Guest Post by Donna Merrill.
Blogging is the fulcrum of all your social media interactions.
The purpose of social media is to build a relationship with your readers so that they will trust you, like you and view you as a leader and authority in your niche.
The biggest challenge that new bloggers have is to attract an initial readership.
Nobody knows them, they’ve not yet branded themselves as leaders or authorites, and they won’t until people start visiting their blogs and spend a little “hang out” time there. Hanging out, after all, is what cements relationships, and let’s you start to engage with your readers.
Blogging alliances, sometimes referred to as “syndication alliances”, are meant to bridge the gap between needing to engage with folks, and having no readers to engage with.
Blogging alliances are communities where bloggers come together to promote each other to the world. Not each other’s products and services, mind you, but promote each other’s brand, trustworthiness and likeability. The alliance itself is not your marketplace, but rather, a catalyst to reaching the marketplace.
The alliance is a group of bloggers and marketers who encourage and teach each other, who syndicate and share each other’s content, and in so doing, offer “social proof” to each other. Social proof is that intangible “currency” that each individual blogger accumulates and invests back into further social interaction in related social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, to name a few.
With your newly minted social currency in hand, you can now go out into niche markets within the Internet community-at-large and seek leads, customers and followers. Once in the marketplace, you continue to seek ways to build relationships with those people who have decided to join your “list” of subscribers.
Now, let’s take a closer look at how this all evolves from your blog.
When we are writing to people that are interested in our particular niche, we will ultimately have an opportunity to offer them our products and services.
That offer should occur naturally from the content and style of our blog. If your blog revolves around marital counseling, it should easily walk people through your content, attract them to your expertise and personality, and ultimately interest them in your products and services. The most organic way to bring those products to “market” on your blog is to offer your readers a “lead magnet”. Your lead magnet is usually some sort of a free offer that invites people to enter into a deeper relationship with you.
So, for instance, you might offer your readers a free ebook that is congruent with your niche. Something like “10 Ways To Stop Arguing With Your Spouse”.
You might position that offer prominently on your blog, typically in an “opt-in” area where people are introduced to your free offer, and can instantly subscribe to your “list” by giving you their name and email address. They “subscribe” or “opt in” in exchange for receiving your offer in their email inbox.
You can also capture the “lead” by structuring your blog site to be inviting and enticing to people within your niche. Through the design and “feel” of your blog, they are enticed to learn more about you by reading your “about me” page, or maybe your “mentoring page”.
But remember, your blog is not a sales site. It is a place to engage your readers, and make them willing or even eager to join your list to build a deeper relationship with you, or to get more great information from you.
I want to repeat, though, that your blog is never a platform for selling.
The actual selling comes in play after your reader subscribes to your offer by giving you their contact information in your opt-in area, or on your “lead capture page”. A lead capture page is a special page that functions like the opt in area on your blog, but it is usually only accessible by your reader clicking on a link to it. A link to your lead capture page is most commonly placed within a blog post you are writing, or in your “author signature” area. Essentially, you are telling your reader… “since you are interested in what I’m writing about, I’ll give you more information about it when you click this link”.
Once you’ve captured leads or subscribers through the medium of your blog, you need to have a “sales funnel” for them to go into.
The sales funnel is typically a sequence of e-mail messages you send to your lead or subscriber list.
So, for instance, somebody might opt-in to your list because they’re interested in learning how to build a huge Facebook fan base, and you’ve promised them a free tutorial on the subject. The sales funnel your new subscriber enters should include emails that offer a series of products that will teach them exactly how to do build their fan base. Typically, you will have a free offer that will teach them the essentials of how to get Facebook fans but not the particulars.
You would then build up several “offer sequences”, whereby you start promoting products that are relevant to building a Facebook fan base, since you already know that your subscribers should be interested in that subject.
All this is to say that your blog is designed to funnel people through your content and expertise, into an eventual customer relationship with you. If you do this right, the relationship can last for years as you offer a steady array of products and services that are relevant to your “list” of subscribers.
This entire process begins with your blog.
And the role of a blogging alliance is to give the social proof you need to make readers take notice of your blog in the first place.
It is not the purpose of blogging partners (ie., alliance members) to market directly to each other. It is not the purpose of the alliance members to propose products and offers to each other.
Nor is it the purpose of the alliance to foster “inbred blogging”, whereby members write about blogging for other bloggers reading their blog posts.
In a blogging alliance, members are not writing to each other.
They are writing to world… or more accurately, to their niche within the universe of internet browsers.
In the same way, bloggers are not marketing their products and services to each other, but to the ever expanding readership they develop by leveraging the mutual activity of their fellow bloggers.
How has leveraging B3 and blogging alliances helped your site or you as a business owner?
So blog on my friends,