I was so touched to find out Eryn of StyleSewMe is a Blogger Babe! I thought her URL was familiar when she reached out and went to see her site… thought it looked more familiar… typed ‘how to sew a straight line’ in her search bar… and there it was—a tutorial that I’d coincidentally printed from her!
This is what Blogger Babes is aiming for—a network of professional, valuable female bloggers in it together! —Ponn
Stepping Out: 4 Simple Steps to Transition Readers From Free to Paid Content
Have you been stirring with the thought of creating your own products, but don’t know where to start?
Do you cringe at the thought of “selling” to your readers? Are you wrestling with feelings of “why would they buy from me” nagging at the back of your mind?
Maybe you’ve spent months, even years, developing your brand and you are ready to expand to the next level. You have built up not only an expertise, but a passion in a particular topic—or two!—from which you know your readers can benefit.
Or maybe you just want to offer your own product, but you don’t know where to start.
I’ve heard all this so many times from bloggers who have expertise in a topic, but they don’t know it! Think about it: your readers are coming to you for a particular reason. It’s not just because you are fabulous; you’ve got something they want that they don’t currently have. There is something about what you are providing that they don’t currently get. You are inspiring them to do something. But what is it?
I want to help you get those wheels turning. But, first, let me share my story on how I took my personal blog and turned it into a business with my own products.
The StyleSewMe Story
In less than 2 years of blogging, I successfully branded and monetized my sewing blog, Style Sew Me, with my own premium content and eventually opened an online boutique where I hand-make my designs for readers who have no interest in sewing.
My blog started off, like many, as just a way to journal my sewing shenanigans. As I got better, I began posting video tutorials on YouTube that I felt were missing. My only goal was to provide clear and concise instruction to help other home sewers develop their skills. I provided them with information I wish I had when I was learning.
As more people found my videos and started sharing and engaging with me about how clear my instruction was, I began to see that I was meeting a need. I was accomplishing my goal.
My free content was so valuable to my readers that many of them took the projects they made from my videos and sold them! That is the ULTIMATE compliment! To know that my content was so rich in detail that my viewers were confident enough to start businesses from what I taught was ah-mazing!
After wrestling with doubts that people wouldn’t buy from me, I began building my email list and soon offered my first paid product. I was a ball of nerves. But within an hour of going live, I sold my first one! I couldn’t dial my husband fast enough! I screamed with glee all the way to my office and I’m sure I busted his eardrums. How exciting!
How to Transition Readers from Free to Paid Content in 4 Easy Steps
Prologue: “But wait! Who would buy from me?”
Before we dive deep, let’s address this. My dear, fabulous Blogger Babe, hear me and hear me well. You are enough.
Remove comparisons to “that other blogger” out of your brain. If you doubt that anyone would buy from you, that means you doubt your value. You doubt what you have to offer to the world. Stop it, stop it now.
You are pouring your time and passion into a blog that is like a part-time job for you. Just the fact that you’re reading this article on Blogger Babes lets me know that you see your blog’s potential to grow. In order for you and your blog to grow, you have to allow yourself that opportunity to do so.
Offering paid content is more than offering something to charge for. It will be the best of your very best content. It will be value galore. It will have your readers singing from the rooftops about how awesome you are (as if you didn’t know that already!).
Release that doubt and comparison and go forth!
Step 1: What Do You Know?
Now that you’ve shed your fears, let’s get to the nitty gritty.
Do you know that you want to sell, but you just don’t know what to sell? They key is to determine why your readers are coming to you. There is something that you’re giving them that keeps them coming back. You have it, but you don’t know it—yet.
Ask yourself this one question:
What are my readers’ pain points, and what do I know that can solve them?
In my story, my problem was that I couldn’t find sewing tutorials for beginner skills that were clear enough for me. When I figured it out on my own, I passed on that knowledge. I filled the gap. I solved a problem.
Look back through your content and discover a consistent tone from your readers. They will tell you what their problems are. Look at your most popular posts. What were you discussing? What points did you cover that your readers loved?
If in doubt, just ask. Within the scope of your content, ask your readers what they would like to see from you, or what their biggest problem is that you can help solve. You can do a blog post, YouTube video, or even use a survey tool, like Survey Monkey, to query your readers.
Step 2: Build Your Email List of Qualified Readers
As a blogger who primarily wants to work with brands and sponsored content, you focus heavily on traffic and building your social media following. But, there has to be a bit of a shift when it comes to you offering your own product, and that begins with building an email list.
Blogger Babes’s own 5 Day Boost Your Blog Challenge, Day 4 covers in detail the logistics of starting and growing your email list. What I will cover with you today is the incentive you can offer to your readers to capture their email address.
The goal with your lead magnet is to do two things:
- Be valuable enough for a reader to give their email address for it, and
- Qualify your lead – You are looking for a target audience. Everyone will not qualify. That’s a good thing.
Remember, this is different from increasing your website clicks and social media following. List building is about Quality over Quantity.
For my blog, I created a PDF called 8 Easy Steps to Better Fashion Sewing. I typed it up in an hour. I packed this document full of valuable content to help new sewers achieve higher quality results in their clothing. I had a specific reader with a specific problem in mind when I created this incentive.
I grew my email list from 0 to over 1,000 subscribers in about 5 months of implementing my incentive.
Here are some ideas to get your juices flowing:
- Stay at home style bloggers – 10 Comfy and Stylish Outfits Every Stay At Home Mom Should Have – This idea reaches that mom who needs to balance comfort and style in her everyday outfits. It also speaks to an emotion because looking good helps you to feel good.
- College Students – Student Style: Create 30 Trendy Outfits from 10 Affordable Pieces – This content speaks to a younger audience on a budget and with limited storage space.
- Working Women – 30 Days of Work Style using 30 Pieces – Speak to your working readers by meeting their daily needs. Because who doesn’t want to be cute at the office?
- Future food bloggers – 10 Pinterest Friendly Food Photography Tips – This magnet speaks to your readers who are aspiring food bloggers. Give them tips on helping them get more circulation and traffic from Pinterest.
- Parents – 10 Easy Protein Snacks Your Kids Won’t Feed To the Dog – As a mother to a toddler, I’d be all over this.
- Families on a Budget – 30 Days of Budget Friendly Crockpot Meals You Can Prepare in One Day – You’ve just saved someone time and money. Score!
- Hair Tips – Top 5 Items For A Salon Quality Blowout At Home – Save time at the salon and money? Gimme. Now.
- Beauty Tips – 10 Drugstore Products Makeup Artists Don’t Want You To Find Out About – Affordable makeup that delivers professional results? Where do I sign?!
Are you following me here? Value is the key. You can also use your most popular article and create your incentive from that. Remember, your email list of qualified leads is more important than a website click when it comes to list building.
Step 3: Understand Selling vs Value
The thought of “selling” can feel icky. So let’s throw that word out, okay? Instead of selling to your readers, you are providing value. You are filling a gap. You are solving a need.
Just like in your email opt-in incentive, you want to provide value. Your readers should always be at the forefront. You should get to know your readers, learn what’s important to them, and what they have in common.
Providing value-based content, products, or services is the difference between creating a community versus selling to any and every one.
Transitioning from free content to premium content should not be a jarring experience for your readers. I provided a free video tutorial for a box pleated skirt (value) that is normally very complicated to make. I found a better way to make it easier (solving a problem), and answered questions posted (accessibility and authority).
The value that I added to the sewing community by solving the problem of a complicated, but high demand product led them to request that I do a tutorial with pockets. Since the pocketed version of the skirt involves math and is a bit more laborious, I created the tutorial and sold it as a premium product.
Because my community was very familiar with my free, value-based, content, I did not have to sell to them. They’d requested my expertise and I provided it for a fee. I did not one bit of selling. They told me what they wanted. I heard their pain and filled the need, while compensating myself for my time and expertise.
Step 4: Nurture Your Growth
The transition from free content can be a bit overwhelming. It definitely was for me. Once you really dive into researching what creating paid content for your blog might look like, you can easily get overwhelmed.
Focus on building your email list by providing one value-packed incentive that caters to a specific audience. That’s it. The idea of “what to sell” will come as you grow your list and learn more about your readers and how you can be of value to them.
It’s never a bad idea to start brainstorming ways that you can create passive income with your blog. This will help steer you when deciding what qualifying incentive you will offer to build your email list. Remember, the success of your income directly relates to the quality of your email list and the value that you provide.
Bonus! Step 5: Live the #BloggerBabesLife
As a member of Blogger Babes and several other blogger networks, I have become the most invested in Blogger Babes. They do not “sell.” I have consumed free and premium content from Blogger Babes that have played a large part in the growth of my blog.
I have also purchased several of the Blogger Babe eKits that are packed from cover to cover with content that I have not found in one place through feverishly researching the internet. What’s especially helpful is that this content is specific to the female creative blogger, like you and me.
Although I am a member of other blogger networks that determine my value based on analytics, Blogger Babes has been the most engaged with newsletters, and articles such as this that grow the community and help build businesses. Once you sign up for other networks, you enter your stats and never hear from them again until your numbers qualify you for an opportunity.
I wanted more from my blog than to wait for a brand to come calling because my numbers are good enough. I wanted to create a brand of ME. I wanted to help people, create and build a community, teach, and create a business around what I know and love.
You can, too. The tools are at your fingertips. The knowledge is in that beautiful brain of yours and your community of Blogger Babes is here to support you, teach you, and cheer you on!
Have you transitioned your blog to paid content? If you have, what are some troubles you faced? If you haven’t, what’s holding you back?