Most Bloggers Suck At Marketing

This post was guest blogged by David Risley, a pro blogger who generates six figures per year in his blogging business. David Risley dot com is a pull-no-punches tale of his life as an Internet entrepreneur.

The simple truth is that most bloggers out there would like to be making a lot of money blogging, but they don’t. They read sites like Problogger, Entrepreneurs-Journey and John Chow. They imagine themselves making as much money as these guys and enjoying the dot-com lifestyle, but they don’t. Why is that?

I think the simple truth of the matter is that most bloggers suck at marketing. They just don’t understand it. The traditional model of “post often, throw some ads up there, cash the checks” is a VERY slow road to a full-time income. That isn’t marketing.

Here are a few simple tips I wanted to pass onto aspiring professional bloggers.

1. Start Building a List Right Now.

If you do not have an opt-in form to a mailing list on your blog, you are wasting an incredible opportunity. Realize that email marketing is still one of the premium ways of making money online. Email also happens to be the lowest common denominator of internet based communication. All of your readers have an email address. So, capture it!

You use your email list to keep people coming back to your blog. You use it to market to your readers. You use it to foster a relationship between you and your readers. Keep in mind that most of the world has no clue how to use an RSS feed. So, don’t sit back and hopelessly wonder why your RSS subscriber count is what it is. If your blog serves a non-technical niche, chances are your audience doesn’t know how to use RSS.

So, you build an email list.

2. Build Your Brand.

What makes a blog stand out in a market is branding. Building your personal brand is very important and I think you’re going to see much more emphasis on this in 2009 and beyond. Realize that business is personal again. People want to do business with a real person, not an anonymous corporate entity. If they feel a sense of empathy and trust with you, you’re light years ahead of other players in your market.

John Chow actively brands himself on this very blog as a “dot com mogul”. He posts a lot of photos of himself enjoying the various benefits of the dot-com lifestyle. Ted Murphy, of Izea, has actively built up a brand for himself as well. It involves lots of orange and tongues sticking out. 🙂 Whatever a person’s brand, it remains consistent. Readers begin to associate certain ideas with you as the blogger. That’s your brand.

Business is personal. So, build a brand around yourself.

3. Study Internet Marketing

A few months ago, I wrote a post for ProBlogger where I talked about the vast chasm between blogging and internet marketing. In that article, I said that the most successful bloggers out there DO understand internet marketing. In other words, there shouldn’t be any gap between these two worlds.

If you understand the principles and tactics of internet marketing, you are well ahead of other bloggers out there. If you view your blog as a lead generator, set up a sales funnel, then use your blog’s content as a tool for conversion into a sale, you will quickly realize why a blogger is in an AWESOME position to make money.

REAL money as a problogger isn’t found in hosting ads for other companies. Sure, you can make money that way (sometimes pretty good money). But, real money lies in solid marketing and driving your site’s readers into your offer (whatever that may be).

4. Leverage Social Networks.

Social networks like Twitter, Facebook and others give bloggers immense marketing opportunities if used properly. These networks obviously allow you to connect with others. They also allow you to set up outposts for your blog. Another great utilization of these networks, though, is that they allow your blog to go viral.

As an example, both John and Shoemoney have both recently held Twitter contests. By re-tweeting a certain message and, of course, following them on Twitter, you enter the contest. By it’s very design, the contest goes viral. The message will appear all over Twitter. By providing an incentive, it invites follow-through. This is a fantastic example of social media marketing in action.

Content Is Still King

At the end of the day, blogging is all about the content. Your focus should be on providing solid value to your readers and being truly helpful. However, if you do have desires to make money through your efforts, you need to learn to be a marketer, too.


72 thoughts on “Most Bloggers Suck At Marketing”

  1. Nice tips! Very useful.. Gonna use them 🙂 But this guy needs to add one more: Offline Social Networking.

    1. Good tips, and I would tend to agree!! Even with all the marketing tips out there, most will never do it right

      1. I wish someone had told me (and put a gun to my head) to build a list a year ago when I was starting… Man, I could’ve had 1000’s of emails by now.. That’s the classic spilled milk story.

        Only recently I realized what huge potential it has. Conversion rates on a list are much much higher than those you can achieve by any other means.

        Cheers,
        Alex

        1. I still have to get on with number 4. Social networks can really get you traffic, moreover you stay in touch with your readers and they trust you more!

          1. But social networks dont give you high conversions. Anyways it has been stressed alot of times how important a opt in list is, time to take the plunge.

        2. Well, better late than never. You can still build your list.

  2. Tyler says:

    Definitely some helpful tips. Gotta love Twitter’s move in the Social Networking to bring in even more traffic to ones site.

    1. I see Twitter actually bring some good traffic whenever I send a tweet to link to a new update.

  3. ASANT Media says:

    Guest posting is also a great marketing technique 🙂

    1. Yeah, a nice author box can easily contemplate a paid review! like the one in this article!

    2. Agreed, especially if they’re celebrities.

  4. SEO Tips says:

    Great tips. I think the whole Internet marketing field is a long term career prospect. You can’t start Blogging and become an overnnight success, well not many can anyway.

    Great ideas you came up with and I definitely agree that an opt in list is essential for turning you over an income each month. A brand is also essential, although my site is not yet branded correctly, it shall be. Again this is a long term process.

    Great article, thumbs up.

  5. Ted Murphy says:

    Thanks for the mention John!

    You are right, most bloggers don’t get marketing. I am amazed at how fast I have been able to build my blog. I’m not a great blogger, I just know how to build a brand (something you clearly get as well).

  6. Sohail says:

    some great solid tips there….marketing is main thing to do well beside writing good content. The best content in world is useless if nobody reads it and the best marketing methods don’t work if you haven’t got good content for visitors….so yeah solid content and marketing both are crucial

    1. Jake Stone says:

      If the best content in the world would be in the internet, everybody would know about it. Who knows where it is?

  7. Uniqueness of content, value of definition and branding are 2009’s key areas..says the poor blogger here 🙂

    1. I would say that these things have always been the key!

  8. Allan Ward says:

    Some great points in this article David.

    What most bloggers forget is that whether they like it or not, they are selling something. It could be knowledge, experience, a particular product. The money is not made just from ads, the real money is made in selling a product that meets the needs of your audience. There’s still a need to get your message out there and you’ve provided some good keys on how to do that. Well done!

  9. All very excellent tips, but as usual, need to be followed by each and every blogger out there if any changes are to take place.

    The blogs that have already made a name for themselves have the appearance of making it look easy, because we had no clue they existed in the beginning stages, so we didn’t get the insight of what they truly went through and any growing pains they faced.

    Let’s stop trying to emulate the end result and simply work through the process one step at a time until you, too, are one of the “big players.”

    1. Jake Stone says:

      We can always have a thorough read and start from the first post. 🙂 Add some Time Machine action for checking the look and there is plenty to learn. Just takes quite a bit of time.

      Here is an idea for someone (probably existing already somewhere) take a site and make a short tour to the history of that specific blog. Focus on tipping point and smaller breakthrough articles. Include graphic look and feel combined with lowdown on money making methods.

      When can we see 5 min video on history of http://www.johnchow.com?

  10. Most don’t read John Chow either! Or they do and don’t heed.

    1. Michael Zhao says:

      I finally heed-it took me 10 months. Reading and learning about the top dawgs of subjects related to this topic.

  11. The best post so far for this month! You are right many (me included) perhaps do not understand the full potential but if they are reading this they sure are on their way. 🙂

  12. Silvia says:

    The tips are very useful,no doubt,I will be using them.Now I do much about branding.I am eager to make great progress in summer.

  13. I checked out David’s site after reading the post. So is the only viable business model for blogs is selling on-line courses or books of your material?

    1. Jake Stone says:

      Hi James, it’s cost-effective and direct extension to their content. Other methods just won’t rake in as much cash.

  14. hmgfiae says:

    I think David and John get it right. The problem with most people starting with blogging is that they have an overly simplified approach to its marketing side, thinking it’s easy money.

    Sure it’s relatively easy and enjoyable as a professional occupation, but there’s still lots of effort to put into it. To put into design, into networking, into branding, into writing decent content regularly, and in finding the right marketing channels. What good is it to have the best blog ever if the topic you write about doesn’t bring to anything to sell? You’ll just be stuck with ads, if there is any relevant ads out there to be found at all.

    That’s where it takes some experience: to find the right advertising programs for the right audience, the right design for the right audience, and to merge all this together, and add here and there the extra features that mean something for your readers and big bucks for you.

  15. Marketing by far is the most difficult part of operating a blog. Don’t be fooled by how easy John makes it. It is hard work and he has put his in. This is a great outlines as to what to do.

  16. I suck at Marketing! 🙁

    Eugene, (mployr.com)

    1. Hey that’s the first step, admitting you suck, now you realize it and can do something about it.

  17. Helmi Asyraf says:

    Some of the bloggers are refused to invest in the marketing aspect because they assume that the content that have quality will eventually brings traffics to their site.

    But, by thinking based on the above assumption, it is like finding needle in the haystack. There are millions of blog that have good content. So, how can your potential readers can find and read your blog if you do not present your blog to them.

    By not having this, others who make some effort in presenting their blogs to their readers will be the winner – and you are the one who will lost.

  18. Mike B. says:

    #2 gets really over looked by a lot of people. If people can connect with the writer it usually assures a return visit. It is all about branding these days.

  19. I like what you said about building a brand . I’ve heard that from alot of business people alike and the email list is something that I need more work on even though I’m slowly
    getting opt ins now I still haven’t built that relationship with the list , so I guess I need to keep collecting them anyway though!

  20. Rahul says:

    Oh.. why does the topic of this article sound so damn familiar (he he). But hey still.. that does not mean that we blogger stay like this. Change is the name of the game.

  21. shun2u says:

    Good tips. Thanks very much.. 😉

  22. Tran Harry says:

    I agree with marketing, marketing is absolutely important. And it seems that a lot of success can happen through marketing even on a shoe string budget.

  23. Dex Anthony says:

    Thanks for the tips. 🙂

  24. The Moneyac says:

    Ahhh yes… marketing, a pro marketer is a marketer than can sell dog crap for $50/peace and they still will think it was a good deal.

    Cheers.

  25. Tutorial says:

    This blog not only teaches me also reminds me do.
    At the start of the year I decided to add my site to a mailing list and so far I have not implemented.
    By reading this post, I do remember that.
    Now ask: what happens if instead of using a service such as AWeber I implemented a plugin for wordpress? Any suggestions?

  26. Hey, great information…and I really appreciate how he states that content is still king. I think so many people continue to forget the value of content for your readers. And again what is a blog without reads…just a personal log.

  27. John,

    That post nailed me to the wall! I’m studying internet marketing right now, (I was one of the ‘Online Profits’ course-ware winners here..).

    It does seem like thew wild-west out there when setting up campaigns. Traditional marketing is to bring foot-traffic to your store where people buy, many times on impulse. Pay-per-click marketing involves another layer of study, current trends, what people see on your landing page to make them click-through to buy.

    I’m bookmarking David Risley’s site right now to study his post’s.

    Respectfully,

    Nicholas Chase
    http://www.twitter.com/nachase

  28. Thanks for sharing such good tips. I agree that branding is important. I think one of the first things to brand yourself is to beef up the design of your blog. The design, style, colors tell much about you so branding begins with how well and how unique your blog looks.

    Peter Lee

    1. Doesn’t matter. A lot of these things still get overlooked by people.

  29. Pete says:

    “Content is still king” should be #1 on this list.

    Look at my friend’s site http://www.combinedfleet.com for example. It does zero direct marketing (only word-of-“mouth” via referral links) and it’s design isn’t even up-to-date (still the 1990s style HTML. But guess what, it’s got traffic up the wazoo that one could only dream about. Why? It’s got the greatest content on the WW2-era Japanese Navy on all of the web.

    Of course I’m not saying marketing is unimportant. Just that content is absolutely the king. Make sure your content is good, and THEN think about marketing.

    1. Yeah, that site is proof that design isn’t THE most important thing about a blog.

  30. BOOOO…for mailing lists. What difference is it to spam when you receive an e-mail from a blog that you don’t even bother reading anymore.

    -Mike

    1. Jake Stone says:

      How do you win stuff that is not free? People stay on the list if they feel they get something useful out of it. They stop subscribing if they feel being spammed.

  31. First question to ask your self is what kind of blog do I want to have. If you are going to make money with it you need to treat it as any business. Marketing and Branding are essential to any business.

  32. Silvia says:

    Yes,everybody’s experience is unique.

  33. Germz says:

    I’m actually quite good at marketing.

  34. You are right about it, without Branding yourself people may not trust you, and trust it is the very basic to achieve any success online.

    1. Jake Stone says:

      Trust is what most sales people sell. Occasionally some make an error and talk about value, feature or benefit selling, but it’s all trust selling.

  35. Ben Pei says:

    Yeah just started offering my own ebook for opt in purpose..hope i can build up my list fast!

  36. Flyssy says:

    can anyone point me towards a good wordpress plug in for mailing list building?
    thanks

  37. Caleb says:

    I don’t subscribe to the “post often” model because you need to attract a readership following and it makes no sense to just waist content posting to NOBODY!

    Also, branding is very important and part of branding online deals heavily with making your content sticky.

  38. I agree with the post but most of all, I agree with what was said in #1 and #3

    Point # 1 – Start building a list right now:
    For you to succeed online without a list is nearly impossible. Your customers need that extra oomph that other blogs dont have. If you do have it, you won yourself a subscriber. Not having it will mean that you will lose that spesific person and probably not see them again. RSS is great and that is a fact, another fact however is that a lot of visitors don’t really have a clue what RSS is and will simply exit your page without a worry in mind.

    You need to offer that potential customer a great incentive to join your list. A true reason for them to go and type in their name and email. Always keep that in the back of your head.

    Point # 3 – Study internet marketing
    Excellent advice. Guys I read around 2-3 hours a day and then only spend around an hour blogging. Lets take a quick example. If you read an hour a day for a week… you’ll finish a whole book. If you read an hour a day for a year? Think of that. It is really easy to do. Have a little blog schedule next to your pc to help you stay on track and complete all the tasks you have to do!

    I hope this contributed a little to this community. Hope to be hearing from you soon.

    1. Jake Stone says:

      Switch your 2-3 hours into blogging and read for an hour, then you are also able to make some money blogging.

  39. Sajid Iqbal says:

    Sometime I think this site repeat its articles.

  40. I think David made some very good points. Internet marketing and blogging (on a professional level) do go hand-in-hand.

    If you consider yourself a professional blogger or if your intention is to make real money from blogging, then you simply have to be proactive and market the hell out of yourself and your blog.

    This can be done by not only following the steps David discussed but also by posting WORTHY comments on other blogs, blog carnivals, sites like StumbleUpon and Digg, or anything else you can think of which will get your blog in front of people’s eyes.

    The old saying of “build it and they will come” does not apply to blogs. You could have the greatest content in the world but if no one knows about it…

    Wesley
    The Geek Entrepreneur

  41. Tim Andren says:

    Great post. Practical advice for an area of marketing that is still developing.

    Tim Andren
    http://timandren.com

  42. NPGS says:

    man, I like this topic … I really do.

  43. Indo Contest says:

    Great article!!. Love to read it again and again.
    Thanks for sharing it.

    Indo

  44. Tommy says:

    Useful tips indeed! I really need to market my blog.

  45. Nasir says:

    Some really easy and great tips yet it is hard for people to understand it.

  46. Great tips John Chow… Especially for us in the “very new to blogging” category! Creativity in marketing helps, but good old fashion dedication and hard work are what make a difference in the long run.

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