How to Use Your Blog to Rake in Gold(-fish?) (Nah. Just Gold.)

Last night, Derek Halpern of gave an interesting webinar on how to build a successful business blog. Well, he actually called it, “How to Build a Wildly Popular Blog that Generates Leads and Sales 24/7 (Without Killing Yourself).” That’s Derek for you!

In his webinar, he focused on the three most common mistakes bloggers make, and how to fix each one. And he really did have some great insights that we thought you might just find useful. So we decided to lay out some of the takeaways from his webinar for you, our loyal Zen Media blog readers. You’re welcome!

Mistake 1: “Most people have bland brands.”

Derek’s Fix: “Hack people’s minds so they remember you no matter what.”

How do you describe what you do for a living? Now, how many other people can you think of who do the same thing? Probably quite a few, right? In order to stand out from the crowd and get noticed, you’ve got to brand yourself uniquely. Here’s how. First, figure out how exactly you help people in your business. Second, determine what your secret ingredient is: what makes you unique. Finally, put it all together into a story.

So, you should never just be a generic dog trainer. You should be the dog trainer who used to train whales at Sea World, but who switched to dogs because they can’t swallow you whole. Or the wacky dog trainer from New York with pink streaks in her hair and absolutely no filter between brain and mouth. Or the spiritually tuned-in dog trainer who uses yoga and meditation techniques to get dogs to comply. Just make sure you’re unique, and that will make you memorable.

Mistake 2: “Most people don’t create the right type of content.”

Derek’s Fix: “Create content that precedes the sale of the product or service you sell, and make it help your customer.”

Before you write your blog, you need to determine who your audience is. A wedding photographer wants to attract people who are engaged, and planning a wedding, right? So what should that photographer write about in order to draw that specific audience to her blog?

Well, what she shouldn’t write about is how to take good photos at a wedding. Why not? That’s not what her potential customers are looking for! She wants to attract people who want to hire a photographer, not people who are going to try to do it themselves. So what would be a good topic for her? How about “What Shooting 100 Weddings Taught Me About Good Wedding Food?” People who are planning a wedding will be looking for information about wedding catering, and if they find that on a photographer’s website, they’ll be reminded that they need to hire a photographer, too! Figure out what else your potential customers are worried about, and write about that to draw them to your blog.

Mistake 3: “Most people sit around and wait for traffic when they should be promoting their content.”

Derek’s Fix: “Target the specific people you want, so they’ll convert.”

Most bloggers spend 80% of their time developing content, and only 20% promoting their blog. According to Derek, this should be flipped on its head. He grew his own blog exponentially while only posting about once a week, because he spent most of his time promoting it.

His trick was to write the blog post he wanted to, but then target a specific audience. For example, he wrote about how small businesses should use email marketing, but then added a few touches to make it specific to massage therapists. Then, he infiltrated the massage therapist community, joining their online groups, introducing himself, and sharing the blog post with them. He cold-emailed people – like the editors of massage therapy industry magazines, to share it with them. He shared it on his Facebook page, specifying that it was for massage therapists, so that anyone who knew a massage therapist would say, “Hey, I should send this link to Joe!” And his blog readership exploded.

So if you’re making any of these three common mistakes with your blog, give Derek’s suggestions a try. And let us know how it works! We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.


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She is the founder & CEO of Zen Media. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.



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