You’ve got a blog, you’re working hard cranking out posts consistently, you have a developed social media strategy, a solid game plan, and you’re doing all the right things.
Or so you think.
Maybe around month 6, or month 12, or month 18 you just hit a wall. Things aren’t progressing as quickly as they should or your stuff doesn’t seem to be catching on. Facebook “likes” are roughly the same week after week, you aren’t getting many new twitter followers, and you start wondering if what you’re doing matters after all the work you’ve put in. You’ve been contemplating making a paid product but your intuition is telling you that it’d probably flop at this point and be a waste of time.
But you’re not ready to throw in the towel and call it quits yet – you’re taking some time off to re-analyze, re-focus, and re-vamp your strategy. Through my own failures and the advice of many others, I’ve learned that there is 1 major reason why many blogs and businesses fail.
The reason they fail is because we’re all told to start a blog or business about something we’re passionate about. Except we’re never told that what we’re passionate about isn’t what matters. It’s what our audience and clients are passionate about.
So in case you’ve hit that wall, things aren’t going well, and you’re losing hope that you’ll ever make a living from what you’re doing, here are the 3 questions you need to answer to save your blog and business.
1. What problem do you solve?
“You must offer what your potential clients want to buy, not what you want to sell or think they should want to buy. You must be able to look at your services from your client’s perspective – their urgent needs and compelling desires.” – Michael Port in Book Yourself Solid
Many people blog about whatever interests them. They pick their passion and just start writing about it.
Think about that for a moment.
Most of you probably say, “Well yeah, duh…I talk about what I like talking about,” and keep reading without thinking any further.
But ask yourself this: Is there proven interest in what I’m writing about? Is writing about your passion (your best interests) really the best thing to do, or is writing about your audience’s wants (their best interests) the best thing to write about? There’s a reason why blogs about daily life or just generic musings about life generally don’t grow large quickly, while blogs about blogging grow quickly.
The sad truth? No one cares very much about what I personally write about daily life. I don’t solve anything. But people who read blogs about blogging are looking for a solution to a problem.
- How to get more traffic.
- How to get more subscribers.
- How to create a product.
- How to make more money on the side.
And what you think your audience wants is rarely what your audience actually wants. If you can’t immediately, intuitively say “my blog solves xxx problem” you’re in a bad position.
How to fix it: Sit down and write down the top 3 problems you think your audience has.
Now sit down and use the following 2 methods to figure out what your audience actually wants:
- Look what’s popular around you. Products/services/niches that have proven demand are usually found all over the internet. What comes to mind? Weight loss, blogging, making money online. These topics are ubiquitous so you know they are in demand.
- Ask using 3 tactics. Assuming you already have your blog going for a period of several months, employ the following 3 tactics to get more information about your audience:
- Provide two parts to your opt-in email response. If you have some sort of offer you give for subscribing (an ebook, free course, etc.) use part 1 to say “here’s your free course” and use part 2 of the email to start a conversation. In the second part of your email write: “Wait, before you go, respond to this email and tell me your biggest problem or struggle right now.” The second part was a blogging tactic I learned from a friend, and immediately after I applied it began receiving dozens of personal “I need help with xxx” type responses. Free market research.
- Directly reach out to new readers. Have comments from people you haven’t seen around before? Send them an email saying thanks for stopping by and asking if they need help with any current struggles.
- Free Consultation via skype. Directly reach out to your list and offer them the opportunity to have a 15 minute skype conversation with you. It’s a great way to connect with readers more and also figure out their struggles.
So what are your audience’s problems? If you’re a blogger those may be: getting more traffic, getting more engagement (return visitors), and developing a product that sells well. If you write about health and fitness your audience’s top problems may be fat loss & muscle gain. If you write small biz information, your audience’s main problems might be figuring out how to find good business ideas to turn into a business, finding more clients, and getting the word out about your services. If your niche isn’t so clear cut – self help for example – you should still talk to your audience because self help is a huge category and your audience definitely will have trends regarding their problems.
Remember that the problem is not always what you think it is. You need to empirically research your audience’s needs, and not guess.
The truth is that if you’re not fixing a specific problem or set of problems, it’s going to be much harder for your audience to figure out what’s going on with your blog. And it will be much harder for you to get paid for the work you do.
So…what problem do you solve for your audience?
The answer should immediately and intuitively come to mind — if it doesn’t, you have thinking to do.
2. Determine the biggest result your audience/clients get
“What is the number one result you help your clients achieve or get?”
So let’s say you’ve got your blog/business. If you can’t immediately say “my blog answers x problem” you are in for a rough trip. The purpose and function of your blog (and the problem it solves) should be instantly present in your mind. If you’re stuck thinking, “Well, it might be A, or it might be B, it’s kind of a hybrid, I’m not quite sure yet,” then you’re going down the wrong track.
The biggest result you give your clients (your audience) should also be clear as day.
- I help blogs get more traffic.
- I help people lose fat.
- I help cubicle slaves get clients for their own biz so they can quit their day job.
Clear as day, straightforward and easy to share at a cocktail party in 3 seconds.
If you can’t specifically say what benefit people get come from coming to your blog, from reading and digesting your content, you’re in trouble.
How to fix it: Your audience’s problem should be obvious, and so should the solution you provide.
In fact, these are the two most important factors in developing a successful business. If you don’t solve a problem, and you can’t specifically say what benefit your clients/audience will achieve, why would people stick around?
Sure you can get people that stick around for fun, or because they enjoy your writing, or because you talk about lofty aspirations, but the majority of people are searching for a solution to a specific problem or ailment.
Provide specific results for a specific problem and your blog will thrive.
3. How good of an investment is your product/service/content?
“Do potential clients within your target market see your services and products as opportunities that will give them a significant return on their investment? Clients should get a return of at least 20 times their investment. “ -Michael Port
When people compare online products to offline ones, they sometimes comment on how a $50 ebook is a huge ripoff. Or how a $120 affiliate marketing course is such a scam.
But are they really? What if you pay $120 for an affiliate marketing course, and then spend 6 months setting up a couple mini sites?
Let’s say after 6 months of work, 1 site brings in $300/month. After a year of income ($3600) your $120 was just returned 30x. That’s a good financial investment.
Or, what if you spend $100 on a class on getting more clients?
Within a month you have your first client paying you $100 an hour, once a week, every week. The next month you add on another client. The third month you add on a third client. With the addition of your third client, you’re making $300 a week, or $1200 a month.
And it all started with a $100 product or mini course.
That’s a good financial investment. But your audience needs to know that. So you honestly need to ask yourself how much of a return will your audience get from what you give, and how tangible it is.
The sad truth is that the less tangible your return is (e.g. “happiness” “peace of mind” etc.) the harder it will be for your audience to find a reason to pay you product-wise.
Happiness is obviously important, but in terms of having people pay you, it’s much more intangible and thus hard to quantify and guarantee, and so is the return for your audience. The easiest way to turn something intangible into something with a clear reward is…. You guessed it, make it tangible, or make the intangible benefits a side-benefit.
So instead of offering “peace of mind” “feeling like your time is worthwhile” or the like, you might say, “find your passion and turn it into a business that pays you.”
The physical return you can guarantee? Money.
Other returns? Happiness, meaningful work, peace of mind.
You need to be totally clear about what result your audience / clients get, and even if you’re dealing with a somewhat intangible niche you can make it physical and the returns very real and easy to quantify.
How to fix it: If your service or product isn’t a worthwhile investment, people won’t come back.
People will be very hesitant to fork out money for your product or service offered unless they are sure that the investment they put in will return many times over.
And they will have a hard time forking over money for a product or service where they can’t quit measure what they’ll get out of it.
The problem with intangible rewards like “happiness” or “peace of mind” is that it’s hard to estimate the return on them because they are intangibles.
The solution is to use those as side-benefits, and instead make the main benefits more tangible.
You need to mention that your “get more clients” course is both a smart financial return (“$1000 in 6 months guarantee”) and a smart emotional return (“quit your day job to do work you love”).
So…can you prove that your product or service or blog content is a good investment for people? How?
Having immediate, clear answers to these 3 questions will already set you ahead of most bloggers that aimlessly shoot for dreams of financial independence.
And if/when that day comes where you’re about to throw in the towel: make a cup of tea, sit down, and ask yourself these two questions:
- What problem does my audience have?
- What specific result or solution can I provide to fix that problem?
Turn your only focus into helping your audience and clients achieve what they want, and you’ll find a much clearer, less messy road to success.
(Photo credit: Desperate Businessperson via Shutterstock)