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10+ Powerful Sales Concepts For Blogging Success

10+ Powerful Sales Concepts For Blogging Success
Sales

Selling Subscriptions to Your Blog

If you’re giving away subscriptions for free, why is it so hard to get subscribers? Well, because there is a cost to subscribing, and the cost is in the form of people’s most valuable currency, time. If you want more RSS subscribers to your blog, then you will need to sell those subscriptions. How do you do that? Simple. You use the same sales principles that any good salesperson needs to employ. Here they are:

1. Sales are Achieved Through Meeting People’s Needs

This is the core task you must achieve. Everything should center around this hub. What are the needs of your target audience? What kind of content do they need: interesting, useful, inspiring, thoughtful, humorous, entertaining, etc? Are you increasing their productivity, helping them make money, save moeny, laugh, feel good, feel excited, and finding them valuable resources? Figure out what your target audience wants and make sure that your content delivers on meeting those needs.


2. People Buy Based on Feelings not Rational Thoughts

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When it comes down to a final purchase of a product, after all the research, people usually go with their gut feeling. Their decision will often boil down to what “feels right.” When it comes to subscribing to a blog, how do you make that decision? Do you find that it is just automatic? You get the feeling of “I want to see more of this” and you just click on that orange button. How can you make your audience feel that way too? Find a way to make them FEEL like they can’t live without your blog. How? The simplest way is with great writing.

3. Ask for the Sale

Oftentimes a sale is lost simply because the seller didn’t ask for the sale. The buyer likes the product, likes the salesperson, but is ambivalent about taking action. Are you asking your readers to subscribe? How? Is it in a place on your blog where readers will “hear it” or is there too much “noise” elsewhere and they miss it? Make sure you’re being heard by clearing out any “visual noise” that is getting in the way of your message.

4. Ask For Referrals

Are you graciously asking for a “referrals” in the form of social bookmarking and emailing to friends? What ways could you be more creative about this? Do you offer an incentive? Are you able to personalize it, such as in replies to your readers’ comments? What would make you want to refer a site? What could an author do to entice you? Test something new. Asking for and receiving referrals will gain you more readers and subscribers in the long run.

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5. It’s a Numbers Game:

Sales is a game of perseverance. In some ways it is kind of like certain aspects of the Survivor show, in that personal drive to win is a big factor in winning. Do you have the tenacity to stick with it during the “lean” times of low subscribers? By staying disciplined, always striving to improve and meet your readers needs, over time you will gain more readers. Stick with it! If your numbers are really going nowhere for a long time, then seek out feedback from your readers, and guidance from other bloggers whom you respect.

6. Networking is King

Sales people spend a lot of time at conferences, golfing, and at networking mixers all in the name of building business (and having fun too). Bloggers also need to network for the purpose of building a readership and also learning from others. Of course there are many ways to network online such as MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, and many more that are springing up all the time. Then there is commenting on blogs and forums, and emailing and IM’ing fellow bloggers. Just like traditional sales networking, it’s important to know what your goal is and stay focused on that. Don’t be the one who got totally drunk at the conference and was too hung over to really learn anything. Have fun, but remember what you are trying to accomplish.

7. SW³: Some Will, Some Won’t, So What!

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Some will like your blog and some won’t. Don’t let it get you down. Stay upbeat and positive. Keep focusing on writing to meet your readers’ needs. Follow your instinct. I read once that if you don’t get dissenting comments at some point, then you are not doing it right. Slow and steady wins the race.

8. People Like to Buy from Positive People

What is the tone of your blog? Is it positive or negative or neutral? You’re more likely to attract readers if there is something positive going on at your site. I’m not saying that you can’t have dark material or negative content. Some readers are looking for heavier subjects. But if they can still walk away with a good feeling then they will want to return. Think about blogs in your genre and what kind of culture they have there. What do you want your culture to be, and how can you make it a positive experience for your readers?

9. People Like to Buy Things That are Shiny, New and Sparkly

If you’re not improving you’re falling behind. I heard that once. I didn’t like it. But it’s true. You need to always be prepared to adjust to the times or your readers’ interest or to new technologies. You need to stay on top of your field. Does anything on your site need updating or improving? Ask a few people you trust to give you the brutal truth, and then take some action on comments you hear from multiple sources.

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10. If I Trust You, I Will Buy from You

Trust is built over time. Are you consistent in your writing, in your opinions? Take notice of whether you give different opinions from one day to the next on a particular topic. This doesn’t mean that you can’t adapt over time, but when you do change opinions you acknowledge that fact and explain why. Trust is also built by consistency in your posting frequency. Do you follow through with promises you make to your readers, such as future posts or followup on questions? Make sure your readers can count on you. They are watching more carefully than you think.

BONUS: #11. The Price is Right – not necessarily the lowest, but the fairest with respect to the value.

The longer your posts are and the more frequently you write, the more “expensive” your subscription is to a reader. Make sure that the value you provide is commensurate with these two aspects of your blog. How do you figure that out? Here’s one way: when you consider writing each post imagine the top blog that you know of in your field which has thousands of subscribers, and ask yourself “Would I be comfortable submitting this as a guest post on that blog?” If not, then go back to the drawing board. Ask yourself what makes you click on a story, and then try to emulate those types of articles.

What do you think are the success principles for selling blog subscriptions? Please share your thoughts!

K. Stone is author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. A few of her most popular articles are 7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Financial Life, Make Money with Your Blog: The Ultimate Resource List, 3 Tips to Landing the Job You Want, and 5 Big Secrets “They” Don’t Want You to Know About Investing.

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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