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How to Sell More From Your Blog (Blog Critique: Steven Aitchison)

Steven Aitchison has a strong blog. Most people would regard his site as a success (in fact he claims it as the “biggest personal development blog in the UK) ..

  • It looks good (using a slightly customized Thesis install)
  • Steven is a good writer therefore the articles are excellent (in fact freelance writing is one of the services Steven offers)
  • He has a large blog and email audience, with nearly 7k RSS subscribers alone (dwarfing some blogging and internet marketing blogs)
  • Traffic is very healthy, and growing (again, dwarfing some blogs that provide traffic advice)
  • Comments are plentiful
  • His books are selling on Amazon

So why would he ask for a blog critique when he is doing so many things right? With stats like these, Steven could be giving advice rather than asking for it.

Fact is, all of us can use a set of fresh eyes. There is always something that could be improved.

In Steven’s case, he wants to take his blog to the next level, and crucially wants to earn more money from it.

Making More Money from Your Blog

As regular readers will know, one of the things I teach is the “ARC System” which stands for

  • Attraction – Getting people to come to you
  • Retention – Getting people to stay
  • Conversion – Getting people to take an action, usually a purchase

Steven is doing well with the first two, and wants to boost the last one significantly. The great news is, making sales is a very much easier prospect when you already have traffic and audience. Traffic means you have sufficient page views to test and tweak things without having to wait a year for results. Audience means that Steven has built up some trust, which means he will not have to try quite as hard to get his sales copy absolutely perfect.

Tell People About Your Products

Here is where we get to the “do as I say, not as I do” advice πŸ™‚

You see, I have a similar failing to Steven that hurts my sales but is likely hurting Steven’s more. We are both too “shy” about promoting our own products and services. (My issue is out of complacency – when I am already too busy I am less incentivised to go seeking new opportunties, in fact I am considering not taking on any more consulting work). Again though Steven is doing a lot of things right:

  • Book button for Amazon in sidebar
  • Mentions of freelancing in author bio
  • Banner for Amazon book after articles
  • Pages for life coaching and freelance writing

So what should Steven do differently?

In terms of the blog itself there are only minor tweaks I could find. A blog designer would be my suggestion if there is budget, just to give it a more unique look and to “warm” it up (very cold and blue right now). Also, remove Tweetmeme from pages, only have it on single articles.

Monetization options abound for this site, due to the traffic and email list strength, from advertising through to affiliate sales, but I do think the coaching and products should be the main focus. Affiliate sales would make a nice supplimentary income, help teach you about better product launches, and provide networking opportunities.

The main pressing issues are more around marketing:

Audience Targeting

The first issue I see is, who exactly is your audience and target customer?

You must understand the pressing needs of your audience before you can sell them something they really want. In my Authority Blogger Course I know some people have become frustrate with all the planning they must do, until they realize that if they go headlong into promoting and writing they ultimately fail. If you can not identify your clear audience and what you can do for them, how will the audience? Plus, if you do not know who your audience should be, then how can you attract more of them from the right places?

This is where having a lot of traffic can be a bad thing – it can cloud you to the fact that your traffic source is not providing buyers, just readers. If you want to make money then you need more people in the market for what you offer, and to be able to clearly articulate that offer to them in a way that they connect with.

Right now for example Steven is telling people to hire him as a freelance writer and addiction worker in the same sentence. He is selling a “make money with clickbank” product (confusingly not sold through ClickBank) beside an ebook on how to make friends. When you look in Google, one of the most popular articles recently was one on improving your eyesight … what is your site’s clear purpose?

You must give your products visibility

People need to know about your products and services if they are going to buy them. Steven has links to his products and services, but not always in context and not always in the most visible places.

Here is a little challenge for you. Steven has written 4 ebooks, go see if you can find them.

I will give you a hint, they are not on his “Store” page πŸ™‚

  • Mention products and services in articles
  • Have a page listing your products and services in one place
  • Put product mentions into blog emails, newsletter emails, guest post bio, and in your forum, email signatures

You will sell a lot more product from email than you will your sidebar due to banner blindness and also the fact that you can guide people over time to more detailed information.

Launch your products

As well as giving your existing products visibility, you must warm up your audience and give them repeat mentions so that people have an opportunity to hear about your product and all the ways it matches their needs.

Take a hint from Hollywood and their marketing, and movie trailers in particular. Film and comic geeks have been going crazy over every little snippet about Iron Man 2. Pieces of news dripped out over time, such as cast, possible plot points, and so on. Then there was the poster, then a teaser trailer, then a full trailer, then a more complete trailer … this goes on for months. I’m not suggesting you go on for months, a week or so can be sufficient.

  • Mention you have a product coming
  • Inform your audience about the product
  • Give firm details about the product features and benefits
  • Tell your readers why they need to act (eg. price increase, bonuses going away)
  • Answer questions and objections

Pre-Sell Products

Sometimes it is not enough to put a product on sale or even launch a product. Customers do not always know that they need whatever it is you are supplying. In cases like these you need to put your product in context to something that interests them. You can see an example of my pre-sell content here. The key thing is it must be a valuable article that happens to warm people up to what you are selling, it is not a sales letter.

Sell Your Products

A table of contents and a buy button is not enough to sell a product. Heck, it is not enough to give a product away. So you must explain your offer:

  • Who is the product for?
  • What problem does the product solve?
  • What does the product contain?
  • Why would this product benefit them?
  • What proof do you have that your product delivers and you are credible to sell it?
  • Why should someone buy this from you and not someone else?
  • How is this product better or different? What advantages does this product have?
  • In what format is the product delivered?
  • Why is the product good value?
  • Anything else you would need to know to buy or consume the product?
  • Why buy now rather than go away and think about it?
  • … and so on (This explains why sales pages tend to be long, the more complex the offer the more needs to be explained!)

Keep Your Customers

Once you have sold a customer a product or service once they are much more likely to buy than someone brand new to your site. There is a lot of long term benefit to encouraging people to become a repeat customer.

The problem with Amazon and any other physical product sold through a third party merchant is you do not know who is buying from you. Darren and I have the same problem with the Problogger book. You need to put something into the book so that customers can identify with you that they have bought so that you can keep in touch. So supply a bonus that they have to register for, etc.

When people raise their hands as customers, tell them what their next logical step is, and sell it to them.

Bottom Line

Steven has an excellent foundation for a great business. He just needs to decide which business he is in exactly.

Once you have a definite and unique positioning then you will not only sell more directly, but also be able to bring in JV partners to help you in your launches, selling even more product and also generating more traffic and visibility for yourself.

Actions to Make More Money:

  1. Who is your target audience?
  2. What do they want/need right now that you can supply?
  3. Where can you reach more of these people?
  4. How can you communicate your offer to them in a way they take up?
  5. What more can you offer the ones who do take your offer?

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Comments

  1. Chris – I think it’s about time I hire you again to do a blog critique. πŸ™‚

  2. Chris – I think it’s about time I hire you again to do a blog critique. πŸ™‚

  3. Not that I don’t like being sent money, but you do know Authority Blogger Course members get free blog critiques, right? πŸ˜‰

  4. Not that I don’t like being sent money, but you do know Authority Blogger Course members get free blog critiques, right? πŸ˜‰

  5. Hi Chris

    Thanks for this. I do have a major problem selling to my readers and my list; for fear of losing them, I guess. I have also asked the question; what can I focus on, in the personal development field, that others aren’t doing already and I think I have the answer. I will print this out and read it after work and go over every point as I am determined to take it to the next level. Thanks again.

    The Authority Blogger Course – did that include a public critique? I am just wondering if I would get a discount? As I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on this.

  6. Hi Chris

    Thanks for this. I do have a major problem selling to my readers and my list; for fear of losing them, I guess. I have also asked the question; what can I focus on, in the personal development field, that others aren’t doing already and I think I have the answer. I will print this out and read it after work and go over every point as I am determined to take it to the next level. Thanks again.

    The Authority Blogger Course – did that include a public critique? I am just wondering if I would get a discount? As I wouldn’t mind getting my hands on this.

  7. @Steven – As it stands right now the Authority Blogger Course includes periodical private critiques as part of the included support (and coaching calls for accelerator customers), plus on the mastermind calls I do critiques live, and also there is a peer critique process. I couldn’t do public critiques for all AB course members as my blog would be full of just those each time I launch. We have a mastermind call to arrange for January actually, that reminds me πŸ™‚

  8. @Steven – As it stands right now the Authority Blogger Course includes periodical private critiques as part of the included support (and coaching calls for accelerator customers), plus on the mastermind calls I do critiques live, and also there is a peer critique process. I couldn’t do public critiques for all AB course members as my blog would be full of just those each time I launch. We have a mastermind call to arrange for January actually, that reminds me πŸ™‚

  9. I suppose that was obvious, I wasn’t thinking, your blog would have been critiques every day πŸ™‚

    You’ve already given me some ideas so will be working hard over the next few days and months.

  10. I suppose that was obvious, I wasn’t thinking, your blog would have been critiques every day πŸ™‚

    You’ve already given me some ideas so will be working hard over the next few days and months.

  11. I can’t read Steven’s blog because everytime I click on the link I get a prompt that says “Internet Explorer cannot open the following website…” and gives the link. Strange. I’d love the read it. I don’t know what’s going on.

  12. I can’t read Steven’s blog because everytime I click on the link I get a prompt that says “Internet Explorer cannot open the following website…” and gives the link. Strange. I’d love the read it. I don’t know what’s going on.

  13. Hi Chris (and Mark).

    Read this with interest – think its a very good point on pre-selling that many bloggers miss. This has been a concept kicking around in advertising for some time – I did a blog post a while back on some uses of the “tease and reveal” – see http://bit.ly/I2rE2

    Sometimes dripping out information via Twitter with small increments of info can lure folks in as well. I’d also suggest that Mark takes a look at some conversion analytics whether that be heat mapping or whatever, to really get a feel for the best solution for the blog to turn visits into sales.

  14. Hi Chris (and Mark).

    Read this with interest – think its a very good point on pre-selling that many bloggers miss. This has been a concept kicking around in advertising for some time – I did a blog post a while back on some uses of the “tease and reveal” – see http://bit.ly/I2rE2

    Sometimes dripping out information via Twitter with small increments of info can lure folks in as well. I’d also suggest that Mark takes a look at some conversion analytics whether that be heat mapping or whatever, to really get a feel for the best solution for the blog to turn visits into sales.

  15. lot of good ideas I can use. thanks

    don
    spiritnewsdaily.com

  16. lot of good ideas I can use. thanks

    don
    spiritnewsdaily.com

  17. Hi Chris,

    Like you, I am a little “shy” about promoting myself on my blog, however, this year I’ve set the intention to make more money and provide more value…so this is an excellent reminder that I need to re-design my blog to attract more money.

    Thanks so much for an excellent critique πŸ˜‰ I’ve been following Steven for awhile now…

  18. Hi Chris,

    Like you, I am a little “shy” about promoting myself on my blog, however, this year I’ve set the intention to make more money and provide more value…so this is an excellent reminder that I need to re-design my blog to attract more money.

    Thanks so much for an excellent critique πŸ˜‰ I’ve been following Steven for awhile now…

  19. Are you promoting Steven or his blog?

  20. Are you promoting Steven or his blog?

  21. Chris – Actually, I knew that but forgot… Can I pay you anyhow and you can donate the money to a charity?

  22. Chris – Actually, I knew that but forgot… Can I pay you anyhow and you can donate the money to a charity?

  23. Hi Chris, thank you for this. You just helped me a few steps forward in my own process.

  24. Hi Chris, thank you for this. You just helped me a few steps forward in my own process.

  25. @Steven – Glad to hear it was useful πŸ™‚

    @Carole – Weird but I can’t reproduce the issue as I don’t have IE on my computer

    @Paul – Cool, I will check your link out πŸ™‚

    @don – Thanks πŸ™‚

    @Maria – Glad you liked it πŸ™‚

    @Yusuf – It is a critique of Steven’s blog … Not sure what you are asking …?

    @John – Let’s talk offline πŸ™‚

    @Erno – Cool, hope it helps πŸ™‚

  26. @Steven – Glad to hear it was useful πŸ™‚

    @Carole – Weird but I can’t reproduce the issue as I don’t have IE on my computer

    @Paul – Cool, I will check your link out πŸ™‚

    @don – Thanks πŸ™‚

    @Maria – Glad you liked it πŸ™‚

    @Yusuf – It is a critique of Steven’s blog … Not sure what you are asking …?

    @John – Let’s talk offline πŸ™‚

    @Erno – Cool, hope it helps πŸ™‚

  27. Some really good tips πŸ™‚

  28. Some really good tips πŸ™‚

  29. Thanks Chris for the critique. There’s so much we can learn about our own blogs here, and what needs to be done right.

    I have to say unlike you and Steven, I’m not shy about promoting my products and services since my blog focuses on teaching people to make money online. I feel if I cut out the self-promotion, then it won’t be much of a business.

  30. Thanks Chris for the critique. There’s so much we can learn about our own blogs here, and what needs to be done right.

    I have to say unlike you and Steven, I’m not shy about promoting my products and services since my blog focuses on teaching people to make money online. I feel if I cut out the self-promotion, then it won’t be much of a business.

  31. Thank you for giving such a comprehensive blog critique for me to learn from. It really goes to show how much more we can improve from another person’s perspective.

    We all see the same thing when we visit Steven Aitchison’s blog but we all have a different perspective.

    If I may add a critique (from my perspective) for Steven’s blog, it would be to change the “Get CYT Free” button. Somehow, it looks like an already pressed buttons in all three browser that I tried. Worst in IE. The image of the book is half covered.

    Maybe it is just me, but it makes me feel uncomfortable and it doesn’t look much like a button that I should take an action on.

  32. Thank you for giving such a comprehensive blog critique for me to learn from. It really goes to show how much more we can improve from another person’s perspective.

    We all see the same thing when we visit Steven Aitchison’s blog but we all have a different perspective.

    If I may add a critique (from my perspective) for Steven’s blog, it would be to change the “Get CYT Free” button. Somehow, it looks like an already pressed buttons in all three browser that I tried. Worst in IE. The image of the book is half covered.

    Maybe it is just me, but it makes me feel uncomfortable and it doesn’t look much like a button that I should take an action on.

  33. I am not into selling products yet but seeing articles like these gives me an idea on the importance of proper foundation and propagation of the things that we want to sell.

  34. I am not into selling products yet but seeing articles like these gives me an idea on the importance of proper foundation and propagation of the things that we want to sell.

  35. You know something Chris, this has really helped me although I don’t sell anything of my own. My site is a blog improvemnt news agg and I make affiliate sales via email subscription.

    It would be great if you could specify anymore conversion technique for email sales.:)

    Thanks in advance.

  36. You know something Chris, this has really helped me although I don’t sell anything of my own. My site is a blog improvemnt news agg and I make affiliate sales via email subscription.

    It would be great if you could specify anymore conversion technique for email sales.:)

    Thanks in advance.

  37. @Carole & Chris,

    Same here. With IE7 I cannot open Steven’ site. Like your blog post and have saved it for future references but frustrating that I cannot open and read Steven’s site.

    Ciao Madeleine

  38. @Carole & Chris,

    Same here. With IE7 I cannot open Steven’ site. Like your blog post and have saved it for future references but frustrating that I cannot open and read Steven’s site.

    Ciao Madeleine

  39. Hi Chris,

    I asked David Risley the same question, but interested in your view.

    How do you decide how to price a product when you start to monetize.

    My site has grown really fast in 11 weeks and in April I want to monetize it, but how do you decide what to price the products at?

    I’m thinking low is good to sell more, but too low could have a negative effect? Interested in your opinion

    Added by Chris: First look at the norm for your niche, second start low and put the price up in stages until your sales slow. Your first product should be less about profit and more about establishing your percieved value in the marketplace so people know that you offer good stuff, grow your testimonials, reviews (and optionally, affiliates), and anticipation for your next product.

  40. Hi Chris,

    I asked David Risley the same question, but interested in your view.

    How do you decide how to price a product when you start to monetize.

    My site has grown really fast in 11 weeks and in April I want to monetize it, but how do you decide what to price the products at?

    I’m thinking low is good to sell more, but too low could have a negative effect? Interested in your opinion

    Added by Chris: First look at the norm for your niche, second start low and put the price up in stages until your sales slow. Your first product should be less about profit and more about establishing your percieved value in the marketplace so people know that you offer good stuff, grow your testimonials, reviews (and optionally, affiliates), and anticipation for your next product.

  41. Hey Chris,

    I think what you note in regards to bloggers and their inability to effectively monetize their blogs is spot on. As someone who considers himself a niche marketer and primarily drives traffic via organic search rather than social platforms like blogs, I think that bloggers suffer from several things.

    I hope you don’t mind if I add a few things here:

    1. Too much focus on Socially driven platforms and not enough focus on getting search traffic- As a blogger (if only for a vanity blog), I can see where someone could get caught up in the social side of blogging. After all, for most of us, it is simply in our nature to want to interact. However, search and ppc traffic will almost always out-do social traffic, conversion wise, because usually search traffic is looking for something in particular, RIGHT NOW.

    The RIGHT NOW audience will almost always convert better and make more money for the blogger. The challenge is figuring out how to get the best of both worlds….to create your own little brand that ranks for the keywords that are within your market.

    Get them both and the blogger will sell, build their readership (which is wonderful in regards to proofing and credibility) and create a semi-passive stream of income from their blog.

    Social traffic, on the other hand, is more like subscribing to a magazine…you may become informed or enlightened in regards to something but at best, usually, most sales are “impulsive.”

    2. The other thing is what I call Blogger’s regret- A blogger who suffers from this is worried that if they start to overtly sale things on their blog, that they will alienate their audience and lose readership. As a marketer, I don’t understand it but for most bloggers it is a conundrum.

    Most bloggers solve this problem with a “sponsored listing” which is nothing more than a very soft sell. Obviously, there are better approaches and many bloggers would benefit from simply watching what marketers in general do with their blog (including yours) in terms of monetization.

    For example, if you are a blogger who is worried about alienating your audience, rather than overtly advertise a product, you could soften the tone of your “pitch” with a review.

    Another model would be to not directly sell anything on your website but your brand with the primary focus leading the visitor to join your mailing list AND then sell to them directly.

    If straight up pitches scare a blogger, they can instead use the list to create a softer sale….such as creating over the top content for your subscribers with a link to something you are promoting as the only link in the email that is relative to the content you have created.

    Anyway, sorry to “hi-jack” your post. I just thought it was good enough to merit a little feedback and felt like I could add to the discussion.

  42. Hey Chris,

    I think what you note in regards to bloggers and their inability to effectively monetize their blogs is spot on. As someone who considers himself a niche marketer and primarily drives traffic via organic search rather than social platforms like blogs, I think that bloggers suffer from several things.

    I hope you don’t mind if I add a few things here:

    1. Too much focus on Socially driven platforms and not enough focus on getting search traffic- As a blogger (if only for a vanity blog), I can see where someone could get caught up in the social side of blogging. After all, for most of us, it is simply in our nature to want to interact. However, search and ppc traffic will almost always out-do social traffic, conversion wise, because usually search traffic is looking for something in particular, RIGHT NOW.

    The RIGHT NOW audience will almost always convert better and make more money for the blogger. The challenge is figuring out how to get the best of both worlds….to create your own little brand that ranks for the keywords that are within your market.

    Get them both and the blogger will sell, build their readership (which is wonderful in regards to proofing and credibility) and create a semi-passive stream of income from their blog.

    Social traffic, on the other hand, is more like subscribing to a magazine…you may become informed or enlightened in regards to something but at best, usually, most sales are “impulsive.”

    2. The other thing is what I call Blogger’s regret- A blogger who suffers from this is worried that if they start to overtly sale things on their blog, that they will alienate their audience and lose readership. As a marketer, I don’t understand it but for most bloggers it is a conundrum.

    Most bloggers solve this problem with a “sponsored listing” which is nothing more than a very soft sell. Obviously, there are better approaches and many bloggers would benefit from simply watching what marketers in general do with their blog (including yours) in terms of monetization.

    For example, if you are a blogger who is worried about alienating your audience, rather than overtly advertise a product, you could soften the tone of your “pitch” with a review.

    Another model would be to not directly sell anything on your website but your brand with the primary focus leading the visitor to join your mailing list AND then sell to them directly.

    If straight up pitches scare a blogger, they can instead use the list to create a softer sale….such as creating over the top content for your subscribers with a link to something you are promoting as the only link in the email that is relative to the content you have created.

    Anyway, sorry to “hi-jack” your post. I just thought it was good enough to merit a little feedback and felt like I could add to the discussion.

  43. Hi Chris,

    Really great article. Thank you! This year for me is all about how I can improve and how I can grow in developing my business online. I am still fairly new to this. I do have a blog and I do have a product, I only learned how to do those in the last year. Now I need to learn about the rest of it.

    Your Authority Blogger course sounds like it would be a good one for me to consider in the future.

    Kind Regards

    Jacinta πŸ˜€

  44. Hi Chris,

    Really great article. Thank you! This year for me is all about how I can improve and how I can grow in developing my business online. I am still fairly new to this. I do have a blog and I do have a product, I only learned how to do those in the last year. Now I need to learn about the rest of it.

    Your Authority Blogger course sounds like it would be a good one for me to consider in the future.

    Kind Regards

    Jacinta πŸ˜€

  45. This is excellent advice and Steven I didn’t know there were 4 books! Oh and how about a book on how to write and publish a book. You certainly have the experience and readers for it!

    Anyway I can’t wait to see your soar even higher. Let me know how I can help in any way.

    Excellent advice Chris…bookmarking this page.

  46. This is excellent advice and Steven I didn’t know there were 4 books! Oh and how about a book on how to write and publish a book. You certainly have the experience and readers for it!

    Anyway I can’t wait to see your soar even higher. Let me know how I can help in any way.

    Excellent advice Chris…bookmarking this page.