Blogging has become an activity for thousands of Millennials and older people looking to make a buck or dreaming to quit their full-time job. However, talking to many bloggers at Hispanicize 2015, I learned that some are still running behind their dream, and even those with three or more year of blogging still have no real clue how to make some decent money. Moreover, those who have become entrepreneurs have done it hitting their heads to the wall many times.
I discovered blogging recently, when I launched LatinasinBusiness.us (LIBizus). Although I don’t have a formal education in journalism, most of my background has been in writing for newsy and trade publications. Blogging brings a new freedom, especially if you are doing “your own thing.” Even if you are writing content directed to certain people, product or brand, the fact that you can talk freely about your preferences and feelings is, to say the least, liberating and enjoyable.
In blogging, there are no rules other that great writing and incredible, unique content that would pick up readers and fans’ attention and take them to action. You want those readers to become your fans and comment on your blog, share the information you provided or tell you how they feel and what they did in such same situation.
However, converting those fans and followers into leads and customers might require a little bit of additional ingredients. Some marketing and business experience makes the framework from where you might plan, develop and nail your strategy. Here are some actions steps that might help:
- Know your elevator pitch:
In business, you are asked to be able to define your vision, product or service in a phrase or two or your elevator pitch; in fact, the time it takes for a person to talk to a stranger in an elevator lift. When I’m asked, for instance, I can easily and simply say that “LIBizus advocates for the economic empowerment of Latinas in the workplace by bringing their stories to the forefront and offering them resources and information.” What is your one line that defines your blog? If you can’t put it in a simple sentence, maybe you are not clear about what your vision is.
- Define your product:
What is your product? I repeatedly asked several bloggers I talked to, and many could not pin it. They kept telling me about the content they were writing about or the animation they were planning to do but in reality, they had little idea of what their “product” was all about.
Let’s see: unique content is what everybody writes to promote their style, ideas, even share some information and news. Fashion bloggers talk about how much they love their cats despite the little creatures ruin their stockings while business bloggers remember the tough times when they faced difficult decisions in their personal lives that affected their business. The magic of blogging is that people are fascinated by the “stories,” the persona behind the blog, who you are and where you come from. You are building trust and relationships with your potential customers.
However, that is NOT your product; that is your journey, what brought you here, where you come from and why people should trust you. You have “been there,” “done that,” and succeeded, or learned your lesson and moved on. Those are the peripheries of the real “product”: sharing your expertise, your knowledge, those ideas that will help your customers thrive.
For instance, I read many social media blogs that talk generalities or particularities about using social media but I only buy from those who show me real strategies that improve my social media reach, or tools that facilitate my job. Products, tangible or intangible, must achieve the same goal: to solve my customer problem or fulfill their need. In business, we say that a good product will take the customer’s “pain” away. Think your product in those terms. What are you offering that is catering to some need in their life or business and will want to buy from you?
- Writing about brands or branding your writing
According to Entrepreneur, “your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.”
Now, if you are writing about brands or branded products, why would people trust you if they don’t know who you are? How do you use those products and what are the “real” results? Are you telling the truth if brands are paying for content? You might be telling the truth but your customers don’t know that.
However, if you brand yourself, you deliver “your promise to your customer,” by showing them who you really are and what you really believe in, then you might be able to sell a particular branded product. Being consistent with your choices and with the products you write about is instrumental in building relationships. Also be truthful about your choices and your defeats. Praise the brand but also tell it like it is. People want to know the truth –or at least what they perceive as the truth.
Warning about brands: Many brands just give product away for bloggers to review. It cost them very little and they have a number of micro-bloggers talking to thousands of fans about them. If 100 micro-bloggers Tweet about a product to their 3K to 5K followers, that is a good amount of impressions but engagement might be tough. They are only looking for cheap exposure of their brand, and do not expect that they will go much further. In Spanish, we ask, “¿Qué es mejor, ser cabeza de ratón o cola de león?” (What is best, to be a mouse’s head or the lion’s tail?) meaning, you decide if you want to build your own brand or keep branding for someone else.
- Look at your competition and learn from them:
Millions of bloggers write every day about products, news, politics, business, the environment, parenting and more. Even professional bloggers write for brands without disclosing their names –sometimes called ghost writing. Content writing and content strategy companies are building their services based on assignments from large, medium and small corporations looking to access the world of social media. So there is competition for your blog out there, even if you are writing about insects surviving in the dessert.
In business, “positioning” your brand or your product means to find that unique edge or angle, that particular feature that makes your brand or product special and different from the competition. In order to find those characteristics, you need to study your competitors, yes, study, observe, and spy what they do, how they do it, and why they are being successful. Find the most popular blogs in your topic and look at their strategies, topics, etc. What are they doing different that you could incorporate to your blog?
Now, positioning is related to learning from others but applying your own judgment to your brand or product, which in the end will make your content unique. If your competition became popular talking about their private life and you don’t feel that type of disclosure is for you, then move to another competitor and see if they have a similar approach to yours.
For instance, I looked at many business sites and Latina blogs and found that not many considered working Latinas as a whole. They either talked about business matters –banking, access to capital, insurance, promotions, HR and more- or they addressed the celebrity/fashion/makeup/lifestyle topics. So when I designed LIBizus sections, I devoted some of them to topics of business interest and some to the way we like to look and behave in the workplace. After all, we still put make up on and style our hair when we go to work every day!
- Last but not least, have a business plan:
You are not going to like this but if you want your blog to make you money, then you need to treat your blog as a business. If you prefer to wake up and just think about what you feel writing about today, then it is not a business, it is a hobby, a way to express yourself.
A business plan for your blog does not have to be a traditional business plan, those that startups put together to get funding with a bank or lender. Well, at least not in the beginning until you decide to take it up a notch. To start, you just need an action plan, a guide to follow every week. Set your goals for the next week, and see what you need to do in order to get there.
An action plan can be a series of lists –Kathy Cano-Murillo @craftychica, the very popular Mexican-American blogger, works with to-do lists every time she wants to achieve her goals– or it can be a more comprehensive action plan that would guide you into several months of activity.
Stay tuned because we’ll be talking about building an action plan very soon! If you like this content, please comment below and let me know if this article reflects your situation, how long you have been blogging and your topic. Do not forget to include you blog URL and @Twitter handle so we can look at your particular situation and help in any way we can!