This is the first post in our series on Blog Business Models.
Marcus Sheridan runs The Sales Lion blog, where he explores the marketing approach he’s used to build a successful business. But his blog has helped Marcus springboard very successfully into the public speaking circuit.
Marcus has told us his story before, in the post From Small-time Blogger to Professional Paid Speaker: My Journey. Here, he talks about how the blog supports that business in a little more detail.
Marcus, what was it that drew you to blogging in the first instance?
Since 2001, I’ve owned an inground swimming pool company that installs pools throughout Virginia and Maryland. Things grew nicely until 2008 when the housing marketing collapsed, ruining many pool companies and forcing us to figure out a way to continue to survive despite so few potential clients.
During this time of struggle I stumbled upon a company called HubSpot and learned about inbound marketing, and decided to embrace blogging as a means of generating more traffic, leads, and sales through our company website.
Because of our willingness to be incredibly transparent and informative about all things swimming pools, the site’s popularity quickly exploded and it became the go-to source for the inground pool industry. It also saved our business because although it really didn’t cost us much at all to do, it sold us many, many pools.
With so much success in the swimming pool industry, I decided to teach others about what I had achieved, and these teachings became what is today TheSalesLion.com, a blog that has made its mark as one of the premier inbound and content marketing focused blogs on the web.
The blog supports your business as a public speaker. Did you develop the blog with the intention that it would support your speaking work?
I knew I’d never get the type of speaking gigs I wanted unless I had a platform to build my overall brand awareness and influence. With The Sales Lion, I accomplished just that as it allowed me to express my thoughts in all their forms. Because people saw I had a unique approach to things, I started getting more and more invitations to speak.
Forcing myself to write about all things marketing, sales, business, and personal development has allowed me to refine my message. It has also embedded these teachings into my brain in such a way that I can now speak for hours upon hours about business and marketing without notes. Such is the power of blogging if we go about it the right way.
So the strength with which the blog supports you as a speaker is no happy accident, then.
Make no mistake about it: my blog strategy is intentional. I want companies to see I can come in and speak to their organizations and assist them in their content marketing efforts. I want conferences to see that I’m wildly opinionated, thought provoking, and unafraid to say what’s on my mind—with a whole lot of passion mixed in.
you make it sound so easy! Do you face many hurdles in using your blog to build your business as a speaker?
I think the biggest challenge is continuing to plant the seeds while you’re reaping the harvest.
In other words, striking the balance between producing new content on my blog and continuing to network while I also need to be helping my actual, paying clients. One will help sales later, while the other will help my cashflow right now. I think this is a balance we all struggle with, though.
True. So what’s the secret sauce that’s helped you get your blog business to where it is today?
- I make people feel good when they stop by and leave a comment, because I care and I’m grateful.
- I’m opinionated and not just regurgitating what everyone else is saying.
- I’m dang good at storytelling.
- I teach/write in such a way that anyone can understand what I’m saying. In other words, my goal isn’t to try to impress myself or sound intelligent.
- I haven’t let off the gas in three years.
That’s quite the list! But how do you define your unique selling proposition?
I don’t try to be all things to all people. And I’m certainly not afraid to have some guts when necessary and put myself in the line of fire if I feel something needs to be said.
Also, I know my shtick. I’m one of the best in the world at content marketing—not Facebook, or Twitter, or Linkedin—etc.
Well, speaking of online tools, which ones do you rely on most in your blog business?
As I mentioned, I love HubSpot for their lead tracking and behavior software. Like everyone else, I use WordPress and my theme is Thesis. I also have a virtual assistant who helps edit my stuff and offers needed support.
So what words of advice would you tell a blogger who wanted to get into public speaking, using their blog as the platform?
- Answer every single question in your field. Be the wiki of whatever it is you do.
- Be bold and gutsy.
- Make your readers feel good about themselves.
- Stand up to the “big boys” when necessary.
- Be great at networking.
Great advice! Finally, Marcus, what does the future hold for you, your blog, and your business?
That’s a tough question, because stuff is changing at an incredible rate. But I see my brand growing, along with my speaking schedule. I plan on being one of the best keynote and business speakers in the world and feel I’m well on my way to reaching that goal.
I’ll always have a blog, no matter what, because I simply have to express myself and put my thoughts to pen. That’s just who I am. And I plan on smiling for the entire journey.
Thanks to Marcus for sharing his thoughts with us. To find out more about Marcus’s business model, visit his site at The Sales Lion and read his story in From Small-time Blogger to Professional Paid Speaker: My Journey.
Thanks Bro Marcus for sharing this very good information. Every bloggers and websites owners should know about this post. It is very meaningful and “educational” when it comes to internet marketing and blogging”, these piece of advice from Bro Marcus is not just for bloggers, but for “PROFESSIONAL BLOGGERS”. It has an encouraging phrases like ‘Stand up to the “big boys” when necessary.”.
I visited his website and subscribe to his blog, I’ve got the free e-book and it delivers what is promised like -Learn how to start business blogging today
-See methods to dominate the competition via content
-Increase visitors to your website drastically
-Make more sales for your business!
Thanks for this helpful guide and the free e-book,
You’re an awesome and outstanding blogger and real internet marketing expert.
This is incredible. Just the other day a friend asked if it was really possible to make money online. I get these questions a lot and more from brick and mortar businesses who have no clue how to leverage the power of the internet. It looks like I will be directing them to Marcus’ blog.
Thanks for sharing!
Marcus is a public speaking, blogging, heck, entrepreneurial master. Why? He knows how to make each person who connects with him important, and he can tell stories with the best of them. Super insight here.
Keen note: everything started with Marcus being entirely transparent when migrating to the web. This built trust, laying the foundation for a successful online campaign which led to speaking engagements.
I like the emphasis made on connecting while creating. Finding the right balance is a challenge but by simply creating new content daily, sharing it, and connecting with individuals for a set amount of time, you begin to reap the rewards while continuing to sow the seeds of success.
Great interview with Marcus. I like his story about how he was able to transform the housing market bust (no one buying pools) and create a top site for swimming pool info.
Do you get paid for your public speaking gigs, or are they just to draw in prospective customers? Are your speaking topics on pools?
Love your confidence Marcus. Good luck to you.
I have the same question as Mary. Would love to hear from you, Marcus. Thanks.
As a fellow Virginian, Mountaineer grad and Latter-Day Saint, I wanted to stop by and say hello. I really enjoyed reading your story and how you focus on making your readers and customers feel good about themselves. We need more honest, humble and knowledgeable people like you in the world.
I’ll be following on Twitter.
Thanks for the input, Marcus. Public speaking can pay off huge. A $500 night is standard. For most of us, that sounds like unreal money. But, it is out there, and someone will get it.
Following great tips like yours could go a long way towards making that someone me!
Speaking engagements can be tremendously popular. For most of us, a $500 night would be awesome. For successful speakers, $500 is a figure they will turn down!
Thanks for the tips, Marcus. I will see you by the podium!
This information extremely useful for me. I was more confused about Guest blogging but whenever i joined this blog solve out my confusion and now i have no trouble to generate business through blogs . I have not words to say thanks for that. Really its great stuff.
Marcus is a great person! I admire his expertise and his success story. I hope that there will be more people who can achieve success in blogging and Internet marketing. And I’m hoping that I can be one of them, too.
Thanks Darren and Marcus for the great interview. But I have to admit, all bloggers are not great speakers. Given my blog is a huge success I would still be intimidated if I end up getting a speaking gig.
I did a summary re-blog of this piece of yours http://wp.me/pw4HM-73. I live in the world of authors and speakers, and I’m sure my audience will love it and go for more of your work. And thanks for all your great blogging!
Just wanted to say that I had the pleasure of sitting in the front row of Marcus’ talk at BlogWorld in New York a few weeks ago and it was one of the highlights of the week for me and I’m sure many others. Keep it up Marcus!
This is such a great article! This demonstrates a superb business model and congratulations in your success. I think you hit the nail on the head with points #2 and #5 of your ‘not so’ secret sauce. Being opinionated, gets more comments, traffic especially when that opinion is controversial. But point 5 is the real key… continued and consistent effort is the key in most things in life and blogging is no different. Thanks for sharing your insights with me though, learnt a lot. Hope you’re having a great weekend.
If you have more than one blog – how do you position yourself as a speaker? Do you sell yourself on one of your existing blogs or do you also have another personal blog from which you sell yourself..