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How do you make a sale online?
You need a product or service.
You need people who are motivated enough to buy it.
And you need the technology to facilitate the transaction and delivery.
You can feel the difference between a hard sell and a soft sell.
We all have a barometer of sorts that determines what level of selling we feel is appropriate versus aggressive.
The spectrum varies incredibly. One person can label a marketer as a scummy “get rich quick” merchant stealing people’s money, and another can see them as a beloved mentor, who has guided them towards success with genius advice.
It’s a VERY subjective matter, and based on conversations I’ve had with people, very much a personal thing too.
We all have a sense of the kind of image we want to portray online, what types of communication appeals to us and we feel comfortable using ourselves.
Over the years I’ve been complimented on my down to earth nature and how my sales offers seamlessly flow within my blog posts.
I’ve also been called a hype-merchant, who sells dreams and takes money from the gullible.
Let’s get one thing clear – the amount of selling you need to do is as much as required to make a sale.
Actually it’s more than that – it’s enough selling to make the required amount of sales to have a profitable business.
While I do believe in the importance of personal branding and reputation management – and these things do influence sales – it’s all a moot point if you don’t make any sales in the first place.
If you feel so uncomfortable asking people to buy something, or using the appropriate language required to make the sale that you can’t make any money – you don’t have a business.
So, that leads us to an important question…
How much is enough “selling” in your case?
We often look to the leaders in our industry and decide which style of marketing we like and don’t like.
The natural inclination is to then emulate those we do like.
As is often the case, simply copying what other people do is a mistake.
In fact it’s always a mistake to copy what a leader is doing because of what I have written about before – you’re not in the same situation as them.
One of the best examples of this I can give you is attempting to replicate a blogger in your industry who has a huge community following, when you don’t.
This is a fatal mistake.
You have probably noticed how the big star bloggers don’t have to do excessive selling in order to make a sale. They have simple sales pages, short videos and very little pushy marketing, yet they make tons of sales.
Sometimes they might not do any selling at all. They just write blog posts, occasionally mention products with affiliate links and boom – the sales come flooding in!
The problem is when you go and copy them, using their style of soft selling or no selling at all, you get nothing.
Here’s the key point –
In order to make the necessary sales for a profitable business you need two things:
You need people to trust you enough that when you make an offer of something for sale they believe you can deliver, and hence they buy.
You also need the necessary volume of people required to make enough sales.
When you have a large hungry mob of rapid buyers who trust you, all you need to do is put the product in front of them and collect the money.
You can reduce your dependency on volume by increasing your visitor value, meaning you make more money per customer. This allows you to have a very profitable business with fewer customers (see my previous article series for more on this).
However no business can escape the need for trust. For every business, the greatest challenge is establishing the trust required to make that first sale.
So, we have to adjust our question…
How much selling do you have to do in order to establish enough TRUST to make the sale?
You’re probably thinking right now, I want to be like the superstar bloggers who have large communities and thus don’t have to do any hard selling.
I don’t blame you, that’s an enviable place to be in.
Unfortunately, as I have highlighted before, reaching the kind of audience numbers required to make that work is difficult. You need to have good timing, an amazing work ethic, the right niche and the diligence to keep carrying on for potentially years before you earn a reward.
Here’s something you should know… Many of those top bloggers are inefficient marketers.
By that I mean they get away with limited selling because of the sheer volume of attention they have.
Don’t misunderstand me – they make very good money, much more than 99% of bloggers make (including me) – but they could do so much better.
If they made more offers, had more products available and applied more marketing psychology to how they sell, they could make ten times more.
Of course they don’t really care, they make enough money and they do it in a way they feel comfortable with.
The point I’m trying to make here is you don’t want to aspire to grow a huge community just so you don’t have to bother learning how to be a good marketer.
What you want to do is get good enough at selling so you can make great money from a small loyal audience. This is a much more realistic goal – and one you can reach quicker too.
The fact is, most bloggers will never build a large enough community following to make a living without selling.
The key is to find the right balance of community growth and proactive selling to have a profitable business, even when you have a small audience.
Imagine for a moment there is a line – a spectrum of how to build trust.
Trust, as we have clarified is the required ingredient for sales.
The spectrum starts at one end with “selling”, and all the way at the other end is “community”.
To rely less on selling you need more community. Community however takes time to build.
As a blogger you may not be aware of this… There are people online who make a lot of money, and in many cases much more than bloggers (we’re talking millions of dollars), making sales WITHOUT any community.
The formula is simple in concept:
Buy traffic and send it straight to an offer.
The offer is presented usually via a video, sometimes a long sales page, that sells a product directly.
They use something like Facebook Ads, purchase targeted traffic and keep testing things until they make more money than they spend.
To make this work they have to be very good at selling. The sales video is responsible for building trust and it all happens in one engagement – the very first time a person comes into contact with them.
You need to have all your “ducks in a row” so to speak. This means you need good copywriting or a video script that includes testimonials, case studies, proof, engaging stories, claims backed up with data, rejection eliminators, risk reversal – everything has to be presented in the one experience.
This is the equivalent of setting up your blog, writing your first blog post with an offer of something for sale, and then watching the money come in from day one…
Wouldn’t that be nice!
In reality bloggers stretch this process out over time and do it without it feeling like selling. We build relationships, have multiple touch points using multiple mediums, we educate and ask for nothing in return but attention.
This all goes into the community “good will bank”, slowly building trust, until one day you decide it’s time to put your business hat on and offer something up for sale.
With trust already established thanks to community, you don’t have to sell very hard. A simple message is all you need to convert.
Of course this happens years later, not day one.
Bloggers are much more likely to enjoy the idea of writing content that simply helps people without worrying about all the necessary sales triggers required to convince someone to buy.
This is why bloggers gravitate towards community building over overt selling. It just suits our personalities more… even if it means a longer path to money, or maybe even no significant money at all.
I believe much of this comes down to personality types.
A person who is excited about learning how to sell, who enjoys copywriting, split testing and looking at the numbers, will gravitate to business models that leverage these skills.
Learning how to sell takes time too, but because the process involves making offers immediately and not “wasting time” with community building, it generally is a quicker and more successful formula in terms of raw financial return on investment.
Here’s my advice –
Take the best from both ends of the trust spectrum and plonk yourself somewhere in the middle, wherever you feel comfortable that delivers a result.
You should set up your blog so it’s focused on selling something from day one. This is a strategy bloggers rarely do early on, and an area I am placing more focus on as I teach people in my coaching community.
With experimentation you will find a balance that builds enough trust to make enough sales in a timeframe that is viable. It won’t happen over night, but if you work on it you will learn what works for you and your audience.
Remember, trust is the ingredient necessary to make sales. How you establish it is entirely up to you. Don’t follow what someone else does blindly. Come up with your own style.
I’ve been in the unique situation over the previous ten years to watch two distinct groups of people sell things online.
I’ve seen internet marketers, who do not have blogs, or podcasts or use social media very much at all, go on to make a million dollars in one month using just one product sending out emails.
I’ve also watched bloggers start from zero, slowly build an audience, use podcasts and social media, and create amazing communities – who eventually start making money once they figure out the right way to do so for them.
I’ve even seen and coached a few bloggers who went on to build million dollar companies thanks to their blog.
It’s clear to me that there is no one way to do things.
Consequently as I grew my own blog and coaching business, I combined elements from both groups.
I wrote content because I enjoy writing. I built a community, use podcasts and social media.
I also made offers frequently and directly using both my blog and my newsletter. I use long form copywriting and selling techniques that have proven very effective.
I’m very aware of the different methodologies available and when to apply what. Strategy is my bread and butter and where I can help people the most.
If you are struggling to figure out how to sell, or how to build an audience, what tools to use, whether you should foster community or buy traffic or what to do first, or even if you are right at the start and don’t know what to focus on, I am available to help you.
My coaching community, The EJ Insider has only just quietly opened doors, with a small but active group participating.
I spend time in there every day, answering questions, helping people to determine their next best step, to figure out which problem to solve first and how to solve it.
If you’re at the stage where mentoring and ongoing support is required, my community is available to you.
You should always end your articles with a call to action.
Thanks for reading,
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