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How To Convert Blog Readers To Paying Customers

Posted By Dave Navarro 26th of May 2010 Other Income Streams 0 Comments

You work hard to build your blog through traffic and content strategies, but are you working equally as hard at converting readers into paying customers? As Darren demonstrated during his week-long, $72,000 ebook launch, having your own product available for sale can help you generate an impressive revenue stream.

To get to the big numbers, however, you need more than just a high-traffic blog – you need a way to contact your readers via email, because that’s what really drives the sales. Let’s talk about why this is true (and how you can start using your blog to build a list who will buy from you).

The Blessing (and Curse) of A Blog Audience

Blogs are an incredible way to build a connection to your audience. People get a chance to sample your content, get to know you, and establish trust in you, all at their own pace. Your loyal readers can spread the word about you, creating “social proof” and an ongoing stream of new readers. It’s a beautiful thing.

The downside, though, is that a blog audience isn’t necessarily a “real time” audience, meaning that readers may not be keeping current with your content on a daily basis. And this will kill you when it’s time to do a promotion or sale.

You may be running a 5-day special on a new product or service, but what if readers only catch up on their RSS feeds once a week? They may miss out. Or, if their feed reader is too cluttered, they may never get to it at all. You run your promotions, and sales flounder.

But having a growing number of people who are subscribed to your mailing list turns the tables on this problem. If you’re releasing a product today, your subscribers will hear about it via email today – no matter what.

The Advantage Of An Email Audience

Unlike feed readers or tweet streams (which people often skim through, ignoring most of the content), email commands attention in a different way. Readers are used to opening emails in order to figure out what to do with it (read it, save it for later, or delete it), and they’re a lot more likely to give it a look – and click the links inside – within a few hours of it being sent.

So if you’ve got a promotion going tomorrow, you can let all your readers know about it tomorrow. Some may decide to ignore it, but they’ll have at least seen it, because their inbox gets looked at in detail at least once a day.

And if you’ve been doing your job using your blog to warm up your audience, they’ll be more likely to open that email soon after receiving it.

So let’s talk about a few field-tested strategies for getting your readers on your list.

How to Get Blog Visitors On Your List

To get blog visitors on your list, you need to have a reason for them to join up – and in most cases, people offer a freebie such as a special report or audio/video content as an incentive. The challenge with this, however, is that everybody’s doing it.

Years ago, just having something for free was enough to get people to join your list. But these days, people are inundated with free offers so you’ve got to do something more to stand out. Whatever it is that you give away needs to better than good – it needs to be spectacular.

The good news is that making this happen is pretty easy to do. All you need to do is create one small, product-worthy resource that solves one of your potential customers’ biggest problems. It doesn’t have to be a gigantic undertaking – just a resource that represents some of your expertise specifically positioned to solve a reader’s issue or help them become smarter than they were before.

I recommend you actually create a workbook for this free resource, because it’s a format that isn’t used too often and will more readily capture attention. “Special Reports” are a dime a dozen, but most people are accustomed to paying for workbooks, so your offer will automatically appear higher-value.

Why The “Free Product” Model Works So Well For This

Giving away a product-quality resource is an incredible list-building tool because it takes people by surprise – they’re not used to getting something truly substantial for free. And workbooks are particularly powerful because they contain the promise of some fairly immediate results – when the reader gets through it, they’ll either have a particular problem solved or they’ll have more information around a topic that’s important to them.

That promise of immediate results is a powerful motivator to get on your list, get your workbook and go through it. And once your reader finishes that workbook, they’ll be pre-sold on the idea that you are a person worth buying from in the future (after all, if your free stuff is product-quality, how much more impressive will your paid products be?).

One other benefit to this “over the top” free offering is that very few of your competitors will have the guts to do this. Just having this resource puts you at a competitive advantage.

What To Do If This Seems Like A Scary Amount Of Work

By this point you might be thinking that you don’t have the time to make a product-quality offer for your list. But it’s actually easier than you think. You don’t have to create a 100-page PDF or 6 hours of audio – all you need to do is pick one specific pain point your audience has and create a resource that lets them get one step further than they are now.

And to show you just how simple it is, I’ve put together a free workbook that steps you through how to put together a product-quality resource in a weekend (or even one day, if you’re ambitious). It’s not that difficult to do, and the payoff can be huge. I’ve personally used this free workbook strategy to drive over 3,000 people onto my list over the last seven months, all by adding additional free workbooks to a “library” on my blog.

(And the best part is, you can reuse the strategies in the free workbook to create additional products you can charge for after you get people on your list.)

When You’re Ready To Begin Building Your List, Here’s What To Do

What would it do for your blog’s reputation to have a product-quality resource available for free download? And how strong of a good first impression would you make on your readers if you offered it?

Take a look at the free workbook and decide what kind of resource you’re going to create to pull people into your mailing list.  One weekend is all it takes, and it could be the tipping point your blog has been waiting for.

Dave Navarro is a product launch manager who specializes in teaching smart blog owners how to build responsive email lists and create their own high-demand information product platform at his blog, The Launch Coach.

  1. Really awesome tips. I think this is the one of the steps that most bloggers miss when trying to monetize their blog. I like the idea of a workbook, I’ve previously used checklists, resource guides and video series on my sites which have all worked well.

    I think if you look at what others are doing in your own niche and then see how you can do something different (like your workbook idea) then you will stand out.

    ~ James Dyson

  2. Thanks, Dave, for this valuable post. It’s funny how just changing up the wording a bit from free report to “workbook” can make all the difference.
    I’m getting ready to launch an ebook of my own and this list building strategy will definitely help me leverage my audience.
    Thanks again!

  3. Hello Dave, just like the Kiesha said above redefining what you are offering can make all the difference. I am actually in the process of revising and updating a Free coaching ebook I offer to my audience at http://www.TheWonderTechnique.com to be a electronic workbook thanks to your suggestion. I believe you are right that if the free workbook helps them solve one problem once it is completed by the reader the reader is more likely to buy services or products from you in the future.
    Thanks again,

  4. Dave,

    As always, your content rocks. I personally have created an ENTIRE sales page just to get customers to sign up for my list and it has converted very well.

    As the flood of people increases every day online, it will up to the new small business owners to get more creative with their offerings in order to build their lists.

    A customer’s email is a valuable thing. They are donating a small, important part of their life to you, akin to giving out a phone number. Therefor, you really need to make sure that you are giving something of serious value in return for this gift.

    If you don’t abuse it, and reward your customers for sticking around, they will reward you back. If you take advantage and try to pitch them a bunch of garbage, your business will NEVER take off.

    You have to give before you can get.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  5. Hey Dave,

    hh awesome posts buddy. That’s exactly right bro. Everyone is building their list by giving a free report/product. I think we should try something creative… :D !
    Thanks for sharing valuable information. nIce Post. :)!!

  6. Very nice, Dave …. Moving the free line is always a good idea and it’s a great way to build a following. This pays numerous benefits down the road and gets people to trust and like you, eventually buying the information product you develop.

    Continued success :)

  7. Hey Dave,

    I must say a big thank you for this valuable information. I’m going to check out that link that you provide how to create a workbook. I’m in the process of creating a book. Now, I’m going to call it a ‘Workbook’ thanks for the insight.

    Chat with you later…

  8. I’m in the process of launching my ebook but have not rushed it just because I am trying to build up a bigger email subscriber list and grow the blog a bit more. The pre-launch I have to say is the most crucial aspect of building an audience.

  9. Thanks Dave.

    I’m working on something very similar to this (creating a 31 day financial workbook). Can’t wait to dive into your own workbook to get more ideas.

    Right now I use the word “course”, but can easily use the word workbook. I wonder what changing the terms will do for my subscriber rate.

  10. I was going to offer a free autoresponder ecourse rather than a report or product, but I like the idea of creating a workbook to spread around! I feel stuck right now because I want to be sure that whatever I put out is really going to solve my perfect client’s problems. As much as I’d like to create a quick product over the weekend, I don’t want to waste my time creating something that won’t meet people’s needs.

  11. Hey Dave,

    Totally agree with your strategy. It seems that even though having a mailing list is the key to generate more sales, there are many bloggers who are still not following this strategy.

    Great advice,

  12. Nice strategy. One question though: once you get folks on your list, do you then write extra posts to send just to them, similar to the blog’s content? Or something else?

  13. Thanks for the ‘workbook’ suggestion, although now we’ll all be inundating the blogosphere!

    One question for anyone willing to respond:

    Do you think people are reluctant to opt-in to get free stuff or should it just be a click away? I get a lot of page views for my free ebook, but not as many converters as I need to grow my email list…

    Thank you!


  14. I have the same question as Jackie, because I see a downside with that – If I write articles for my email list they don’t get indexed by search engines, which is not god in SEO terms.

  15. There are many things to take into consideration.

    Personally, I don’t want to come across as pushy.

    Helpful post…

  16. Great article. after 4 years as blogger an affiliate marketers, I finally launched my Free ebook. I can attest that an book can convert well visitors into buyers. Many of my reader purchased product and service I mentioned on my ebook and I’ve increased a lot my monthly income stream.

  17. Dave,
    Great advice! I almost clicked on your links… even knowing that I had just been to your library yesterday! You’ve got great advice in those workbooks and I recommend it to everyone who wants to know how to make and sell products.

  18. A truly great idea. I think that in the workbook, we can include previews of related posts in our site. This gives our readers a way to check out our previous articles.

  19. Nice post Dave.

    I like how you say to focus on just one thing and create the product from there. Many want to hit many things at once and many are out of control. Focusing on one thing and making that product quality will bring in more subscribers.

    I also like the idea of the workbook. Adding things that get the subscriber to think and do something with the workbook. I believe this keeps your product in front of them and not another ebook they will simply put away in the “I will read it eventually” folder.

  20. Thanks, Dave. Your post got me thinking further. Whilst I do offer a free report for joining my mailing list, I want to change it for something more attractive and more useful to my subscribers like you recommended.

  21. Love the idea of creating a Free product worthy item for my readers. I will definitely need to re-evaluate but this makes perfect, prefect sense. I know that this is what attracts me to different blogs/sites and subsequently products. Thank you for providing this thought provoking contribution.


  22. Thanks for the tips – I’m going to launch a book soon for my mainline business, so I appreciate your thoughts. I agree an email list is a great way to establish a long term connection with your customers, as well as soft-sell your products.

  23. Okay, so the points hit home…

    But how is the best way to “advertise” this freebie? And how to deliver it? pdf files seem to get big very quickly.

  24. The think I struggle with is, how to write a relevant post daily! I am aroused to write only when I think there is something unique in it, otherwise why repeat something which has already been said in different words?

  25. Totally agree. For better conversion an email list is the best way to go, but I’m not very much inclined towards offering a “gift” to your visitors for joining the mailing list. Your content must be a good enough incentive. Otherwise, they may join your list for the “gift” without being actually interested in hearing from you.

    ~~ Sarah ~~

  26. Nice post, but some dangers are not mentioned – like a danger of luring in only those who are there for free stuff. For higher conversion you need a targeted audience that is ready to pay, as it is much easier to find a person that is willing to pay than to make a person that does not want or does not need to buy anything to actually pay you for anything.

  27. It is interesting lesson that providing free e-book or gift builds a good list of e-mail which can be used later for blog & product promotion. But one thing is attracting the attention that to sell an e-book, you have to build your authority plus reputation first, to convert the readers into buyers.

  28. I agree that newsletters and free reports are ten a penny and most people are thinking, not another free report, so the change to a work book idea, is a refreshing sit up and take notice kind of offer, I guess we could think of other inventive names to call it as well.

    If I had the guts I would actually say to my blog visitors, only subscribe here if you think you are serious as you get nothing for free in this life, only joking.

    I try to work how I think and that is to help others to find success online, but it is hard to convince people that is your intention with so many others not delivering.

    Great post though and I think I will look at what I am actually offering my readers on all my sites and see if I can improve my offer for an optin.


  29. The tips mentioned here are very genuine and most of the bloogers missed it. Blogs are the regular updates and it gives lots of attention to the readers. And if the readers are geeting the successful results then they should convert in the paying customers. Thanks Dave for sharing such an informative stuff.

  30. Nice post Dave.

    I like how you say to focus on just one thing and create the product from there. Many want to hit many things at once and many are out of control. Focusing on one thing and making that product quality will bring in more subscribers.

    I also like the idea of the workbook. Adding things that get the subscriber to think and do something with the workbook. I believe this keeps your product in front of them and not another ebook they will simply put away in the “I will read it eventually” folder.

  31. Dave, I think your blog is so informative and I love all the sections one can click on to get just the information they need. Myself, I am starting something totally new. For nearly 8 years, I have blogged about my daughter’s battle with cancer and her site has had over 3 million hits. This was an incredible show of concern and a desire for people to learn how they could help others fighting cancer.

    I am wanting to start something totally different and although writing is not difficult for me, the idea of trying to turn it into money is. The idea of trying to get a new audience (since this is a totally different subject line of writing as well) is also new to me.

    Your blog is going to be a big help and has been saved to my desktop. Thank you for what you are doing. “Half of knowledge is knowing where to find it.”

    I found a great source here!

    Tracy Solomon

  32. Great post, I am looking for ways to increase product sales. I have tried offering a free eBook in the past and either had a low conversion rate, or lots of people that weren’t really my target audience. It helps to have some creative ideas to work from!

  33. I like the content of your post. It can really help those bloggers who are interested in increasing their visitors and links as well. These are the two important things that every blogger must get in order to be successful in blogging.

  34. I have just started a small seo consultancy business and the steady income thing is not a major concern for me, as I have a lot of clients who pay in monthly installments. The one thing that I find hard is knowing when to stop work and when I can actually start it. I have a young family so time is a major issue for me.

  35. Good point. The content that you will build your blogs with now can bring you a lot of revenue when the economy bounces back.

  36. Hey Dave,

    You make a lot of interesting points. Yes, at some point we get to have sufficient traffic (I am sure that we will never have all the traffic that we could ever want) and our primary focus should change from traffic generation to one of conversion.

    I look forward to reading future posts of your.


  37. Can you do that? The answer is, you really can. You can target-market good customers. But in order to do that, you have to come up with a profile of what a good customer looks like. What kind of money do they make? Where do they go to school, or church, or whatever. Once you have that type of information, pinpoint it.

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