, and in Jen’s case, we met in the comments section of a Copyblogger post.
I didn’t go around asking for advice, but simply engaging a blog author provided me with content specific to my feedback almost immediately! It’s like getting your own personal little blog post from anyone you want, and I highly recommend getting out there and starting to comment.
Why not start now? Tell me what you think of blog commenting as a strategy for getting valuable advice and share some advice you’ve received through your writing career, either through commenting or in other unlikely places.
Until next time, keep expanding your brand!