The headlines scream new (and often contradictory) dictates in black and white, every morning.
“Blogging is dead.”
“Content is King.”
“Video is a must-have.”
“Orange is the new black.”
Wait, that last one is just a Netflix show. I just wanted to make sure you were paying attention.
You must define your own version of success for the marketing tools you’re using.
If blogging is your chosen tool, there are many possible versions of success:
- A creative outlet
- Leads for your business
- Search engine rank/traffic
- A portfolio or resume of published work
- Thought leadership or credibiilty in a niche
- Platform for book authorship
- Information & tips for your customers
The only way you fail is if you end up just going through the motions without a purpose.
“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.” Yogi Berra
Monetized Blog vs Non-Monetized Blog
The first big dividing line would be, do you want to make money directly from your blog?
Direct monetization routes would include a paywall in order to read the posts, or the selling of sponsorships. In both of these cases, you need to be pretty established up-front in order to succeed. No-one is going to pay to read your posts unless they already know how fantastic you are. Teaser content might be effective in this case.
By the same token, you won’t be able to sell sponsorships until you’ve proven a large readership or a very definable audience. Sponsors will want to know your page views and number of subscribers, something that’s not generally very impressive when you’re first starting out.
If you know that you want to run ads in the future, but don’t have enough traffic to be enticing to advertisers, set reader expectations. Consider reserving a footer banner or sidebar square that you will use for future advertising, and use it to promote something of your own (or for a friend). If you make it look professional, you will be subtly letting readers know that your blog will contain advertising. Much better than launching with no ads, and then stuffing them in all of a sudden, months later.
Indirect Blog Monetization
If you want to derive value from your blog, but not direct monetary value, consider the following:
- Include a call to action with every post
- Be minimalist with your sidebar information; don’t distract from the primary CTA
- Be sure to collect email information, to start building your own marketing asset for the future
- Make it very clear what the purpose of the blog is…if you’re all about thought leadership, consider a photo image of the primary author (perhaps a photo taken at a speaking engagement). Remember social proof too. A quote from a peer or colleague might be appropriate on the page.
- If your blog is supporting an SEO strategy, don’t be “that guy” who stuffs keywords without meaning. Google doesn’t like that anyway. Focus more on creating in-depth, valuable articles on a regular basis. If your blogging platform includes SEO tools, use them!
All of the effort you’re putting into your blogging will be for nothing if you don’t have any way to measure progress.
Once you’ve determined what blogging success looks like, you must come up with a way to track whether it’s fulfilling the purpose.
Here are some examples of things you can track:
- For a “thought leadership” blog – track social mentions of your name or brand, or links back to your blog from other authority sites
- For a business blog – track leads or emails captured
- For SEO – track your rank for specific search terms
- For a customer-focused blog – track any decrease in support requests, or if you’re using customer satisfaction scoring (like Net Promoter Score), see if that is affected over time
Don’t forget to baseline your metric before you start, so that you can see progress as it happens.
The metrics shouldn’t be set in stone, either. Establish a quarterly routine of looking at the numbers, reviewing your blog, and making tweaks as necessary.
Your blog is only one tool in your marketing arsenal, but it should be part of your marketing metrics in order to be effective.
How have you defined blogging success for yourself?
Featured image via Flickr Creative Commons: Paxson Woelber