My first blog didn’t sell anything. Neither did my second or third or a couple more after that. Even my longest running blog — my personal blog — didn’t have anything for sale on it for quite a while.
That blog was launched as I was starting my freelance writing career and quickly became a home for my work — it’s where I kept a list of my clips and showcased the work I was doing. Even then, though, there was no buy button. It was only when I started actively promoting the fact that my services were available for hire that my blog really started going somewhere.
Getting Something Out of a Blog
Part of my problem as a blogger, at least initially, is that it’s easier to work on my blog when I know I’m getting something out of the effort I’m putting in. That might be a matter of establishing expertise, raising donations or actually getting money back out of the process — but I need to be able to associate my work with a reward.
Blog readers have similar expectations: even when they aren’t putting money on the table to get a product or a service from you, they are always paying you with the attention of currency. Your readers expect you to, at the bare minimum, sell them the ability to keep reading what you write in exchange for the time and effort they spend on reading your posts, commenting and promoting them.
You almost certainly want more than the currency of attention, though: it’s rare that a blogger just writes things with no further ambition beyond getting posts read. You may not be selling something in order to directly make a living from your blog. You may be promoting your employer or you may be fundraising for a non-profit. You may also be taking a more round-about approach to getting a benefit — maybe you’re establishing your expertise to land a better job. No matter what your goal is, though, there’s is ultimately a point where money changes hands.
The Crucial Starting Point
As a blogger, I’ve struggled with understanding what I’m selling at times. Getting clear on exactly what you want your readers to do and benefit you is a defining moment for any blogger — and it’s where you need to start. If you can’t immediately tell me what you expect to get out of blogging, you need to take a piece of paper and a pen to a quiet room and figure it out.
Once you’re clear on that, consider how you’re telling your readers what you want them to do. I’m a big fan of being as forthright and open about what you want your readers to do. For one thing, that makes your readers a lot more likely to act. For another, it means that you won’t face any questions about transparency.
So, what are you selling?