I'm excited to have web developer (and all around awesome lady) Krista Rae here today to break down a VERY valuable (but often overlooked) part of blog strategy!
Creating a defined blog strategy is something that benefits both you and your readers. You’ll find more focus for yourself, introduce your readers to your best content, and increase your conversion rates.
If I had to choose, I’d say the most important part of your blog strategy is defining high-value goals. However, after that I’d say it’s important to create defined paths for your audience to follow. This again is something that benefits both you and your readers. While your readers are discovering more and more content that’s relevant to them, you’ll find that sales of the products and services included in your paths increase also. Everybody’s happy!
Why Paths Are So Important
Think back to the last product or service you purchased from a creative entrepreneur. Did you buy from them the first time you discovered their blog? Did you buy from them without reading through any of their free material? Did you buy from a simple advertisement on their sidebar? My guess is “no”.
If you’re anything like me you start out by reading blog posts. Since this person ends up being someone you buy from I’d guess you read a lot of blog posts. After that, you may find yourself enrolling in their free email course where you’re given loads of valuable information. In that email course, you learn a little bit about their paid product that expands upon what you just learned. You don’t think it’s quite time for that, but you then receive their value-packed newsletters each week. After you run into that paid product a few times you finally break down. You know this product will further your business and it’s time to buy!
I know, that’s not how it always works, but it’s a common pattern.
That example illustrates exactly why defined paths to your paid content are so important. For someone to buy they need to be exposed to your content over and over again. This way they’ll gain comfort with you, learn that you know your stuff, and gain valuable information that shows them that your paid products and services are worthwhile.
In defining paths to a particular product, you’ll have some control over where your readers go. You can make sure that they’re exposed to your very best free content that will be relevant to them.
Before getting started with your path creation grab this free 7-page workbook to follow along and get your paths in place right away!
How To Create Your Perfect Paths
For the remainder of this post, we’re going to focus on creating a path for one of your products or services. Be sure to go back through the process for each paid product you offer so you don’t have any paid content without a defined path.
1. Choose your top-tier content
Your top-level content is the paid product or service that you’ll be leading your audience to. These are products and services such as paid courses, workbooks, eBooks, coaching, web design, and subscriptions.
If you’re just getting started, choose the product or service that your brand is most centered around. Creating paths isn’t always quick and easy, so it’s best to focus on one at a time.
2. Define the product’s audience
The first step in creating a path to your paid content is thinking about the traits of the ideal person who would be interested.
Think about the person who would purchase this product and answer the following questions:
- What is it that they need help with?
- What do they want to learn about?
- What would they have to know before buying this product?
- How are they most likely to run across your content in the first place?
- If they’re interested in the format of your product (email course, course platform, audio, workbook), what other formats are they likely to be interested in?
3. Choose and create your mid-tier content
After completing Step 2, you should have a lot of new information about the people who are likely to spend money on your product or service. You know what they’re looking for, what they need before deciding to buy, and what types of content they most like to consume. These facts should be taken into consideration when choosing and creating your mid-level content.
Mid-level content includes things like webinars, workshops, free courses, free coaching or discovery calls, and your weekly newsletter. These items feel more valuable than simple blog posts or social media updates and they can lead right into your paid content. Something else to note is that it’s possible that everything you need is already created and just needs some tweaks, but it’s also possible that you’ll have to create all-new content to serve as this middle-ground.
Your paid content or service can be supported by multiple pieces of mid-level content. For example, if you know that the person likely to purchase your course enjoys video lessons as well as text, you could decide to mention that course in a related workshop and also link to it in your newsletter.
However, be sure that you’re not mentioning your paid content just for the sake of doing so. Give your audience some of the information they’re looking for up front so they learn to trust you. Look back on what they need to know before purchasing and make sure your mid-level content gives them that information. And always be sure that your mid-level content is closely related to the paid content you’re leading into.
4. Choose and create your bottom-tier content
This next step is the one that we’re probably most comfortable with. Your bottom-tier content includes blog posts, social media updates, Periscope broadcasts, podcasts, and any other free content that people are likely to discover you through.
Just like you used your mid-tier content to lead to your top-tier content, you want to use your bottom-tier content to lead to your mid-tier content. So for each piece of mid-tier content you defined for your product, choose or create several pieces of bottom-tier content.
If you’re using a free course as your middle tier, you could write several blog posts that lead into that free course, have a weekly Periscope broadcast where your call to action encourages people to take part in your free course, or even mention it in a podcast that you host or make a guest appearance in.
The easiest way to get started here is to go through your previously written blog posts and identify the ones that relate to any of your mid-tier content. If those posts don’t mention or link to that content, update them with a link and a little information that will encourage your readers to take a closer look.
5. Promote your bottom-tier and mid-tier content
Now that you have your path in place it’s time to help your audience find it. Be sure that you’re promoting your related blog posts on social media for your audience to find. It’s also a great idea to mention your free courses, workshops, and other content occasionally so everyone knows it’s there.
Getting your audience started out on a bottom or mid-tier piece of content will help you ensure that they see your paid content. It’s quite possible that they still won’t be ready to buy, but you can be confident that they know your product exists and that they’ll know where to go when they’re ready.Make the length and complexity of your path based on the needs of your product or service.Click To Tweet
We’ll finish off with a few tips to make sure your paths are as effective as possible.
1. Don’t forget to promote
Don’t skip step 5 of promoting your free content. Make sure you’re sharing that content on social media, allowing more people to find it. Remember, everyone loves free stuff!
2. Take advantage of your blog’s layout
I’ve written posts on making the most of your footer, sidebar, and above-the-fold space. Here is where those tips are the most useful. Put your mid-tier content in those high-traffic, high-conversion areas of your blog. This will make it more likely for people to find and join in on that high-value free content.
3. Make the transitions seamless
Make sure that transitioning from blog post to free course and from free course to paid course is apparent and easy to do. Put your links out in the open, preferably with an eye-catching graphic. Don’t let your readers miss out and stop on the bottom-tier when there is more valuable information available for them.
4. Don’t limit your paths
Don’t limit your paths to just the three tiers we’ve gone over. Sometimes it’s appropriate to create longer paths to your content. Don’t feel like you have to do something like a blog post, workshop, paid course when your paid course actually requires more familiarity and initial learning than a simple path would give. Make the length and complexity of your path based on the needs of your product or service.
What Paths Will You Create?
After reading this post, what paths are you going to create? Do you already have your bottom and mid-tier content created or do you have some work to do? Let us know in the comments!
Don’t forget to download your free 7-page workbook to assist you in crafting your perfect paths!
Krista is a blog strategist and WordPress developer who helps female creatives elevate their business, increase conversions, and boost engagement through crafting strategic blogs. She uses personalized, goal-driven strategies to set her clients apart from the competition and highlight their unique offerings. Learn more over on her blog!
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