How often have you been told to “add a blog to your website and the sales will come”?
Whilst it is true that the more words you add to your website, the more material Google has to show in search results (which then increases traffic to your site), it is important to think about the quality and relevance of these words. After all, you want people coming to your site to be ideal customers, who then also proceed to follow, engage and buy from you.
Starting a blog without much thought or a plan can quickly turn into a chore with little to no results. And who has the time to invest energy into something that doesn’t bring much in return?
But where do you start? What should you write about and how on earth is that going to help with sales? Breathe.
We sat down with Emma from Blogging In Progress to talk about how she built a successful business through blogging. It’s a goodie with lots of actionable advice – read on and enjoy!
You built a blog that had 50k visits in 3 months, is that right?! How did you find the right people and then drive them to your blog?
Yes, that’s right! This is what I did:
Find contributors through Facebook groups
Facebook groups were absolutely instrumental in driving traffic to my blog, especially in those early days. I posted my blog link in groups filled with female business owners, creatives and other bloggers – and many were millennial women – who just so happened to my target demographic.
What was helpful for me was doing call-outs for contributors* from the very beginning. Because I had contributors, they also shared it among their own networks. I also started my own Facebook group community really early on, and that allowed me to build a strong community around the blog and share my own blog posts as often as I liked.
*Contributors can be people who guest-write for you, want to share an experience or opinion, or people you can interview on certain topics.
Test and invest in the right platform
When I first started, I diversified my traffic streams so I could see what worked and what didn’t. I posted my blogs on Twitter, LinkedIn, Bloglovin‘ and used calls-to-action in my Instagram posts, directing readers to blog posts through Linkinbio.
What I found was that my biggest traffic generator (by far!) was Facebook – both my page and group. So I jumped on this, invested some money into boosting my most popular blog posts on Facebook to millennial women who were interested in the topics I wrote about.
I know lots of digital marketing experts are opposed to the idea of boosting posts vs. setting up Facebook ads, but I found this strategy worked well for me.
Search Engine Optimisation
In the long-term, SEO has been an extremely effective strategy for me and is currently my biggest source of traffic. It does, however, take a little while to pay off (about a year!) and definitely isn’t an overnight solution.
EH tip: You can start by thinking about what your ideal audience is interested in and most importantly which words they use to describe their interests. Then work these words and phrases into your posts. You can read more about how to find the right keywords here.
What did you learn about blogging during your own journey? Was there anything you found worked really well but you didn’t know about beforehand?
I’ve learnt so much about blogging that I didn’t know before!
Blogging is not just about writing
Firstly, running a successful blog isn’t just about being creative. In order to really make it a vital part of your business or a career in itself, you need to be incredibly strategic about your decisions (especially where you invest your money) and treat it like a business. Otherwise, it will always be a hobby.
You don’t need a huge following
Another thing is that you don’t actually need millions of monthly readers to find success as a blogger. You can develop a small but loyal following in your niche and earn money through affiliate marketing, or you can develop it into a larger brand and diversify through things like books, services and courses.
Collaborations can be very effective
Another surprise was the power of giveaways! Instead of just accepting free products from brands, I prefer to collaborate with them on giveaways. This helps promote brands in a way that readers are more incentivised to engage with (I mean, they might win something!) and it gives me the chance to include entry options that help build my following, like our mailing list or Facebook group.
I’ve found it to be really effective – people who entered giveaways continue to stay engaged with me even after the competition closes.
Was there anything you felt didn’t work?
A lot of bloggers rave about the benefits of Pinterest for driving blog traffic and I know it can be an extremely effective strategy. I’m going to be honest and say that it’s something I haven’t quite mastered for my own. I’ve tried to do it myself and have hired quite a few different people to manage it on my behalf but have never seen the return on investment (whether it’s money or time) that I’d liked.
Keep in mind that just because something seems to work for the rest of the blogging community, it might not work for you – it just all depends on where your audience is hanging out online.
What do you think are the benefits of adding a blog to a website?
There are SO many.
Firstly, there’s SEO.
When you’re creating your website copy, there are only so many different places you can slot in the target keywords that you want to rank for on Google. But with blog posts, the opportunities are endless! You could create a new blog every week featuring a new target keyword which can help you get found by a broader audience. Plus, Google prefers fresh and relevant content, so blogging helps keep your website updated. After all, you’re not going to change your website copy every week.
Demonstrate your expertise and add value
Then, there’s the fact that blogging is an excellent content marketing strategy. Basically, this is when you give free value to your audience and subtly teach them about the benefits of your products and services in a way that doesn’t feel salesy. This is essential for warming up a cold audience and helping them develop trust, connection and affinity with your brand.
For example, let’s say you own an activewear company. You might create a blog post about different ways to stay motivated to work out – and one of those points might be buying cute new activewear (cough, yours!).
Create reusable content
Blogging can also help you create more content in other areas of your business. You don’t have to just create a blog and share it on your Facebook page once. You can use your new post as an opportunity to email your mailing list or generate conversation around it in your Facebook group by asking a question about the topic. You can break it up into snippets and use key points in captions on your Linkedin, Twitter or Instagram posts. You can even record yourself reading it (or, use it as talking points) and repurpose it into a video or podcast episode.
A lot of people struggle to write content that relates to their products or business. Do you have any tips on what to write about?
My biggest tip is to listen to your audience and customers.
What questions are they frequently coming to you with? Chances are, other people are going to have the same questions, too. You can also poll your audience on social media or hold focus groups to determine what their biggest pain points are. Then, you can create content around that.
For example, let’s say you’re a nutritionist with many of your clients struggling to find quick and healthy breakfast recipes they can take with them on the go. An idea could be creating a blog post about 10 healthy breakfast recipes that are ready in 5 minutes or less.
Another tip is sharing customer success stories or stories about why you created the brand.
How do you manage to publish content frequently? Do you have to write everything yourself?
Definitely not! We post on my blog, A Girl In Progress, every two days and there’s no way I would be able to manage that myself — especially with all of the other writing I do for clients and my day job. I have a couple of amazing contractors who regularly write for my blog and I also accept contributors from all different walks of life and industries.
I use a platform called Submittable to streamline this process, and for blog posts I think are a good fit, I give them an edit to make sure it fits the style and tone of A Girl In Progress. I have a mutual content-sharing-agreement with a few different publications like SheSaid, SheDefined and The Ladders. It’s great because this gives us more great content to share with our audience and our content is reposted with related links at the bottom – great for referral traffic!
If you’re struggling to consistently create content, I would recommend seeking out other contributors for guest posts, asking your team to chip in or hiring a content writer to do it for you.
Here are Emma’s top 3 tips for starting and maintaining a successful blog:
Find your Audience and Niche
The blogging space is quite saturated these days, so it’s so important to find that point of difference that sets you apart. Instead of just being a beauty blogger, you might choose to zone in on being a cruelty-free, sustainable beauty blogger. Or, instead of just blogging about entrepreneur life, you might choose to focus on turning a side hustle into a full-time job. If you’re on an interesting or unusual personal journey, you can 100% use that as the basis of your blog, too.
Whether you’re going to be posting once a day, once a week or once a month, make it a commitment to yourself and stick to it. That way, your audience will learn what to expect from you and hopefully, will keep coming back regularly to see your new content. About a year ago, I created a spreadsheet for my editorial calendar and told myself I was going to post every two days. Since then, I think I’ve only missed a couple of days. Blogging is a marathon, not a sprint, so no matter what speed you’re going at, just keep moving forward.
Invest in the right people
If you want to be successful in blogging, you need to treat it like a business. And just like any other business, you can’t do it all alone. Sure, you might bootstrap your blog for the first six months or so. But if you want to continue to grow, you will eventually need to delegate some tasks — whether it’s hiring a virtual assistant to help with uploading and scheduling, a social media manager to help grow your channels, or a web designer to create a polished and professional looking website for you.
Emma is a blogger, content marketer and podcast host from Sydney, Australia. She is also a freelance writer who has written for publications like Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, Marie Claire, QANTAS magazine, Girlfriend and WHO, as well as brands such as Canva and Deliveroo.
When she’s not working her day job (aka her dream job!) as Deputy Editor at Girlfriend magazine, Emma is writing for her blog A Girl In Progress, hosting the productivity podcast A Day In Progress, or working on her first non-fiction book called Progress Over Perfection, to be released with Quarto Publishing in May 2020. Exciting!
And when she’s not writing, you’ll find her lifting weights, travelling, eating (or talking about) pizza and hanging out at Coogee Beach.