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Three Key Things Successful Bloggers Do to Build Their Blogs Into Businesses

To build a business around your blog you probably need to work on certain things. And John’s post highlights some great habits to build.

But in this post I want to pull out three things John talks about that can make a real difference to your blog. And once we’ve gone through them I’ll share some fundamentals that are even more crucial.

#1: Use Multiple Email Opt-In Boxes

Email is so important. It can help you sell to your audience, build traffic, and build a sense of community.

As John says in his post, you shouldn’t have just the one opportunity for people to opt in to your email list on your blog (or even a page of your blog). The most successful bloggers have multiple calls to action on every page of their blog to opt in.

Readers are becoming increasingly blind to our opt-in invites. It’s like the “ad blindness” that came after banner ads were first introduced in 2004–05. At first they got lots of clicks, but now we’re so used to them that we barely notice them (and ignore them if we do).

Opt-in blindness is similar. People see so many invitations to sign up for freebies that they’ll often just ignore them.

I don’t believe we should stop using email opt-ins. But we should get smarter about how we use them. Having multiple opt-ins is one way to do it, although as John says in his article it’s important to find a balance. You don’t want to annoy your readers by bombarding them with pop-ups that interrupt their reading.

But you can certainly have more than one call to action. For example, you could have:

  • a “welcome mat” that slides down from the top when someone comes to your site for the first time
  • a call to action at the bottom of your blog posts
  • an “exit pop-up” that appears as someone leaves your site.

Track whether sign-ups increase (or decrease) based on the options you have in place. For instance, back in 2017 on Digital Photography School we found that adding an exit pop-up boosted our sign-ups by 30–40%.

Some tools we recommend to help you with opt-ins on your blog include Opt-in Monster and SumoMe.

#2: Use the Space Above the Fold Effectively

“Above the fold” means the area of a page that appears before you need to scroll (on a desktop). Everything that you can’t see until you scroll is “below the fold”.

The area above the fold on your front page is really important because people are more likely to notice and take action on the things you place here. Here are some of the key things you can include:

  • Benefit statements – what someone will get from reading your site
  • Social profile – such as how many social media followers or email list subscribers you have
  • Opt-in calls – where you ask someone to enter their email address
  • Proof of authority – maybe showing the logos of sites you’ve been featured on.

As well as the space above the fold on your front page, think about what’s happening on your posts themselves. Most new readers will come straight to a blog post, not the front page.

A potential problem is having so much stuff above the fold on your blog posts that readers can’t actually see the content of the post without subscribing. For instance, there may be a huge email opt-in at the top.

While a few people may willingly give you their email address before reading your post, it’s smarter to show them the post first and then ask for it. You want to start delivering value to them straight away.

#3: Use a Static Homepage to Gather Email Addresses

This has shifted a lot over the past few years of blogging. When I started my first blog in 2002, it looked like 99% of the blogs on the internet. If you went to the front page you’d see the 5 to 10 most recent posts in their entirety, with the most recent at the top.

That’s just how things were.

A couple of years later people started showing excerpts rather than full articles. While readers then had to click to read each article, it made for a better user experience because the front page didn’t take so long to load.

Later, we started seeing front pages that were more like magazines, with a grid-like layout. Some would have just the title and image for a post, while others would have a short excerpt.

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