Though it’s often touted as a “get rich quick” scheme, blogging successfully takes a lot of work. It takes time to build up a readership and plenty of effort to deliver the consistently good content that will keep these viewers coming back for more. Add to that the tremendous competition in the blogosphere, and you’ll see why it’s understood by internet marketers that most blogs require at least 6-12 months of continuous commitment before they start to show results.
However, when they do start to take off, the rewards can be huge. Don’t believe me? Just ask the thousands of A-list bloggers that earn a full-time living (and in some cases, much, much more) from their sites!
Here’s why this type of business can be so lucrative…
1. Blogging builds your personal brand
It’s no secret that when it comes to selling products – whether they’re your own creations or affiliate promotions – it’s easier to sell to repeat customers than it is to identify and convert new ones. And guess what? It’s a heck of a lot easier to build a base of repeat customers when you’ve used a blog to establish your identity and personality.
Yes, having a traditional, static website can help you to share some basic information about yourself through the use of an “About” page. But blogging takes that exposure to the next level by allowing your readers to get to know you, your thoughts and your opinions personally. As long as you’re careful to craft a consistent message from post to post, blogging can help you to form a defined brand that your readers can connect with, leading to more sales over time.
People like buying from defined brands – that’s why you see so many celebrities shilling for products that they’ve likely never used before. The brand managers of these products understand how important branding is, and they know that people often buy simply to be associated with the product’s figurehead. As your brand equity grows online, you’ll start to develop the type of customer that comes back and purchases every single one of your products (no matter what the cost or purpose), just to be a part of your brand.
Of course, you aren’t just going to build a brand by tossing an article up on your site every week or so. To get the maximum possible benefit from your personal brand, you’ll want to cultivate a unique blogging voice, participate in social media and actively engage with your readers at every possible opportunity. Putting yourself out there as much as possible encourages these connections, leading to the growth of your personal brand.
2. Blogging helps you overcome sales hurdles
Selling products – whether online or in traditional offline stores – isn’t as simple as sticking a product in someone’s face and saying “Buy this now!” Web shoppers often have a number of objections to purchasing items that must be overcome before the sale can take place.
For example, someone who lands on a traditional affiliate site may have concerns about buying products from an unknown seller. How will he get any support he needs? How can she ensure that the quality of the product is really as good as it sounds in the sales copy? If these – and other – questions aren’t answered effectively, sales won’t be taking place.
Alternatively, suppose you’re selling a high-dollar product online. In general, the higher the cost, the more objections people will have and the more information they’ll need to gather before pulling the trigger. As a blogger, you can provide this information in the forms of thoughtful reviews, comment responses and message board discussions (if applicable) in order to overcome these hurdles and encourage more sales.
As a blogger, though, you have the unique ability to put a human face to internet product purchases and overcome these objections in real-time. Establishing a public presence through your blog gives people an outlet for their questions and concerns – and as long as you’re there to respond, you should see a pay-off in terms of the number of sales that occur through your blog.
3. Blogging generates informative market research
As a traditional business owner, conducting market research in order to determine what people are looking for in a product or service can be time-consuming and expensive. But as a blogger, the ability to poll your readers on what’s most important to them is right there at your fingertips.
One effective way to gather market research through your blog is to post a survey that asks people what they think about existing products or what they’d like to see in future launches in exchange for a free product or a discount on their next purchase. Your customers will appreciate the opportunity to offer input and you’ll be amazed by the kind of detailed information you can generate using this method – everyone wins!
(Free survey tools to conduct this type of research can be found at SurveyMonkey, Zoomerang and a number of other similar sites. Keep an eye out for programs that automatically mail out your survey incentive for each completed response in order to minimize the time needed to gather this information.)
Alternatively, if designing and launching a survey sounds too involved for you, simply get into the practice of asking questions at the end of each blog post and encouraging people to share their thoughts in the comments section. This will turn up a number of questions, thoughts and concerns you might not have otherwise thought of – all of which can help inform your future product offerings or affiliate promotions.
As a blogger, you have the unique opportunity to engage with your readers in order to identify their product needs and overcome their sales objections. When this information is combined with the personal brand you’ve built up, you’ll find that it’s easier than ever to put together winning sales messages and promotions that lead to more sales and conversions than ever before.