Your blog should have a purpose beyond getting readers. Is it to educate? Amuse? Inspire? Whatever the cause, chances are that at some point you'll have ideas for products and service promotion, either for yourself or others. I'm going to show you how to sell them.
ASV: Always Show Value
The key is showing value. I'm talking about posts that lead with a must-click headline and then deliver with a great story that illustrates the benefits of what you're offering.
Perhaps no one does this better than Pat Flynn, an online entrepreneur best known for the Smart Passive Income blog, which teaches strategies for earning money online. The resources page lists a variety of products Flynn has tried and endorses. Readers who become buyers earn him a commission known as an affiliate fee.
Here's as close as Flynn gets to a sales pitch for one of his most recommended earners, OptinSkin, an email marketing tool:
"My biggest blogging regret is still how long I waited before collecting email addresses. Glen Allsop from Viperchill.com created OptinSkin, a fantastic tool to help us more easily embed email opt-in forms into our websites. I use it specifically at the bottom of my posts and I love it. Click here to read my review post, which comes with an add-on bonus!"
Flynn answers two key questions here. First, he explains why the product matters to him. Then, he explains how he uses it and includes a link to a follow-up post with more details. Adopt this same style in your own posts -- why does it matter, and how do you use it? -- and you'll have the makings of a blog post that not only informs but also converts.
Inform, Then Sell
Getting the mix right is the tough part. Your readership doesn't click over to your blog just to be sold to. They click because you offer something of value. Whether it's financial advice, family-friendly movie reviews or cute chinchilla photos, you're offering something that readers want. You can't sell without first establishing a reputation as a trusted provider of useful information.
But once you've done that, no one will be surprised to see you pitching products related to what you're writing about on your blog. If anything, if you've done your job right, they'll be demanding it. Here's how to deliver:
- Be clear about your intentions. Again, look at Flynn's resources page. From the get-go, he's selling you products that he deems to be valuable. Flynn knows he's better off being upfront with his readers by disclosing the financial arrangement and the circumstances that led him to enter into it.
- Show enthusiasm! Look at how Flynn talks about OptinSkin. He doesn't just like it or endorse it, he loves it and uses it. He's committed to the product and believes you should be too. The review post he refers to in his main endorsement explains why, delivering real value to the reader.
- Be relatable. If you've been blogging for a few months you'll have developed a relationship with your readers. Appeal to their interests. With the OptinSkin review, Flynn is proposing to help his readers grow their audience -- something every would-be professional blogger is interested in. In that sense, he isn't selling so much as solving a known problem and collecting a check for the privilege.
Blogging for Dollars
Flynn may be in rare company, but plenty of bloggers make money from their writing. If you're reading this, you probably hope to do the same someday. Selling products is one of the best ways to do precisely that, but doing so requires writing content that attracts and converts.
Be clear about your intentions to sell. Show honest, rational enthusiasm for what you're offering. And finally, demonstrate how your offer solves a problem. Do that, and your readers will not only buy -- they'll keep coming back for more.