I recently had a poll on my ebook store, asking people to vote for what I should write about. Someone suggested this: how to market your blog-best strategies and “no no’s”
For a while, I looked at the suggestion with Reddit face. I’m not in marketing. I’ve never been in it, I don’t have the foggiest idea how one goes about marketing anything, and I don’t really care to. Why would anyone ask me to write about that? But then again, maybe they’re asking specifically because I don’t normally write about that.
With that in mind, here’s how I market a blog, and it’s one really simple step:
Know my audience
You’ve got to know who you’re writing for if you want to sell it. If I’m going to be blogging about dog food, then I should take the time to learn about how dog enthusiasts act online. What kind of ‘fan’ blogs are there, what kind of official/professional sites are there, what sort of forums. I need to understand who they are, how they act, and what they expect. A blog for tech people will accept different design styles than ones for pre-teen books.
A side-note to knowing who I’m talking to is knowing what they consider normal. Even if you think the current ‘trends’ on their sites are ugly as sin, you have to aim at them in order to be accepted. Similar but different. People don’t like big changes, and you may find yourself ignored. At the same time, being different is good, you stand out. Find that balance.
But when I tell people “I know my audience and I write for that” it sounds at once insanely overly simplistic and bloody genius. The fact is that I’m not a marketer, so I don’t ‘market’ my site, I write good content, put it on a theme with good SEO (thank you Carrie Dils for your Utility Theme and StudioPress for Genesis), and the rest magically takes care of itself because what I put into the world isn’t my blog, but myself.
I said once that Chris Lema doesn’t sell himself, he sells you on yourself. He liked that so much, it’s on his header for his blog redesign. Chris, I suspect, gets what I mean when I say I don’t actually market anything. See, I go out there, I find people who need help, and I help. I spent time without really meaning to building up a rep of being helpful and knowledgable and understanding because I have some skills that were perfect for my audience. Not only do I know them, I am them!
What’s on this site is essays, how tos, and ebooks. I sell the books based on the attraction from what I do in the world. See, Open Source is weird. We put stuff out there for free, and then people pay us for other things they can’t do themselves. It’s like how I tell my coworkers to ‘sell’ people on our managed hosting. It’s a question of where people want to spend their time. I like playing on the server, my wife doesn’t. If she didn’t have me for hosting, I’d actually tell her to get managed hosting from the start, because it lets her do what she wants to do!
And that’s what you’re selling. That’s what you market.
Steve Jobs was right when he said your customers don’t know what features they want. But don’t sell them or market them just because they’re features. Sell them what you are what you use. Tell them the truth. Market by representing what they could be, help them get there, and don’t sell ‘As Seen On WordPress.’
We build in WordPress things we need. We should market them as that. “I needed this. Here’s how I did it so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”
I’m Mika Epstein, aka Ipstenu. I know things you don’t because I do things you don’t, and I write about them for you to be able to do them even easier and faster. I know what it takes to learn because I learned. I know how to explain it because it’s how I explained to myself. I know who to talk to, because you’re my people.