I wanted to tell you about two blog posts I have written that both got very different results for me. The first was a rant, and it was an engagement bonanza. It currently has over 70 comments, got around 600 ReTweets, and on the day it was published, traffic to the blog was over 900% above normal.
The second post had far less fanfare. It only had a handful of retweets, and even fewer comments. Traffic barely moved on the blog the day it was published.
And yet that second post was the one that has so far led to over $22,000 in consulting projects for me. The 1st post was ranty, and it was designed to get a discussion started. And boy did it ever! But it wasn’t written for potential clients. It was great for engagement, but not for creating new business. At the time I didn’t realize it, but when I was writing it I wanted engagement, but I didn’t think about whether or not that engagement would be with potential clients.
The second post came about far more innocently. I was tinkering with Feedburner one night, and I discovered a feature that helped me better understand my blog’s traffic. I decided to write up a post that contained this and a few other tips for helping bloggers better understand their traffic and subscribers, by using Feedburner.
The post was later found by an agency owner that was using Google to do research for a project, and she contacted me about joining them on a project, which I did. I later worked with them on a second project, and I was also referred by that client to another client, and continue to work with both of them. So that one post that was aimed at helping potential clients, got me real business, while the 1st ‘ranty’ post got a lot of people excited and a great discussion on my blog, it wasn’t aimed at potential clients, and so far hasn’t gotten me a penny in business.
I point these two examples out to encourage you to think carefully about who you are writing for. It’s wonderful to get engagement and I always love and appreciate comments and RTs from readers. But at the end of the day, you have to understand who it is you need to connect with. I could write a ‘ranty’ post here every day, and possibly get more comments and traffic than I do now.
But would it get me any more business? Probably not, because the clients that I want to connect with want to read posts that will help them better use social media and grow their businesses, not rants.
And to be fair, there’s nothing wrong with writing a ranty post every once in a while. I’ve done it here before, and no doubt will again in the future. But what I’ve learned is that engagement is great, as long as you are engaging with and writing for the ‘right’ people.
Who are you writing for?
UPDATE: Here’s a link to the ‘ranty’ post I wrote, and here’s a link to the Feedburner post. Thanks to Kami for suggesting I add these.
Emil A. Georgiev says
I started writing just for me, my personal development was my objective.
Gradually I learned more and more about “giving” and being social, so I decided to address a certain audience and share my knowledge and experience with them.
Besides, I have used the Reguligence Weblog as well as social media in general to maintain a certain publicity and image online.
Mack Collier says
Good thoughts, Emil. You definitely don’t have to create content or view your blog as a business development tool as I do, but I do think it’s smart to consider who you are writing each post for. And it could be that your intended audience changes over time.
But I think it’s better to write for a particular audience, versus trying to write to get a specific reaction. At least on a consistent basis.
Francisco Rosales says
Very interesting points Mack. I think in my case I know exactly how to write a post for engagement, in some cases to the point that I know how much potential for engagement it has.
On the other hand, I have landed projects from leads I generated through a specific post but I can’t say that I consciously had that goal in mind. It would be interesting to see what is your approach when writing a piece like that. Thanks for the great post!
Mack Collier says
Hey Francisco! In general, I try to write helpful posts that would be valuable to clients and help them with their social media efforts. I also try to be mindful of my title and keyword placement to think about how potential clients would be searching and how the post could be found.
Eddie Gear- The Guy With An Attitude says
Its great to see that you were able to achieve this. However, if you are able to do it again then that is awesome. The post would have been very interesting if you actually added some analytics screenshots. Let me know if you have any other tricks.
Sam @ Weekend Getaways says
First of all congrats to you for getting business. And I think you’re totally right before writing your post you need to know who are your targeted readers and what is your expectation from them.
Gabriele Maidecchi says
Both kind of posts are important. Some post keep the buzz up, some post shows you know what you’re talking about more than others, they are aimed to different purposes and if you’re smart, you know exactly when is the time for each of them.
I would say it’s something you learn with experience, you certainly don’t lack it so it worked good for you 🙂
Randy Cantrell says
Ironic how “helpful” can spark serendipity more than buzz. I’m suspecting it may be a universal truth. I hope so.
Of course, the idiocracy element is alive and well. Buzz will likely continue swirl around some of the most inane things (and all the National Enquirer style headlines) as people continue to chase larger numbers of followers, friends and eyeballs. I suspect we all feel the need to join in the chase to create our own Charlie Sheen buzz occasionally.
Thanks for sharing!
Mack Collier says
Randy it’s tough sometimes, because we can fool ourselves into thinking we are accomplishing something with all this engagement, but if it’s not with the people we need to connect with…
Here’s another example: Several years ago I wrote a post that got picked up by TechMeme, which is a site that aggregates articles/posts from the top tech blogs. That day I got a FLOOD of traffic to my blog from TechMeme. I got all excited and decided to write a tech-centered post the next day (which is NOT my focus). Sure enough, TechMeme picked up that post as well, and I got another flood of traffic.
But I noticed that neither of those posts had any comments. I realized that the links from TechMeme were sending a buncha of TechMeme’s readers to my site, they were expecting a tech blog, they arrived and saw I wrote a social media marketing blog, and immediately left. Traffic was up sharply, but comments were down, page views were down, and time spent on the site was down. I was connecting with the wrong audience, so that traffic spike was good for the ego, but really didn’t help me connect with my audience.
BTW I deleted the other comment you left that was shorter than this one. Sorry, WP has been buggy the last day or so!
Randy Cantrell says
Sorry for the duplicate post – got a database error on the 1st one and had to rewrite it (or so I thought). Did I mention “idiocracy?” Hello, Pot. Meet, Kettle.
Laura Mattis says
Thank you for the great tip and reminder to be on focus. Makes me want to reflect back on blog posts I’ve written, and I have another one coming up soon. So will really put this to practice on my next blog! Also, I’m part of a team of writers and we all contribute for different topics. Will be sure to share this. Sometimes it’s disappointing there’s not more traffic/comments, but got to keep reminding ourselves that quantities like that aren’t the most important – helping others in their business will go a lot further and the results come from that not # of comments you get. Thanks again, Mack!
Mack Collier says
Laura there’s many different types of engagement. A post may not get any comments but if two potential clients read it and email you to get more info on your services, then that’s a ‘win’, right?
All the traffic and RTs and comments IS great for boosting your visibility and awareness, and that’s hugely important IF that’s what you are trying to do.
Karen Emanuelson says
Thanks for the thought-provoking post. I, too, have found that my posts that provide the most helpful information tend to generate the most ROI — if you measure engagement revenue instead of traffic. One that I wrote on how to generate an email signature block, http://www.reciprocatellc.com/2010/08/email-signature-block/, still regularly shows up on the first page of Google for that topic and has resulted in some very positive ROI. Just this morning I posted the new LinkedIn ad campaign to my blog because I’m one of the smiling faces featured. I’ll be interesting to see the reaction.
Victor Solis says
Very relevant example and good point: measuring engagement is more important than purely traffic analytics. Will be interesting to hear the results of your LinkedIn connection.
@Mack, thank you for the fine case study illustrating your 1-2 serial strategy.
Jonathan Saar says
I write for me on my personal blog even though it has landed me one consulting/speaking opportunity this year already. I appreciate a nice balanced approach. For an operating business trying to expand we absolutely need to think of our target audience and what it will take for them to do business with us. Our corporate blog has been one of our driving factors in acquiring new clients. Thanks so much for your great post.
Kami Huyse says
It was great to see you at SxSW.
I am pretty sure I read that “ranty” post you mention, but I know I didn’t see the Feedburner one – wish you would have linked in your post. My comment is that you need both to make a successful blog. Your ranty post drove links and traffic, which is turn pushes makes your blog more discoverable in Google, Your usual content pieces gives the search engines the content to serve for your potential clients out there searching for a solution to their particular problem. I am not saying that in “this case” it worked that way, what I am saying is that the popularity makes it likely that more relevant content on your blog will make it to the top 10 results.
That reminds me, I need to post more often, but there is this work thing (ha-ha).
Mack Collier says
Hey Kami, always good to see you, hate that we need to keep going to SXSW to make it happen ;(
I think the ‘ranty’ posts are fine on occasion, and I do think they can help your blog get noticed. However, I don’t want bloggers to fall into the trap of getting huge engagement from one ranty post, then thinking they need to be writing rants from now on, simply to keep getting big engagement. The big engagement is fine, as long as you are engaging with your intended audience.
As for writing more, here is what I tried, this might work for you. A couple of months ago, a friend made me commit to writing one new post here a day, for 10 straight days. We were experimenting with something else, but I was scared to death to do this, because I feared having to ‘mail in’ a few posts to keep the streak going. Up till then, I spent a couple of hours on each post, and was lucky if I could find 2 topics a week that I wanted to write on.
When I started doing the experiment, it forced me to start thinking of new topics/angles to write about, in order to come up with a new post for each day. I am been shocked to discover that its made the writing process MUCH easier for me! Ideas come much more easily now, right now I already know what I am going to write about here tomorrow, Friday, and even on Saturday. And the amount of time I spend on each post has gone from a couple of hours, to normally 30 mins a post. So I am essentially spending the same amount of time on writing posts each week now that I used to, but I’m getting 4-6 new posts a week now, where before I only had 1-2 new ones here.
Maybe you could try that and see? Maybe commit to writing 5 new posts next week, Monday-Friday, and see if the process becomes any easier for you.
Kami Huyse says
Mine is less about ideas and more about the time investment. I need it to only take 30 minutes, but you know how i write. 🙂 I think your idea is a good one and I am going to try it and limit myself to 30 minutes. I need to get back in the swing (I have been there before as you know) but am pretty buried with work, too.
Sonny Gill says
Good thoughts here, Mack. To counter though and throw a question back at you, how would/have you adjusted your strategy in targeting the right people given the post that got you business was from 2007 (though I don’t know how far out and long you worked with these clients thanks to that post)?
Don’t ask this to refute the facts about your post, as I do agree with your points, but more curious given how much the space has changed since then..
Mack Collier says
Good question, Sonny. I first started working with the client in early 2009. They later referred me to another client which I still work with. The first client is one I continue to work with on projects as a good fit is there.
As for what I’ve changed, in the past few months I’ve become a lot more aware of targeting specific keyword phrases in my post titles and the post itself. My search traffic is still very low, but it’s steadily rising at about 5-10% every week.
Angela Beasley says
I understand what you’re saying on this post. All-in-all you being the authentic person that you are and letting out what’s on your mind at the moment probably had a lot to do with you getting that business too – not to mention the fact that you’re a known expert in your field. I find that most efforts are never stand-alone efforts even if we intend them to be. Sometimes its a combination of what you’ve been doing combined with what you’re currently doing that eventually leads you to achieve the results you were looking for. Everything is a collection of processes. Even if you sat there everyday and targeted leads does not always mean that’s what you’re going to get. I know we like to believe business is more predictable than that, but is it?
Lovely post. To share my experience, I posted a blog on social media and employee productivity, emphasizing the need for companies to have a social media policy. I have go no comments but to my surprise, I was hired to write a social media policy for India’s no 1 HR firm.
Once, Bernard Shaw was asked which of his books he liked the most. To which, he replied, “my cheque book”. So, for those of us, who use blogging for business, the blogs that bring assignments are the ones that bring great joy.