How much of your blog should be promotional?
Originally published September 2017; updated with even more awesomeness May 2019.
We’ve all seen blogs (and vlogs, and podcasts) that we love. Ones we learn a ton from and keep going back to over and over again.
We’ve also seen many that promote ad nauseum and turn us right off. #Amirite?
As wellness professionals, we want to be authentic and demonstrate our expertise. We want to be known, liked, and trusted. We want to be seen as thought leaders in our niches. These are where informational blog posts come in.
We also all want to reach and serve more people. We want to inspire a growing audience. And we want our businesses to be profitable, so we can continue doing our wellness work in the world. These are where promotional posts come in.
So, how much of your blog should be promotional?
There isn’t a right or wrong answer, BUT there are three things to consider when making that decision:
- what, and
Before we dive into these three, let’s make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to the role our blog plays in our online business.
Your blog is the foundation for your content marketing strategy
Your online “content marketing” consists of your: blog + newsletter + social media + advertising.
Your blog is where you share weekly or bi-weekly valuable gifts of your knowledge with potential ideal clients. You can help them start making their way to their health goals by giving them some steps to take. You also demonstrate not only your generosity, but your expertise.
Blogging sets you up to be the go-to expert in your niche!
I see your blog as the foundation for your entire content marketing strategy because from one blog post you then have:
- Newsletter content
- Many, many social media posts
- Even online paid ads or boosted posts/promoted pins.
Your social media posts & ads are fleeting, and often try to draw people to your awesome blog posts anyway (which may contain opt-in incentives to grow your email list).Your blog (or vlog or podcast) is the foundation of your content. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
So, let’s dive right into the first one; the “how”…
Consideration #1: How can I use my blog to promote my offerings?
The first consideration is how can we use promotion in our blog? Some ways are subtle, others are super-salesy.
There are just SO many ways you can integrate promotional content into an informational blog post without the entire post being a “sponsored” ad!
Here are some of the how’s, in order of smallest promotion to largest. You can:
- Create 100% educational posts that show how important your product/service is with no promotion at all (i.e., an informational post).
- Have a small image or mention or email sign-up form at the very end of your blog posts, so only those who read to the end see it.
- Embed promos or email sign-up forms throughout your blog posts.
- Have an ad or email sign-up form pop up only when people are about to leave your site (called: exit intent).
- Have an ad or email sign-up form pop up within a few seconds of people landing on your blog.
- Do an entire post or recipe based on a product you’re an affiliate for, and include those affiliate links right in the post (i.e., a sponsored post).
- Create entire posts/interviews with your most successful clients to showcase studies of the results you’ve helped them achieve (i.e., a case study).
- Create an entire series of posts which promote and pitch your products/services leading up to a launch.
But, what if my promotion is time-limited, but my blog isn’t?
No problem! The most common type of blog post are evergreen. These are posts that stand the test of time (kind of like those evergreen trees). They’re mostly informational posts, and the information you talk about in them won’t expire or change dramatically in the near future.
But, not all posts need to be evergreen. Some can also be temporary that you can mention an expiry date or even delete, archive, or change the status to draft when it’s no longer relevant so no one will see it.
By the way, do you have an editorial calendar for your blog? If not, you can download mine. It’s a free Google sheet that you can save yourself a copy of. No opt-in required. It goes step-by-step how to strategize your blog content to help you meet your business goals.
You’ll notice that column J is where you can enter in an Expiry date. This is where you decide the date to stop promoting, or archive/delete a blog post, if it’s not “evergreen.”
Consideration #2: What do you want to promote?
The next thing to consider is what you are promoting. Is it a free opt-in incentive to build your email list? Is it a low-cost, entry-level item? Or are you planning an entire content marketing launch strategy for a new big-ticket item?
Your blog is public-facing–anyone on the internet can see it–so, not everyone who comes across your posts knows, likes, and trusts you already. Until you build up that KLT factor, it’s going to be difficult to sell larger-ticket items without building that relationship with your audience.
You can start with free opt-in incentives where you offer something in exchange for the reader to opt-into your email subscriber list.
Take this one step farther and create a specific opt-in incentive for that very post, known as a content upgrade. These can be a summary or other upgrade to the information in the blog post. They allow the reader to download a snapshot, dig deeper, or implement what they’re learning from reading your post.
Instead of sticking with promoting free items (which is, BTW, recommended for most blog posts), you can be so bold as to promote a low-cost offer called a tripwire. Tripwires are inexpensive products, generally under $97. Sometimes they’re a digital download (like my Health- and Food-Awareness Dates Calendar), access to a webinar or short training, or even the shipping costs on a new hardcover book.
This way, you can charge a small bit for an item that can directly help your reader take the first step to success in working with you.
Note on promoting higher-priced items: This is where a blog strategy comes in. In order to build up your KLT (know, like, and trust) factor for these more expensive products and services, you need to nurture your relationship with your readers a bit first. For example, create a series of blog posts (and corresponding newsletters and social media posts) that, over the course of several weeks, lead up to your large promotion.Three things to consider when using your blog for promotion #ContentMarketing #Blog #Promotion Click To Tweet
Consideration #3: Ask yourself these before you change your promotional blog content
Lastly, we’ll talk about the should. Here are two key things to consider before deciding which, if any, of the how’s and what’s are right for you.
Question #1: How does it make you feel?
If one or more of the how’s or what’s mentioned above make you feel “icky,” then simply don’t do it.
But, if something tweaks your interest a bit, it may be worth trying. Don’t forget, as wellness professionals and entrepreneurs, we may need to break out of our shells a bit to try new things to promote our products and services.
And, don’t forget: your blog is yours. You can try things, change things, and delete things as you see fit. You can always add a promotion to your blog for a week or two and if you’re not getting the response you hoped for, remove it. Easy peasy.
Speaking of the response you hoped for…
Question #2: How does your audience receive your promotional posts?
Your blog is a reflection of you and a demonstration of your expertise. But, it’s written for your audience and clients. So after you try something, pay attention to the feedback you get from your audience:
- Are you getting private comments/replies? If so, what are they saying?
- How is your traffic on that post?
- Are you getting public likes, comments, re-Tweets, and social shares?
- Are you getting more success with the item you’re promoting? Is it driving your email list, number of discovery calls, or sales?
Look at all of the info to see how your audience is reacting to your changing promotional strategy.
Consider this, and pivot if necessary.
What I personally do
I use a mixture of these strategies, and I change them up from time to time. Right now I:
- Have two pop-ups that promote two different free downloads to help you with health blogging.
- Embed a few free opt-in incentives throughout my blog posts and the odd product promotion. I try to keep them relevant to this week’s topic. So, in this post, I’ve linked to the download of my content strategy editorial calendar, as well as my Health- and Food-Awareness Dates Calendar.
- At the end of my posts I include a promo for my featured health articles as my “tripwire.” These are done-for-you authority-building fully researched health articles. These long-form articles are easy to read and broken down into subheadings and are CAD$47-77 each, but there is a featured one or a bundle on sale all the time.
- At the very end, I mention some of my other services, and link to my “work with me” page.
On the other hand, last Christmas I created two blog posts that were purely promotional. They were Healthy holiday gift guides–one for entrepreneurs and one for everyone else. They both contained a bunch of affiliate links to products I love.
There are so many options on how you can add some promotion into your blog. There are subtle mentions and sign-up forms. You can embed small promotions or affiliate links, or keep them at the end of your posts. Or you can create a post (or several) that are 100% pure promo.
When it comes to what, you can promote free things, like an email list-building opt-in incentive; or even a low-cost item. Ultimately, you can plan a full-on multi-week promotional blog series to strategically promote an upcoming large product or service launch.
It’s up to you.
Lastly, ask yourself two questions:
- How does it make you feel?
- How does your audience receive them?
Signing off and toasting: To finding your perfect balance between informational and promotional blog content.
Over to you
What do you think? Do any of the ways to use promotion in your blog appeal to you (or repel you) more than others? Have you used any of these strategies? Are you going to try them? What opt-ins, products, or services have you promoted, or plan on promoting on your blog?
And, lastly, and possibly most importantly, how has your audience received them?
I’d love to know (In the comments below)!
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I'm Leesa Klich, MSc., R.H.N.
Health writer – Blogging expert – Research nerd.
I help health and wellness professionals build their authority with scientific health content. They want to stand out in the crowded, often unqualified, market of entrepreneurs. I help them establish trust with their audiences, add credibility to their services, and save them a ton of time so they don’t have to do the research or writing themselves. To work with me, click here.