In the early 2010s, bloggers were queens. I was a mommy blogger (although I hated that phrase) for many years around this time. I made some money, some friends, and discovered so much about marketing and how to start a blog to get leads. Plus, I got to write. What’s better than that?
Back then, I didn’t have anything to sell but my stories, and the currency was my readers’ attention. Y’all, my first post was about my new stove — I mean, really now. Blogging has since gone out of style for me and the blogging crew I ran with (ran as in, Tweeted with in all hours of the night), but I still think knowing how to start a blog to get leads is essential for many small and networking marketing businesses. While blogging for business isn’t “make or break”, it can provide a substantial lift to a business brand and provide great custom content for social. And also? It’s a great way to sell a product. Yep, I said it.
If you have a small business or networking marketing company, you may wonder why you should bother to start a blog to get leads. After all, you’re already having trouble juggling allthethings without adding blogging to the mix. Before I hop into the nitty gritty of starting your blog, I want to share three reasons you should register your URL and get started.
- Blogging can set you apart from others in your industry, networking marketing company or direct sales company. Shockingly few people are going this route, and the ones who are can potentially reach thousands of additional “cold” leads.
- Having a blog helps you sell without being salsey. When you make your blog about your life or your industry — or a combination of both — you will include products or services that you also sell.
- Your blogs can provide content that will serve your community and your ideal customers. That builds trust in you and your product.
How to Start a Blog to Get Leads
Before you begin, assess your comfort level. Blogging can feel a little intimidating when you start it up. How much time do you have to commit to launching your blog? How much money could you spend on monthly packages or hosting? Remember: You don’t have to spend anything on a blog. It’s a myth that you have to spend thousands of dollars for a simple blog! There are platforms out there that give you a nice, simple look and cost zero dollars.
Choose your Platform
Some of the most common platforms out there include:
- Wix (drag-and-drop interface and no tech skills needed; $8 per month when you pay for a year)
- SquareSpace (drag-and-drop interface and can be a bit complicated depending on what design you choose; around $12 per month)
- WordPress.com (free version gives you lots of bells and whistles, but includes ads; the professional version is $4 per month and includes your own .com)
- Strinkingly – This is a brand new one to me, but I’ll be building one for a lucky DIY Digital student and doing a tutorial on their Forever Free plan!
- WordPress.org (requires much more setup, including the purchase of hosting and a domain name but is incredibly powerful once set up) — I use Namecheap; they have a WordPress hosting package for only $22 for the whole year.
- Tumblr.com (quick and free, and a great solution for those who just want to blog and share their products; technically a social media platform, so it’s simple to use)
Plan your Content and Goal
Because your blog will be one part of your lead generation strategy, commit to your writing schedule, and then brainstorm 20 topics you could integrate with your product or service. After you do that, write 20 more topics that are related to your brand or industry. For instance, let’s use essential oils (since I’m helping a client with her Young Living website right now):
Topics with Product
- Essential oil blends for sleep
- Essential oil blends for energy
- Cooking with essential oils
- DIY recipes
Topics with Personality
- Mom life
- Healthy living journey
- Recap of a recent make-and-take event
- Traveling with kids
See how these work together to promote her product and her brand?
Include the type of product or service you want to link to in each article so it’s top of mind while you’re writing your thoughts.
Your next planning step deciding how often you’d like to publish. This is completely dependent on you and your time, and should be able to fit in with your other marketing scheduling without overwhelming you.
Can you commit to one new post per month? GREAT!Will you post three times each week? INCREDIBLE! Feeling the quarterly publication schedule vibe? Friend, that’s FANTASTIC!
Approach your blog from a place of service. What’s on your mind that could uplift, encourage, help, inspire or entertain your customers? What would they enjoy? That’s what you should write.
Next Steps: Tech
IT’S NOT SCARY…COME BACK! Seriously, learning how to start a blog for leads is not nearly as complicated as it seems — specially when I walk you through each step.
Next week, I’ll get into the specifics of starting your blog and beginning to generate leads!
What is a Lead Magnet?
In marketing terms, a lead magnet is a valuable resource that your leads — potential customers — can download or access in exchange for their contact information. If email addresses were currency, lead magnets would be the product your leads buy with their currency. The best lead magnets for direct sales have a high percieved value to your potential audience, giving them plenty of incentive to provide their email to you, as well as an invitation for you to contact them with information about your company, products or services.
You can find thousands of lead magnets online, and most likely, you’ve downloaded some yourself. Coupons, free gifts, samples, e-books, training guides, video access; these are all considered lead magnets. Lead magnets for direct sales can be a game changer for your business, as it can provide exceptional value to your customers, establish you as the go-to person, help you brand yourself, and so much more. If it can work for millions of brick-and-mortar and online retailers, it can work for your small business and direct sales business!
Lead Magnets for Direct Sellers
Of course, as a direct sellers or small business owner on a budget, freebies or complicated and time consuming e-books may be off the table. Additionally, you may be limited to what you can provide to an external audience according to your company’s policies and procedures. As you’re planning your lead mangets for direct sales, consider these factors: How much time can I commit to creating this? How much money can I allocate to a lead magnet? Does this adhere to my company’s rules? You might flex your creative muscles a bit when choosing your lead magnet, but it will pay off in spades, and can help you generate new leads on autopilot.
Gift with Purchase
One most-utilized lead magnets in the retail industry is the gift with purchase, and for good reason. It not only gives an added value to your customer, but also sales for your business. Gift with purchase can be anything with percieved value, from a handful of samples to a full-sized free product. For direct sellers, you may consider something complimentary to your product you can send for free — a small makeup bag if you sell makeup , a glass roller container for essential oils affiliates or deluxe samples of a full sized product for skincare consultants. In all three of these examples, the free gift is very inexpensive or complimentary to you. Makeup bags, glass rollers and small jars to distribute samples are all available for less than $1 per item. Each provide a personalized touch to your sales.
Video has exploded on social media, with live video being top of the list. In fact, more than 95% of brands in a recent survey said live video would be a part of their marketing plan. Video can help showcase your personality and solidify your personal branding for your direct sales business. It can also be used as a lead magnet! A video series can include tutorials on your products, DIY follow-along videos, demos and more. Once you decide on your video series topic, take some quick videos ( less than 2 minutes per video) and upload them to YouTube as unlisted videos. After your new lead signs up, send them the video links via email each day for the legnth of the series (p.s. email automation can help tremendlously with this!)
Your video series should have a percieved value to your potential customers. What can they learn from you that they can’t get elsewhere? How can you simplify their lives or meet a need? How can your video series solve their problems or address their pain points? Videos should address at least one of these questions. Remember: a video series is designed to show YOUR expertise with your product or service, so don’t stress about how it looks! A short smart phone video is all you need to get started.
If you’re the creative type, this lead magnets for direct sales idea is perfect for you. This category of lead magnets includes:
- Guide to..
- How to..
- Cheat Sheet
And so so SOOOO many more. Seriously, the list could go on and on with ulimited topics. A great digital download 1) solves a problem or addresses a your potential customers have and 2) compliments a paid product or service you offer. It has to fit both parts of this equation to work for your business. One of the most creative I’ve seen is from Young Living essential oils. I could mark off all the products I used, and the guide told me which YL products I could use instead. Brilliant!
Digital downloads are usually created in a design program like Canva, uploaded to a cloud store site (like a website, Google Drive or Dropbox, or email marketing platform), and emailed to the lead upon request. Again, automation can help this, but as you start, you can send them individually through your personal or business email address along with a personal note. Encourage your leads to engage with you by prompting questions or feedback about the digital download.
Don’t think you have design chops to knock out something like this? Think again! Canva has tons of pre-made templates in the platform and even more for purchase on other websites, like Etsy and Creative Market. It’s worth the investment!
“Answer some questions and we’ll tell you what kind of cheese you are!” Buzzfeed is basically the king of the quiz.
But they are definitely doing something right. Judging by my Facebook feed, people love to take quizes and share their results, which means the companies who created the quizes are getting traffic and leads while they sleep. Quizes can work for any type of company, and aren’t difficult to create. Your quiz should focus on the benefits of your product or service in a fun way, and each question should lead users to an outcome that compliments one of your products. For example, if you sell organizational tools, you may develop questions about your potential customers degrees of disorganization (“You’re a neat freak!” or “You’re a total pack rat!”) (but nicer, because who wants to be called a pack rat??) Your quiz results will provide: 1) an email address 2) valuable information about your customer 3) a ready-made sales tool for you to follow up with the specific product to meet their needs.
Quizes can be set up easily with almost no tech knowledge on Quiz Monkey.
Once you’re settled on the ideal lead magnet, get ready to find even more customers to nurture and serve!