My Website’s Objective – The Fight For My Site

two-giraffes

For a long time I’ve known that there’s a problem with my website. On one hand I want to attract clients to my business; on the other I want to attract visitors to my blog. Are they necessarily the same market?

If I met someone in an elevator how would I describe RobCubbon.com in 10 seconds?

The history of my site

My main objective when I first registered RobCubbon.com back in 2005 was for it to be a portfolio site to garner web and graphic design work.

I quickly worked out that by installing WordPress and blogging regularly about graphic design that I could get a huge amount of traffic from people searching for graphic design related topics.

All well and good, within two years of blogging I was able to give up the dreaded daily commute and work full time on my design business from home.

The blog became a little obsession of mine. I grew to love posting articles every week, communicating with my visitors and analyzing the site’s statistics to see what was popular and what wasn’t.

In my desire to attract a larger and larger audience I expanded my blog’s subject matter to include articles on internet marketing (blogging, SEO and WordPress) as well as articles on running a graphic design business.

Two different objectives

So the site grew to have a dual purpose. The first objective is to get graphic design clients and the second is to grow the blog’s community of graphic designers and others.

Having followed Derek Halpern and others I was left wondering about my “10 second elevator pitch” and how I would describe my site to others in a matter of a few words.

So I hooked up with Cheryl Pickett who runs a Blog Check Up service. Cheryl is an expert in blogging, content creation and helping business owners such as myself find their niche.

The difference between ‘the site’ and ‘the blog’

So with this in mind Cheryl and I sought to find the soul of my blog.

First of all, Cheryl told me to view the site and the blog as two different things. Allow the home page, the about page, the testimonials and the portfolio page to attract clients and the blog to attract the traffic.

If a potential client comes to the blog to read an article (about creating PDFs, for example) and then goes on to view the portfolio and contacts me – all well and good. But the blog is mostly about creating a community of graphic designers and others who are interested in reading and discussing the process of design and running a business.

The blog can also occasionally widen to take on the allied subjects of online marketing, SEO, social media, etc. But I shouldn’t become too general but to above all help designers and other people with online businesses.

Cheryl was also very useful in identifying the unnecessary areas of the site which were confusing and diluting the message. She pointed out that one of my categories was on giving up smoking. She was absolutely right about that and I have deleted that category.

I am clearer now that my blog is about graphic design, running a graphic design business and an online business.

I have separate blogs about WordPress, SEO, blogging and internet marketing as well as one about giving up smoking.

I will take steps to further crystallize my blog’s description so I can get ready for the 10 second elevator pitch.

What do you think?

One of my many faults is a tendency to be a “jack of all trades” and not to specialize in any particular field.

This is as a result of not wanting to get bored but I know the risks associated with being a generalist – by trying to talk to everybody you can end up addressing no one.

Have you been a visitor to this site for a while or have you just come recently? What do you think about the variety of topics that are addressed here?

Did you enjoy the article? If so, please share!

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi Rob,

    Oh how I know your issues so well, I’ve been stuck in exactly the same place for the past few months. Its not until you hammer out exactly what you want to do, then dive into with two feet, that it becomes easier.

    This journey is only part way through for me, one part is being seen as the expert, the other is delivering on being coming an expert and homing your skills to be more effective.

    If that makes any sense at all!

    Matt

    • says

      Hey Matthew, it’s good to know I’m not the only one with this issue. I think I’m closer to understanding what I’m doing with the blog now. But, like you, I’m not 100% there yet.

  2. says

    Interesting article again Rob. I’ve been tweaking my site hire-me pages over the last first weeks with this exact issue in mind. I’m also looking into having a “for hire” themed homepage, rather than for nominal blog.

    BTW, I did find the not smoking thing odd the first time I saw it too! Its good that you’re focussing your efforts in a bid the attract clients. Hope it goes well…

    • says

      I think this is an issue a lot of us are wrestling with, Andrew. I’ve recently removed my “for hire” panel from my sidebar as an experiment. I was thinking maybe it looks to desperate and people do still contact me. But the whole thing is difficult to gauge. Yes, the giving up smoking thing comes from the time when I was just starting out with blogging!

  3. says

    Thanks again Rob for the kind words. Glad I was able to help! It’s also great that you are sharing your experiences (as always) because clearly there are others struggling with the same thing.

    With regard to having the “for hire” type page, I would say a lot of people might not hunt for the info or take the time to guess what you do, especially if they are first time visitors. I believe it’s best to be clear and, done properly, it’s not desperate at all.

    I look at it this way, if you walk into a brick & mortar store, they don’t hide their wares and make shoppers try to figure out what they sell. In addition, sometimes it is the attractive/engaging display that gets our attention and puts us in the mood to buy. Same goes online, it comes down to wording/presentation. Striking a nice balance of information and persuasion will be comfortable all around for you and your ideal clients.

    • says

      Good point, it’s important to tell people what you do, what you specialize in and what you would like to be hired to do. I’ll start experimenting with hire me pages soon.

      Thanks for all your help Cheryl, mulling over things with you made me see the site from a different perspective and that is very valuable. Speak soon.

  4. MBart says

    Basically, you have two things
    1) A site to attract customers.
    2) A blog to share and attract like mined people.

    People in group 1) don’t necessarily know jack about websites and wordpress, but just want to have work done
    People in group 2) Know what a site is and know what WordPress is and just want to read what others like you do.

    Group 1) and 2) are different people, with different goals. It’s simple like that!
    The groups don’t have a lot of overlap.

    Don’t try to serve them the same plate. People from one of both groups and in the worst case both! Won’t find what they are looking for.

    I recommend that you just split your online journey in two sites. Make site for group 1) a showcase of *what* you are doing. Showcase your work, tell people you can do this for them too. Tell them the benefits they have if the hire you. Sell!
    2) Leave this site “The Blog” The blog is about *how* you are doing things. Share smart stuff, interact, connect! Likeminded people like me can hookup with you and share via your blog.

    Don’t try to serve to totally different groups from one site It’s simple like that. Ask your self what are people from this group looking for? Put that up on your site nothing more nothing less. It’s simple like that!

    • says

      I appreciate your simple solution MBart. I may do something like that one day. The “problem” with this site is that I’ve had it for a while now and the blog posts bring in a huge amount of traffic. And, where you say that the two markets for the site only overlap a little – that little 1% or 0.1% of visitors have brought me thousands of dollars worth of business over the years.

      A lot of people who eventually end up hiring me have found me through the blog so I don’t want to cut off that client supply just yet.

      I do have to get my blog message and client message clear and distinct and hearing the opinions such as yours helps me to do that. Thank you so much.

      • says

        Hi Rob,

        Thanks for your reply. I think this is not a problem but a feature of your blog :-) That’s really good man! You can have best of both worlds. Think about it, just continue with the blog. Also set up your for hire site, with show case and the whole thing I mentioned. Link from your blog to the “hire me” site on strategic places. People interested in hiring will click through, it’ important to get them to your “hire me’ site.

        Your “hire me” site is much more seo by design than your blog, cause the content. But also seo it well.

        It will attract it’s own visitors. These visitors will be much more target on hiring. Link back to your blog, that’s also valuable. People interested will see you blog as your track record. It builds confidence.

        With this construction you have best of two worlds, two highly targeted website, without making any sacrifices.

  5. says

    Hi Rob

    I think Cheryl has pretty much nailed it not a lot to add :-)

    my 0.001C is yep keep the blog, make the home page focused on customers and Sell dude. Your in business so the home page should be saying how your the bestthing since sliced bread. Not that slice bread is that good :-(

    regards

  6. says

    I didn’t know there were people like Cheryl out there! What an amazing find. I totally agree with her, keep the blog but make the home page focus on the customers. Anyone looking for a blog will see the section on your home page that points to where to go. I love your insight.

  7. says

    Not many people make it in the general niche of blogging. But seem to pretty popular so my advice is to do whatever makes you happy. If you want to talk about everything, talk about everything, don’t go micro niche, you might find it boring to write about a single topic.

    • says

      I think you’re right, Cristian. I like to base the blog around setting up and running a graphic or web design business. However, it would be good to also talk about other things. It’s a massive niche, there’s loads to talk about here but I will branch out when I feel I should. Thanks for commenting again.

  8. says

    A very timely find for me – thanks for sharing this post! I’m struggling with finding my blogging niche for my main website. Cheryl’s observations sound spot on to me. My thoughts have been running in the same direction, I’ve just had difficulty getting the focus and momentum on my own site. At the outset, I did go in too many directions and I think that confuses search engines as well as visitors.

    Carry on Rob, love your site!

    • says

      It is a balancing act. You need to have a niche but then you don’t want to get bored nor be too narrow. Thanks for the comment, Louise, and I hope your blog continues to improve. :)

  9. says

    I just read a blog post written about 2 years ago. Went to the homepage to see if the blog’s still active. I’ll probably also be reading your posts in your SEO blog. I need to learn about SEO to improve my forum’s search engine ranking.

  10. says

    Hi Rob! My blog is evolving in content as I learn the basics. Basically two kinds of traffic: search engine and the results of social interaction (Twitter, Facebook, commenting). The search engine traffic seems good for product reviews and affiliate marketing. Searchers come in looking for a specific product, maybe click, then never return. The social traffic is good for page ranking and just getting some eyeballs roaming around. Installed CommentLuv which seems to attract other bloggers looking for DoFollow link juice. Your site might benefit from CL based on its blog- and web design-oriented content. My few Facebook friends seem to enjoy thoughtful articles and humor. Started a fan page and it is just abut to break 25 since I learned how to “like” sites (can’t like people yet). Twitter is . . . don’t really know — I’m following lots and getting followers. It’s all very interesting to watch. Enjoyed reading your site/blog history, think your mixed bag of excellent material is terrific, and love those cats!

    • says

      Hello AstroGremlin, cats/kittens/puppies are always good!

      You seem to be doing unbelievably well with your blog. The secret is to keep going with the awesome content. Your experience with social traffic vs. organic traffic is par for the course, these numbers will grow gradually as you post more and more – you’ll get more subscribers and more savvy about what works and what doesn’t.

      I used to be DoFollow here but now I much prefer getting only comments from people who actually want to comment rather than want the back link.