Did you start your blog because you wanted to make more sales?
You could be a local fencing company that wants to boost sales in a specific location, or a writer who is looking to get more attention to her new book on Amazon.
Blogs still sell things.
In this post I’m going to write about how you can get more sales using a blog. We’re just going to look at some very simple and effective strategies that work no matter the industry.
Why “I want more sales” is not a good goal
The very first thing we need to talk about is goal setting.
When I used to work with clients I’d find a lot of people had goals like “more sales” but never an actual plan or specific method for how they wanted to achieve that.
A narrow set of goals is very important.
Think about things like:
- Do you have an offer?
A limited-time offer is a very good way to assist whatever campaign you’re running. Consider coming up with a new one regularly.
- Do you have a budget?
If you’re a small business, you’d set aside money for a print advertising campaign, so why not do the same for your blog marketing? Money for marketing is important.
- How many sales do you need?
Do you have a sales target? It’s good to know roughly how many people you want to reach and in what period of time. It helps to give the campaign direction.
- Who are you targeting?
Think about the person that you want to reach. Are they male, female, young, old, rich, budgeting, etc.? This will have a big impact on the type of content you create.
Once you’ve looked at these types of elements you’ll have a much clearer picture about the type of content you will be working on. You’ll know who you’re going after and you’ll have a much better idea about the ways you’re going to reach them.
Please don’t skip the goal setting stage.
How to use your blog to get more sales
Now we can start to look at how to get more sales from a blog.
As always, if you have any other suggestions please let me know down in the comments below. I love hearing about the things you all are trying.
1. Show your personality, it increases conversions
One of the main advantages of a blog is that it lets you express your individuality. And for a company, adding a blog to your existing website can help to give it a bit of a human face.
The web is a very visual medium and a blog allows you to show your personality in a variety of different ways – many of which increase sales.
My buddy Chris Ducker has built an incredible brand online by making his face the “face” of the company. He’s present in graphics, photos and videos, and now on his new website you see a friendly and genuine grin as soon as you arrive (he is a genuinely good guy).
When you add your face to your blog you’ll see conversions go up. It happens on landing pages and it happened for me when I finally unmasked from being a mysterious anonymous blogger for two years.
2. Post about your work regularly, it helps your long tail keywords
Google loves local content.
What this means is that if you are the kind of business that operates in lots of different locations you can often find new customers by blogging about the jobs you’ve done. It’s a very basic but still effective way to get more traffic from Google.
For example, a builder might do posts like “Our New Apartments on High Street in Beach Cove“. This will start to rank in Google and, over time, you’ll get traffic from people searching for things like “builder in Beach Cove”.
This same principle also applies to long tail keywords that involve a product as opposed to a service tied to a location. Do a search for practically any recipe or strange food combination and you’ll see results like the one above from Jamie Oliver’s blog where he publishes a new recipe every single day.
3. Utilise high quality photography
High quality photography can make your blog feel professional and polished even if it isn’t really that good.
And it can make a great blog seem exceptional.
Jodi from Legal Nomads is the perfect example of someone who has taken their blog to the next level by regularly spoiling readers with beautiful photographs. You actually feel like you are there with her as she travels around.
Better photos that express your brand and showcase your product can really help you to boost your sales and conversions – especially if people are buying something expensive.
4. Find the right social platform and use it cleverly
As I’ve written about numerous times, I don’t think people should be spending too much time on social networking sites if it’s at the expense of creating content that helps to grow your website.
That said, some blogs and businesses can do extremely well by putting a little bit of focus on the right social networking sites.
When I worked with Michaela from Tradies VA during the first Private Coaching round we came up with the plan to target frustrated trades people and their wives (or husbands) who were up late on Facebook putting off their bookwork. The result was almost $70,000 of annual recurring income for her business with a very minimal ads spend.
Photo: Marc Veraart.
Then there’s brand’s like Four Seasons that have had some really interesting success stories with Pinterest in conjunction with their blog where they add photos and encourage their customers to plan their holidays with different boards and so on.
Their Concierge Recommends section is very clever and is a phenomenally good use of beautiful photography which allows the hotel to get in front of a lot of people who might already be wanting to plan trips.
Think about how people might consume your blog’s content and then plan which social media site you’ll be using most effectively.
5. Watch your competitors regularly
Whatever space your blog or business operates in it is vital that you keep an eye on what your competitors are doing.
Firstly, this can give you a lot of ideas about different promotions and ideas you can implement on your blog.
But, perhaps more importantly, you need to watch for things that they might be doing that cannibalise traffic that might otherwise be going to you.
Take a look at the first paid results from the search “round the world flights” and you’ll see how dramatic a difference there is in price promotions. It makes me wonder how effective the higher priced ads would be in a market where they are being constantly underdone.
This also has a massive effect on the organic search results – and if you rank well you need to keep a close eye on them.
It pays to make a list of your top five competitors and spend a bit of time each week looking at their blogs and what they are up to. Keep a focus on the things they the do repeatedly because it often means it’s working for them.
6. Split test different page ideas
If you want to get a bit more serious with your blog’s sales potential it is really important that you get into A/B and multi-variate testing because it takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process.
The results can be quite staggering.
Take a look at this case study example from VWO where a few small tests increased sales by over 200%. Just think about what double your email sign ups or product sales would mean for your blog.
Testing can get really complicated (and make you a bit crazy…) so just start off with something simple. If you have a landing page for your mailing list or product just create another one that’s exactly the same (call it /b or something) and test a different title, header image, etc. See if you get any results.
Over time you’ll get a pretty clear picture about what elements of the page are working and how that’s impacted by the different sources of traffic that you’re tapping into.
7. Get attention to the blog from brave new sources
We talk about getting traffic from Google search, guest posting and advertising quite a lot here on Blog Tyrant – all of those things are vital.
But what about other sources like news stories?
It might seem a little bit far fetched at first but it’s important to remember that newspapers are gagging for new content in order to stay relevant in today’s changing digital world.
For example, I did a quick browse of News.com.au (a “news” site in Australia that gets heaps of traffic) and quickly found this travel article with a big link back to the blogger. This would have been a really big exposure for her as well as providing a solid back link.
Finding new sources of traffic is essential because it helps you tap into people that might otherwise have never seen the blog. This constant increase in reach is a fundamental part of getting more sales.
8. Get email subscribers and send them to the blog
Everyone should be focusing on capturing email subscribers, and almost everyone should be emailing that list more often.
I’m often surprised at how many businesses don’t bother with email addresses. They don’t put an emphasis on getting email subscribers and they certainly don’t do regular email campaigns.
The same goes for bloggers – so many of the bloggers that I chat to are worried about emailing too often for fear of offending subscribers. If you’re only sending out one email a week – trust me, it’s fine!
When you do email your subscribers, make sure you are driving them towards the blog. You want them to be landing on relevant blog posts or landing pages because this will mean they’re more likely to share content, interact with your sales funnel, etc.
9. Remove distractions
Have you ever heard the saying that the more choices you give a person the less likely they are to choose anything?
The same goes for blogs.
If you have a really cluttered blog or landing page with sidebars, links, and a myriad of different options, you are going to find that people are going to start bouncing from the site instead of making a purchase.
One of my most successful landing pages was just a single column design with some solid copy and a few testimonials.
No links, no where else to go.
As you can see in the screen grab above, Neil’s blog has pretty much nothing else to do except subscribe or hire him. It’s incredibly well structured and everything goes towards one of those two goals.
10. Tell stories even with the driest products
Human beings are storytellers.
We gather in groups in bars at the end of the week and chat about work.
We write books and plays and movies that share stories we can all relate to.
Our parents tuck us in at night and tell us a story about their life or some lesson-laden fantasy world that they’ve dreamed up.
One of the wonderful things about a blog is that it gives you an acceptable format where you can tell a story – even if it’s about a really dry product or service.
Tell stories in your About page. Tell stories at the start of every blog post. And, absolutely, if you are designing a landing page to sell a product you should tell a story about how it will solve problems that people are directly experiencing.
That is vital.
11. Use the sleazy sales tools you’ve been ignoring
This last point is one that I know will be controversial with a lot of bloggers.
And that’s fine.
But it’s important for me to mention it because I know for a fact that it works.
Things like pop ups, slide out boxes, exit light boxes, etc. should be utilized because they are very effective for selling things on your blog.
The above is a screen shot from a test I ran on a certain type of pop up box last week. It was converting incredibly well, as you can see. I only removed it because I couldn’t get the technology quite right (it wasn’t closing properly) but I will be adding it back again soon.
The thing is, these types of tools don’t have to be sleazy if you do them right. For example, you can set a pop up to appear only on certain posts and display an offer only relevant to that singular topic. This is an advanced technique that works well because it adds extra value.
There is nothing wrong with making sales on your blog
I wanted to wrap this post up by emphasizing that there really isn’t anything wrong with making money from your blog by selling something.
When it comes to making sales many bloggers feel like it’s a dirty topic and a sign of someone who has sold out.
I totally disagree.
If you are providing value and helping people then why on Earth wouldn’t you want to make a bit of money so as to ensure you can keep doing it? The money you make might also go towards supporting your family or even one of your favorite charities. This is a big and ongoing goal for Blog Tyrant.
Don’t deceive anyone and do your best to avoid promoting anything unethical. If you’re ticking those boxes then there really isn’t anything wrong with it.
Do you sell something from your blog?
Do you use your blog to sell something? I know a lot of Tyrant Troops do. I’d be really interested to know what tactics you use to get more sales and how that has impacted on your blogging or the layout of your blog. Please leave me a comment and teach me something fun!
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Have you ever tried adding buy now buttons directly into your blog, such as the stuff done at santu.com?
Does selling directly from the blog help conversion?
Selling what specifically?
Selling Products. I .e. adding a buy now button for a product or a digital product you promote directly into the blog instead of redirecting to Amazon for example. I have seen info that buttons like those at santu.com can increase conversion a lot compared to linking to Amazon for example, but am wondering if you have any experience with this.
My first comment here.
This blogposts provides tons of value. The examples you have showcased are from across the industries and that increases the value even more.
I totally believe in the power of pop-ups. One of the sites that I work on now gets on average 50 leads per day because of popups. Earlier it was getting leads in single digits.
Thanks for the awesome content you share.
Do those pop up subscribers take actions as well as the others?
I don’t do a lot of segmentation. But all subscribers engage well. Open rate of welcome emails is usually around 40%, going up to 50% at times.
We later nurture them using a good (not great) email auto-responder sequence and the conversions are good. About 7% subscribers end up paying.
7% into customers is excellent. Well done.
Thanks. I’ll mail you the website URL for reference.
Nice post! For the moment I don’t sell anything, but in my blog-dreams I’m planning to do.
Above all, I totally agree with the one of showing yourself to the readers… not so far ago I’ve experimented it, and I works!
Check out my new post “Dear old fashioned e-commerce” and how to reinvent your online selling strategy.
Sounds like a good read – I’ll have a look.
I actually got my blog from your ad ( get a free domain got me) Im really just putting the blog together…thinking of trying pop-ups.
I also will be selling from my blog. Plugins are great, beats getting a full
website at the moment.
Good luck! Let us know how you go.
[…] How to turn your blog into an unstopable sales machine […]
I have recently started to take collecting email subs seriously, and yes I sell WordPress & online skills training – there are a lot of generic type courses about , mine however is highly idiosyncratic, I am refining the message (!) I liked your post, a lot to think about, and bags of practicality which I love.
How are you finding the sales process? Any big hurdles?
Hi again. I do try to sell things on my website, but I feel if I guide people in the right direction and don’t get paid for it at this moment, it is fine for me. (As long as I make enough to pay my hosting account).
One of the sites I guide them to regularly is yours and as you know, I’m not getting paid for that – I do it because you are one of the few people online that I can say from the bottom of my heart – I trust.
And I don’t guide any of my readers to any site that I have not tried and know myself (even in affiliate marketing) – it’s too risky with some products.
I would like to mention, I did take your previous challenge of writing posts of more than 1700 words (my newest being 2174 words) – but still can’t get myself to guest blog. (Where to start?)
Keep well, looking forward to your next post. (PS: sorry for the long comment, had to get it all out :-))
Thank you so much for those kind words. Means a lot. What do you mean that you still can’t get yourself to guest blog? What’s the block?
First of all, I’m not sure where to start, if you wrote a post about it before I started following you, I don’t know about it yet – otherwise it might be a good idea to write a step by step guide for those who want to write guest posts.
The other reason is that I think that maybe other people won’t like to have my posts on their websites, still that too much of a perfectionist thing.
At least, thanks to you, I’m over the one where I think maybe Google will penalize me for guest blogging.
Nice post Ramsay 🙂
Curious, what is the pop up software / plugin you’re using to do specific post related pop ups?
I think a lot of them do it now but the one I quite like is the premium version of these guys: https://wp.timersys.com/popups/
Thanks Ramsay, will check it out!
I am just now starting to sell coaching mini sessions that I call brand audits through my site. It was a little scary to out that out there, but I got my first client this week! It’s exciting and I feel like every new person I work with is a step forward.
Nice one! You’d be good at that. It’s the voice.
This post reminds me of Darren Rowse’s simple advice which he gives the most – “Do more of what works for you.”
One more useful thing which I learned – “try to be specific.” Not only about goals, but everything else too.
Though I feel bad about being one of those few people in ‘tyrant troop’ who do not earn even a penny from their blog.
However I consider that its just the beginning, and I’ll soon start selling my own books. Till then I’d rather try to earn some trust and gain some loyal readers.
My favorite advice which you offer – ‘Show your personality.’
It always works. That’s why my readers like my work [Just the way we all like your work Ramsay…you rock…always…without fail]
Thanks mate. Don’t give up. You’re smart enough to make it work in one way or another – and it’s good you’re studying.
I really have alot to do my blog.this inclusive.thanks for the guide.it will really help cause mine is not doing well right now
Perfect timing for this. As I’m developing my new niche site and setting up everything I know will be good for marketing and good for sales, I’m looking at my existing site and thinking, why do I still do THAT?
One small sales boost I get is through my email subscriber welcome page. I offer the new subscriber a few dollars off my flagship product. This conversion rate is small, naturally, but when I look at the number of monthly subscribers who made the purchase, it’s a nice chunk of change.
Email subscribers can be funny like that. I’ve never found the automation process that effective for anything but pushing back to content.
The end of the post resonated with me the most. I’ve had blogs/sites since 2002 and have been giving away free educational printables since then (sprinkled with a few commercial printables). It’s crazy that I feel I guess guilty when I put out products for sell, but from comments from people over the years, I know my site provides value. Hopefully I’ll get over this thinking and gain more confidence, but it helps to read positive, inspiring remarks like yours. Thanks.
Glad it has helped. Please let me know how you go.
Great article. I like the tip you wrote about: “Google loves local content.” I’m an artist and just getting my blog: http://mattphilleo.com rolling. Now I can see the correlation–that if I post about the commissions I’ve just completed, specifying the location in the post, it will bump up my rankings in Google accordingly. That makes sense. Thanks for the great tips!
Please do let me know if you have any results from this method. I’m curious to learn about new niches.
I love your stuff – very useful.
You often mention the importance of professional images. Do you have any sources you can recommend? The standard stock photo sites make my toes curl!
Stock photos are pretty awful. Check out Unsplash.com.
Much better! Thanks..
Loved point #2! It’s such a back-to-basics gold mine. I use it with wide success with my clients but am falling short on practicing what I preach; thanks for including it in your list here. Motivation!
“2. Post about your work regularly, it helps your long tail keywords”
A recent question about this came up from a local law firm: Can I rank (organically and in the Google maps/local search results) for a city in which I do not have a physical address. My answer – and proof to them – was “yes.” That you CAN achieve this goal and one of the more important factors is regular posting with relevant [read: geo] content.
P.S. I just noticed a mod to your comment subscription choices – nice.
What kind of methods would you employ to achieve those rankings for that firm? Curious. It can be tricky.
Tricky, indeed. Please consider my answer purposely simplistic, because there are many variables that can effect the results of this approach. And it is specific to the unique characteristics of the particular firm and its SEO goals.
1. Website optimized for code, meta tags and speed.
2. Fresh content development that is thoughtful of audience, keywords, links, influencers and geographic location.
2a.”Post about your work regularly, it helps your long tail keywords” – Ramsay Taplin
3. Backlinks that are thoughtful of relevance, authority and geographic location.
4. Rinse and repeat.
Step Zero, in the case of this law firm, was evaluation of its competition and what that competition was doing in SERPs for the desired keyword, plus their budget.
Another vital item is the firm’s listing on Google My Business. And citations in other reputable and relevant directories.
Low-hanging fruit allowed us to get to Page 1, Position 1 for a valuable keyword pretty quickly and after adding more of Steps 1-4 for a second keyword for a neighboring municipality, we have begun seeing success in search engine results for that same keyword but with variant on the geographic portion of the keyword.
Example of first keyword: business layer gotham city
Example of second keyword in a neighboring geo: business lawyer metropolis
Yeah that sounds pretty perfect. They only thing I’d really add to it is some outreach SEO marketing. One thing we’ve seen work well is get client-based businesses to offer an incentive to clients for leaving reviews on Yelp or Google.
Agree! Those pretty little gold stars mean a lot to people and to search engines.
Only yesterday I added a SumoMe Slide-up plug-in to capture emails.
It will be interesting to see what kind of results that generates.
Let me know how it goes. It looks like a good one.
As usual, a very great post from you Ramsay. I’ll definitely try to execute some of your helpful tips especially making your own image as your company’s image so that you can get better conversions.
Thanks for sharing this stuff!
I do very much enjoy #1. Why? Because stories sell, and infusing myself and life into my Blogging from Paradise brand makes it POP. People get familiar with you and your brand if both are connected. I may go selfie mad and eBook cover mad at times but it hasn’t hurt me much.
Another epic post!!
You’re killing it, Ryan. Keep up the selfies!
Thanks for this great post :).
I tried lots of different strategies to sell from my blog:
-CTA at the end of an article
None of them worked despite the fact I have 2,000 unique and targeted visitors per day. Here is what worked for me:
-product reviews with affiliate links
-helping people solve their problems and including affiliate links in the content of articles
Other than affiliate links, I do sell a book on Amazon. But I don’t have much data to track that unfortunately (which is why i will switch to Gumroad).
Right now, my main source of income is my email list. I only send one promotional email (in the form of a free trial of a French course) out of 20 emails, but it works really well. In addition to that, I mention my paid book on the page where I thank new subscribers.
I actually want to try what you did with the DW Bar and offer a free trial there too.
I think you’re on the right track. You’ve got to keep providing value to organic search visitors. Even if you don’t directly review products, work them into posts in a kind of “side note” kind of way. It works well if it’s genuine.
I created a sales site for the MLM products that I sell.
I did the SEO-thing, and I have at least a dozen pages of “Brand Name+illness/issue=testimonial content” and they are all on the first position of the first page in Google search.
I have 6,700 users reading my pages per month.
I have maybe 10 sales a month. No kidding—10.
I would say that is an astronomically bad conversion rate.
I guess I could try a pop-up.
I wish I could lower the prices of the products, but that is not possible.
It is just interesting that I really thought that if I had such great Google placement and that many users, that I would be RICH by now! LOL!
I took a quick look at your site and, while there are some strong areas, there is a lot of room for improvement from a conversion optimisation point of view.
At a minimum I’d get rid of the bright colored background, the colored head links and remove the underlines unless it’s a link. Some of the links aren’t working and there are several different fonts on the site.
When it comes to health a website really needs to communicate absolute trust and professionalism. I think a bit of a theme clean up might help a lot.
Hope that helps.
Wow! Thanks! That was very kind of you to give me some very useful advice. I will give it a go.
Best Regards, Robin
Can I just say to everyone who is breaking out in cold sweats over selling – from my experience in sales, your perspective should be that you’re offering someone choice, and by offering choice, you are honoring and empowering that person to enrich their life. What is wrong about that?
Hey! I’m still in the earlier stages of making a blog (well, haven’t actually started, but consolidating ideas to put in it), and I find this post of yours truly enlightening! Thanks a lot for this, and hopefully I can make well of it when I start blogging!
Glad it helped! Thanks for commenting.
Very nicely detailed Ramsay! Im not yet selling on my blog posts perse (at the moment) though I plan to make it a very important funnel when the time comes. Love the things you pointed out and I’ll definitely make use of them. Starting to do some tweaking now. 🙂
Let me know how it all goes.
Ramsay, pls. could u tell me the different between website and blog. I want to know.
Thanks for another great post Ramsay!
I have a Customer-Centric Marketing Blog so absolutely love the fact that before all the technical tips you mentioned that it’s important to know who you are selling too.
I see it so often that people are so passionate about getting fancy and ‘techy’ that they forget the basics and importance of defining a Target Audience and appropriately positioning their brand.
In terms of selling, I have found that merging online with offline has been most successful. I benefit most from offering in-person discussions and classes–it allows me to gain direct feedback from my audience and build a relationship with my valued clients.
This has definitely carried through to how I write on my blog. I’ve found that a style like yours works best–friendly, approachable and casual.
Thanks for all the awesome content!
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Very good points here! The internet is allowing us a very unique opportunity to market our businesses, but only if it’s used correctly. Thanks for these tips!
I am confused about the reason I’d have a landing page if I use Aweber, which has forms where I can add a picture of an ebook and ad a webform on a blog. I know the template look nice, but if you have a landing page subscription and Aweber, do you think both are needed to be highly effective?