When the issue of making money as a blogger is discussed, it’s often in the context of producing revenue through ad sales or AdSense clicks. While there are plenty of bloggers that are making money in this manner, there are certainly other ways to profit from a blog, and in fact many have had much better results with other methods.
From my experience as a blogger, I’ve made money by selling ads and by offering services. Both have pros and cons, but today I’d like to focus on the practice of using a blog to promote services. When I first started blogging my only goal was to use the blog to generate more web design business through Vandelay Website Design. With so many designers out there, I saw the blog as an opportunity to indirectly promote my services and to get visitors to the site. Although through the past year or two, very little has actually gone the way I thought it would (mostly because I didn’t really understand blogging at that point), I can say that it has more than exceeded my expectations in terms of helping to generate business.
I know there are many others like me who have benefited from their blog’s ability to help promote a service business, but most service providers are still not using a blog in any way, and most bloggers are looking to make money in other ways besides services. From my experience, blogging and services go together just as well, if not better, than blogging and ad sales, and I’d like to share some of the things that I’ve learned.
Tips for Using a Blog to Promote Your Services
1. Promote Yourself Passively
One of the biggest keys to using a blog for marketing and promotional purposes is to take the right approach in the first place. Think about blog readers. They visit blogs and subscribe to their feeds because they appreciate and enjoy the content that is published. They’re not interested in subscribing to a blog that does nothing more than promote their own services.
Most forms of marketing and advertising are completely different from blogging. For this reason, when those who are new to blogging think of their blog as a promotional tool, they often take an approach that isn’t going to produce the best results.
Promoting yourself passively with a blog involves publishing a high quality of content, and that content will essentially do the promotion for you. Rather than using your blog to tell readers that you are the best at whatever service you provide, prove that to them passively by creating a blog that is highly useful to readers. If this is the case, when people are interested in your services they will be confident that you can do a great job for them.
2. Prove Your Worth
Proving your worth is part of promoting yourself passively. By becoming a valued source of information and a leading blogger in your industry, the perceived value of your services will be much higher than it would be otherwise. You could be providing the same exact quality of service as someone else who isn’t blogging, but because you have been able to prove your worth to your blog readers, they are almost guaranteed to come to you before going to someone with whom they are not familiar.
As a service provider, your reputation will have a considerable impact on the amount of business you get, and on the rates that you’re able to charge. Blogging is one of the best ways that you can work on building a reputation for yourself. It’s a great approach for those who are just starting a business, because there are no significant costs involved (just time), and you’ve got an equal opportunity as other service providers to get the attention of potential customers and to build a solid reputation quickly.
3. Don’t Hold Back
The natural inclination from most blogging service providers is to hold back the “good stuff” for paying customers. While there’s nothing wrong with the mindset, the fact is that it will be hard to produce a truly outstanding blog if you are holding back. Most likely there are other bloggers out there who are willing to share more information with readers, and so your watered-down blog will not stand out as a leader in the industry.
Sure, there may be some times where there are pieces of information that you don’t want to share publicly on your blog, but the main issue here is that you should have the mindset of creating a high-quality, exceptionally useful blog, even if it means sharing some valuable information for free.
4. Set a Schedule
As a service provider, there will be plenty of responsibilities that will keep your days packed. One of the benefits of monetizing a blog through ad sales is that this approach allows you to focus your time on content creation. However, as a service provider you’ll obviously need time to work with clients and customers, or the whole purpose of blogging is useless.
Although it can be a real challenge for service providers to find time for blogging, it’s very feasible if you account for it in your schedule and plan ahead. There’s no need to publish new content everyday, so focus on quality moe than quantity. Think about how much time it takes you to create blog posts from start to finish, and about how much time you anticipate having available in your schedule.
While there is no need to have a rigid posting scheduled that must always be followed, it is extremely helpful to have a tentative schedule of a specific number of posts per week, as well as some time slots in your schedule dedicated to writing those posts. Without dedicating time to the blog, it’s very easy to go for a month at a time without writing, while you’re busy working with clients and handling all the aspects of your business.
5. Use Social Media and Social Networking to Increase Your Audience
If you are using a blog to promote your own services, you should also be getting involved at social networking sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook. There are so many different social networking sites that there is not really a right or wrong choice (although Twitter is now close to a no-brainer), the most important thing is that you’re actively participating somewhere.
Social media sites are a great way to gain exposure for your blog quickly, and networking sites will help you to build a strong network and a reputation within your industry. If you’re not familiar with social media, I recently published a four-part series to getting results with social media for bloggers.
6. Get Around
Building your reputation as a leader in your industry and proving your worth will be much easier if you’re active in other places besides your own blog. Get involved at other blogs in the niche by leaving comments, or better yet, by writing guest posts. Network with other bloggers, do interviews, draw links from other websites and blogs. People want to work with those who they read about or who they see as experts, so make a real effort to be seen at other places besides your own blog.
7. Treat Your Blog as a Valuable Part of Your Business
You will get out of your blog whatever you put into it. If you put very little in, you’ll get very little out. If you truly see the blog as a great opportunity to grow your business and you dedicate time and effort to it, you’ll see the results. If you want your blog to make a difference for your service business, you must look at it as a valuable aspect of your business that is critical to your overall success.
8. Keep Your Content Focused and On Target
If your purpose in blogging is to promote your services, your content should be very focused and relevant to the services that you provide and to those who may be potential clients/customers. This would differ greatly for the approach you might have with a personal blog. On your business blog you’ll want to have an impact with each post, so keep it focused.
9. Welcome Readers of All Kinds, Not Just Those Who are Potential Customers
Even if your blog does become a tremendous tool for promoting your business, the fact is that only a small percentage of your readers will ever become customers. Many of them will visit strictly for the free content, with no intention of ever paying for anything from you, and there’s nothing wrong with that. At my blog for Vandelay Website Design, the vast majority of my regular readers are other designers who will never be interested in hiring someone else to design a site for them. However, these readers are still extremely valuable to me because they help to raise my profile in the industry, and in many cases they are also bloggers, and hopefully they’ll link to me at some point. All of this helps to expose my blog to more people, and some of them will turn into clients.
10. Keep it on Your Own Domain
Service providers are sometimes tempted to start their blog on a separate domain from their main website. My advice is to keep it all together at one domain. Hopefully, over time your blog will attract links and develop an established presence with search engines. If this is the case, the rest of the site can also receive a boost in search engine traffic as a result of a stronger domain.
What’s Your Experience?
Do you offer services? If so, have you used a blog to increase your profile and to promote your services? What has worked well for you?