SEO and SEM in Digital Marketing: Advantages of Each Acquisition Channel

Despite the difference between search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), many people are still confused in distinguishing one from the other. In reality, SEO and SEM are vastly different, even though they present similar goals. SEO focuses on organic traffic, while SEM is all about improving web visibility on search engines. Yes, …

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How to Create a Facebook Group for Your Business [+ Why You Should]

Facebook groups have helped me find roommates in Boston, potential dog breeders for a family pet, and women’s networking opportunities in the nearby area.

In short: Facebook groups are undeniably valuable.

Recently, companies have taken advantage of groups for their own benefits, as well — Peloton, for instance, uses groups to connect its users and facilitate a space where people can share exercise plans, training methods, and workout schedules with one another.

Other brands, including National Geographic and Instant Pot, have followed suit, creating their own community-focused groups to inspire action, encourage engagement, and increase brand loyalty.

Even HubSpot recently created its own private group, Marketer to Marketer.

If you’re considering creating a Facebook group for your own company, you’ll want to keep reading. Here, we’ll explore the differences between Facebook groups and Pages, how to create a Facebook group, and whether or not it’s worth the effort.

Let’s dive in.

Should I create a Facebook group for my business?

To determine whether a Facebook group is a good idea for your business, let’s start with the differences between a Facebook group and a Facebook Page.

Most businesses should have a Facebook Page. A Page enables you to advertise on Facebook, and it’s a public-facing profile to post company-relevant updates and announcements to Facebook users at-large.

If you’re a nonprofit organization, a Page also enables you to post a ‘Donate’ button to increase donations from the Facebook community.

Considering 1.56 billion people are on Facebook, it’s vital your business has a Facebook Page to increase brand awareness, advertise to new audiences, collect audience insights, and even chat with users looking for customer service.

As Gary Vaynerchuk told HubSpot’s CEO Brian Halligan, “… You can’t be alive in the game without a Facebook.”

All of which is to say: Having a Facebook Page is a requirement for getting your business active on one of the largest social media platforms.

A Facebook group, on the other hand, is much smaller-scale and typically more exclusive than a Page. For instance, with a group, you’re able to set up open membership, membership upon approval, or even membership by invitation only. Then, once members are accepted into your group, they’re able to freely post and engage with one another.

Simply put, a Facebook Page is company-focused, while a Facebook group is community-focused.

A group is a good idea if you’re interested in connecting your customers or leads to one another, you want to facilitate a sense of community surrounding your brand, or you’re hoping to showcase your brand as a thought leader in the industry.

However, a group is not a good idea if you want to use it to raise awareness about your products or services, or simply use it to post company announcements.

People want to join groups in which they feel a sense of belonging and connection with fellow group members, and to learn about an industry at-large — which takes effort, resources, and time to ensure your team can deliver.

If you don’t feel you have the resources to cultivate a valuable, engaging Facebook group, it might be best to wait until you do.

However, if you’ve determined a Facebook group is the right decision for your own business, let’s explore how you can create one.

How to Create a Facebook Group for Your Business

1. On your company’s Facebook homepage, click “Groups” on the left-hand side.

the group button on facebook homepage

2. Click the “+ Create New Group”.

create new group button on facebook

3. Type in a Group Name, and then choose your privacy (Public versus Private). You also have the option to invite Facebook friends immediately if you’d like. Then, click “Create”.

dashboard for creating a new facebook group

4. Click “Edit” on your cover photo to choose from Facebook photos, illustrations, or upload a photo from your computer.

the edit button to change your facebook group cover photo

5. Add a description to your Group so people know what your group is about. Additionally, if you want to create a private group for customers, you can copy-and-paste customer email addresses into your “Invite” box.

the box on a facebook group to add a group description or invite friends

And that’s it! Your Facebook Group is now ready-to-go.

However, to encourage strong retention and engagement, you’ll want to be an active community lead. To pin posts, create a poll in the group, and more, keep reading.

How to Pin a Post in a Facebook Group

A pinned post is a post that will remain at the top of your group’s timeline for seven days (unless you unpin before then).

This is important if you’ve posted content to encourage engagement. For instance, if you’ve posted an Ask Me Anything, you might want to pin that post to ensure users can find it easily even once group members start posting their own content on the timeline.

Additionally, if you’ve posted to welcome new members to the community and provide some necessary information on your group, you might want to keep that post pinned to ensure new users have the right context as soon as they jump into your group for the first time (of course, you’ll also want to provide context in your description, as well).

1. To pin a post, you’ll first need to type your message into the “What’s on your mind” box, and then click “Post”.

2. Once the post is published, click the three dots at the top right of your post and select “Mark as announcement”:

the button to pin a post on facebookAnd that’s it! Your post is now pinned to the top of your timeline for the next seven days.

Next, let’s dive into how you can create a poll in your new group.

How to Create a Poll in a Facebook Group

1. To create a poll in a Facebook group, start by clicking into the “What’s on your mind?” box. Then, click on the three dots that say “More”:
the three dots you need to click to create a facebook poll

2. Next, click “Poll” out of your menu options.

the poll tool within facebook

3. Type your poll question into the text space, and then add your individual options into each text box. Click “Poll options” to fine-tune your poll. When you’re ready, click “Post” to immediately publish your poll.

the create poll feature in facebook

How to Create a Private Facebook Group

1. You have the option to create a Private or Public Facebook group when you’re first creating a group:

privacy options for facebook groups2. However, if you created a public Facebook group and now want to make it private, you can do that by clicking “Settings” under “Manage Group” (from within your group): 

manage group dashboard on facebook3. Next, click the pencil besides “Privacy” and click on the “Private” bubble (Note: It takes three days to change a group from public to private):

changing your group to private on facebookTo learn more about the benefits of having a private Facebook group, read about how HubSpot made the decision to make its own private Facebook group — plus, why the social team feels the Facebook group is critical for faciliating deeper, more meaningful connections between HubSpot users and the industry as a whole.

And that’s it! You’re now on your way to engaging with leads, prospects, or customers directly within your Facebook group to increase brand loyalty and value.

If you’re looking for inspiration before designing your own Facebook group, take a look at 9 of The Best Facebook Groups We’ve Ever Seen.

7 Call-to-Action (CTA) Tools to Help You Increase Conversions

When you create and add a compelling call-to-action (CTA) to any content — such as a website, blog post, or social media profile — you have the potential to convert more visitors into qualified leads and customers. That’s because a well-crafted CTA helps increase conversions and, therefore, prospects, customers, and revenue.

Call-to-Action Tools

Call-to-action tools, or CTA tools, exist to make the process of creating and adding CTAs to your website, blog, or social media posts simple.

You may already have access to a CTA creator/generator in your current business tools, such as your Marketing Software. If that’s not the case, consider using any of the following CTA tools to efficiently create and add CTAs where you need them most.

Here are seven tools for generating CTAs so can begin increasing conversions.

1. HubSpot Calls-to-Action

hubspot calls to action cta tool

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HubSpot’s Calls-to-Action tool allows you to create, personalize, test, and optimize CTAs that drive qualified leads to your landing pages in seconds. The easy-to-use CTA builder doesn’t require a designer and helps you make CTA buttons or CTA pop-ups. You can also upload custom button design or image-based CTAs of your own.

When personalizing CTAs, HubSpot provides useful information about individuals from your contact database (e.g. industry, lifecycle stage) to help you tailor the CTA to them. Or, if you’re targeting anonymous visitors, use other helpful details like their location or language.

Once your CTAs are complete, add them to web pages, landing pages, blog articles, or emails. Then, A/B test, analyze, and optimize your CTA’s and their performance — you can easily manage all of your CTA data from a single dashboard in HubSpot that displays views, clicks, and conversions.

2. Wishpond

wishpond call to action cta tool

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With Wishpond, create and optimize CTAs for web and landing pages with a drag-and-drop builder and over 20 templates. A/B and/or multivariate test versions of your CTAs to determine which does the best job of converting visitors.

Advanced tracking provides insight into which CTAs are most effective among your visitors. Meanwhile, marketing automation assists with customer segmentation (once visitors have converted, thanks to your CTA, of course) and sending emails. Wishpond also integrates with over 40 different tools to make tasks (such as data analysis, closing deals, and team-wide collaboration) simple.

3. Sniply

sniply cta call to action tool

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With Sniply, add CTAs to the links you share (e.g. web page, blog article, social media post) — in other words, overlay a customized CTA on any content.

Simply enter any URL that you want to include a CTA (this can be one of your own URLs or one from a third-party site). Sniply will then generate a slightly different, shareable URL for you. Once your audience clicks on the new URL, your CTA will be visible on the page.

Customize a CTA’s look (color, text, size), type (banner, pop-up), and placement on the page. Then, monitor your results and track CTA engagement from within Sniply to better understand how your audience interacts with your CTAs.

4. ClickMinded

clickminded cta call to action tool

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ClickMinded’s Da Button Factory is a free tool for generating CTAs that you can add to your website, social media post, email, or blog article. Decide what you want your CTA to say and look like by selecting button text, font, style, color, background, and size — then, the tool will generate your CTA.

Once you’re ready to implement your new CTA, opt to either download the image file or implement the button as HTML + CSS.

5. Canva

canva cta call to action tool

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Canva is an easy-to-use graphic design software with drag-and-drop features and a variety of pre-built templates that you can customize — if you’re looking to design something from scratch, you can easily do that in Canva by simply selecting your own dimensions.

Canva does not currently have a specific template for CTAs, however, it’s easy to build your own. After selecting the dimensions for your CTA, design and brand the button in any way you want. The Canva dashboard is easy to navigate, even for those without any design knowledge.

Once your CTA design is complete, download the final product and upload it to your content management system (CMS) so you can insert the CTA on a landing or web page.

6. ImageFu

imagefu cta call to action tool

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ImageFu is a button and badge generator — the tool can create CTAs in seconds. Simply type the text you want to appear in your CTA button (this can span multiple lines) and customize it to your liking. Select your border, background, shadow, corners (type and radius), and size. Then, download the CTA and save it to your device so can add it to your CMS and insert it onto a web page.

7. ButtonOptimizer

button optimizer cta call to action tool

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ButtonOptimizer is a free CTA generator that helps you customize CTA buttons for your website or landing page. Select the base color of your CTA as well as the text, size, border, icon, and shadow. Once you’re satisfied with the look of your CTA, the tool will prompt you to decide whether you want to download it as a PNG file or CSS code so you can then insert it on your site.

How To Make a Vlog [Step by Step]

I will argue with alarming confidence (and no actual data) that 90’s kids were the original vloggers.

When I was about 14 years old, someone handed me a digital camera that I spent hours talking to. I would take my audience (AKA me) on my teen adventures and say things like, “Hey guys, it’s Martina. Today, my cousin and I are going over to her friend’s house.” Exciting stuff. Thankfully, that footage never saw the light of day.

When YouTube first launched, people like me finally had a platform to share stories, entertain, and educate. But then, vlogging evolved into what we know it as today: a sustainable income source for influencers and an effective content marketing tool for brands.

So, how do you start vlogging? We’ll cover that and more here.

1. Feel out the competition and find your niche.

Before you pull out your camera and start filming, you’ll have to do some strategizing. It starts with finding your niche.

This means narrowing down what your vlog will cover based on your brand, audience, and demand.

Starting with your audience: Does vlogging align with your user persona? This is critical, as you want to meet your audience where they are. Imagine creating these high-quality videos for YouTube, but your ideal customer lives on Facebook and prefers short-form videos. In this case, you would have wasted time and resources. So, start by reviewing your persona and ensuring this venture is a worthy investment.

Here are additional steps you should take to narrow down your niche:

  • Confirm the demand for your content – Use tools like Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner to double-check the interest in the type of content you will be producing. This is a useful step to generate video ideas during the initial planning phase as well as later on, when the channel is live.
  • Check out your competition – How many brands are currently creating the content you’d like to produce? To get your answer, head to YouTube, put your keywords in the search bar and go through the videos on the results page. This will tell you how saturated the market is and the difficulty level to stand out.
  • Brainstorm your approach – Once you know who your competitors are, analyze their content and develop a fresh, unique approach to fit your audience.

2. Develop a content strategy.

Now that you’ve found your niche, here comes the fun part: content planning.

Just as you would for a blog or social media account, you want to break down your content ideas. Start with broad topic clusters and work your way down to specific videos. If you’re having trouble, HubSpot’s Business Blogging course can serve as a great foundation for structuring your content.

From there, you can group your ideas into series, which work great on vlogging channels. Think of them as segments on a TV show. They fall under the broader topic but only cover something specific. For instance, let’s say Tasty wants to start a food vlog. There are several subseries they could have, including:

  • Recipe series.
  • Food shopping series.
  • Cooking accessories series.
  • Food tasting series.

Social listening will also help you keep your ear to the ground and generate new content ideas.

With vlogging, there’s an additional layer of planning involved. Will you need any props for filming? Do you need to be at a particular location? All of this will call for advanced planning to ensure filming goes smoothly.

Once you know what topics you will cover, tackle the less concrete areas. What will be your channel’s aesthetic and style? Is it light and airy or dark and moody? It’s important your vlog channel matches your overall brand. So, go back to your brand identity and use that as your guide to design your channel.

3. Invest in your equipment.

Having a successful vlog isn’t only about having great content. It’s also about having the right equipment to produce high-quality videos. Every video you produce needs:

  • A camera that captures in-focus subjects.
  • Clear and crisp audio.
  • Lighting to match the brand’s aesthetic.
  • A non-distracting background that supports the foreground.

If you’re on a budget, here are a few essentials to get you going:

  • A ring light or softbox for lighting.
  • A lav mic for audio.
  • A phone with a camera.
  • A phone stand or tripod.
  • A backdrop, if you want an empty background.

As your channel grows, you can invest in additional equipment.

4. Film and produce in batches.

One of the benefits of content planning is that you can then film multiple vlogs at once. Batch filming will save you hours of set up and make scheduling a breeze.

Start by looking at the content you plan on filming over the next few weeks. Then, see which ones can be filmed together.

Keep in mind that not every series will allow for batch-filming. For instance, if some of your vlogs will consist of behind-the-scenes footage, this strategy won’t work. Batch filming works best for videos within the same series with little to no change in the setting, like talking head vlogs.

Once you know which ones you will film, it’s just a matter of scheduling.

5. Optimize your vlog channel.

Once you’ve filmed and edited your video, there’s another step to complete before it’s ready to be published.

The first is making a thumbnail. It’s one way viewers will decide if they want to watch your video. While you can simply take a screengrab from your vlog and use that as your thumbnail, you’ll likely want to stand out with a custom thumbnail.

YouTube’s Creator Academy recommends these following specs for your thumbnail: 1280 x 720 pixels (16:9 ratio) with a resolution up to 2MB.

Next up is your video title. It’s key to gaining your audience’s interest and for SEO. Whenever you’re writing one, keep these tips in mind:

  • Include your main keyword in your title.
  • Keep your title under 70 characters.
  • Use numbers and eye-catching words to grab attention. I.e.: “X Ways to Boost Your Brand Awareness.”

Don’t forget about your video tags and descriptions. View these as additional SEO opportunities to rank higher for search queries and help audiences find your content.

6. Upload consistently.

Vlogging is a slow and steady venture that requires consistency. Yes, it’s important to have high-quality content but you can lose your audience if you don’t maintain a regular publishing schedule.

Think of your favorite TV shows. Isn’t it the worst when you’re expecting a new episode but it doesn’t air because of a football game or holiday? Well, it’s the same for vlogging.

Audiences expect consistency. When they don’t get it, they’re more likely to seek out other brands.

7. Analyze your metrics and optimize.

Once your channel begins generating views and subscribers, you can analyze your metrics to review each video’s performance.

Metrics like average watch time and audience retention can tell you if your content is resonating with your audience. Re-watches can help you identify subtopics of interest and develop more content ideas.

Impressions and click-through-rate (CTR) will tell you how attractive your thumbnail and title are. If the rate is low, you may need to try different titling strategies or use a different thumbnail template.

As with any venture, there’s trial and error involved. Analyzing your vlogs’ performance will give you the data you need to grow your channel.

1. Get familiar with the vlogging style.

There are two main types of vlog styles:

  • The documentary-style “talking head” where the vlogger sits in front of a static camera and discusses a topic for educational and/or entertainment purposes. Brands often use this for how-to videos.
  • The “come-with-me” style where the vlogger takes the audience with them to various locations. When showing behind-the-scenes or a day in the life, this style is very popular.

If the video requires it, you can also combine these two styles within one video. You can also use the styles interchangeably from one video to the next.

One mistake brands can make is take their approach to social media videos and TV, and apply it to vlogging. Vlogging audiences tend to look for longer videos that go in depth on a given topic, unlike the short, viral-friendly content you’d typically see on TikTok or Instagram.

With audiences craving more authenticity from brands, vlogs are a great opportunity to show the faces behind your brand and engage with subscribers.

2. Build from a three-act story approach.

A vlog typically follows a similar storytelling format to a blog. When a viewer lands on your video, they expect an introduction to the topic followed by a deep dive. It then ends with a recap of what was discussed and a call to action.

Following this simple story structure will help you develop the content for each section of the video without straying off course. Writing video scripts is another way to make sure you cover key points in your video.

Pro-tip: Use a teleprompter app to deliver your script seamlessly without looking rehearsed.

3. Encourage viewers to engage with your vlog.

Comments, likes, shares are some of the ways your audience can engage with you on your vlog channel. But how do you encourage that behavior? It starts with your video.

Your video should include ways for your viewers to join the discussion. A simple call out like “Tell us your thoughts on X in the comment section,” or “Put a thumbs up if you agree,” urges your viewers to jump in.

Incorporating subscribers’ comments or suggestions in your future videos is another way to encourage participation and drive your engagement rate up.

4. Vlog from your phone (if that’s your style).

Depending on your budget and the style you’re going for, you can choose between vlogging from your phone or camera.

Vlogging with a phone can give a more intimate and informal look to your vlog. It’s often used to show behind-the-scenes footage or when taking the audience on an adventure with you. However, you do sacrifice image quality when filming from a phone.

If you’re on a budget, a phone will do. As your vlog channel grows, it’s worth investing in a lightweight camera that works in different lighting conditions and has key features like image stabilization and mic inputs.

How to Edit a Vlog

Use video editing software.

When filming a vlog, you’ll inevitably pause from time to time, make mistakes, or need to reshoot something. This is where editing comes in handy.

Editing videos allows you to cut down your video to keep the most important parts. There are many video editing software available ranging in price, ease of use, and features. The most popular options include:

  • iMovie(free) – This is a great beginner option if you are on a budget and own an Apple product. This software has basic editing capabilities with a sound and music library.
  • Apple Final Cut Pro(One-time fee of $299.99) – If you want to take your editing to the next level, this is a great option. It offers a large array of templates, plugins, and audio mixing settings.
  • Adobe Premiere Pro(Starts at $239.88/year) – With features like scene edit detection and virtual reality editing, Premiere is one of the best editing tools on the market. It’s ideal for brands who are producing videos frequently and require advanced editing features.

Create an intro.

A good vlogging intro serves the same purpose as your favorite show’s theme song. It helps build a connection with your audience and helps maintain consistency.

There are a few different approaches you can take with your intro. Some brands keep it simple with a simple frame of their logo while others prefer intros that give more context into the channel with voice-overs or animation.

Whatever you choose, be sure to use that intro in every video you publish.

Add sounds and music in the background.

Think of a scary movie without any terrifying music to build up the moment. Not the same, right?

Sounds and music are subtle touches that can keep your audience engaged in your content.

One thing to keep in mind is that YouTube is very strict about the use of copyrighted material. You must use royalty-free music or risk having a muted video your audience can’t enjoy.

Thankfully, there are several free music libraries online to find royalty-free music, including YouTube Audio Library and ccMixter.

Be sure to check the fine print before downloading, as some sites require you to credit the artist on your video. If you want a wider selection of music, you will likely need to subscribe to a royalty-free music library platform.

How to Start a Vlog Channel

Pick a Vlogging Platform

YouTube

YouTube is the second largest search engine behind Google and the most popular vlogging platform. According to the Pew Research Center, 73% of adults report using it, most users between 18 and 49 years of age.

So, naturally, it’s where most brands and influencers launch their channel. The platform also allows its content creators to monetize their videos with ads, offering an additional source of revenue.

YouTube is also one of the most lenient platforms when it comes to video length. Users can post videos up to 12 hours. But, like I tell myself when I’m tempted to eat a bag of gummy bears: even though you can, doesn’t mean you should.So, while the option is there, most brands should probably stick to videos under 30 minutes.

Find the steps to create a YouTube channel here.

IGTV

As soon as Instagram launched IGTV, it became another vlogging platform. Users can categorize their IGTV videos by series, which makes it easy to navigate. However, unlike YouTube, content creators are restricted to 20-minute videos.

A major benefit to this platform is the fact that it’s an all-in-one experience. Followers can scroll down a brand’s timeline to see their pictures and videos as well as shop their products.

With Instagram being an influencer hub, brands could benefit from collaborating with influencers for IGTV vlogs.

Vimeo

Although less popular, some brands use Vimeo to post their vlogs. Back in 2019, the site had a reported 170 million active monthly users. One benefit of using this platform is that there’s less competition, making it easier to stand out.

What Makes a Vlog Successful

According to a report by CNET, 70% of the videos users watch are recommended by the platform’s algorithm. So, getting on the algorithm’s proverbial good side is a great advantage.

The first tip for success is creating content that matches your audience’s interests. Google reported that when deciding what to watch, YouTube viewers choose interest over production value at 1.6 times the rate.

Some publishers report that the algorithm favors longer videos. However, spokespeople from YouTube have said it doesn’t prioritize by length, but instead by interest. The better a video performs, the more likely it will get recommended.

So, by focusing on creating high-quality content that aligns with your audience, you can have a highly successful vlog that’s engaging and drives traffic to your brand.

7 Ways to Make Your Marketing More Effective in 2021

In forecasting his trends for 2021, Hallam CEO Julio Taylor’s first point was that the post-COVID reality is permanent: The rapid rise of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns throughout the world in early 2020 compressed years of global digital transformation into just a short few weeks. The expanding role of technology to work, …

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How to Monetize Your Brand’s Blog, According to HubSpot’s Blog Leaders

Whether you’re running a personal blog or managing the official blog on your company’s website, monetizing your work is entirely possible — it just takes a good amount of time and effort.

While there’s no exact formula to start making money, there are some tried and true strategies you can start experimenting with to see what works best for your content, your business model, and your audience.

Below, we’ll dive into some of these monetization ideas and get advice from HubSpot’s own blog leaders.

How Do Blogs Make Money?

Before we dive into the monetization strategies, you might be wondering, “How will my blog make money?” Well, your blog can make money in several ways including lead generation, affiliate marketing, brand partnerships, collaborations, or advertising. To find out more, you can learn about the types of blogs that make money and see which strategy would work best for your blog.

Now that we know a few ways that blogs can make money, let’s dive into the top monetization strategies for your blog.

1. Map blog posts to specific conversion points.

As a company, you can use your blog to drive leads and conversions.

AJ Beltis, a marketing manager on HubSpot’s channel monetization team, says, “Conversion is the foundation of blog monetization. Whether it’s an ecommerce purchase, a demo request, or a content offer download, it’s imperative to have your blog posts point to an intentional, related next step in the buyer’s journey.”

So, you might be asking yourself, “How can I do that?”

Beltis’ advice is to ask yourself what somebody reading this specific blog post would want or need from your company. Then, you should create the assets you’ll need to make that conversion happen in the form of website pages, forms, or content. After that, you’ll naturally place your calls-to-action to that next step in the blog post so readers are reminded about what your recommended next step is.

“By placing these CTAs in appropriate sections of the blog, you’re more likely to capture the attention of readers with high intent. This process puts more readers on the path to become paying customers for your business,” Beltis adds.

2. Include information about your product or service in your blog posts — but do so sparingly, and thoughtfully.

When you’re writing blog posts, it’s important that each post isn’t just a sales tactic. Your blog posts should provide educational content that anyone could benefit from, not just your customers.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever mention your product or service.

According to Caroline Forsey, the editor of the HubSpot Marketing Blog, “If you’re writing content about the best tools for X, and your product or service is a good solution to that user’s search query, I’d highly recommend including it in your total roundup of tools to increase exposure and, ideally, drive more leads and customers towards your product. This is one of the most effective ways to monetize your blog for the long-term, particularly since that same piece of content might provide your business with leads 3-5 years into the future.”

Again, this doesn’t mean you should always and only promote your own product or service.

Forsey adds, “You risk damaging your blog’s reputation if you do this too often, or outside of the appropriate context. Readers don’t want to see a random ‘buy my product!’ CTA in a piece of content irrelevant to your product — and, if they feel like your content is actually just a gimmick or hidden advertisement, they’ll distrust your brand as a whole.”

To avoid this, Forsey suggests only mentioning your product or service where it makes sense, and in a list of other tools you’d suggest for businesses so they feel you’re arming them with useful information so they can make their own decision best-suited for their needs.

“Trust me: if readers enjoy reading your content and feel your brand is genuinely helpful, they’ll give your product or service a second look,” she says.

3. Build a lead funnel for your product.

If you work at a B2B company or have a long sales cycle, reading a blog post is usually a customer’s first and furthest interaction from their actual purchase. But it’s also arguably the most important stage of the inbound funnel. Attracting your audience’s attention with helpful, educational, or entertaining content creates a larger pool of people to convert into leads and close as customers. In other words, your blog marks the start of a relationship with your customers.

Lestraundra Alfred, the manager editor of the HubSpot Sales Blog, says, “If you’re looking to gain exposure from your blog, your content should help bridge the gap between the problem the reader is trying to solve and your product, which can serve as a solution. By creating content that your ideal customer is searching for and interested in, you can build a solid community of readers who are a great fit for your product, and when nurtured, can turn into customers for your business.”

Ideally, you’ll want to craft compelling blog content that your audience can discover easily through a Google search or social media. You can also pay to amplify your distribution on Facebook, which has the best targeting tools out of all the social media sites and is cost effective, or through paid search, which can thrust you to the top of a high-volume Google SERP, although some keywords are expensive.

After people start reading your blog content more, and want to read it on consistent basis, they’ll sign up for your blog’s email subscription. Once strangers to your brand, they’re now regular visitors.

When these visitors read enough blog posts, you can entice them to download conversion offers like Beltis mentioned above. Then, you can then nurture qualified leads with more blog posts and lead generators through email or Facebook ads. Consistently educating them and helping them solve their problems will build their trust, making it more likely they’ll move to the middle of your funnel when they’re ready. And once you see them researching your product or service by reading case studies, requesting a demo, or trying to contact sales, you can move them to the bottom of the funnel, where sales will qualify their fit as a customer.

Sales will close some of these leads into customers, and they’ll be thanking you when they do. Your blog introduced their customers to your brand.

4. Offer sponsored content opportunities to other brands.

Publishers like BuzzFeed and The Dodo produce content that floods social media every day. And they make money by helping other brands do it too.

Brands will collaborate with their video production, social media, and analytics teams to craft posts and videos that follow their formula for virality. Publishers also distribute this sponsored content to their massive social media and website followings. This content is similar to the publishers’ native content, so their audience will enjoy reading it, exposing their clients to a huge, engaged, and new viewership and boosting their followings and audience engagement.

If your blog generates a significant amount of traffic, you can leverage your editorial expertise and audience reach to help smaller brands tell captivating stories to a bigger and better viewership.

Doing sponsored content right can pay huge dividends for your brand. Not only does it create another revenue stream, but partnering with other marketing minds can help your team unleash unprecedented amounts of creativity. In fact, T Brand Studio, the New York Times native ad business, crafted paid posts that captured as much engagement as some of nytimes.com’s highest-performing articles.

5. Provide coaching services.

Your blog posts can serve as a teaser for how much your readers can learn from you about a certain subject matter. Because if you write about enhancing certain skills like selling, social savviness, sports, cooking, and music, your blog posts can only teach your readers so much. They need to practice these skills in real life to see substantial improvement.

But if your readers practice these skills on their own, they’ll only get so much better. If they really want to improve, training with a coach will guide them toward success faster than anything else. Think about it. What would improve your basketball skills the most? Reading Michael Jordan’s book about shooting and practicing his tips by yourself? Or reading his book and then taking shooting lessons with him?

If you’re running a personal brand, as a coach, your blog is your most important marketing asset. It helps your potential clients improve themselves while giving them a glimpse into what life would be like if they actually achieved one of their life-long goals. Your blog inspires readers to strive for their dreams. And when they’re more motivated to reach their potential, they’ll usually want an expert directing them toward greatness, not just themselves.

6. Market your freelance writing skills.

If you’re a freelance blogger, you need to show potential clients that you can write compelling content. To do this, you could try to attract their attention with your previous work, but you usually don’t have control over those topics. So what if they don’t pique their interest?

The best way to show potential clients you can write compelling content is by engaging them with your own content. When you start a blog, you have access to your post’s performance metrics and complete control over the topics you cover. This allows you to write content that you know your target audience will devour, attracting more and more potential clients to your blog. And once they realize they rely on you for content marketing advice, they’ll know they can trust you to help them improve their own content marketing.

For instance, Eddie Shleyner, a freelance copywriter and content marketer, markets his business called VeryGoodCopy by writing articles about copywriting, content marketing, and psychology. His articles are so engaging and insightful that organizations like The North Face, Geico, and Mercedes Benz hire him to write articles, eBooks, landing pages, website copy, and email campaigns.

7. Participate in affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to monetize a blog when you don’t sell a product or service. It’s a relatively simple process too. You’ll partner with an ecommerce platform or businesses that have affiliate programs and pick out relevant products to promote on your blog. Your partners will then send you custom links to their product pages that can track customers referred by your blog. And if someone clicks on the link and buys the product, you’ll earn a commission.

One of the most popular affiliate marketing programs is Amazon Associates. You can choose from over one million of Amazon’s ecommerce products to advertise on your blog, and you can earn up to 10% in commission.

Out of all the ways you can make money blogging, affiliate marketing requires the least amount of time, money, and resources. You don’t have to build, market, or sell a product or service and inserting affiliate links in your blog posts doesn’t cost any money. All you have to do is wait for people to click on them and buy something.

Start Making Money with Your Blog

Choosing your monetization strategy will depend on the type of blog you’re running and the type of product or service you offer. To up-level your blog, learn how to set yourself up for success and avoid the top blogging mistakes.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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