For me, blogging isn’t about making money from advertising, affiliate marketing and selling products. It’s not about that for the majority of bloggers either.
But it is about business. All of my current clients have either contacted me through my website or are a result of a recommendation through my website.
I advise most of my clients to see a blog as a marketing tool.
How should I use my blog?
A blog is the hub of your online presence. There is no better way to constantly distribute content so that it can be easily found.
I have had many fantastic people contact me through my website and I ask them what search terms did they use? What was it about the site that attracted them? In what way was I better than the alternatives? The interesting thing is that I’ve never had the same answer twice.
In the early days of this blog, I tried to rank highly for the keywords “graphic designer”. I didn’t even think of researching the keywords which I should have but I thought it was a no-brainer that people looking for graphic design work would type “graphic design” into a search engine.
Was I right? Well, yes and no. Some of my clients used the obvious words to find me. Most, however, and most of the best ones, used the obvious words in combination with others.
The long tail
What is the long tail? Imagine a graph of your search terms on the x axis in relation to traffic provided on the y axis. That graph would have a peak for your most popular term (“design”, 55,600,000 searches a month) and then get shorter for the less popular terms (“graphic design”, 1,830,000 searches a month) and shorter down to the least trafficked terms. Maybe terms like “freelance graphic designer london” or “graphic design inspiration” will get only a few thousand searches a month. These low traffic, more descriptive phrases are known as the long tail.
The most fascinating thing about the long tail is that the total volume of searches are actually more than the highly competitive single and double word phrases. What’s even more amazing is that these long-tail searches convert better. That is, visitors that arrive at your site from long tail searches are more likely to make a purchase or sign up to a mailing list.
The more words you type into a search engine; the more likely you are to find what you’re looking for. So a person who finds you having searched for a more specific subject is more likely to form a positive attachment to your brand.
A great example of how the long tail can work for you
I have a well-known classical music publisher client who has given me thousands and thousands of dollars of business over the last few years. Just this week I was talking to the person at the company who first contacted me. I asked her how she’d found me. She’d actually searched for “rates that graphic designers charge” and found my blog post about freelance design prices. I couldn’t believe it! I’d written that article as a response to the many questions I’d received from designers asking this question. It was a post written for other designers rather than for prospective clients. By trying to help other people I was helping myself!
The fantastic thing that this story teaches us is to forget about keyword density, meta tags, internal PageRank sculpting and other boring practices the “SEO gurus” bang on about. Forget about all the claptrap and create good content! If you write about what you know best you will attract the right people to you.
Don’t forget about social media and backlinks!
There is a flipside to creating content and that is getting links to it which isn’t always easy. When I first started blogging I spent ages getting my site in directory sites and setting up reciprocal link exchanges. Nowadays, Google and other search engines are counting social media links more than they used to and they lead to links on other sites. So follow up your blogging with participation in your social media platforms of choice (be they Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook) and by forming alliances with other bloggers in your niche.
Follow the same basic rules when engaging in social media and blogging relationships as you do with your blog. Create good content on the social media sites and pass on useful information to your blogging buddies in the same way as you help people with your blog.
What about you?
Do you use a blog to solicit responses from potential clients? Do you have any specific “hire me” links on your site? Actually a specific call to action on the site was one thing I purposely didn’t talk about in this article as I don’t have any evidence as to their effectiveness. As always, I’m dying to hear your responses! And, if you enjoyed the article, please consider tweeting or voting for it on your social network of choice!