Which is better: follow some guru’s simple formula for success… or strike out on your own path?
If you’re brand-new to blogging, it can be so overwhelming that unless you have a blogging coach or a mentor, following someone else’s “best practices” feels like a necessity.
I totally understand that. Blogging is a minefield and without a metal-detector, you’re toast.
Here’s my take on it: do that only for a very short while. Think of it as your orientation. Then start experimenting with all the stuff the “experts” say you’re supposed to do (or not do).
Start breaking rules.
Nobody ever became a leader by copying someone else. That’s the exact opposite of what a leader does. Leaders lead: everyone else follows them.
I mean, duh, right?
I realize no one begins as a leader, but you can begin acting like one the very next time you sit down to write a blog post. If you want to become a leader, then start acting like one and blaze your own trail. I’ll share a few examples with you from what I’ve been doing. Not because you should copy them, because if you do then you’re missing the whole point.
But because this playground is way bigger than you’re probably imagining.
When you started your online business and realized that having a blog and engaging in content marketing was going to be your main marketing method, you probably got a brain-full of standard blogging and marketing advice.
Stuff like this:
- Write posts between 250 – 500 words (or 500 – 750 words, depending on who you were learning from).
- Use subheadings to visually split up your content and use lots of bullet points because people skim.
- Use keyword research to figure out what topics to write about and what words to put in your headlines and post text.
- Don’t email your list too often or they’ll desert you.
- Follow people on social media who are leaders and who are useful to you.
- Don’t be too pushy and salesy.
You’ve seen that all before.
Well, consider this:
- Nearly every blog post I write is well over a thousand words long (except this one, ha!).
- I’ve stopped using subheadings so much because they interrupted the flow of the words and felt forced. And besides, I don’t want you to skim. I want you to read. If you don’t want to read my posts then why are you here?
- I don’t worry about SEO so much anymore. Instead, I think about “trigger moments” and I use my knowledge about you and my imagination to put myself inside your head. When you know someone like that, SEO happens without you even thinking about it… except mostly what you’ll find is that it just doesn’t matter. Your people will love your stuff. They’ll find it because it gets shared and found (over 40% of my traffic is from referrals).
- I email my list at least every other day, and in every email is some kind of offer. My unsubscribe rate is incredibly low. Maybe a two or three a week at the most. If you have what your people want, they’re not going to unsubscribe. Putting an offer in an email is not being pushy or salesy: it’s just putting something on the table. It’s up to you to pick it up or not. Some of that comes down to flavor. I don’t write pushy text. But the offers are always there, waiting for when you’re ready.
These are all experiments.
I can look at my traffic and my conversions and see if my experiments working. If they’re not, I’ll tweak things again.
You don’t have to be all rigorous and scientific about things. I usually just “eyeball” it. I make a note on the numbers, change something, and then look at the numbers again later to see if there’s a difference. It’s not exactly rocket surgery.
There are all kinds of things you can experiment with:
- Your writing voice
- Telling stories
- What kind of images you use (where in the post and how many, too)
- How you handle links
- Formatting, design, fonts, or color
And that’s just a few things.
IMPORTANT: don’t go mucking about just for its own sake (fun as that is). Remember what your conversion goals are and experiment because you want to increase traffic, conversions, and engagement.
If you design an opt-in form but don’t test it against another one to see which one is better, you are being stupid. You are throwing sign-ups away. You may as well just go to your email list and randomly delete people out of the database.
You can test the effectiveness of any page on your WordPress site and all it costs is your effort in setting it up. I use the MaxA/B split testing for WordPress plugin.
Split-testing, by the way, is when visitors are randomly served version A or version B of something and you tally up which one converts better. The winner becomes the new control against which new variations are tested, refining the design and cranking up the conversion rate. Science, people!
Why should you only wonder or hope that your home page or landing page converts effectively? Why not know for sure, and then keep refining it until you have an inescapable conversion monster?
With Aweber (affiliate link) not only can you split-test opt-in forms, but you you can also split-test emails. Try different subject lines and see which one has a better open rate. Try different contents and see which one has a better click-through rate.
If you really want to succeed and lead with your blog, experiment and test.
Pick something to experiment with on your next blog post. Split-test your opt-in form. Stop hoping and guessing, and start converting and getting more sales.