Inspirational Warning: This blog post is a little long. Bear with me though if you’re in the mood for some blogging-for-handmade-business advice… there’s lots here.
When I first began blogging for my ornament business, I struggled big time. The beginnings of my blogging days are just plain embarrassing. I was honestly frustrated and overwhelmed even trying.
So, if you’re finding yourself in a similar place, I’ve written this post just for you. I even spent the last 45 minutes making this graphic for you to look at (because visuals are always nice):
This is the cycle I’ve come up with for blogging successfully, based on what’s worked for me. There are 4 pieces in the cycle: Your Foundation, Capture, Hook, and Get Found. When you’ve got these pieces working together, you’ve got success (and more sales).
Do you need all of these things in your own blog? Well, it depends on what you’re hoping to achieve. For me, successful blogging means:
- continual exposure to my shop and brand, and then…
- conversion of that exposure into leads and sales.
If that is what successful blogging looks like to you, too, then YES! These four elements working together will maximize the benefits of your blog. And, you can’t have 1 or 2 of these without the others.
- For example, all the awesome articles in the world (your “hook”) won’t mean a thing if visitors can’t find you.
- But, all the visitors in the world (“getting found”) won’t help you build your business if you aren’t capturing them (people rarely buy something the very first time they see it, after all).
- But, you’ll never get someone to hand over their treasured email address (your “capture”) if your blog sucks. It just ain’t gonna happen.
- Put all three of those things on top of shaky ground, and then none of them are going to last very long.
Can you see how it all works together?
Let’s drill it down a little more:
Your blog must be built on a strong foundation, that you have complete control over, and that can grow with you. So, you need to own your blog, on your own domain. This means not on Blogspot or WordPress.com or any of those guys. Guess who owns the blogs on Blogspot and WordPress.com?
Blogspot and WordPress do. They’re also the ones receiving the benefits from all the hard work you’re doing to get traffic.
Using a free blogging platform is like renting a room of a house from a landlord. Sure, it’s a little easier on the pocketbook, and a little less work too… but you’ve got zero control, and they could kick you out at any time.
But, when you own your own domain, you’re the homeowner and that means YOU’RE in charge. Even if the entire neighborhood falls apart around you, you still have a place to be. (And you won’t suffer certain “Death by Etsy” if they shut you down or kick you off because you accidentally broke a rule.)
That one reason alone is why I ended up switching from Blogspot to my own blog a few years back. But here are a few more reasons for you:
- so you’ll have full control over your blog’s design and customization.
- so your site address won’t have .blogspot or .wordpress stuck to the end of it.
- so you’ll look a million times more professional, plus build better branding.
- so that you have full ability to search engine optimize your blog.
I know the idea of setting up your own blog can seem a little overwhelming if you’ve never done it before. I promise you, it’s not nearly as scary as it may seem. WordPress actually makes it super simple.
(By the way, that’s WordPress.org, NOT WordPress.com. They are 2 separate things. WordPress.com is where you can go and set up a free account. WordPress.org is where you can get the software to put a blog on your own domain.)
You can get started on building your own site, with a step by step plan, right HERE.
Capturing your visitors.
I’ll just be straightforward…you need to be collecting the email addresses of your visitors. This should almost always be the primary goal of every page of your blog. (Have you noticed that it’s my primary goal on this site?)
Your visitors will almost never buy something from you the very first time they see you. They are unlikely to even make it to your shop from your blog on their first visit. But, if you’ve managed to collect their email address before they’ve flitted off to Facebook or wherever, you will now be able to continue to market to them forevermore. If you haven’t gotten that email, you’ve probably lost them forevermore.
(I’ve got lots more on this subject, including exactly why capturing your visitors is so important, right HERE.)
Hooking Your Visitors.
There’s just too much competition out there on the interwebs, to be slapping up junk and expecting people to want to read it.
People also don’t want to be plainly promoted to; they can sniff that out a mile away. And if they do, they’ll just be back-arrowing it right off your site as fast as they can, and you’ll never see them again. This means that you:
- can’t just post about what you’re selling.
- can’t just post stories about your life, no matter how exciting.
- can’t just post about yourself, period.
People ARE looking for stories… but they are looking for how those stories relate to them.
Every single person who finds your site or blog or shop or Facebook page, or whatever, is thinking about what they want in that moment. Not what you want. So, when you are writing a story on your blog, think about how you can tell it in a way that your readers can relate it to their own experiences.
In other words, don’t just tell your story at your reader; write as though you are talking with them. And remember, you are writing your blog posts for them.
Think about it: who do you find yourself magnetized to online? You are in that place because you feel an emotional connection to what they’ve put out there. Maybe they wrote a funny story about leaving their kid with a babysitter for the first time. The story itself might have been about them, but they wrote it in a way that connected to you because you really need a flippin’ night out yourself right now!
Just implementing this one little concept can make a huge difference in many areas of your business, not just in the kinds of blog posts you write. Try using this in your product descriptions on Etsy, too. Re-word them to describe not what your product is, but how much your customer needs it and will love it. What will it do for them? Example: When a potential customer sees your fabric flower headband on Etsy, your goal is not to make them think, “Gee, how did she make this?” You want them to think, “I’ll be the hottest chick on the block in this!”
If you can make these connections, I promise that you will see your relationships online absolutely blossom.
Get found by even more visitors.
Alright, last but not least… getting found by even more people. If you’ve got your blog all set up, and it’s primed to capture your visitors, and you’re writing stuff that people are just eating up… now you want to make sure that the new traffic keeps on a-coming, and that the cycle keeps spinning. And, yup, that means good new-fashioned SEO. This is an entire topic in itself, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
- That absolute most important thing you can do to get found in the search engines, is to optimize for what the people in your target market are actually searching for.
- Do your keyword research. (I don’t publish a single blog post without it.) The words that you think are your keywords are many times not the words your prospects are using. Use a keyword tool to find out what people are actually searching for. Wordtracker.com is a paid keyword service, but they have a free tool available to use, right HERE.
- Optimize your home page title, and the title of every page and post of your blog, with your keywords. If you are on a blogging platform that doesn’t give you full control over your page titles, or if the word “BlogSpot” is finding its way into your titles automatically, then that is just one more reason to high tail it over to your own blog with WordPress. Your meta titles are the most important thing you need to optimize on each page.
There is a lot of misinformation about SEO out there…and I know it can be a confusing topic. I’ve got lots more on the topic coming soon, so please be sure you are subscribed to my email list.
And, there you have it. Those are the four ingredients you need in order to bake the whole blog flavored pie. Each time you write a post, ask yourself:
- Is this content helping me to build my own business grand central station? Or am I sending my visitors and potential customers everywhere else instead?
- Am I doing everything I can to make sure that I capture each reader’s email address once they’ve landed on my blog? Did I make it obvious to them, with a specific call to action?
- Am I creating an emotional connection for my reader? Would someone want to stay on my website after they read this? Would they want to come back?
- If someone was looking for this kind of information in Google, would they be able to find it? Am I writing about things that my target market is actually searching for?
Are you missing any of these pieces in your own blog? Which things do you need to work on, and what has kept you from doing it?
Sandy FoxNovember 16, 2013
Staci Ann, I’m still struggling with setting up my blog: http://www.ahandfulofbrushes.com. For example, I want to add a form for subscribers to sign up. I tried to reread your ebook “build it right” but couldn’t connect to it. I put my name in the black box to be connected but I was told I am already listed. Is there a direct link so I can read your ebook again?
Thanks again for your continued help,
Staci AnnNovember 16, 2013
Sandy, I’m sorry about that. I will email it to you directly right now. The only thing is, there’s nothing in it about adding newsletter boxes. I will be offering a workshop soon, though, that teaches all of that step by step. In the meantime, I can certainly try to help you out if you have any problems with any specific parts. Are you already signed up with an email service provider, like AWeber, or Vertical Response?