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