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
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.
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!
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.
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.