This is a guest post written by Krista Rae.
An important part about blogging for business that many overlook is creating a solid blog strategy. Imagine what your blog could do if every word, image, and button was crafted with your ideal audience in mind.
I was able to see the difference a little intention was able to make with my past blogs. The second I started thinking about what I was writing, the content in my sidebar, and how each and every thing related to my goals, I saw a difference. I started attracting the people I wanted to, readers started clicking to my best content, and my email list grew. All this from being intentional with what I was creating.
Sounds easy, right?
Okay, not so much. There really is a lot to it and it’s a lot to take in all at once. Today I want to go over 6 ways that you can quickly boost your blog strategy.
If you want to follow along with the first two steps grab your free workbook right here!
DEFINE YOUR GOALS
The first and most important action you can take is to define your goals. I don’t mean things like, “Get 500 Twitter followers”, although that will come later. I’m talking about the overall goals you need to get where you want to be with your blog and your business.
These goals should do things like:
- Keep your audience engaged
- Build trust between you and your readers, and
- Move you towards that ultimate business goal, whatever it may be
For example, my main goal is to make a full-time income through my business, allowing me to quit my current job. But that won’t just come by itself, right? The smaller goals I have set to support that goal are to grow an engaged email list, increase my social media reach, and provide valuable content that keeps readers coming back for more. Of course, after those are defined I take them one-by-one and break them down into smaller steps, but you see what I mean.
Now it’s your turn. Grab your workbook and write down exactly what your main goal is. If you haven’t put it in writing yet this could be a big step! Then, work through the rest of that section to lay out your supporting goals.
Taking the time to define these specific, high-value goals will serve as a plan for you to follow. You’ll be able to refer back to these goals when making decisions about your blog. Anything from whether a certain blog post would be a good fit to which plugins you should use in your sidebar.
CLEAN UP DISTRACTIONS
After deciding on some solid goals, it's the perfect time for this next step. Clean up the things that distract from your goals. Keep your blog as focused as possible on what you really want to accomplish.
Having a clean, organised, and focused blog is beneficial for both you and your readers.
As a reader, it’s confusing to land on a website and see plugins, images, buttons, and calls to action everywhere. Being intentional about what you include on your blog will give your readers a clear direction and help them discover the content you really want them to.
To start, make a list of the areas on your blog that you should consider. Think about places like your sidebar, homepage, portfolio, and blog posts. For each area, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this relate back to one of my goals?
- Do I want my readers to get distracted by this?
- Do I want this to shape my readers’ image of me?
If you answered “no” to any of those questions it’s time to consider removing them from your blog.
As an example, here’s how I would help a client go about deciding whether she should remove her sidebar ads:
Do these ads relate back to one of your main supporting goals? Yes, I’d like to make a full-time income through my blog.
Do you want your readers being distracted by these? No, not if it means they’ll be drawn away from my content.
Do you want this to shape your readers’ image of you? No, I want to be seen as someone who provides real value.
In this case, I would urge my client to remove her sidebar ads.
PUT YOUR FOOTER TO WORK
I find that the footer is one of the most under-utilised section of most blogs. You might be surprised at how often people make it all the way down to your footer. And guess what? Those that do are most likely to follow you, read additional posts, and opt-in to your newsletter. Only people who are truly interested in what you have to say will make it that far.
Personally, if I’m looking for a newsletter opt-in or social media links and there isn’t a sidebar, I immediately jump down to the footer.
Consider the goals you defined earlier. How can you incorporate those goals into your footer? Here are a few ways:
- If one of your goals is to grow your social media following, include social media icons or a plugin displaying your favourite platform.
- If you hope to grow your email list, add an opt-in incentive with an image and a great call to action.
- If you’d like your visitors to continue reading posts, consider adding your most popular posts.
And don’t forget that search bar!
Take a minute to look at your footer. Is it helping your business or is it a dead-end? If it’s the latter, take the time to make some tweaks and make your footer a key part of your strategy.
To learn more about making the most of your footer, check out this post on optimising your footer for your blog and business goals.
FOCUS YOUR SIDEBAR
Next, let’s move to your sidebar.
Decisions you make about your sidebar can have a huge impact on how visitors navigate through your blog and the actions they take.
Your sidebar can build trust with your readers, advertise your best content, and grow your following.
However, many make the mistake of forgetting their goals while creating their sidebar. It’s common to see ads, links to other blogs, off-brand images, search bars at the top, social media plugins everywhere, and more.
So, here again, you need to consider your goals. I generally tell my clients to include 3 to 5 items in their sidebar. Doing so will keep your readers focused while allowing all your major goals to be supported.
The top 4 items I suggest are:
- Your bio and headshot to gain a more personal connection with your readers
- Social media links to grow your following
- An opt-in incentive to grow your email list
- And popular posts to keep readers around longer
The top 4 items I suggest to leave out are:
- Ads – Remember, they take attention away from your content, lose some trust of your audience, and lead people away from your site.
- Promotion of evergreen products – Have you ever purchased a product from someone’s sidebar? I know I haven’t. Rather than linking to a paid product, link to a free one. You can then have that free product provide valuable content and lead your readers to your paid content.
- Archives – Everyone knows that to search through your old content they can scroll through your blog feed, view related posts, or use your search bar.
- Recent posts – On a related note, everyone knows to go to your blog feed to check out your recent posts.
So take a look through your sidebar. Are your goals supported? Is there anything working directly against your goals? Do some cleaning up, just like you did with your footer.
CREATE EXCITEMENT ON YOUR HOMEPAGE
While making changes to your Homepage or Start Here page may sound more intimidating than the previous areas we’ve talked about, they’re completely worth a bit of extra work. It’s possible that your Homepage will be the first impression someone has of you, and the same goes for your Start Here page.
Because of this, you want to make sure you’re showing off your very best content. Not only that, but you want to make what you do and who you help super clear. Make your new visitors want to keep exploring your site. Do this by showing your best opt-in incentive, such as a free course or workbook. Also, take the chance to introduce yourself and create a connection right away.
I always get a yucky feeling when the first thing I see on someone’s site is some sort of welcome mat where I either have to opt-in or search for their blog. Not even a “hello” first?
Take the time to build a relationship and show off some great content. Then it’s much more likely that you’ll build an engaged and loyal following.
ADD TO YOUR CONTACT PAGE
The last place I want to talk about today is your Contact page. All too often I see Contact pages with nothing but the form. I don’t know about you, but those forms don’t make me feel overly welcome.
Believe it or not, it’s common for people to click on your Contact page just to learn more about you. I do it myself and, according to my analytics, so do my readers.
Because of this, you want to make your Contact page welcoming and a good reflection of you and your business. Say a quick “hello”. Let people know what they can contact you about. Is this where they should reach out about products and services? Do you accept guest posts? What about collaborations?
Make sure that people will leave your contact page feeling welcome, rather than underwhelmed. Start by adding these things:
- Welcome message
- Your availability for your services
- Openness to guest posts and collaborations
- Frequently asked questions
- Your email address
Those things will get you off to a great start. You might even notice more people reaching out to you after doing so!
WHAT CHANGES CAN YOU MAKE?
After going through these 6 ways to quickly boost your blog strategy, what are you going to start with? Is there anywhere you can improve that you didn’t notice before? Let us know in the comments!
And before you go, be sure to grab this free workbook to get your goals defined and blog cleaned up!
Krista is a blog strategist and WordPress developer who helps female creatives elevate their business, increase conversions, and boost engagement through crafting strategic blogs. She uses personalized, goal-driven strategies to set her clients apart from the competition and highlight their unique offerings. Learn more over on her blog!