Your Blog Readers Aren’t Buying

Your Blog Readers Aren't Buying

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.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. Interesting viewpoint, and it’s definately got me thinking – which was the whole purpose of the post, yes? :-)

    I’ve just done a reader survey from my blog, and one thing that was said was “please post more often”. I currently post three times a week on a schedule and there’s no way I’m going to put more time into posting five times a week! I’d have no time left for any business building work.

    Having read this, I need to consider if I should cut back even more and look at the free stuff I was planning for the near future….

    Melinda | WAHM Biz Builder´s last blog post…On Sex, Home Business, Keywords and SEO

  2. Blogging definitely can be a double-edged sword.

    A blog without time put into it can detract from the look of the business, while the blog with too much time put into it can take away from profitable tasks.

    Good to point out the difference between being reputable and being popular, though. Reputable is probably achieved by having more than a blog, and more in-depth quality posts. Being popular is generally achieved by a much higher quantity of effort, though there are exceptions.

    Patrick Vuleta´s last blog post…Site facelift – a big thank you to Men with Pens!

  3. James,

    Yet another reason not to worry about small readership if it’s achieving your other business goals. Great post.

    In advertising, agencies sometimes churn out beautiful campaigns that win all sorts of awards yet bring in no business for their customers. Blogging for your typical blog reader—churning out post after post that isn’t driving business—is essentially the same. If I’ve got five hundred subscribers and I get ten new inquiries a week I’m doing a lot better, business-wise, than someone with 2,500 who hears from two new clients a week. I’m speaking to people differently, and I’ve probably figured out how to speak to different people. If it’s a business blog, staring at your readership is focussing on the wrong numbers. Harsh, but very true.

    Blog ROI is a subject that fascinates me, and I never stop studying it. You’ve got a great point here—the one thing that’s for sure is that there are no rules. We’re making those up as we go along.

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kelly´s last blog post…The Next BIG THING

  4. I have three blogs, two with high readership and one with a dozen readers. The one with a dozen readers brings in almost every dollar I make.

    Writer Dad´s last blog post…Serial and Milk: Available Darkness – Chapter Nine

  5. Great post…you have a nice way of jostling assumptions. Thanks for expanding my perspective.

    I want to sell my books, not build blog readership but it’s hard to get away from the connection. Still, I’ve been given advice about funneling and landing page and product packaging and other yucky stuff, that actually seems to be working.

    Kaushik´s last blog post…Being Present – 9th excerpt from Awakening is Simple, and Closing

  6. Good points!

    Many good blogs never are able to make the transition to becoming profitable, and that’s a shame.

    Like you point out – the priority most of us have is all wrong. We’re focusing on bringing reader traffic to our blogs and we should be focusing on buyers.

    Perhaps by following some of the principles in this post some bloggers will learn to shuffle their priorities.

    Laura Spencer´s last blog post…Available Now – How To Start a Freelance Writing Business E-Book

  7. @ Writer Dad – Heh. I have 5,000 readers here – you’d think I was rich, right? I’d say maybe only 30 % of our clients and customers come from the blog reader pool. I’m guessing, but in most cases, clients come from elsewhere and only become readers after they work with us.

    @ Laura – I hope the priorities *do* shuffle! We see so many people trying to get ahead, but that simple shift to the business mindset over the blogging mindset makes all the difference. No need to ditch the blogs – but it’s important to remember there’s business at stake, you know?

    @ Kaushik – You’re welcome. If there’s something I love doing, it’s jostling assumptions and zigging when the masses are zagging. Woot!

    @ Kelly – You know personally how I try to examine all aspects of the blog and business together, and how easily it is to think answer A is the right one when it’s really answer B. Just a few twists and tweaks to a business site can make a huge difference.

    @ Patrick – Popular’s a lot of fun! But… It doesn’t make someone rich. Just famous. :)

    @ Melinda – Of course readers would frequently say to post more – they get everything they need free of charge!

    Oh, and are you awake in the middle of your sleep, yet? 😉

  8. Deb Owen says:

    I don’t have a readership that’s as big as say…well…a lot of people out there. But my readers do buy my stuff. Which is why I’m wary of blogging advice. You’re right. It’s a work in progress. And while certain ‘blogging techniques’ work for some people? It doesn’t work for others.

    Same thing with Twitter. One person will tell you they get a third of their clients there. Another will tell you not to waste your time because you’re not going to sell anything there.

    Play with it. Tweak your strategy. Find what works for you.
    All the best!
    deb

    Deb Owen´s last blog post…when being productive doesn’t work (finding your purpose)

  9. Here’s one important aspect of a blog: it helps with SEO for sales pages for your products that share the domain name.

    And there’s another thing that may be personal to me, and that’s when bloggers have Google ads on their blogs. I know a few bloggers make good money from Google ads, but I also know the vast majority only make a pittance.

    Google ads distract the reader and may send her away from your site. I especially think Google ads are a problem if you are selling your own products from the site, or affiliate products that pay a good commission. Would you rather make a nickel from Google, or would you rather sell your twenty-dollar ebook?

    John Soares´s last blog post…See My Interview on the The Life and Times of a Freelance Writer Blog

  10. This is a timely post James. I’ve been having quite a few “brainstorming” sessions about creating a business out of my site, not just a blog.

    Write more on this – provided it’s free, of course. :)

    Corey – Simple Marriage´s last blog post…17 More Tips To Improve Marriage And Slow Down Life At The Same Time

  11. Sean,

    I need a blog with 12 readers that does that for me. It would be great to see a how-to post on that, lol.

    James,

    Yes, absolutely. And once “A” is stuck in your head as the answer, it really takes a good shaking to see “B” as a possibility. Nothing I love like helping to shake a Pen Man…

    😉

    And nothing I love like reading posts where you shake me up.

    Until later,

    Kelly

    Kelly´s last blog post…The Next BIG THING

  12. Your timing was perfect! I am such a newbie at this that my first ever post was yesterday. You certainly have given me a bit of fat to chew on and I can see that I need to do a little mindset adjustment on my own plan for action.

    I admit that I have done my fair share of freebie grabbing, due in part to my skeptical nature and also because I find a little of what I need here and a little of what I need there,but have not found anything I felt okay about plunking cold hard cash down on. When I get to a point where I know what I need, instead of feeling like I need EVERYTHING, I may or may not revisit a freebie site to get it.

    Thanks for the advice!

  13. We seem to be thinking the same sorts of things because I’m working on just that issue right now trying to figure out a way to bring in more buyers.

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post…Using Fear as Motivation: The Lab Rats Leave the Lab

  14. @ Alex – The best way to figure out how to bring in more buyers is to hire someone who knows exactly what a customer wants. You have the design, you have the content – now get the experience.

    *ahem* Kelly? I think you’re up, darling.

    @ Jackie – You’re welcome, and here’s to your business! Cheers!

    @ Kelly – Hey, I’m an equal opportunity kind of guy like that. Pretty neat, huh 😉

    @ Corey – Dude. No humbleness in you, eh? 😉

    It’s all good. You just may get your wish – free, too.

    @ John – Oh god I hate Adsense. That said, you’re right that blogging helps capture traffic via SEO. (I think I said as much in my post… briefly, lol)

    But. That doesn’t mean your blog has to sit front and center for all to see. “HEY! DON’T PAY ATTENTION TO MY SERVICES BACK HERE! GET THE BLOG! FREE!!!!!”

    No.

    Put the blog on the back burner if your main focus is clients and customers. When someone lands on your site, you want them to see what you sell, why it’s good for them, and what they’ll get after they buy from you. Have the blog, SURE, yes! But not right smack there on the home page where you force visitors to bypass your sales and get right to the free stuff.

  15. Alex and James,

    In my not terribly humble opinion: it’s as easy and as hard as this. Talk only to the customer. Yet make the conversation great for everybody else.

    Oh, no problem!

    Thank goodness it took a lot more learnin’ than that to see what I see, or I’d have just put myself out of business. 😉 Never stop learning.

    Later,

    kelly

    Kelly´s last blog post…The Next BIG THING

  16. I do have a hard time to gain more readership but I know that my existing readers have been really loyal to me. Still I am learning hard to be a better blogger and a better writer.

  17. I have a small blog but it (coupled with another website) makes plenty of money for me. So I know the blog readership doesn’t correlate to the business viability.
    However, if it’s eBooks that the blogger is selling, he probably needs huge readership because the ROI is low. My business model works because I charge several hundred dollars for my service.
    Different game, different rule.

    Akemi – Yes to Me´s last blog post…Why I Died At Age Four

  18. @ John – I hate Adsense. I had it on my blog in the early days and it took like 8 months to get it past $10. I yoinked it and now only have affiliate banner ads for a few dating services, but those make so little I’m thinking of yoinking those (or moving them to a single page of recommended sites) and going for the ad-free look. Just advertise myself, y’know? :-)

    @James, you’re totally right. (I know you know that, but I also know you love hearing it.) A lot of my clients find me through Google or Twitter and then stick around for the blog after they’ve purchased something.

    Then of course, there are the people who will “kick the tires” for months and months and SAY they’re going to buy, but never do…

    E. Foley | Geek’s Dream Girl´s last blog post…Father’s Day is Sunday! Why Is Your Dad A Geek?

  19. Terrific post and lots of food for thought. You and I have had plenty of discussions about advertising on blogs, but converting readers to clients is a whole other ball game. I believe many bloggers (or at least writing bloggers) do create blogs in hope of gaining more clients, but does it really happen? (Hmm…I think maybe a survey is in order.)

    My readers aren’t buyers. They don’t buy products or ebooks. They’d much rather click the ads, and most of them don’t even do that. Product-based blogs have a better chance of converting readers to sales.

    As for clients, the folks who are looking to learn about freelance writing aren’t going to hire me. They want advice and commiseration. That doesn’t mean my blog doesn’t help me to get clients, however. The conversion rate is low, but I do get several good clients a year. More clients find me through social networks such as Twitter than via my blogs.

    This post reminds me a lot of why I blog. Don’t get me wrong, I need the money to survive, and hell, it’s nice to have something in the wallet, you know? That’s not necessarily why I do it though. I started my blog as a way to help others. Because of that, the conversion rate doesn’t really bother me. While a profit would be nice, I’m happy to be able to earn enough to pay my bloggers and give the people what they want.

    Rock on.

    Deb Ng´s last blog post…Embracing Social Media as a Job Search Tool

  20. I wonder about the freebie E Book techniques that are stressed upon so often. But I still do not get the point. Don’t you need to put all the stuff through posts and pages rather than some lengthy e book …?

    how to write a writing´s last blog post…Why did Eric Clapton Write “Tears in Heaven”?

  21. Oh, this hit me between the eyes. I worry that I’ve been giving away the store with my blog a lot, and I know I need to speak more to buyers than to readers. That’s great advice, by the way, Kelly!

    Catherine Cantieri, Sorted´s last blog post…Taming Time: Chronic lateness

  22. James: It took me almost six months of blogging before I realized what a thin metric RSS really was. Part of it was just my own naivety, but I believed in the power of the comment section. Now I know it’s a place where people will say anything, with a higher ratio of disingenuous banter always brewing at the top.

    Kelly: It’s pretty simple. SEO – my best friend and ultimate foe. I don’t care about the byline on my non-creative writing. I just want to feed my family while I climb a new set of stairs. There was no way I could ever rank for freelance writer or any other such competitive term, so I picked ghostwriter. This was four months ago. As of today, it’s the last spot on page one of Google. Lots of SEO content and link building. Not complicated, just grueling.

    : > )

    Writer Dad´s last blog post…My Dad – A Father’s Day Poem

  23. I’ve learned a lot here from both posts and comments. And as I read, i kept hearing the voice of a business video from Russell Brunson: ” A lot of people are confused between business and a project.” By which he meant, creating the blog or the ebook or the services or whatever – that’s a project. Selling it is the business part, and requires a whole other skill set and action plan.

    My own business skills are somewhere in the basic-beginner level; this was a big revelation to me. Especially as, since you and many commenters have been pointing out, we’re still creating the medium and its ethos, here. For instance, RB’s quite successful tactic it to give stuff away for free, but with shape and thought to the giving away, so as to lead to sales. This works very well for him and at least some others, but there might be many ways to shape a profitable blog, depending on how you want to use it. (Another entrepreneur is all fired by the idea of nonprofit and corporate sponsorship, which has worked very well for *him* and at least some others.)

    As Deb points out, there are other reasons than income that a blog satisfies. One of the ways my blog helps me is by showing me what readers are interested in and respond to most (and by showing me that readers are interested in what I have to say in the first place, which on bad days I need), and by building a body of work. These have no direct financial impact, but they’re certainly related to my business life.

    Very thought- and discussion-provoking post. Has it increased your readership any? ; )

  24. @ Writer Dad – Not naivety in the least. New bloggers and businesspeople are told from day one to blog and have a rockin’ comment section and get more readers and go go go!

    Um, I’d like to turn that idea on its head now… :)

    @ Catherine – It’s a fine line between giving it all away and no business and all business with nothing free. Two extremes and neither work very well. Find the right mix that works and away you go!

    @ How to Write – You don’t *HAVE* to do anything – unless you’re in business. And if you are in business, then you *HAVE* to get sales. Or else you just have a hobby.

    @ Deb – Yeah, I hear you and where you’re coming from. A few people this morning have said, “But you blog…? I don’t get it…” I blog to help others, not to help myself. There’s a difference. Also, the first thing site visitors see when landing on my site isn’t posts – it’s business and what we do.

    And you raise another point – who are you teaching when you blog? If your target market is X type of person and you’re giving information that helps Y, then you’re all good. We don’t tell people how to design sites, for example, or how to write website copy. That’s our business. But we’re happy to help other people improve their business in other ways or similar or related ways.

    But if the very thing you sell is what you’re giving away for free (life coaches, helloooooo), then you’re in definite trouble.

    @ Geek’s Girl – I love hearing I’m right. Yes. Please. More. :)

    @ Akemi – I’m not sure I get what you’re aiming for. The rates you charge have nothing to do with conversion, really. If you have 10k readers and sell 100 ebooks at $10, that’s $1,000. and a 1% conversion.

    Likewise, if you have 1k readers and get one client at $1,000, you’re still only converting at 1%.

    So… same game. Same rules. Rate is irrelevant.

    @ Sarah – That’s awesome! Loyal readers are the best. Now work on converting them to loyal customers :)

    @ Deb – Yessir! Tweak and try! Have no fear! Follow no man!

    @ Kelly – Learning’s 3/4 of the fun 😉

  25. James,

    This one of the best blog posts I’ve read in a while now, anywhere in the blogosphere.

    I love these points you made:

    “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.”

    And

    “Are you focusing on gaining readers or concentrating on getting sales?”

    That last one really is the key.

    It’s two very different mindsets–whether you’re going for huge blog readership and notoriety or trying to expose your services to more clients.

    Fame or money? I’ll take the money.

    And your point about putting the business front and center, rather than the blog is crucial.

    Kelly,

    I think you nail it:

    “Talk only to the customer. Yet make the conversation great for everybody else.”

    It’s so basic, yet I never really thought of it that way. I may make that my motto.

    Jesse Hines´s last blog post…Writer’s Block, John Steinbeck, and Kaizen

  26. James,

    It’s been a long time since I did the math — plz help me understand.
    100 buyers out of 10,000 readers is 1%.
    1 buyer out of 1,000 readers is 0.1%. No??

    But that is not the point.
    I thought the point of this post was too many bloggers are trying to expand their readership, which may or may not translate to better business. In your example, with $10 eBook and 1% conversion, you need 10,000 readers to make $1000. And getting 10,000 readers is a big challenge for many.
    With higher ROI, business can thrive with less readership.

    Of course, there are other ways, like getting other bloggers to sell your eBook. The buyer doesn’t have to be your reader.

    What do you think?

    Akemi – Yes to Me´s last blog post…The Law Of Attraction And Surrender

  27. @ Akemi – This is why I’m a writer and not an accountant – my math *sucks*.

    I will say that I believe ROI does not equate thriving business. If your business, your site, your copy is not *converting consumers to clients*, it is not thriving. It is surviving. No matter what your rates.

    Can you get by on one client a year with high rates? Sure, if you can find him. Does that mean you have a thriving, successful business? Not at all.

    And if you’re blogging on top of that and one client is all you can get – whether you have 10 readers or 10 thousand – … well. Major fail somewhere, wouldn’t you say?

  28. Jesse,

    That’s why James lets me hang around. 😉

    Later,

    Kelly

    Kelly´s last blog post…The Next BIG THING

  29. Yes James, I was awake at just after 3.30am thinking about this. Thanks very much! LOL!

    Nah, it’s all good. I need to have my assumptions turned upside down, and you’re very good at it. Especially your comment “But if the very thing you sell is what you’re giving away for free (life coaches, helloooooo), then you’re in definite trouble.” Ok, I’m not life coaching (not any more) but ummmm, yeah… I’ve been giving away what I do.

    Thanks for that. :-)

    Melinda | WAHM Biz Builder´s last blog post…On Sex, Home Business, Keywords and SEO

  30. I do think conversion is critical. But I think you are resorting to extreme example when you say one sale a year. Extreme example can be misleading.
    My point is, with the same 1% conversion, there are two ways to do business. One is to sell a low profit product / service to many buyers and another is to sell a high profit item to fewer buyers. In the offline world, first model is like WalMart and the latter is the specialty gourmet shop. Both may bring the same profit if they are successful, but they are different games. And the first model requires big customer base while the latter requires the kind of product / service that can claim high price.

    And while the conversion is critical, it’s profit that determines the vitality of a business.

    Akemi – Yes to Me´s last blog post…Why I Died At Age Four

  31. Oh, and dear James,
    Don’t be too embarrassed about the math. We all have those awkward moments. And we are probably the only people who are still sitting in the comment room on Friday afternoon.
    Plus, you sound so confident that if you do that at a store, I’m sure you get by with your math.

    Akemi – Yes to Me´s last blog post…Short Yet Complete Life

  32. DSoliver left a comment but I seem to have killed it, so I’m copying my mod notification here for him. Sorry, dude. He wrote:

    I’ve learned a lot here from both posts and comments. And as I read, i kept hearing the voice of a business video from Russell Brunson: ” A lot of people are confused between business and a project.” By which he meant, creating the blog or the ebook or the services or whatever – that’s a project. Selling it is the business part, and requires a whole other skill set and action plan.

    My own business skills are somewhere in the basic-beginner level; this was a big revelation to me. Especially as, since you and many commenters have been pointing out, we’re still creating the medium and its ethos, here. For instance, RB’s quite successful tactic it to give stuff away for free, but with shape and thought to the giving away, so as to lead to sales. This works very well for him and at least some others, but there might be many ways to shape a profitable blog, depending on how you want to use it. (Another entrepreneur is all fired by the idea of nonprofit and corporate sponsorship, which has worked very well for *him* and at least some others.)

    As Deb points out, there are other reasons than income that a blog satisfies. One of the ways my blog helps me is by showing me what readers are interested in and respond to most (and by showing me that readers are interested in what I have to say in the first place, which on bad days I need), and by building a body of work. These have no direct financial impact, but they’re certainly related to my business life.

    Very thought- and discussion-provoking post. Has it increased your readership any? ; )

    The answer, D, is no. We broke 5k readers yesterday, and this morning I’ve noticed that 30 readers have disappeared. *sigh*

    @ Akemi – You misread my tone – being embarrassed about my lack of interest in math is… well, nonexistent. I make no bones about not liking numbers :)

    As for the converting business… I agree that extreme examples can be misleading, but even without extremes, my point still stands. A business converting at 40% only is not thriving and healthy. A business converting at 65% is on the right path and with some tweaking, can probably convert more.

    I guess to each his own. I’ll take the business converting at upper levels over the one converting at lower levels any day. If lower conversion works for you, then great!

    @ Mel – I can picture that. Pitch dark, sleepy, eye opens… “Damn you, James! Can’t I even sleep?”

  33. Spoken perfectly, James. I’ve been trying to beat this into people’s heads. Like I said once before on Twitter, I think blogging in a way has hurt would-be entrepreneurs make money because of the so called unwritten rules of blogging (i.e. sale without appearing to really sale, give things away for free, etc.).

    I’d say I spend more time working on finding ways to tweak my sites than blogging (hence my recent 3 week break).

    Great article and I hope people take it to heart.

    John Hoff – WpBlogHost´s last blog post…Where’s John Been?

  34. Thanks for a great article. I agree with you that traffic numbers aren’t everything. I’ve had a few spikes when my stuff was picked up by high traffic blogs, but there was no corresponding spike in sales or ad revenue. It just ate up bandwidth. I make most of my sales (a very low-priced ebook) from my subscribers when I put up a new post, and they read the RSS or email. It is a delicate balance between giving enough to make someone stick around and sign up and giving away the family jewels. Earlier on I gave away too big a chunk of the stuff I now sell, and people would not buy. Now I offer a different perk, and sales have increased. Over time much of that information will be available on the website, but what I sell is a convenient repackaging plus some extra. I think we can follow the example of software developers, who give away a free version, in the hope that those who use the software will buy the full-feature version. As bloggers we can give free information and sell convenience. Take the most useful stuff from the website, add even better stuff, and sell it as an easy to print download, without the fluff and ads, and all in one place, formatted for off-screen reading. Paper ain’t dead yet, especially when it comes to reference material, or other stuff which requires concentration to read, of if the material is more related to the off-line world. After all, when we surf, we are probably in a lazy frame of mind, and find it hard to digest some material. Another way to re-package and add value is with courses and consulting. One of the main points is to stress the convenience, the benefit they don’t get from the free stuff.

    Your post has confirmed what I suspected, and I will concentrate on conversion, and let any increase in (hopefully quality) traffic come as a byproduct of offering both good content and a good product. Its team work. Oh, and eye candy can make a difference too. It is the eyes which make the first contact.

    judyofthewoods´s last blog post…Changes to Subscriptions to Judy of the Woods

  35. Being rather new to blogging, I found your article about the readers not buying quite interesting! I have noticed that a lot of businesses have blogs that are simply shameless sales pitches. That’s always rather disappointing.

    Jerry´s last blog post…Thinking about awnings

  36. Guys, this was a great post. Thanks to you, I finally know what to do with my blog and my domain as well. I’ve already finished subscribing. Can’t wait for more great writing and tips on how to monetize our blogs.

    Happy blogging!

    John´s last blog post…Do You Think You’re a Good Person?

  37. James, I 100% agree with you.
    Literally this week I’m going to write a post myself about pursuing wrong goals and measuring wrong numbers. Number of RSS subscribers or twitter followers are false values though many people waste all their efforts trying to increase those numbers. But those numbers aren’t their sales and will hardly affect their revenue. So, as you said, we must focus on our business and real sales not on that doubtful and virtual “popularity”.

  38. I’ve actually been going back and looking at how I frame my posts with this in mind.

    I used to put an RSS and newsletter subscribe links and forms at the bottom of each post, on the recommendation of that is what gets subscribers. But now I am not so sure, and have removed them from the most recent posts.

    I actually want people to visit the site, not necessarily read it in a reader. I want people to get that connection with me that comes from the way the site has been made to look the way it does, and to be able to access all the otheer things besides posts the site does.

    That’s not to say I don’t want subscribers – more readers is always better. But it’s not the focus of the site in the way some recommend. So I’m quite happy having the subscribe icons shoved away in the top right corner. 😉

    Patrick Vuleta´s last blog post…Site facelift – a big thank you to Men with Pens!

  39. Wonderful post! For businesses most especially, the blog is really an added perk for your readers. It’s a great added resource for your site visitors, but what really compels them to buy from you is good products and a good business profile. You have to show them that you are an authority in your business, that you are trustworthy.
    Another insightful, helpful food for thought. Great input from you as always. Thanks!

  40. Yeah, that’s something to consider, thanks for the input.

    I’ll probably put the RSS link back in at the bottom of each post. A lot of my recent redesign has focused on seeing how much “blog” type features could be done away with (like sidebars which got the boot entirely…), and I’m sure we’ll find out where the sweet spot is.

    Patrick Vuleta´s last blog post…Site facelift – a big thank you to Men with Pens!

  41. Patrick,

    IMO—unless you’ve replaced that suggestion with big juicy “hire me” reminders, I’m not sure that’s helping. I only put in a reminder to subscribe once every week or so, not wanting to bash people over the head, but I do put them in (like today). I also put big juicy “hire me”s into the text now and then.

    I agree, your goal’s to have people swing by, but if they don’t subscribe to get that reminder when you post, they probably won’t. To me growing your numbers does have to be among the goals of blogging, just (if you’re trying to make money) it may not be the primary one.

    My 2¢USD. :)

    Until later,

    Kelly

    Kelly´s last blog post…I’m Just Not That Into You

  42. @ Patrick – I’m also reluctant to show my full post in a reader, so I just write an intro for the feed. Maybe some people don’t click through, but anyone interested enough will, especially if the intro ends with a little cliff hanger or some enticement. As long as there is no call to action in the feed, then there is nothing to loose and everything to gain from partial feeds.

    I am judging by my own behavior when reading a feed. As long as the feed tells me enough to know what the post is about, and that I would be interested in reading more, I am happy to click through. If it was compelling enough I’d probably jump through more hoops. I don’t see it as an inconvenience, as the feed actually saves me time by not having to visit the site constantly to check for updates. I am probably more annoyed with really long feed posts, especially if there are several of them, and loaded with high KB images, and of something I am just not interested in. Having to wait for all that to load and scroll through to find the post I might want to read is a lot more time consuming than that click to a full post.

  43. Very true!

    I operate a blog myself on my website but I don’t put a large amount of effort into it. It’s nice to give others advice, up my authority on this subject and get people reading further into my services. However, the direct conversion to sales isn’t the best. I’d rather spend my time tweaking my Adwords campaign to get some highly-interested prospects.

    What I would suggest is to create blog articles which people may actively be interested in. For example, I created a blog article on how to improve forum signatures for more sales, and I received a number of visitors from Google after specifically searching for how to do this.

  44. Awesome post! I’ve already started walking towards this path and there’s still a lot of room for improvement. I think most of my blog readers are not my target market but I’m really guessing here. That’s why I decided to study SEO to hopefully bring in the market I need. Thanks for this post.
    .-= Raymond Selda´s last blog ..Creative Use Of jQuery Cycle In Fancy Curved Layout =-.

  45. I absolutely love the truthfulness in this post. I have been coming to terms with my blog for quite a while now and while I did think big numbers were the goal initially, I see it differently now. It is more like a resume enhancer, proof that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to managing and growing online communities because I do it every day and discuss the nuances often. My blog gave me the fodder for my book and I am grateful for that. When people contact me and mention the content of my blog, it is pleasing to know that they find my words helpful and have further interest in me because of it. You mention a lot here that really needs to be internalized. I have been thinking a great deal about all of this free stuff and you’ve given me some much needed perspective.
    Thanks!
    Angela Connor
    Author, “18 Rules of Community Engagement”

  46. Awesome post,, I need to make some changes to my blog.
    .-= John Paul Aguiar´s last blog ..Happy Holidays and My Personal Thank You =-.

  47. I actually want people to visit the site, not necessarily read it in a reader. I want people to get that connection with me that comes from the way the site has been made to look the way it does, and to be able to access all the otheer things besides posts the site does.Buy and Sell

  48. Thanks for the great post. You bring a lot of reality to the situation.

    My first blog is about wine and it is the biggest disappointment of my writing life. Its readership has hardly increased in 5 years. Perhaps the market is so flooded with wine blogs, readers are cool on them. I make no money from that site but I do get invited to a lot of cool tastings where I gather material. The upside is that wine blogging with WordPress led me to my next profession as a WordPress consultant.

    I blog weekly about blogging at http://blogsitestudio.com and because I offer people tips they can use, its readership is better, although still not where I want it. I don’t sell a lot of stuff – mostly web hosting- but when clients see the site they are impressed enough to call me about a job. And people I tutor use my posts as a guide to mastering WordPress. It’s all very satisfying.

    Meanwhile, the wine blog languishes while I dither about continuing it or cutting it off. Please visit it at http://tastingroomconfidential.com and tell me what you think.

    Cheers!

Trackbacks

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