If you own a blog, you probably stress out over increasing your readership. The authorities tell us big numbers means success, that you need to get a thriving blog community happening and you need more numbers on display.
The message that numbers count comes across loud and clear. Bloggers stress over how many readers they have (or don’t have), feel discouraged at their low readership, long for bigger numbers and enviously wish they had the number 56,587 next to their RSS sign up.
Blogging and a large following of readers certainly has its advantages. It gets attention from search engines. It conveys expertise. It makes you an authority. It creates a community. It shows readers what kind of person you are. It brings you fame and gets you known.
But blogging doesn’t always bring you sales. And it ain’t a business if you aren’t making money.
Free Stuff Doesn’t Sell
You’ve most likely read that thrice-weekly posts, free downloads and viral reports are a must-haves. Give it away! Free is good! Free brings success!
Well, did you ever stop to think and ask, “What kind of success?”
Blogging does achieve some measure of fame, notoriety and credibility, if what you write about is good. Good content and rising fame shows potential customers you’re worth hiring.
But loyal blog readers who help you get famous aren’t your customers. They come back day after day for what you give them already – free stuff. If you’re giving it away for nothing, nothing is exactly what you get back in sales.
Create a Do-It-Yourselfer!
You can learn a lot by reading blogs. You’re learning from top pros, too. Stuck on a problem? Interested in a new hobby? Google it up. There’s a blog that’ll teach you everything you need to know.
Many people give away all that free information, some on a daily basis. They have free blog posts, a free weekly newsletter, and sometimes there’s a free download, too – a report or a quick ebook that helps you out.
How can you expect anyone to buy what you sell? You’ve trained readers to show up for free stuff just like Pavlov trained his dogs to slobber at the bell. You’re spitting out all that knowledge and teaching people on your own time and your own dime.
Readers Aren’t Primed to Buy
Think about how you become a new reader at a blog. You happen upon a link, click out of curiosity, have a read, enjoy the content and sign up for more. Then you leave.
You weren’t actively looking to buy something. You weren’t seeking a solution. You were just curious, browsing along and surfing the net – and browsing isn’t buying.
Think about each time you experienced a lovely spike of traffic because of a Stumble or a Digg or a Tweet. Did you happen to have sales correlating to the number of visitors that day? Probably not.
Bloggers Don’t Know What They’re Doing
If you own a blog, and you’re looking for sales, you should perhaps rethink where you’re spending your energy. Are you focusing on gaining readers or concentrating on getting sales? Who’s going to buy what you sell in the first place?
Chances are, the answer isn’t your readers.
That’s okay. No one really knows what they’re doing with blogs, after all. People on the ‘net today are all early adopters, the first generation using this type of medium as a business tool. They still don’t know the best ways to blog for business or whether the techniques they promote are the be-all-and-end-all optimal moves to achieve sales.
Granted, there are plenty of authorities on blogging out there. They know what works right now – but in truth, no one really knows yet what blogging can achieve over time.
Bloggers are chemists experimenting with hypotheses and testing theories. Already the uses and techniques of blogging have changed a great deal in the past five years. Blogging’s going to morph and evolve even further in the years to come.
That means today’s “musts” for business may be tomorrow’s “fails”.
So there’s why you don’t have to put such emphasis on readership and feed stats (unless readers and no sales is what you want). You can do a little business improvements, like putting better attention on your sales process, your business growth, and your service improvements.
Instead of focusing on better blogging, why not focus on converting visitors to clients, or shortening the sales process, or enhancing the customer experience?
Here are some ideas to help you get started and shift your attention to your business, not your blog:
- If you spend five hours a week writing posts, why not trim down to two hours a week and spend three hours improving your site navigation or usability?
- Instead of focusing on improving the reader experience, why not take a look at improving your sales process instead?
- Each time you think creating a new free download, why not consider writing an ebook you can sell instead?
- If you write five posts each week, why not drop down to two posts for your blog and three pages for that ebook?
- If your site has the blog front and center, why switch around to profile your business or products first, offering the blog as a back-end perk?
Play around and try different things. There are no rules – only results that work. Keep readers happy and interested, of course, and devote some of your time on capturing more clients (not readers) or bringing in more sales that from sources other than your blog readers.
Change your methods, your processes, your site, and your mindset, and you may just end up changing how you do business forever.