Read This Before Your Blog’s Bait And Switch
I’m referring of course to Mitch Joel’s blog about something he calls the social contract. I read it while in the midst of being conflicted about the same issue of building a thriving community only to change to high-powered sales pitch. I’ve seen it advised, and I’ve seen it happen. And each time I felt as if I were missing some information.
- Is it cold turkey, or a kind of gradual change-over from “Take my advice” to “Buy my stuff?”
- Do we give advanced notice (which I see as apologetic), or do we just throw up new banners, advertorials, and buttons and wait for the clicks?
- How do we deal with the inevitable mass exodus of readers and bring in newcomers?
It just didn’t seem that doing something like this seamlessly was possible, and when I read Mitch’s post I agreed wholeheartedly with opting to hold onto the unspoken existing agreement we have with our communities. I go to some expecting deep thoughts, others expecting useful advice applicable to me, and still others expecting to be sold on some new tool, course, or book.
So I wasn’t missing any information. If we find we want to switch our approach to blogging, it’s probably because we’ve either lost touch with the original goal for our blog or we never had one in the first place.
Owning that is good. Making our readers suffer from our sudden itch to change over is bad.
If you find you want to start selling to your community, my advice as a reader:
Do it gradually. A review you benefit from or a course with your affiliate link is fine once a month, to me. If I like what you’ve had to offer so far, I’ll feel confident you’ll only offer the best for purchase as well. But if I start to notice it everywhere, I’ll start to wonder if you’ve lost your day job.
Note responses. If readers don’t click, take the banner down or move it and try again. Ask for feedback from those who do respond, and learn which types of things your readers are most willing (or at least not as resistant) to purchase.
Make a new space. When you want to offer something unrelated to your current brand, or in a different format than anything else currently on offer in your current space, making a new one and directing customers there regularly is a good way to stay consistent in both places.
Thanks to Jason Konopinski for the kick-start to writing this post!
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I personally don't like to do a hard sell on my blog. Rather, I talk about the tips, techniques and products that I use and how it helps me out without trying to pitch the product. I try to give valuable information and speak from personal experience.
richescorner Yes--not all of us are trying to actually monetize the blog itself, but simply use it to build our professional stature and network. I think doing what you do is a perfect way to make people remember you--and think of you when they need a product like yours.
What an excellent post and so observational...I'm sure that's a new coin. This hits home with me as I have often wondered how to smoothly transition into a sales mode via affiliates. But, it's so not me, and I'd need to relegate to the back page with a few hints to go check that out.
My original goal was to be a thought leader; that is accomplished...now what? Monetize the blog? But, I need to have a product vs. a service, right?
It's a conundrum, for sure. What is your solution, Shakirah?
Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing Um... yeah, so my advice was as a reader, not a blogger... lol.
Having a product would certainly make things easier to warm the readers of something like an ebook to hire you later. The thing is, it would need to be targeted for potential clients, and as we know, that's not always the same as our blog readers (different levels of awareness and understanding of their needs and your services, often). But if you have a solid blog community (and you do), you can expect support from it otherwise, like in the form of reviews in places you may not be able to reach. And as we know, the best part is you don't have to schedule a telephone consult--the money just keeps coming in.
But there's also the soft sell, like adamtoporek mentioned: the opt-in newsletter with tight, exclusive content. You can showcase your services like you do in your Animoto film or show something like a day in your life (heavily edited to just the "glamorous" parts, of course, lol) and put it in your sidebar for readers who are curious about what it would be like to work with you. I'm a fan of how @ameenafalchetto shows the making of one of her brand visualizations, and I really want to create an Animoto film for my services, too. It gives people some idea of what they're getting into.
ShakirahDawud adamtoporek ameenafalchetto Wait. Really? How did I not understand, and still don't, you are counseling the readers. OK, my dumb.
Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing adamtoporek ameenafalchetto Lol, no, no, no--please no! I'm just laughing at myself for copping out in my post!
Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing adamtoporek ameenafalchetto I guess did that Death Valley thing again, didn't I? I'm watering!
I think it comes down to the difference between the "hard sell" and the "soft sell." The former is almost always a turnoff, and the latter will be okay with the great majority.
adamtoporek Important difference. Something like an opt-in for a newsletter at the end of a post is definitely not going to ruffle anyone's feathers even if it just appears all of a sudden.
ShakirahDawud adamtoporek As seanmcginnis reminded me on more than one occasion, building a level of trust and thought-leadership is one of the very first stages in the sales process.
Honesty goes a long way. I try to let my readers know what I am doing and why. Most of them are understanding and willing to work with whatever I put up provided I am not obnoxious about it.
TheJackB Yes--as long as you have that understanding, I'd expect you to be fine with your readers; sometimes we get a little overeager and forget that our readers are practically our partners in raising a blog.
I'm happy to have provided you with the inspiration for this post, shakirahdawud !
Testing the waters is definitely important. I look at my analytics weekly to see how and where people are going on the site. With the launch of the podcast, I'm seeing lots of new visitors (ostensibly to consume a different sort of content). Opt-ins for the newsletter have been minimal, but it's still too early to declare that a failure. :)