Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The payoffs for persisting with a blog, part I

"How did you find me?" I asked the new client who wanted coaching for a big talk.

"My sister reads your blog on public speaking, and when she heard I was doing this talk, she said, 'You need to call this coach'."

She's not the only one. Most of my business comes from referrals, but these days, the referrals come through my blogs as often as from satisfied clients. I easily get 50 percent and often more of my business from my blog readers. Even when a prospective client comes in via a contact, she has usually read either or both blogs enough to figure out my style, experience and approaches.

That's just what I hoped would happen when I started my blogs (8 years ago for the don't get caught blog, 6 years ago for The Eloquent Woman, which got its initial test on the DGC blog). You may like them as good reading and resources, and I hope you do. But both blogs have a more basic purpose in my business, which is to bring in new business and add value for current clients.

Persisting with my blogs these days involves posting three times per week on each one, as well as amplifying those posts on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Sound like a lot? That mix has brought me many payoffs. Here are the ones I value most:
  1. New clients: Far and away my favorite payoff from the blogs, new clients come through the blog nearly every week. By the time they contact me directly, they have an idea that I can do what they need me to do, and we can start the conversation further along the road. "I can tell you understand a TED talk, and I see you've done a lot of work with scientists," said the managing editor of TEDMED when she called to see whether I could coach their mix of science and medical speakers, as I have now for the past three years. Today, TEDx speakers, or speakers looking to do TED-like talks, follow in her wake.
  2. Commissioned articles: Everyone's looking for good content. Both Ragan.com and Toastmaster, the magazine of Toastmasters International, regularly reprint my blog posts or commission new articles from me, thanks to the blogs. That expands my audience, and builds my writing business. I know many freelance writers who say they don't see the point of writing a blog "for free," but mine bring me paid writing assignments and gigs that drive a ton of traffic. Go figure.
  3. Speaking engagements: I'm not a full-time speaker, but blogging has expanded my paid invitations to speak, including conferences that ask me to conduct pre-conference workshops on social media, working with subject-matter experts, media interview skills, or public speaking and presenting.
  4. Collaborators and co-conspirators: Worth their weight in gold are the amazing collaborators and co-conspirators I've amassed via these blogs, partners working with me from all parts of the globe. Some contribute directly to the blogs, some are my best tipsters and idea-generators, some spread the content far and wide. Others work with me on non-blog-related projects, but came in through the door of the blogs, a door I intend to leave ajar for more conspiratorial advantages in the future.
  5. Muses: A step above those co-conspirators are my muses, regular readers of what I serve up here, but readers who also have the rare ability to push me forward. Their feedback makes the blogs better, and they've gathered around me thanks in part to the blogs. I am ever grateful for this.
  6. Books and ebooks: 2014 is the year you'll begin to see ebook and book content from me, much of it generated and audience-tested first on the blogs. And once the info is updated, expanded and published, the blogs will be promotional vehicles, with their well-developed audiences. Building the audience first takes the most patience with a blog, but once it's there, you can rock and roll.
  7. Writing practice and voice: When I started this business nine years ago, I had as a goal to get back to what I called "more of my own writing," rather than solely turning out good stuff for clients. Today, thanks to the blogs, I rarely offer writing for clients and do most of it here on the blogs. In the process, I've strengthened my writing process and muscles and voice, an important thing for a former journalist to recover. Nearly priceless. that is.
  8. Readers and sharers: Readers are among my best contributors, and only time can develop the relationship with readers that I'm lucky to enjoy on both my blogs. Their questions make the best blog post ideas, and I almost always answer a reader's question with a specific blog post. they also answer my questions, providing more content and fodder for the blogs. I especially love readers who share posts on via Facebook, Twitter and other networks. Their recommendations really pay off:
I often meet colleagues who look at the blogs and think or say outright, "Wow, you're wasting a lot of time doing those blogs and giving away that content." I can tell by the questions they ask me about the blogs, and because it's clear they haven't figured out what I'm really doing here. That's fine by me--I just need prospective and existing clients and readers to figure it out, and so far, they seem to get it.

Stay tuned for another post--part II--on how I manage to generate the content that creates these payoffs, and how you can, too.

(Image from Sean McEntee's Flickr photostream)

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