The Role of Blogging in Your Business
All right, so now that we have gotten you to take some action I want to take a step back and kind of look at the big picture so you really understand what's happening here. I want to talk about the role of blogging in your business. So the biggest mistake that I see artists, designers, makers, crafters anyone in kind of this area making is that they tend to blog to attract their peers and not their customers. I am just as guilty of this as anyone I've been blogging, like I said for over ten years. It's really easy to fall into this trap. But mostly, this is actually due to a lack of understanding of the role that your blog plays in your marketing strategy. So as we know, or maybe we don't know but I'm gonna give you a little history lesson. So obviously blogging started from a really personal place. It was this online space, this online journal to talk about what you were doing and that's where blogging really started but then along the way, really smart business owners figured out oh ...
this is a really powerful tool to drive traffic to my website to drive people to my business. I think what happened, in kind of our world this craft maker, artists world is that we sort of got stuck in the middle, right? We were seeing these kinds of personal journals and it maybe felt like something we should be doing and then you're maybe seeing corporate blogs but you don't really understand how you can create that and so either you're kind of steering towards the personal or you're being way too markety or you're not doing it. Really, we want to understand the role that blogging plays in your marketing strategy and the types of content that actually drive customers to your products because there are certain kinds of content that are gonna work for you and there are certain kinds of content that are gonna be, quite frankly, a waste of your time. I don't want you to waste your time. So we want to talk about the kinds of content that are gonna work for you. So there's two big mistakes that I see people making that attract their peers. It's first off, just straight up treating your blog as a personal journal. Last week I went to San Francisco and I taught a class on CreativeLive. It was like dear diary, here's what I did this Summer. But because we're makers, most of our dear diary blog posts are usually about what we're making, right? It's about what's going on in the studio. So when you're writing that kind of content it's attracting your peers it's attracting your competitors. Then the other one, the other big mistake is process-based how-to's. We saw a lot of this, especially in the earlier days of blogging but it's a mistake that people still make, right? So somewhere along the way as you are trying to make the transition from personal journal to something that was used as marketing you heard someone say, "be helpful." Teach someone something, use how-to's on your blog. It was like okay well what do I know how to do? I know how to make my products. So I'm gonna make a how-to about how to make stuff, right? The only people who care about that are your competitors and your peers and people who are just gonna copy you. So we're going to avoid both of these things as we move forward. At no point do I want you to teach your competitors how to make your work. Unless you literally have a business where you sell classes, I want to be clear that's the exception to this rule. If your business is being a teacher of art or a teacher of craft then you get to put all the tutorials you want on here. But this class is blogging to sell your products so if you're trying to sell your products we're not teaching people how to make them and we're not treating our blog like a personal journal. There's still a place for this kind of content online. There is nothing wrong with having a personal blog. But it's not how you're going to sell your products it's not what your goal should be if you're doing that. So what role does blogging play in your business and marketing strategy? We talked about this idea of the blogging cycle, right? So ideally what happens is someone lands on a blog post clicks through to a product and buys the product or maybe we add in an extra step, right? So they land on a blog post maybe they hang out on your blog for a while they join the mailing list, they get an email they make a purchase. So some of those things happen. I should also be really clear here it's rarely as linear as this, right? This is like the most oversimplification that I could make maybe they've landed on your blog multiple times and it was the twelfth time maybe they kept seeing your stuff on Pinterest and eventually ended up there, right? It's not perfect but this is the general idea we're using it to move people forward on the buying process. So there are four ways that your blog drives sales. Number one is attracting new customers and I'm gonna talk in a little bit more detail about all of these. So number one, your blog attracts new customers and I think a lot of you are here because you want new customers. We talked right at the beginning, right? You want more traffic, you want more customers. So that's the first thing your blog can do. Second thing your blog can do is it can deepen your connection with potential customers. So whether that's someone new or someone you've been nurturing for a while it helps deepen the connection because even though we're not creating personal journals here at the end of the day, people are buying from you because you are an independent maker and artist they like to know that they're buying from a human because if they didn't want to buy from a human they would go to somewhere big box they would go to Forever 21 and buy crappy earrings let's be honest. They like that there's a person behind it. So we can deepen our connection. Your blog also drives sales by helping you overcome objections to purchase for both new and existing customers. So sometimes our customers have objections about why they think our products aren't right for them or why it won't fit in our lives or I like it but, right? I like it but I don't know what to wear it with I like it but I'm worried it's gonna be too heavy I like it but everyone else seems to look cute in scarves and they just look really weird on me. They have these objections, so we can use our blog to overcome these objections. The fourth way is that you can use your blog to build excitement for upcoming products. You can use it to pre-sell, essentially. So how does your blog attract new customers? First of all, helping you get found in search. If you're doing your blog right it's going to help improve search. It's also going to attract new customers by going viral or getting found on Pinterest. Remember at the end of the day Pinterest is just a search engine and I actually personally find it a much easier search engine to navigate than Google. I've had a lot of viral pins like double digit viral pins happen on Pinterest. So much easier, once you look at keywords on Pinterest you're like oh this is so easy. It also helps you attract new customers by getting shared on social media so it helps give your existing fans something to share. Then potentially even getting shared by word of mouth. The more things you're putting online the more chances people might talk about you because you're doing something interesting. Oh did you see that cool blog post? There's this woman that I follow, Tania she wrote this really interesting blog post, did you see it? So it helps people talk about you. So then posts that attract new customers can be posts that link directly to your products or it could be indirect content that introduces new visitors to your brand. So later on we're gonna talk about lots of different specific content types and roughly I throw them into two buckets ones that are about your products and ones that aren't. Pretty straight forward. So posts that attract new customers can do either, so this is a post that's written to attract new customers, right? 13 pieces of black jewelry from simple to statement that you can wear everyday. Designed to go on Pinterest or to get found this is a post that is meant to attract new customers and guess what? All those 13 pieces of jewelry are my products. I picked 13 because I wrote it around Halloween it seemed appropriate. (giggles) I was like Halloween, black jewelry it's gonna be all good, right? But throw a little list post in there. So this is gonna link directly but it was intended to get found. This post was also something that quite frankly not the best search title but I pulled an image together that I thought could potentially do well on Pinterest. So this is a piece of content that has nothing to do with my products but I know that some of my ideal customers really like art museums. I happen to know this because I sell in a lot of art museum gift shops, right? So I created a post that could potentially bring in customers who I think would like my product. So there's two different kinds of content that you can create here and we'll talk later about deciding which ones you want to create. I do far more of this kind than this kind but I wanted to show you guys the different examples. All right, so then how does your blog deepen your connection with potential customers? It does that first of all by showcasing your personality. If you look at my blog, you can see that I don't try to write like a marketer I try to write like a human who has stuff going on in her life, right? So you can showcase your personality but you can also give insight into your inspiration and creative process. So just because we're not writing how-to's about our products, doesn't mean that we can't share things like our inspiration because customers want to know where do you get your ideas, what are you looking at? Or they want to know that you're an artist that you're creative. So for instance, I did this post that was three books on art that are inspiring my studio practice right now. This is actually double duty because it shows a little glimpse into what's going on in my creative process but it's a pretty safe bet that if my customers like art museums they also like books about art so it's kind of a double duty post here, right? So I just rounded up three books and talked about why they were inspiring me in the studio. So to be fair, this type of content is yes also going to attract my peers, not saying that it's not but again, if my potential customers like art they're gonna find some interest in this and it's also gonna deepen the connection because they know that I'm a person thinking about creative ideas as I'm designing new work. Make sense? All right, so then how does your blog overcome objections to purchasing? First off, by just answering questions about your product. People have questions, what is this metal? What is this stone? What is this fabric? How do I care for it? I'll give you guys another tip. So let's say every week you did your social media post if every week you did a post about one question people asked you about your products. Suddenly now you have a ton of content, right? Think about the things that people ask you about your products. Those questions are objections they're things that keep them from purchasing. Then the other way is by helping your customers see how your products fit into their lives. So showing them that they can use this product that they want it, that they need it in their life. So this is an example. What makes the Contra Composition statement necklaces so comfortable to wear? Everyone kept telling me, not telling me the biggest thing that I heard from people with this collection when they saw it in person was I can't believe how light it is. Everyone was envisioning that it was heavier. So I wrote a blog post talking about how comfortable they are to wear. Also in this kind of category of overcoming objections but totally different was this post. So eight ways to wear one Contra necklace. So all I did was round up eight outfits to show, look at all the different ways that you can wear this one necklace that I realize is kind of expensive. So this was a blog post that I created and then for those of you who paid attention during my email class, this was the post that I created then emailed to my list and sold a necklace within like 45 minutes. So definitely overcame objections there and we're gonna talk a little bit later I do not, so let me just answer this question now because I know you guys have it. I do not email every blog post to my list I am selective about it but in this case I needed something to email to my list that seemed like a good option and it worked. All right and then the last thing is how does your blog build excitement for upcoming products? It allows you to preview upcoming designs you can also overcome objections before a launch. Sometimes we don't always know what those objections are going to be but if you know there are going to be some objections you can create some of those posts before you even launch and then by also allowing you to make a clear and actionable call to action. I am a huge fan, if you follow me on Instagram you know I tease out everything, right? I am all about building excitement and anticipation. But I also do it on my blog because at the end of my blog post I can put a clickable link that says join my mailing list. Can't do that on Instagram, it's a little harder. So you can use your blog to do that as well. So again, this is an example I did and if you go over to my blog you will see there's a lot of these, right? Coming soon, then whatever is coming soon. You'll notice that some of these types of posts aren't really the most SEO optimized titles, right? I'm gonna kind of address this upfront. There's nothing really search friendly about this but that's not this post's job, right? This post's job is to get my existing people excited. Now I also can then pin this to Pinterest where keywords are great on Pinterest but you can also sort of get away without them if you've got a great image so this also allowed me to get that image onto Pinterest sooner so that I could start bringing people back before the product launch. So I don't always worry necessarily about keywords when I'm in the other three categories. When I'm in that first category attracting new customers, that's really where you need to be thinking about your keywords, right? I think for most of us because our goal is to attract new customers that's where we're gonna be hanging out in blog land like we're gonna be really trying to create content that attracts customers and that's what I do with a lot of my posts as well. Those are the ones that are really keyword optimized. So any questions about the role of your blog? We're gonna go way deeper into detail on this content creation but I just want to make sure everyone is okay with kind of why we're doing this.
We have a question here from Carla who was just curious to know if you had a rough estimate of a good number of blog posts to have prior to opening a store? So if you're trying to establish a new store that you're creating should you have a certain amount of content that people can read before they buy your product?
I'm gonna say that the answer is no not really because here is, as I mentioned the one kind of challenge with blogging is that it takes a while to get whole so unless you're not launching for like another six months you probably want to start blogging just get a few posts up and then just start putting product up because ultimately at the end of the day if you can create a blog post that links to a product for sale it's going to shorten the timeframe of getting people to buy so there is no magic number. I would say don't feel like you have to write a ton of blog posts and quite frankly if you're ready and your shop is open open your shop and then just start blogging that's okay too. Linette?
I don't know if we're gonna cover this later but after you do write a blog post do you do anything additional to get the word out?
Yes and we have a whole segment on that later in the class (Linette chuckles) and not only do we have a whole segment about that later in the class, how to promote your posts but there is also a checklist that's a bonus checklist for purchase so we're gonna get to that.
Any other questions?
I have one more here that came in from Patsy Evans who said I know you're talking about maybe not giving an email for every blog post you write picking ones that you really like but Patsy says I write a short newsletter to get my subscribers to my blog. Is that a good idea? Would you recommend that? Maybe sending something out once a month to say hey if you didn't know, I have a blog, check it out.
So first of all, you know that I hate the word newsletter.
[Male Crew Member] Yeah. (laughing)
But what I will say is sometimes what I will do in a blog post is if it's a blog post without a ton of call to action or if it's a blog post about a product and let's say I did an outfit or not a blog post, an email about a product and I did, say an outfit post about that product I might do a PS that says, hey did you know I've got some styling ideas for this on my blog? So that's the way I would do that I don't generally like to think of a newsletter with multiple information but sometimes if it's relevant, I will do a PS directing my email subscribers to my blog. Great question. All right, so another question that I know comes up sometimes for those of us who may have been blogging for a while is what should you do if you have old content that doesn't fit the new goal of the blog, right? Let's say you're like all right Megan I made all the cardinal sins I blogged appealing to my peers maybe you even did a how-to post here or there what should you do with it? In general, my philosophy is just leave it there because chances are nobody is reading it anyway and you put the energy into it I personally kind of like to look back at what I did and be like oh look how young and naive I was, right? (audience chuckles) so there's no reason that you have to go through and delete this old content because really, nobody is looking at it. Nobody is finding a post titled "4 and 5" and this is probably not really going anywhere on Pinterest and I've never pinned it to Pinterest because I posted this before I even used Pinterest, right? So just leave it, it's fine. It's really not a big deal. So the other question that might come up is how do you manage these different roles of your blog in driving sales? Right so we talked about four different ways to blog which a lot of times means you're creating four different types of content, right? The things that attract new customers. The posts that attract new customers might look different than the posts that deepen the connection with potential customers or that overcome objections or that build excitement. So it can feel hard to manage these. First of all just both from a time standpoint like where should you be focusing your energy but then I know this is something I sometimes stress about which is if you look through my blog does it look like a crazy person wrote it? Does it seem like I don't have a consistent tone of voice? So one of the things to remember is that most visitors on your site are gonna land on an individual blog post and they're never gonna scroll through the whole thing. So I try to stop worrying about that, right? I write the posts that I need to write that week to move my business forward and it may or may not look different than the post before it and the post after it and that's okay because most people are rarely reading your blog in order. Even if they do wanna dive deeper they might dive into that particular category of that post or I use a related post plug-in so they see things that are most related to the post they've already landed on. So very few people are actually gonna sit and scroll your blog. But then the other thing is that time management piece, right? So in the beginning, you're probably gonna wanna spend most of your time using your blog to attract new customers. I think you're here because you want more customers, right? You want more sales is really why you're here but for those sales you need customers. So this is where you're mainly gonna be focusing your energy is probably on that first role of your blog and then you can sprinkle in the other posts because a lot of times what I see is people get too far into deepening the connection or overcoming objections or maybe even building excitement but if you don't have any new traffic ever coming in you're not really moving yourself forward.