6 Tactics That Turn a Blog Into a Business Engine

image of railroad engine from 1927

Somewhere, a business owner is writing a blog post.

She writes the headline first, pens a killer introduction, and makes her point with 892 carefully crafted words.

Satisfied, she hits “Publish” and waits for fortune to arrive with a roll of $100 bills in one hand and a book deal in the other.

This is the legend of the lone blogger who climbs the mountain of success one post at a time.

I’m not going to debunk this story.

Crafting amazing content is still critical to building a modern business. But buried in this story is the assumption that a blog is all you need to succeed.

That, my friend, is just not true.

Yes, a blog is the start of an effective content strategy. But a blog can’t drive your business by itself.

It needs help from a carefully choreographed content marketing campaign.

Here are six tactics that need to be fundamental parts of any such campaign. When they are, your blog will become an engine that powers your business.

#1: Content outposts

Your blog is the hub of your online presence, like an aircraft carrier sailing in the midst of cruisers and destroyers.

However, you’ll need to extend your presence to social platforms that attract your readers:

  • Google+ for tech and hobby topics (and here are 64 ways to do so)
  • Twitter for general interest subjects
  • Tumblr (yes Tumblr!) for creative niches like photography, art, and graphic design
  • Pinterest for those topics, as well
  • LinkedIn for B2B professionals (and they have several new compelling features available)
  • Facebook for just about everything else

Start with your editorial calendar and look for opportunities to launch a conversation on a topic before publishing a blog post. Next, use your blog post to extend the conversation.

Consider posting particularly insightful comment snippets on each platform to attract more readers.

#2: Lead magnets

Lead magnets are gifts (or ethical bribes) offered to readers in exchange for their email addresses. These “leads” are then ready for follow-up marketing via email campaigns.

Even if you don’t have a product to offer today, building your email list now will set the foundation for future success.

Understand that simply saying “Sign up for updates” doesn’t cut it anymore. People are stingy with their emails, and they want something tangible and valuable before they give access to their inbox.

Effective lead magnets include special reports (7-10 pages), eBooks (30+ pages), email courses, videos, webinar replays, even regular Q&A calls. Think: valuable content that will scale as your list grows.

#3: Concierge and content landing pages

Blog posts are workhorses. But the more you post, the harder it is for readers to find and enjoy all of your content. Crafting content landing and “concierge” pages will help.

Use content landing pages to create a mini-index of your best posts focusing on a single topic. (Here’s an example I created, focused on content strategy.)

By the way, content landing pages are a smart choice to optimize for search and other discovery, since Google tends to find these pages valuable as well.

Concierge pages help new readers get oriented during their first visit. A simple “Welcome, start here” page is a savvy way to build rapport while directing readers to high-conversion and/or high-engagement posts.

#4: Confirmation pages

Confirmation pages thank new subscribers, deliver online products, or tell readers how to complete the next step in the process.

Most of the time, these are “throwaway” pages that bloggers consider an afterthought. But for your readers, this is the page that begins the process of delivering on the promise of your product.

I encourage you to take another look at these pages and seek opportunities to entice your readers to take another action.

For example:

  • On blog update thank you pages, ask the reader to sign up for your free lead magnet or even a low-cost entry product.
  • On product purchase thank you pages, offer your new customer another complementary product along with a discount. In my experience, these bonus offers do extremely well.

In general, don’t allow your readers to finish a subscription or purchase without offering them the opportunity to get more from you.

#5: A long-term email autoresponder campaign

Most of the visitors to your blog aren’t ready to do anything but read a good post.

But there is a segment of visitors who are actively gathering information about your subject. These people aren’t ready to buy something, but they are interested in getting more information.

Your goal should be to stay top of mind with this group.

Creating a long-term email campaign that delivers more personalized and comprehensive information keeps your blog — and a potential sale — just a click away.

#6: “Meet and greets” with webinars and hangouts

It’s easy to churn out posts and let your words take the place of eyeball-to-eyeball interaction.

At first, I loved blogging because it allowed me to be extroverted on my own terms. However, many people need some social contact to decide that they want to do business with you. Fortunately, there are great online tools to let you do just that.

  • Consider adding a monthly webinar to your content mix
  • Use blog posts to promote them before and after the webinar
  • Set up Google Hangouts for smaller Q&A sessions, and later blast it out via Hangouts On-Air for larger audiences.

I love it when a plan comes together

Your blog’s outposts meet readers, leads, and customers on their favorite social networks and attract them to your blog.

Then concierge and content landing pages usher readers to the best content, while high-value lead magnets turn readers into subscribers.

From there, the conversation shifts to the reader’s inbox, using a long-term email campaign to stay top of mind and make targeted offers.

Optimized confirmation pages will encourage each subscriber or customer to take “one more action,” thus deepening engagement.

Along the way, webinars and Google Hangouts continue to deepen rapport with your visitors, allowing you to become their trusted advisor and go-to expert.

This is how a blog, in tandem with other content platforms and tactics, turns into the engine that builds and powers a real business.

What other tactics are important for making sure your blog drives business (and not just the other way around)?

Flickr Creative Commons Image by wwwuppertal.

About the Author: Stan Smith founded Pushing Social to help solopreneurs and scrappy underdogs dominate their niche with smart content marketing and publishing tactics.

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  1. *What other tactics are important for making sure your blog drives business (and not just the other way around)?*

    Email out-reach. If you make a reference to a website or to a person in your article, send out a courtesy email simply letting them know that they have been highlighted in your blog post.

    Its a great way to build relationships within your niche, gives them a chance to clarify any points you may have made about them in your article. And often times they will even help you drive traffic to that blog post.

  2. Link bait! Content that’s designed to attract links in and out of your market.

    My favorite link bait tactic is creating a world-class resource page that’s continually updated.

  3. Hi Smith,
    Great contribution… actually the basic success for a blogger is that his user/reader are satisfied.

    “#4: Confirmation pages” is the point actually i want to focus. I guess this is the best way to satisfy your reader by giving him reliable content, products or information. This may build good relationship between a blogger and reader.

    Good Effort!
    Thanks!

    • Thanks Jack. Confirmation pages are often ignored. They are the first thing your reader sees after committing to take an action on your behalf (subscriptions or purchase). Adding the “next step” will keep them engaged.

  4. Stanford, you are providing a lot of important advice in this post. Honestly, it’s very important and very overwhelming at the same time. Knowing what to write based on where I’m going to post, and also WHY I should post there, well, it makes my head spin. It makes me dizzy just thinking about it, and I know I’m not alone. Thanks for helping us navigate, “like an aircraft carrier sailing in the midst of cruisers and destroyers,” as you put it.

  5. Don’t forget your traditional marketing campaigns…. those can help you. Provide a link to your website when you use direct mail and catalogs.

  6. I’ve been on the fence about offering an autoresponder in addition to my eBook, but I went and reread the article you linked to that Sonia wrote about auto responders and I think I’ve finally seen the light.

    Off to go outline my series – thanks for the reminder that this is good (and super efficient) practice.

  7. Thanks, Stan, for the great ideas for helping to build our businesses, not just our blogs.

    One thing I have to add is that building an online business is just that – building and building. It’s important to be passionate about what we’re doing. The passion drives everything else. When we’re passionate about something it helps us get through the times when we feel like throwing in the towel, when we aren’t getting enough traffic, not making sales. If we’re passionate about what we’re doing, we’ll keep pressing on, making changes, doing what it takes to continue to grow and build our business.

    Like you said in the beginning, we can’t just write a post and expect to make money. There are a lot of aspects to running a business and our blogs are just a part of that business. Passion and perseverance. I’m not sure if they are actually tactics, but they are a part of what drives our business.

  8. Hi Stan,

    Great blog tips. These tips are helpful for your business blogging. Landing pages and email marketing software are important tools to plan your future business success. You can use leadpages for landing pages and aweber or get response both are great and effective. Content plays important role to manage all that these thing for effective business blogging.
    Thank you for this wonderful post…

  9. This is a great guideline for bloggers, Stan.

    Blogging really is a dance.

    You’ve shown folks the way to the “dance”, but when we get there, we’ve got to get on the floor and try some things out.

    Whether it’s thank you pages, email sequences or just simple FB posts, blogging is about being social. Got to engage and build relationships, and that all begins with being authentic.

    People don’t care how well you dance, as long as you’re out there having fun and sharing good times with them. That’s what I love about webinars… it’s a great place to engage, bring value and let people know who you are.

    Thanks for the great ideas, Stan.

  10. Hi Stanford — great to see you here!

    Great topic too…more bloggers need to think about their site as a business.

  11. First of all, congratulations on an awesome post being featured right here on Copyblogger! What an amazing opportunity you have been given.

    I agree that content landing pages seem to really drive traffic and provide a great service to readers. This is something I am going to implement more of right away.

    I also really like the monthly webinar idea. I have used Google Hangouts many times and see where it can be an effective tool to build relationships.

    Another way of doing this could be Facebook groups. This requires more time, but it’s a way of staying in contact with your readers (and customers) every day.

    After all, isn’t it really the relationships that build the business?

    Thanks again for even more great tips and useful ideas! Your success with Pushing Social provides me with much needed inspiration each and every day. Thanks for all you do in helping others.

  12. Excellent article, Stan, I’m looking forward to implementing more content landing pages (#3) to get some more SEO juice.

  13. Great article Stan and perfect timing, as I am getting ready to launch a new blog. Time to refine my plan and take action!

  14. So glad to see you here, Stan!! And how did you know that I wait for the $100 bills to float through my window the moment I hit publish? :)

    The blog is the hub and workhorse – words to remember. Still working on the spokes to my hub.

    Question – how do you suggest starting a conversation about a topic before publishing the blog post?

    • Michaela that’s a great question and there are probably a few ways in which you could do this. This is just how I would approach it in broad terms.

      1. Look at comments or questions on blogs and in forums
      2. Initiate the conversation and invite feedback.
      3. Provide value to the conversation by providing a new angle or solution to questions or problems.

      Perhaps an example might help.

      I completely agree with Stan’s thoughts on confirmation pages and content landing pages.

      Another tactic I would add to make sure my blog drives business (and not just the other way around), is to do up a custom landing page for each guest post.

      This is how it would work:

      1. I would have a link back to the custom page from the author bio on the guest post.
      2. The custom page would greet readers from the blog they came from
      3. The custom page would also provide a lead magnet associated with the same topic and or provide links to related articles on my own blog that would interest readers from the blog they came from.

      This would encourage sign ups and in building your blog audience.

    • Answer: Facebook is a great way to connect with potential readers. Several well-crafted questions can spark interest. Other social platforms like Quora can be used the same way.

  15. Good breakdown on the proper sequence of stages. It is like the proverbial sales funnel to establish trust and give people what they want or need.

  16. Big question requiring much more space than I have here. The simplest answer is to increase the value of your lead. Survey your readers, find what they want and overdeliver.

  17. This is such valuable information! I knew it was important to have a confirmation page after email subscriptions, but I never thought about using this page to direct the subscriber to another sales page (or using the confirmation page itself as another sales page).

    It’s hard to get out of the “blogger” mindset and into the “business” mindset, but this is a great breakdown of exactly how every part of the site can be used to convert more readers. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Terrific article, Stan. I’ve come to expect them when I see Copyblogger as sender of an email. And this certainly didn’t disappoint.

    I’ve been studying Rebekah Radice and Peg Fitzpatrick’s model for a successful editorial calendar. Quality over quantity in blog postings. Engagement over broadcasting in social media.

    Where your plans are not identical, they certainly are compatible. So it is definitely one for my swipe file.

    Thank you so much.

    And yes, I can’t wait for the new and improved Premise and other New Rainmaker packages either!

    • Hi Lori!
      An either / or strategy isn’t cutting it these days.
      Making Quality or Quantity and Engagement or Broadcast decisions will put you at a disadvantage.

      The competition for reader attention and loyalty is forcing creative folks like you to use an “and” strategy that charts a course that says

      “How can we create consistently high quality content on a frequent basis?”

      How can we publish a steady stream of engaging content on our most important social channels?”

      A business that uses “and” will always outflank, outhustle and outwit (sorry I’m a Survivor fan) one that uses an “or” strategy.

  19. Landing pages is a great idea. Too much clutter, too many blog entries and archives can be distracting. And as a blog writer and reader, I personally am turned away from too much blogging. It’s a business tool, not necessarily an online journal of thought. I like interesting content and a unique writing style. Like yours, Stanford, thanks.

    • Since blogging started as an online journal of thoughts I can appreciate people still using it that way. It’s important however to match content with the audience. If *YOU* are the audience then an “stream of thought” blog would be appropriate. But if you are a business then a more customer-focused editorial plan is needed.

  20. Hi Stan! Nice post!

    I would add to your tactics, these two in order to have a blogging success:

    1) focus on a specific theme, with a very specific audience and…
    2) target ONLY to that particular audience (your ideal client).

    Cheers from Argentina!

  21. Blogs are a huge part of the internet and are a brilliant way to share your views with people who are interested. The best tactic I can think of is to share fun and engaging posts readers will enjoy and benefit from.