By now, you’ve learned that the insanely simple secret to launch a lucrative business online is having a solid foundation. You also probably have the following questions:
How can I have the right foundation?
What will it take to make that foundation rock-solid?
Recently, I asked some of my favorite bloggers and marketers who’ve done it and know how, again and again, to build that anti-earthquake foundation.
Here’s exactly what I asked them:
For you, what’s the step-by-step guide every business should follow to build a rock-solid foundation before they start creating content and promoting it?
There were a lot of great opinions with a lot of actionable tips on how to do this. So yes, there will be a lot for you to do.
Keep reading and check out the amazing answers to this question from the experts.
1. Figure out who you want reading your blog.
2. Figure out what other blogs they are currently reading.
3. Build relationships with those bloggers.
4. Study their blogs to figure out what made them popular.
5. Decide what you’ll emulate and what you’ll do differently.
Sadly, there is no step-by-step guide as it is going to vary depending on your goals. But the one thing every blogger should follow is that you should write content that truly helps your readers. Not something that is mediocre, or something that will only help them out for a month or so, but instead write valuable content that will help them for years to come.
So great that they’ll say, “I would have paid for that.”
The two most important first steps that every *successful* blogger takes (but most bloggers skip) are
(1) figuring out exactly who you want to serve with your blog, and how it’s going to be valuable to them, and
(2) building a following of interested people *before* the blog actually goes live.
Danny Iny is the blogger behind Firepole Marketing. Register for the engagement toolbox to get his ebook Engagement From Scratch and many other great stuff.
1. Discover a market with a need.
2. Talk to people in that market (not email – but by phone or in person) to discover exactly what their pains are. Extract as much information as you can as possible, and consider the possible solutions, content and information that could be provided to help them solve those issues or numb those pains.
3. Commit to providing those solutions in any way, shape or form you can that you know will help. Only then should you start creating content and promoting it.
Pat Flynn is the blogger behind Smart Passive Income. Check out his blog to learn more about how does he make money online and how you could too.
If we are only considering blogs, then I would say the first two essential steps are:
1. Pick your niche wisely, as it can make or break your blog. If you want to make some money down the road, the niche needs to be large enough, and you should also be able to foresee how you’ll generate revenues. Brainstorming about this in the beginning can save you a lot of time at later stages.
2. Pick your domain wisely. Just like with the niche, the domain is one of the things you’ll not be able to change easily down the road, so invest some time thinking about it before you launch your site. Ideally the domain should be easy to spell, easy to remember, and it should also be able to create a strong brand for your site over time.
Daniel Scocco is the blogger behind Daily Blog Tips.
In order for any content strategy to succeed, business owners need to evaluate what they produce from two important perspectives:
- Does my content fill a unique need in my industry? How is it different?
- Does my content educate and motivate people to see the value of my product.
As I like to put it, “Give away the popcorn, sell the iced tea.” In other words, content should be inherently useful by itself, but it should create a thirst (motivation) to utilize your product or service. On the Help Scout blog, we regularly showcase information, data, and case studies that prove great customer service is good for business.
This in turn convinces people that what we sell, customer service software, is worth purchasing and using. If you’re not changing people’s behavior with your writing, you are just writing, not engaging in content marketing.
I think the best place to start is your value proposition; you need to know why your target audience should pay attention to you (and join your list/buy your products) before doing much else.
Peter Sandeen is a conversion optimization expert. Check out his blog for Clear advice on value propositions and conversion optimization
To create a solid foundation, bloggers should take time to master their topic, knowing it on a deeper level than most anyone else. This involves reading books and journals, speaking with other experts in the field, getting hands-on experience, etc.
Second, bloggers need to master their target market. They need to speak with, listen to, and learn from the people they want to help most. Only when they fully understand their hopes and dreams, worries and fears can they deliver uncommon results.
First you need to work out the ideal target profile of the audience member you want to attract. This target profile will determine everything from your tone of voice, through to where you are going to find your audience, what you will attract them with, and how they like information presented.
Next dig deep into their wants, needs, biases, problems, goals, and desired outcomes. What is keeping them up at night? What are they looking for? What do they hope to achieve?
After that you can work out the content, products, solutions that you should start working on. I don’t mean finish or even launch, but start the process. As you create content you can validate against the results you get with this target profile and work to tune everything.
Chris Garett helps entrepreneurs build lasting and profitable relationships with audiences who grow to know, like and trust them.
Arguably the most important thing you should do before creating and promoting content is to get a handle on who your audience is. While the picture of your target customer will change as your business develops, you must start with something in mind. I like to build up a whole person, noting everything from name to age to work and hobbies.
Then when I sit down to write. I write for that person.
Tom Ewer is the blogger behind Leaving Work Behind. He help people who want to quit their jobs and build better lives.
It all boils down to the following:
1. Be clear on why you are building your business.
2. Know EXACTLY who your target audience is.
3. Understand what their pain points are.
4. Provide a solution to their pain.
5. Make sure that the value you offer is unique.
If you build on those 5 points, you will have a solid foundation.
Leslie Samuel is the blogger behind Become A Blogger. His goal is simply, To Change The World One Blog At A Time!
Have a plan. So many businesses, entrepreneurs and bloggers throw themselves into the idea of what they want to do without having an actual plan that includes steps, milestones and goals. The numbers don’t lie – but without the numbers down on paper, it’s very easy to fool yourself into creating a lot of content that doesn’t produce any ROI at all.
Figure out how you’ll make money now. Not in 5 years, after you’ve invested years of time and effort in building up an audience that’s been trained to expect free content and advice. Start now, by building a plan of income streams supported by a solid business model.
If you don’t have a solid business model to support your endeavors, you definitely don’t have a rock-solid foundation for your content-creation efforts.
James Chartrand is the blogger behind Men With Pens. Check out her famous writing course for business owners, Damn Fine Words. You’ll learn easy writing techniques that let you create all the content your business will ever need.
John Lee Dumas
1. Build relationships with others in your industry and in your niche. You can do this by attending conferences or meet ups where these people are. These relationships will naturally build a community that you can turn to for advice, support and insights – this is a very important step in building your platform!
2. Create a website with an opt-in page. Be sure you’re giving your visitors a reason to stay on your site, and a reason to continue to come back for more content. Figure out how you will provide VALUE FIRST.
3. Start building your social media presence. This is a great way to build brand awareness and get your name out to a wider audience. With the advertising tools that Facebook and other social platforms provide, building a following – no matter how small – will help when you launch.
4. Create a schedule for your content, and build up your “vault”. For me, this meant recording several episodes before I ever launched EntrepreneurOnFire to ensure that I would never fall behind on my promise of providing a daily episode to my audience. For you, that might be writing several blog posts; the number that you have in your vault all depends on the frequency you’re going to commit to.
John Lee Dumas is the Founder and Host of EntrepreneurOnFire, a top ranked business podcast that interviews today’s most inspiring and successful Entrepreneurs 7-days a week. John has been featured in both TIME and Inc. Magazine, and is the founder of Podcasters’ Paradise; a community where Podcasters can create, grow, and monetize their podcast. EntrepreneurOnFire generates over 450,000 unique downloads a month with past guests such as Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, Barbara Corcoran, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Guy Kawasaki. Recaps of the 500+ episodes and MUCH more can be found at EOFire.com.
Before you type a single letter in that first blog post, it’s crucial to understand who you’re writing to.
Think of your blog post like a letter you’re writing to a friend you know very well. You write it with a familiar tone, because you understand their history, their challenges, and what they aspire to.
The best posts sound like a letter from a helpful, compassionate and patient friend.
In order to connect like this with your audience, you must form a clear vision of who they are. In the beginning, you have to make this up: later on, you can base your vision on the real people your writing attracts.
But until you have those real readers, create an image in your mind of the kind of reader you want to draw to your pages. Think about the problems, challenges, triumphs and frustrations they experience.
What are they really looking for when they arrive at your blog? Is it to feel inspired? Empowered? Entertained?
Take this idea of the person you want to attract, and hold it in your mind while you write your first posts. Writing to this reader will give your blog posts a tone that will speak directly to the audience you’re hoping to attract.
Pamela Wilson shows you how to combine strategic marketing and great design to create a memorable brand at Big Brand System.
As most experts will tell you, need to have a firm grasp of what your focus/niche will be and who your target audience is. But once you have a good feel for those things, I believe you need to start creating content right away.
Because when you talk about the foundation of an online business, I think of the audience as being a vital part of that foundation. Content builds audience – therefore you need to create one to build the other.
That’s why I believe so strongly in guest posting. It allows you to create quality content that attracts audience back to your site. When visitors come to your site, you’d better also have some relevant content there to keep their attention.
So early on, I would advise creating content fairly aggressively – but the vast majority of it should be showcased as guest posts on larger, influential blogs in order to build your audience.
Gary Korisko is a battle-tested real world sales pro. Download your Free copy of his eBook, How To Influence All The Right People – a guide to breaking away from the herd.
The very first step should always be to define an ideal reader profile. If you don’t know who you’re writing for, your content becomes vague, generalized, and wishy-washy. You end up speaking to nobody at all.
You should know your ideal reader so well that you can imagine yourself picking up the phone to have a chat. You can picture her shaking her head when you write something she disagrees with. You can hear chuckling when she appreciates your joke. And there’s her continuous nodding when she agrees with what you write, when she feels you’re helping her out.
When you know your ideal reader, you should understand what she’s dreaming about and what she struggles with. This will help you create content that’s genuinely helpful and inspirational.
Knowing your ideal reader also helps you write content that’s conversational and easy to read.
Your reader feel that you’ve written the content especially for her – to help her overcome her struggles and achieve her dreams.
When planning your content strategy, you also need to consider how to promote your blog posts, your infographics, your podcasts or videos. Readers won’t magically appear. So think about your ideal reader: Where does she hang out? And how can you entice her to come to your website?
Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent marketer and copywriter on a mission to weed out boring business blogs. Join her free Enchanting Marketing newsletter to learn how to write fascinating blog posts.
Make sure you have all of the appropriate landing pages, and email funnels in place first, then build your content strategy backwards from what you want the conversion to be.
Too many people start with content without knowing what they’re building towards and it creates this cycle of chasing your own tail time and time again.
Tommy Walker is an online marketing strategist, show host, and prolific guest blogger for sites like Unbounce, ConversionXL, Smashing Magazine & more.
First, I’ll recommend determining a USP that influences the kind of customers a business wants to attract; you can’t serve everybody, so the first step is to determine who to attract and who to repel. Once this has been done, the next step is to determine how best to serve them with your offerings, and then look for ways to attract them via effective marketing.
I believe this will help create a solid foundation for any business.
Onibalusi Bamidele is a 17 year old blogger and freelance writer and the founder of YoungPrePro.com where he teaches people how to write for traffic and money.
Find your voice. Without something unique to say and an unique way to say it you’re wasting your time.
The foundation for any blog is: positioning.
Unless you know what your blog is bringing to the table, you’re not going to get anywhere. The world doesn’t need another health or marketing blog.
What people crave is depth on a VERY specific topic. So if you can become that person, you’ll have a foundation for a winning blog.
Without it, you’ll struggle because people will see you as “just another blog about ___”.
Brian Dean is a link building ninja. If you want to learn more untapped link building strategies then head to his link building site, Backlinko.com.
1) Define specifically who your audience is, or who you want them to be.
2) Identify some important problems you think you can help them solve.
3) Start serving your audience.
Corbett is a Cofounder of fizzle: a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves independently on the Internet.
I think that the rock solid foundation of any online business is your e-mail list. It’s really the cornerstone that you should have from the get-go, and it helps you to launch your blog in the most significant way.
1) Create a lead-magnet that offers value. In my situation, I’m offering a book for free, but this could also be a super-short and actionable report that people can implement right away.
2) Create your landing page. There is no one stopping you from creating the landing page yourself (by coding it), but if you want to save time (and you have a budget), you can buy software like Lead Pages, Premise, or OptimizePress.
The benefit of these commercial products is that they use page templates which are already optimized for better conversions (and yes, you need to have a landing page which converts).
3) Drive targeted traffic. An optimized landing page is nothing without targeted traffic, and one way to do it is with guest posting.
So, write those guest posts and link your bio box at the end of the article to your landing page.
4) Give them additional value. Keep your subscribers engaged by offering additional value in the form of tips, exclusive content, and by being easily accessible to them.
5) Make a big splash. Gather a round-up post of experts related to your niche. Ask them their opinions about a topic and schedule this post to go live when you officially launch your blog.
Write a broadcast e-mail to your list telling them that your blog is now officially open, and ask them to share your content. Also, ask your contributors to share your round-up post too.
After you have reached this point, creating value-adding content for your blog can start. You now have more people checking out your content than without this strategy.
6) Repeat steps 3-4. Keep writing value-added guest posts on other blogs and engaging your e-mail subscribers.
Ask your subscribers to share your content by giving them clear calls-to-action (leave a comment or share on Facebook/Twitter …) at the end the e-mails you send to your list or at the end of your blog posts.
Timo Kiander, a.k.a. Productive Superdad, helps entrepreneurs improve their online business productivity. With 18 co-authors (like Pat Flynn and Corbett Barr), he wrote a book about how to build an online business and get stuff done – even when working from 9-5 (available as a free download or through Amazon).
Now YOU can build your solid foundation
I tried hard to get all these great people to share their thoughts on how to build a solid foundation.
Now you know how others did it. You, too, can build a solid foundation on which you can construct a successful blog. You just need to take action.
Wait for our next posts to help you with many of the above steps. I’m sure you’re going to enjoy the next posts.
It’s your turn!
I’d love to hear your answer to the above question.
For you, what’s the step-by-step guide every business should follow to build a rock-solid foundation, before they start creating content and promoting it?
Share your thoughts in the comments. Tell me what frustrates you most in the post, and I’ll be happy to help.