:Marketing / Marketing best practices

Grow your audience and sell your online course with a blog

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There are just about a million different ways to make money online and a million different people trying to convince you that their way is the best way. YouTubers, course creators, and bloggers are all vying for that top spot. While blogging isn’t the most effective way to make money online, it’s a great way to grow your audience and market your online course. That’s why we’ll share the best tips to not only grow your blog audience, but also how to then convert that audience into paying students. Keep reading to learn how to sell your online course with a blog.

Sell your online course with blog

Blogs can help you gain influence, grow your audience and find students for your online course. Blogging keeps you involved in your business. It ensures that you’re constantly learning and staying on top of your niche. This helps in establishing yourself as an authority and creating future courses.

The benefits to running your blog are endless, but here are a few of the greatest perks:

1. Establish yourself as an authority

Blogs are one of the top ways to establish yourself as an authority on any given subject. If you blog in a narrow niche, you can quickly become one of the top names in your area by consistently providing value. Not only will your audience see you as an authority, but search engines will, too. If you have a well maintained blog that you update regularly, your pages will begin to show up on Google.

2. Build SEO

Blogs help you rank well within search engines. If you’re selling an online course about vegetable gardening, there’s a slim chance that a stand alone sales page will rank on Google on its own.

But, if you’re consistently blogging about vegetable gardening and organically linking to your sales page in the blog posts, then you’ll begin to gain backlinks. This will increase the chances of your sales page showing up.

Search engine optimization is all about consistently creating valuable content with targeted keywords. No matter how top-notch your sales page is, if you’re in a saturated niche there is going to be too much competition to rank on Google’s front page without a blog.

3. Helps build a community

Email lists and social media help build community around you business. But, if you’ve got open comments on your blog, then your readers can build community with each other. Encourage comments and discussions in the copy of your blog posts. Before you know it, your audience will not only be engaging with you, but they’ll also engage with each other, too.

This community will have people coming back to your blog, sharing your posts and inviting their audience to check you out.

4. Create landing pages

Your blog is a central location where you can direct people. No matter if people find you on social media, on another blog, or out in the real world, it’s super easy to give out your URL and send someone to a blog.

If your site is well organized, it will be easy for your audience to find what they are looking for. The top navigation bar on your blog should direct to your top offerings, for example: Blog Posts, Courses, Coaching, About Me, and Contact Me.

Melyssa Griffin’s navigation bar is a great example. 

5. Create shareability

Because the content on your blog isn’t gated, it’s easy to share. If you write high-quality and actionable posts, your audience will be likely to share your posts with their followers, helping you passively see growth. The more people who are sharing your blog post, the quicker you’ll grow, so it’s even better if you make sharing your posts easy on your audience.

6. Offer extra monetization

You can make a bit of passive income through your site. Adding in ads or affiliate links can help you make enough money each month to offset hosting costs and maybe invest in a premium plug-in or two.

7. Serve as a creative outlet

Aside from everything else, blogs are a great creative outlet. If you’ve got a lot to say but not a lot of people willing to listen to your ramble on about your inner musings, blogs can help you get those thoughts out to an audience that will be eager to hear what you’ve got to say.

Driving traffic to your blog

Unfortunately blogging isn’t an “if you build it they will come” type deal. Instead you need to be purposeful and strategic about driving traffic to your blog. This means writing with intention and creating a consistent presence on social media. Luckily, a lot of this can be done passively. You can set up systems once that will work for you for months to come.

1. Prioritize SEO

Search engine optimization (or SEO) is a long game. But it’s well worth it. SEO is how Google and other search engines will find your blog and decide where to rank it within its pages.

Unfortunately, you won’t see results instantaneously. By implementing a strategic and consistent social media strategy, you can build a lot of traction. This will serve you in the long run as you slowly rise through the Google ranks and see your referral traffic soar.

2. Choose a niche

A set niche helps you establish your expertise in one area. It gives you plenty of opportunity to add links to related posts within your blog. If you’re writing consistently only about vegetable gardening, Google sees you know what you’re talking about and ranks you higher for vegetable gardening inquiries.

On the other hand, if you’re blogging about vegetable gardening, your puppy Milo, and your visit to the Wisconsin Dells, Google will have no clue what the purpose of your blog is or how to rank you.

3. Use keywords

Keywords are the words or phrases you want to rank for on Google. It’s important to use the keywords organically, though. If you “keyword stuff” that will actually hurt your Google ranking and your blog’s standing as a whole.

4. Post consistently

Blogging consistently isn’t easy by any means. Yet it goes a long way in gaining favor with Google. You don’t have to post every single day, but if you can manage once or twice a week, you’ll see a boost in SEO. Search engines reward websites that are consistently posting quality content.

5. Write long-form content

Writing posts that are at least 1,000 words in length will give your SEO a welcomed boost. In a sea of blogs that are posting 300 word posts once a week, writing long form content is a great way to stand out. This not only gives you the opportunity to pack a ton of value into your content, but it also give you the space to add more keywords without “keyword stuffing” or coming across as inauthentic.

Marketing Experiments actually ran a test comparing the conversion rates of long form content to shorter pieces and found that long-form content came out on top each time.

6. Use SEO by Yoast

If you’re on a WordPress, you should utilize the SEO by Yoast plug-in. It’s free and super valuable. After you write your post, you put in the keyword you’re trying to rank for and Yoast will tell you what changes you should make.

7. Use Google Adwords

If you’re not sure what keywords to use, Google Adwords can help. Creating an account is a bit intimidating because it asks for a credit card number, but so long as you never activate an account you won’t be charged.

Google Adwords shows you what people are searching for and how high the competition is for each search term. You’ll want to strike the sweet spot of using terms that have a good number of people searching, but not so much competition that you’ll never rank.

If you want to dive more into this, we have a great tutorial on how to perform on-page SEO.

8. Don’t forget social media

This is where you really get to put yourself out there and start attracting readers. Being active on social media will help build a community around your blog and your business while driving more people to your website.

Different niches will excel on different platforms, but most people find that these four classics are a great place to start.

Top social media platforms to promote your blog and course

Pinterest 

Most bloggers will agree that Pinterest is king. We’ve seen bloggers go from getting a few hundred page views a month to nearly a hundred thousand a month all thanks to Pinterest.

Pinterest is great because you can pin a picture from your blog once and the Pinterest community takes it from there. Every time someone re-pins something from your blog, that person’s entire audience is now exposed to your content.

Instagram 

Instagram is a great way to grow your following quickly. By posting consistently, adding links to Stories, and utilizing targeted hashtags you can reach your target audience with minimal effort.

If you’re using Instagram for your blog and business, make sure your content is catered towards your niche. If you’re talking about vegetable gardening, you can post pretty produce pics along with veggie recipes, garden decor, and quote images with gardening tips.

Your audience will begin to know you for the content you share. And everything you post will serve to either strengthen or weaken your brand.

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Although it’s hard to automate Instagram because they don’t allow direct schedulers, you can use a service like Later. Here, you can set up your schedule once a month, and they will send push notifications to your phone so all you have to do is open the picture and paste your caption.

Twitter 

Twitter is a great place to really engage with your audience and build a strong network. Instead of constantly tweeting self-promo links, consider using your Twitter to post content (yours and others) relevant to your audience. This could be links to articles, quotes, graphics, pictures, and video links.

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If you’re only tweeting links to your blog posts, people won’t want to follow you. However, if you’re interesting and engaging, you’ll amass an audience quickly. Plus, if you want to automate your Twitter, that’s easy, too. You can use a program like Edgar or HootSuite to schedule out tweets so you don’t have to think about them.

You can also use Twitter Chats to grow your following and drive traffic to your blog. Whether you’re hosting your own or taking part in somebody else’s they are a great way to network with other bloggers and make connections.

Facebook 

There are two different ways you can use Facebook for your blog and business. Both come with their share of pros and cons.

1. Creating a Facebook Page for your blog

Facebook pages act as another Facebook account where people “like” your page (similar to adding a person’s account as a friend). They’ll see updates from you in their timeline when you post. On your Facebook page, you should be updating anywhere from 1-6 times a day to make sure people are seeing your content.

When you post a new blog post, you should share it to your Facebook page. But, make sure to share other’s content too.

The downside to using a Facebook page is the dreaded algorithm. If you’re a blogger, you already know all about this. But Facebook uses an algorithm to try and get page owners to pay to boost a post. What this means is that everything you share is only going to be seen by a small fraction of your audience unless you pay to boost the post or it gets a lot of engagement.

The way to beat this is to create an engagement group with friends.

Find four or five other bloggers in your niche, friend them on Facebook and create a group chat where you alert each other when you post a new blog post to Facebook. The idea is you’ll all engage with each other’s post boosting the reach.

2. Create a Facebook group for your community

Instead of creating a page for your blog, you’d create a group for your community. Rather than having people like your page, they can join your group, which will serve as a community. You can have daily threads where people can drop links to their latest posts or ask for help from other members in the group.

Bloggers like Melyssa Griffin and Caitlin Bacher have done a great job building active and thriving communities through their Facebook groups. In the process, they’ve gained followers and fans who trust and respect them.

Facebook pages are less about driving traffic to your blog and more about establishing yourself as an authority in the space. This will in turn spark people to check your blog out because they like and respect you. The downside to Facebook communities is that they can take a lot of time and energy to maintain.

To combat this, you can either schedule updates or hire a VA to act as a community manager. If you use a scheduler you can automate the posting of your daily threads to save you time. If you hire a community manager, you will no longer have to moderate the group or delete spammy users or posts.

Turning readers into customers

Getting thousands of visitors each month is an accomplishment in itself. But visitors don’t pay the bills. If you’re looking to make money from your influence and sell your online course to your blog audience, you’ll need to savvily sell to them.

Your email list

Building an email list is so essential to selling your online course. While your blog readers might be interested in you, your email list is full of people who are fans and will be more likely to buy from you. Having a blog makes growing your email list  easier because you’ve got all of your content in one place.  You can add a call to action and content upgrade to each post.

If you’re stuck on how to get started building your email list, consider these methods:

Build a list like a pro

  • Simply ask people to subscribe. This is called a “Call to Action” and is surprisingly effective. Calls to action are the most basic way to get people to subscribe and while they do work, you’re best off pairing this with other strategies.
  • Create content upgrades (also known as lead magnets). These incentivize your readers to subscribe by offering them something in return. Your content upgrade could be an ebook, guide, resource list, or anything else you can dream up.
  • Offer email list exclusives. By offering content just for your email list, that’s another incentive for your audience. Your exclusives could be a weekly blog post, motivational newsletters, or interviews you share only with your email audience. Whatever you decide to advertise, make sure it’s high value enough to draw people in.
  • Install HelloBar. If you’re not ready or willing to use a big pop-up or landing mat for your blog, consider using HelloBar instead. It’s more discreet than the other options, and it takes up so little space that your readers don’t have to click away from it to enjoy your content. It isn’t the highest converting method, but you should catch a few emails from it.
  • Keep your list warm. Show them you care about them by checking in consistently. Send them emails every week or so either offering them updates or providing them with exclusive content.
  • Show your list what you’re capable of. If you want your audience to trust that they are going to get a ton of value from purchasing your online course, consider creating a free email course to use as a content upgrade and offer to your current subscribers.
  • Sell using our eight-day email launch strategy. Once your course is created, you’ve built a list and they are all warmed towards you, you’re ready to sell!

Involve your audience

One way to make sure that your blog audience is excited about your online course is by including them in its creation.

Mention in a post that your course is a work in progress and ask them to comment what they’d like to see. By giving them the opportunity to have a say in what goes into your course, they’ll feel more inclined to buy it as parts of it are directly catered to them.

From there, keep your audience updated. If you’re excited about the course you’re creating and letting your audience know about your progress, your enthusiasm will rub off on them.



Author: Morgan Timm, Morgan Timm is a content marketer with a background in blogging and social media. She runs Mostly Morgan, a life and style blog that reaches an audience of 40,000 people monthly.

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