Essential Tools — Blogs

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We’re going to wrap up the 20 core lessons in Internet Marketing for Smart People by talking about some of the essential tools of the trade for marketers in the 21st century.

These aren’t fads, trends, or quick fixes. They’re the tried-and-true tools that worked yesterday and are going to keep working tomorrow. These are the cornerstones of your marketing, whether you’re a solo shop (maybe a consultant or a coach), or are building a multi-million-dollar business empire.

Build an authoritative hub

Your web site lives at the center of your internet marketing plan. That web site needs to have a ton of great content. It needs to be valuable enough to attract lots of links, and to be intelligently optimized for SEO. That means you need to be able to update it quickly and easily, and the back-end code has to be state of the art.

So what’s the right tool to build that website? Whether or not you call it a blog, you’ll want to use blogging software to build your site. Even so-called “static sites” are faster and smarter to build with good content management software like WordPress.

Chris Brogan calls this your home base. It’s the core site where you’ll build your reputation online and establish yourself as a credible online authority.

Most people call this a blog, but if your customers don’t think they read blogs, by all means call it something else. It can be an information directory, a client resource center, a topic library. Use the language that works for your customers.

Why should anyone read your blog?

Here’s the thing. There are hundreds of millions of blogs. Many of them are quite good. In order to get people to read yours, you have to give them a compelling reason.

Without a great answer to the question Why Should Anyone Read Your Blog? you’re dead before you begin. But don’t worry, creating a good answer to that question is within your grasp. It just takes commitment.

Also check out the article below for some of the “deadly sins” you need to avoid on your blog.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Blogging

Build authority on your own domain

There have been some great blogs built on proprietary blogging platforms, rather than their own domains.

And the owners of those great blogs, almost without exception, wish they had started the right way — with self-hosted WordPress on their own domain.

Because it’s hard to take the hit and transfer over when you’ve attracted thousands (or even millions) of links. You always lose something in the translation. And it’s hard to give up what you’ve already built.

That’s why, if you’re not blogging on your own domain right now (in other words, people type in something involving the words WordPress, Blogspot, Typepad, Tumblr, or any other site you don’t control to get to your blog), you need to switch.

Not later. Not when you make a little bigger name for yourself. Not when you can afford a killer developer to build a kickass site. Right now.

If you’re intimidated at the thought of migrating your site yourself, Men with Pens can handle it for you. They migrated my personal site and they did a quick, painless, and thoroughly professional job of it. And no, they didn’t pay me anything to say that. :)

Also, despite what some alleged “gurus” teach, please don’t try to make a third-party site like Facebook or LinkedIn into your authority hub. The cornerstone of your business must always be a site you personally control. Those other sites are terrific, but they’re not your hub.

Use the right tools for the job

While you’re creating or improving your site, you might as well go with a WordPress theme that makes the most of your site, with the best possible SEO, great-looking design, and excellent security.

Naturally I’m biased* and I think Genesis is the best theme framework out there to satisfy those requirements.

But whatever theme you use, get yourself on WordPress and use a domain you control. One of the many beauties of WordPress is you can easily update the theme at any time, to take advantage of what’s best for your current situation.

Take a good blog and make it better

There’s one painful thing about blogs — you can kill yourself creating the best content in the world, write a post that draws hundreds of comments and thousands of readers, and make yourself a total hero — and in two weeks everyone’s forgotten it already. The structure of a typical blog makes it difficult for readers to dig back in and find your very best stuff.

That’s why you’re going to make it easy for them — and give yourself an SEO boost while you’re at it. Instead of just passively writing content and letting it slip out of sight, you can take 20 minutes to pull your best posts together into a powerful asset.

Copyblogger guest writer Derek Halpern wrote up some detailed instructions for you here:

How Cornerstone Content Gets you Traffic and Subscribers

How to sell from your blog

Believe it or not, a lot of otherwise smart people used to think you couldn’t sell from a blog. That blogs were somehow inherently “not commercial,” and that all blog readers would be turned off of any attempt to promote.

I’m proud to say that Copyblogger played a key role in showing that idea was totally wrong. :)

But I’m not recommending you turn your blog into a pitchfest. The fact is, there are better tools (we’re going to talk about one of the best in the next lesson) for pure promotion, but that doesn’t mean you should never pitch from your blog.

Here are three keys to getting the most out of promotions on your blog:

1. Make sure you’re promoting strategically.

As you develop more friends in social media, you’ll find that sometimes there are more affiliate products to promote than you have days on the calendar. And product launches tend to “bunch up,” with lots of marketers within one topic all launching good products at the same time.

Think carefully about which products are truly in line with your message, and with the needs of your readers. If you know someone with a launch coming up, try to schedule them for a few guest posts in the month or so before their launch. Let your readers get to know, like, and trust the person you’re promoting, so the launch doesn’t feel like it comes out of nowhere.

Your readers’ trust is on the line with every promotion you make. Make sure everything you promote adds to your reputation.

2. Think twice about running ads for other people.

A lot of bloggers want to offset their hosting and other expenses by putting a few ads up. That’s fine, but remember, be strategic.

Avoid ads that are cheap-looking, ugly, or that don’t allow you to be highly selective about what’s being advertised. Your readers see ads on your site as a personal recommendation. Ad programs that don’t allow you to pick and choose can tarnish your credibility, as you send your readers to products and services that may be decidedly sub-par.

Nine times out of ten, ad space on your blog is better put to use with an ad for something of your own, either a product, an email newsletter, or a killer free report. Ads can also be used to demonstrate your alliances, either to a prestige product or to another online businessperson you admire.

3. Move ‘em off the blog.

We’ve tried lots of different ways to do promotions on Copyblogger, and so far we’ve found that the most effective strategy is to develop your case over time on the blog.

Do this by writing posts that:

  • Set up the need for the product
  • Vividly describe the problem your customer is facing
  • Suggest some of the features that would solve that problem

In other words, you’re building a case for the product you’ll be offering.

Once that work of “preparing for the sale” is done, you’re then ready to move readers off the blog for the final sales communication. You can either direct them to a strong landing page, or you can move them to email.

Most serious online businesspeople will tell you they’ve seen the same result — nothing can substitute for the engagement and response that you can get with email. And that’s why email marketing is going to be Lesson #19 in the Internet Marketing for Smart People series. See you then!

Sonia Simone


* I’m biased because I’m an owner of Copyblogger Media, and the Genesis framework is part of our product suite. All the details are here if you’re interested in learning more about that. :)


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