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This is potentially one of the most important questions you need to ask yourself as a blogger, and yet is where I see pretty much every blogger go wrong. I’ve even had trouble with this myself over the years each time I redesign my blog.
The challenge, when coming up with a blog design, is to ensure your blog conveys a message about why it exists. This message should focus on the reader and why they would want to visit the blog and consume the content there. It’s the purpose, the benefit, the reason why, the what’s in it for me statement that gives your blog meaning to a new visitor.
Over the years I’ve been asked to review blogs, often by members of my coaching programs during live calls. Sometimes the question I’m asked is simply how do I improve my blog?
In almost all cases, when I first go to visit the blog in question, I can’t immediately figure out why the blog exists. What is its purpose?
The challenge with a blog, as compared to say a landing page or sales page which have one objective, to get the opt-in or convert the sale, is that blogs are trying to do multiple things, including –
In my opinion, blogs, although they have multiple objectives, each of varying importance, have really only one core objective to aim for –
To be read.
Or in the case of a video blogger or podcaster – to be listened to.
The idea is that your content should be the main focus, because if you can engage your audience, you will have an opportunity to meet your other objectives thanks to the attention you’ve been given. Some of your goals will be met as a byproduct of focusing on creating engagement, for example, people will subscribe to your RSS feed if they like your content – they will go looking for the orange button.
The natural follow on from this idea is to highlight your blog articles as the main first message to present to new visitors to your blog. The problem with this is that your current latest blog headline is usually the content that makes the first impression, and if you’re like me, your blog subjects are diverse, so no one article can accurately sum up what your blog is about, although you can certainly give a general idea.
You may argue that focusing on the email opt-in should be the main objective of a blog, however if that was the case, why wouldn’t you use a landing page instead?
Landing pages earn much higher conversion rates than blogs do for email opt-ins, even if you use a pop-up on your blog, because the focus is clear – give me your email and I’ll give you this in return.
However blogs do so much more than landing pages. Blogs want to get traffic from search engines (landing pages rarely do this well because the content is sales pitch, and very brief). Blogs want to foster an audience long term, attract repeat visitors, demonstrate the expertise of the author, create real relationships over time, as well as all the practical outcomes I mentioned above.
Landing pages, combined with a solid email follow-up sequence, can meet some of these objectives, but the most important one, attracting the traffic in the first place, is not something landing pages do inherently by themselves. You need another traffic source, like affiliates or Pay Per Click to drive the traffic, where blogs can be a traffic driver in and of themselves – and a considerably good one.
In short, blogs are conflicted in terms of goals, but that’s because they can do so much, which is why so many people go wrong when it comes to figuring out how to make the right “first impression” with their blog. It’s not a simple answer.
So what is the key to explain what your blog is about in a matter of seconds?
The answer is to combine what we know about how people interact with websites, with some good old marketing psychology. And of course, to test.
The first thing you should do when you set up a blog is ask a relative or friend who is not savvy to Internet marketing or blogging and have them view your blog. Give them 30 seconds or so, then ask them what your blog is about. If they can’t answer with something close to what impression you want to give, then you need to make changes.
Below are my tips on how to make a good first impression with your blog and make it clear why it exists. Bear in mind that these tips work best in combination, as each element enhances the other elements to deliver a unified message. We are after consistency, not conflict – a harmony of elements.
The challenge is that you simply may not know yet what your blog is trying to do because your strategy is in flux. It’s easy to make this work when you have a clearly defined funnel and positioning strategy, but if you don’t, you’re going to have to be flexible and keep adjusting these things as you change focus.
Here is my advice on how to make a clear statement about what your blog is about –
Although this call to action has a specific purpose, it’s also an extension of your overall blog subject matter. If a person landed at my blog and saw nothing else but my opt-in box, they already form a perception of me as a blogging expert. Although this is not the only subject my blog is about, it is the main element in terms of my sales funnel and what my brand has been built on.
Your main call to action says a lot about what your blog is about, even though it’s only in reference, since it has a purpose of its own.
The rest of the features of your blog don’t have as much of an impact on your blog’s first impression. If you focus on the list above, you give your audience a clear indication about what you offer them.
Bear in mind at all times focus on benefits for your readers, rather than features of what you are talking about. Emotional benefits always win over feature explanations, which create a lasting impression and a higher level of engagement. Once a reader knows what you offer and feels an emotional desire for it, you have them right where you want them (cue evil laugh).
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