As part of the responsibilities of my job, I work on our company blog. I look for new bloggers, I edit the blogs we receive, and I map out our schedule. Since we post three times a week, we get a lot of blogs from a lot of different writers.
Among those numerous blogs, it’s amazing to see how many read more like sales pitches. The writers understand their products well, they know how to write, and they’re clearly intelligent people. The issue is, they seem to think that the purpose of a blog can be summed up in three words: “Buy my product!”
A good blog shouldn’t just be a sales pitch. A good blog should stand on its own as an interesting and readable piece of content. A good blog informs first, sells second.
So let’s say you’re an indie author who’s trying to sell your book. It’s tempting to pretty much only blog about the book—reviews, preliminary sales, your inspiration for writing it, all that.
But I would argue that that’s not a great way to handle your blog.
In my experience with content management, when bloggers just blab about their product, no one reads it. The bounce rate for this type of content (the percentage of people coming to the webpage and immediately leaving) tends to skyrocket. Or people just don’t read it at all. And it certainly doesn’t increase sales.
So if you’re trying to sell a product, what’s the point of blogging at all?
First of all, you can’t expect your blog to directly convert sales from every visitor. It just doesn’t work that way. The real purpose of a good blog is to build awareness about your brand (which is you, the writer). A good blog can establish you as an expert in the field, or at least as a pretty knowledgable guy or gal. Also, it’s one of the absolute best ways to get people coming back to your website, which in turn increases your chances of making a sale.
Now that’s not to say that you can’t add some hard sells. Just be careful with them, and use them sparingly. The biggest turn off for any prospective blog reader is constant requests to buy a product.
Try adding a call to action for your book in the sidebar, right where someone will see it when they read your blog. Oftentimes this is a much more effective form of marketing because you’re illustrating the value of your product rather than just saying, “Hey. You should buy this.” Kind of like showing instead of telling. If you write good content, your blog shows people that you have talent as a writer rather than just telling them to buy your book.
That said, don’t be disappointed if your blog doesn’t lead to direct sales. It’s not too often that someone will come to a site, read a blog, and then directly convert to a sale right then and there. You’ll usually find that customers discover your website from a search engine or social media (always share your blogs!), read it over, then maybe explore the rest of your site, just to get a feel for who you are.
And then they’ll probably leave. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be back!
Since there are so many products out there to spend money on, most people need something like ten to twelve positive interactions with a brand before they buy. So, on average, you can expect people to return to your site at least that many times before buying your book.
Blogging, like most worthwhile endeavors, requires patience. Your blog brings visitors to your site on a consistent basis, which increases your chances of making a sale in the future. It exposes readers to your writing when they might not otherwise have found it. For writers, blogs are also invaluable for building your mechanics and your credibility with your audience.
And, regardless of whether or not you’re trying to sell anything, blogging is an excuse to write. What could be better than that?