Before You Seek Business

Old advertisment In a previous post, I talked about how to put your small business on the web. Before you go out and start looking for business, you might want to take a look around your site to see if it’s easy to understand what business you hope to accomplish. There’s a lot your blog does or doesn’t do to help you sell you or your product. Let’s look at it.

Obvious Call to Action

When someone lands on your site for the first time, is there an obvious call to action? For instance, look at some of these Genesis child themes (affiliate link). Look at Agency. It has an obvious button: ‘learn more about us.’ Okay, not bad, but is that what you want more than anything else? That’s what I’m talking about.

Christopher S. Penn said it best a while back: if I squint at your website and I don’t know what you want me to do, then you don’t have an obvious call to action.

Simple Contact Points

On [], I put up a contact form when I realized that answering my inbox was going to be too much. Now, there are routing methods in that contact form that make it easy for me to get through a lot of contacts fast (with the help of my team). You should have a few contact points. If you’re a local business, like a retail business, add a phone number for the store. If you intend to talk with people via social apps like Twitter or on a Facebook fan page, by all means, add links to there. But make sure there are simple contact points.

Value Your Blog Real Estate

Overally, your blog design should show that you value your blog real estate. If you’re looking for business, don’t make your sidebars a place that sends traffic away from your site and back out onto Twitter or Facebook. If subscriptions matter to you, then make that a very prominent, obvious, and simple process for people to grasp.

Posts with Calls to Action

If your blog is a blog (sequential content), then make each post have some kind of call to action. In this post, my action is quite subtle: I just want to give you more resources to learn. There are also a couple of affiliate links here and there that could stand to make me some money, but my “primary” call to action in this post is to get you deeper into my content. In your case, should you want to be selling something, be really clear that it’s your call to action.

Now, every call to action might not be about your stuff. You can always write about other people (I recommend this). In that case, the call-to-action might just be that you’re promoting other people. Essentially, the question is this: when they finish this post, what do I most want them to do? If your post doesn’t make it easy for them to do that, you might have to rethink.

Build Social Proof

If you have a blog and not a static website, you might want to encourage comments. Not sure how? Find others who might like what you’re talking about and comment on their posts. Don’t littler the comment sections with links back to your site. Just make sure your comment is filled out with the URL to your site, so that people know how to get back. Everyone knows that if we click your underlined, blue name (or whatever the aesthetics are for the site you’re on), we know we’ll get to you. Don’t do much more than that.

Other ways to get comments involve making sure your site is linked to your Facebook page and as part of your email signature file, and encouraging the occasional comment by asking the right questions. You can tweet about posts, too, provided you try even a little bit to make it compelling. For instance, I ask people questions where the link is my take on a potential answer in a blog post.

Comments help one feel visible and it helps your prospective buyers know that you’re worth it. Need some more thoughts on comments? Here’s a crash course in comments.

Be Clear About the Ask

On my site, I have a work with me page. I figured it was the easiest way to explain to prospective clients how they might work with me. I’m thinking of going back and redoing it, once I get some more blog posts written and in the can. But you can see a sense of what I think might be useful. It should be this way about whatever business you’re trying to start.

People should have no doubt what you’re trying to sell them, even if that’s just a point of view. When I visit, I know what I’m getting into. Is your “ask” just as clear?

Experiment a Little

Let’s close on this note. Experimentation is important to understanding what will work and what won’t work with your site and your business. Don’t “set it and forget it.” Try new things. See what converts. See what does or doesn’t work for you. By experimenting, you’ll find out what people react to and also what people ignore.

It’s how I’ve grown my site, but also how I’ve been able to tell clients what I know works and what doesn’t. Having statistics helps in this regard, by the way. Maybe it’s time to check out either something like Google Analytics or Hubspot.

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  • ouyang

    It’s a really trustworthy blog. Please keep updating with great posts like this one. I have booked mark of your site and will email it.

  • Jo-Ann

    Great couple of posts, Chris, that will help me focus on the issues and produce positive change. Thanks, I really appreciate what you share and tell.

  • Carl Natale

    Again, you make me examine my site carefully. Thank you.

    I do have a question about Facebook and comments. Do you really get many commenters from Facebook. Back in the day with another blog, I linked the RSS feed to my FB wall. Friends would read the blog post and comment on Facebook.

    Of course we didn’t have Disqus connected and configured to show reactions from social networks. That helps display your social proof.

    Again, thank you.

  • John Richardson

    Great concise article, Chris. This is great reference material. I have one question about blog real estate. On your blog you have a lot of space in the sidebar devoted to date based archives which honestly don’t mean anything to me. Wouldn’t it be better to have categories, or top posts with your powerful copy driven titles there? It just seems like you would get more click-through with “How to use affiliate marketing,” than May 2004.

  • TrafficColeman

    Great Stuff,

    I pretty much hit all these avenues when I sit down and talk to a client…may game plan for them is always on point so they can help that visitor get that information they need. Remember to let your website do the work..not you.

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  • Ivan Walsh

    Yaro Starak made the point that your About page is often one of the most read, though as people don’t comment on it, you’d be forgiven for overlooking it’s importance.

    So…..if you look at the google search results for Chris Brogan, the About page is listed second which illustrate it’s importance and also how viewers behave on the site.

    “Article is good, now who is this guy?”


    I’d strongly suggest reading the article of his site as he gives some great pointers, for example having a timeline that shows where and how your business evolved.

  • Mary E. Ulrich

    Thanks. I’ve been a volunteer all my life working for the CAUSE. Never realized it, but what I am selling on my blog is Point of View.

    Maybe that’s enough, but some $$ to keep the blog going would be nice. So in this framework, maybe the product I need to produce and sell, circles back to POV.–interesting to think about.

  • Chris Brogan

    Well, and maybe you’re selling people’s belief to give and donate, right? There’s a lot of selling with cause marketing.

  • Chris Brogan

    I’m fixing that very thing, John. A new design is coming that will address your very concern. I hadn’t had a great solution for the problem yet, but my new designer really gave me something good.

  • Chris Brogan

    I don’t get a lot of commenters from Facebook. You might have misunderstood. I want them to share the post. I don’t care if people comment during that share. Most times, that post has a call to action that I want spread far. See the difference?

    Remember: comments don’t buy my kids supper.

  • John Richardson

    Cool, I can’t wait to see the new design. I definitely think your Copyblogger style headlines would be a good addition to draw people in. Hey.. I may not be interested in Affiliate marketing, but your post on The Social Media 100 may be just what I’m looking for… In fact I think I’ll click there now…

  • Tammy Camp

    Great article that gets back to the basics. I update and modify the design of my blog quite frequently, but I’m always wary of making it over-frilly and detracting from what it’s there to do. I think this post makes an excellent checklist for blogs . . . so thank you!

  • Brian Hamlett

    You know, we get so caught up sometimes in the design, in making our site look cool, that we forget that for most people in this information-intensive society… they just want the freakin’ answer to the question or need that they have!

    A good friend of mine, @ScottHepburn, and I have talked about this a bit. You should always look to answer the question, “What next?” on your website. Once your visitor has come to your site on a particular page, something else on that page should tell them (call to action) what to do next. If you do not, that’s when they leave.

    What do you think?

  • Anonymous

    This will be essential for those start ups entrepreneurs in helping them with relevant information like this.

  • Katherine Salt

    Thanks for the post, I’m just working on a site for my new business, plagarising ideas from lots of different places. This post has give me some extra tips and hints and a bit more confidence that I am going down the right road.

  • Justin

    Good basics on blog design, and I will definitely be incorporating this into my own blog.

    You may already be doing this with your blog redesign, but some things that I noticed when applying this article to your site. When squinting the first things that pop out is the supporters section. It wasn’t until I looked again that I noticed the darker colored icons pointing me to your various sections. I think problem is that placed on a dark blue background the slightly lighter blue backgrounds to your icons there blend in. Were it me, I’d try to increase the contrast to make it pop a little more.

    Also, it may be just me, but I find that I ignore the upper right of a webpage for some reason. Maybe google and twitter and facebook have just trained me to think of that location as the place for logins and settings.

    Again, since you’re already working to redesign the site this may already be taken care of.

  • Miss Lori

    Your posts always have a call to action for me Chris, if to do nothing else but to think. I also appreciate your concise delivery. Your writing makes me feel like you are a partner in my pursuit of better business practices. Everyone can use a team.

    SMILE On!

    Miss Lori

  • Roy Scribner

    I am totally onboard with your third point of valuing your blog real estate, Chris. I think this is a key point in considering the value that you are providing to every potential long-term reader (or customer, in the case of a business). If one of your key value propositions is to be an authoritative source of information on a specific topic, then linking to other authoritative sources may enhance your own credibility and trust. Yes, it is a link away from your site, but if the user finds value in that link, then you are likely to gain credibility as a source.

  • ConnorBringas

    I agree with your “build social proof” area in this blog. Its definitely true that blog commenting helps get traffic, I definitely agree with everything you have in this post. Its important to get your name out there..but selling yourself isnt the right way to do it. Providing quality content is the key to success

  • Chris Brogan

    Always happy to help. : )

  • Chris Brogan

    You’re wonderful, Miss Lori. Thanks for the kind words. : )

  • Chris Brogan

    Seems to be helpful in proving that you’re a normal human.

  • Chris Brogan

    Quite happy to help. : )

  • Chris Brogan

    That’s a really great way to do it, Brian. I love that. Answer “what’s next?”

    Oh, I’m stealing that. : )

  • Brian Hamlett

    I’d love to claim it as just my own, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t say it was @ScottHepburn jsut as much. Smart guy. ;)


    • Scott Hepburn

      Steal away, Chris. Customers are always looking to take a “next step” — if you don’t offer them one, they’ll take their next step with someone else.

    • Scott Hepburn

      Steal away, Chris. Customers are always looking to take a “next step” — if you don’t offer them one, they’ll take their next step with someone else.

  • hollister uk

    throw stones, I’m a fan of Apple. I’m on my second notebook and first iphone.

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  • commercial invoice form

    There are some good points for every starter. What about marketing the business on the web?

  • commercial invoice form

    There are some good points for every starter. What about marketing the business on the web?

  • commercial invoice form

    There are some good points for every starter. What about marketing the business on the web?

  • commercial invoice form

    There are some good points for every starter. What about marketing the business on the web?

  • William Hushburn

    Thanks for this post.

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  • Oriental Rug Cleaning Miami

    There are some good points for every starter. What about marketing the business on the web? Thanks for the post, I’m just working on a site for my new business, plagarising ideas from lots of different places. Thanks for the site.