When a blogger first blogs, he expects the world to listen.
It takes him 7 months to realize the Internet is vaster than he dreamed. By the end of the year, he drools for a hundred readers. Unless he’s intrinsically motivated, he won’t pass 300.
If he’s serious about growing his audience, he’ll pay attention to what works.
He’ll learn all the cool tricks to boosting his email subscribers. He’ll have signup forms and social proof all over his site. For those who want to optimize their lists, that’s the proven way. It works.
But what are professional Marketers doing?
I’m keeping tabs on agencies that make REAL money – companies like Digital Scientists, Twist Image, and PINT. These aren’t one-man guru shops or fly-by-night pony shows. They’re not practicing group therapy sessions. They’re brilliant Marketers in the digital revolution. They charge tens (or hundreds) of thousands of dollars and they get results. They know what works, and it’s clear they’re not interested in email addresses. Judging by their portfolio, their clients aren’t either.
This doesn’t just apply to elite Marketing agencies, either. Most WordPress developers aren’t that interested in optimizing conversion rates. This explains why so many readers have difficulty adding featured boxes and end-of-post signup forms: most themes aren’t made for it. This explains why Blog Tyrant is creating a theme focused on capturing email addresses: he’s doing it because such a theme doesn’t currently exist.
Why aren’t professional Marketers optimizing?
It’s not because they haven’t heard about it. It’s not because they’re scared. It’s not because they lack the resources and developers.
It’s because it’s perceived as shady marketing. In business circles it smacks of the snake oil salesman begging for a sale on a cracked sidewalk. It’s the hand-painted advertisement for the 8-hour flea market. It the cheaper-by-the-dozen, everything’s-always-50%-off business model.
Twist Image has an engaged audience. But if they hired a “shrewd optimizer” to maximize their subscription results, they’d be reminded there isn’t a prominent opt-in form anywhere on their blog. Everyone agrees Twist Image is leaving email addresses on the table. And you know what? They don’t care because they’re booked solid with 130 employees making good money.
And that’s the whole point.
It’s not how many emails you have, it’s how well your business is doing – the bottom line. If you have 12 employees and your business is making seven figures … who cares about your Feedburner stats? Blogs are only as effective as their contribution to your business’s Marketing, PR, and the bottom line. In this day of saturated content, let’s not loose focus of the big picture. Blogs are overrated.
Sure, if your business model is the McDonald’s $7 widget, you’ll need a huge following to scale. If you’re sneaking across some affiliate deal, you’ll need 5,001 eyeballs to make real money. But as you know, we’re in a revolution. The stakes are high. Don’t be part of a ponzi scheme. Do something worthwhile, something that creates value.
What does this mean for you?
If you’re blogging just for fun and want to make a few dollars along the way, more power to you. There’s nothing illegal about flea markets. But as for me, my brand is changing. I’m going to push my education and build an agency that Starbucks would be proud to hire. I’m going to succeed or die trying, and I invite you to join me. In?