#46: Blogging: How & Why I Do It


Want to start a blog? Or improve the one you have? In this episode, Michelle tackles:

– Whether you should start a blog or not
– Defining the goal of your blog
– How to make sure blogging benefits your bottom line
…and much more!

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This episode is sponsored by:
Master Class: How To Double Your Mailing List In the Next 90 Days

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Hello health coaches! Thank you so much for joining me today. This is our first broadcast of 2019, so if you’re here with me, happy new year. If you are listening to this later, don’t worry. Our topic today will apply no matter what time of year you’re listening or what year it is today. We’re talking about blogging, which made me kind of go down memory lane and I started looking back at some of my very, very early blog posts, my first of which was actually written in October of 2007 if you can believe it. Oh my goodness. That is a long, long time ago. Like a lifetime ago. So in this episode we’re going to tackle the questions of whether you should start a blog and if so how you should go about it. My name is Michelle Pfennighaus. I’m a certified health coach with my own private practice, I’m also a mentor for my fellow health coaches and I appear in the curriculum at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and apparently I’ve been blogging for 12 years.

So if you’re watching online, go ahead and hit the like button. Show me some love and tell me in the comments, what are some of your favorite blogs? I think some of my favorites are definitely food blogs. I’m thinking of Gimme Some Oven, always great recipes there, or Smitten Kitchen. That’s a classic or blogs that teach me something about health and wellness. So, I read a lot on Aviva Romm’s blog as some of you know, I studied with Aviva last year and she’s one of my go-to resources. So anyway, we’d love to hear what blogs you’re into and if you have any questions as we go along, go ahead and put those in the comments as well. I like to work them into the conversation as we go along. So even though there’s a lot of great blogs out there, so there’s a lot of role models.

If you want to start a blog, it’s also kind of intimidating, right? Because yeah, there’s these big successful, complicated blogs. There are people who make their entire living as a blogger, right? You think you’re a health coach or maybe you’re actually going to be a health and food blog or full time, who knows? Who knows what will spark today, but for the most part you and me we’re health coaches. We don’t want to spend our whole day on our blog, but it could be part of our business. So, how can it fit into a health coaching business? One of the members of Healthy Profit University, which is my online course that helps health coaches create profitable business, asked this really great question inside of our private group and I wanted to share it here. I don’t think she’s going to mind.

Corey said, I want to start a blog, but I’m feeling a bit stuck with the layout, the length of content, etc. Just wondering when you all started out, how often you posted and if you have any general insight about how to not have blogging eat up too much time.

Yeah, that’s important. Right? So the very first thing that I asked Corey and the very first thing that I would ask you right now is what is your goal with your blog? And the reason I asked her that is because depending on the goal, the answers to her questions are going to be a little bit different. So, Corey said, when I asked her that very tough question of what is the goal with your blog, it’s like, ugh, I don’t know what my goal is Michelle. I know, I know, but it’s an important question. So do think about it. And Corey did. And she said that she wants to create content to guide people to. So for example, someone who might want to book her for a podcast or some sort of speaking engagement, she wants to have a way to prove that she knows what she’s talking about without sending a boring resume that nobody wants to read. Ps, Corey has her PhD, like I think she knows what she’s talking about. But anyway, in this case, Corey wants to use a blog as a way to build her authority and position herself as an expert.

It’s almost like saying that you have a published book because immediately people take you more seriously when you have something published that they can read. So, if your blog is going to be like Corey’s, then I have some good news for you. You don’t have to worry about how often you post and you don’t have to worry about how long your posts are and you don’t have to worry about, oh God, all kinds of things. This blog will just be your living, breathing document. It’s a cross between your boring resume and the book you haven’t written yet and you can write those blog posts however the heck you want with an eye towards is this the kind of content that you want to represent yourself with? Think about like who’s going to be reading this and then you want to write for them. And in this case we’re really talking about writing for a warm audience, which is very different than how other people blog.

So let’s say that you have a totally different goal for your blog. For me, starting about four years ago, I began looking at my blog, not just as a way to provide new content to my warm audience and kind of do what Corey was talking about, but as a way to attract a brand new audience through search engines and not only that, but I wanted to convert anybody who landed on my blog to my mailing list and then ultimately to become paying clients. Bingo. Right. I know a lot of you are like, yes, that’s what I want to do too Michelle, so if you want to go this route, it’s. It’s a lot more strategic and it becomes important to think about all of the little details that affect search results, which is like it’s whole other topic. We could talk about that for hours.

I’m probably not even qualified to talk about it. There are experts in this, but I know the basics because I have been doing it for so long, so one thing that I know for sure is that google likes when you publish consistently and when you publish often some bloggers posts every single day. No thank you. But yes, that is something that happens. So with my own blog, my goal has always been to publish a new piece of content once a week. Does that always happen? No, no, of course not, but that is the rhythm that I have tried to stick to and I will go stretches where I’m really on top of it, posting once a week, posting once a week, and then I’ll take a break for awhile. Life happens and then I’ll get back into it. However, that’s where I like to be and when I’m posting once a week, not only does google like to see that that you are an active publisher of content, but it allows me to send a fresh article, fresh recipe, a fresh piece of content to my own mailing list each week or to post it to social media.

So one thing I’ve always loved about blogging is that you’re creating a piece of content one time and then you get to reuse it so you can post it all over the place. You send it to your list. It’s not like you then have to also create an email for your list. You basically have the content already written. Very nice. Anyway, that’s the first thing. Frequency and consistency. The other thing that google really likes, you know, and the reason it’s important if google likes what you’re doing is because that means it will favor you. It will favor Your blog post over another. You will rank higher. Now, will I ever be ranked number one for like a certain search term? I don’t know, but it’s every blogger’s goal to be on the first page of search results if at all possible. One of my most successful blog posts actually in this area is a how to make coconut yogurt.

I don’t know what will happen if you google right now, how to make homemade coconut yogurt or something like that. I don’t know if you’ll get my blog post, but anyway, I do get a lot of organic search to that blog post, so I know people are finding it. So the other thing google likes is when your blog posts are a little bit lengthy, I mean they don’t have to write a whole, but there is a number, I think it’s 700 words or more and the reason google likes that is because it shows that you’re writing a more in depth article and therefore it’s more likely to show authority on a subject. Google always looking out for the user wants to send a user to really good solid content versus a summary or like a really brief two paragraph blog post about the topic. It would rather send someone to something that’s well researched and has some meat to it.

So again, are all of my blog posts 700 words or more? No, no, they’re not, but many of them are. So that’s just something to keep in mind and you can definitely mix it up. But if you’re going to write a really important blog post, like an epic blog post about a topic that’s really important to you and your practice and to your target market, you might want to consider making that one of your longer more in depth articles. Okay, another huge consideration is the title and the topic of your blog post. Obviously if you want to show up in search results, it makes sense to write about what people are searching for. That’s like a big duh moment, but I never thought of it that way. for the longest time. The opposite would be writing about whatever you feel like and then hoping that somebody searches for it.

Right? So you can actually reverse engineer this. You can use google ad words, they have a keyword tool to help you figure out what exactly people are searching for and I’ll put a link to a really useful set of directions in the show notes. I got this from a food blogger one in time and I have used these directions time and time again to help me figure out what I’m going to blog about. I usually have a vague idea of what it should be about or i have a recipe, but finding the exact keywords to use is very helpful and there’s so, so much more that could be said about this, but I’m just going to drop one more like boom. Big tip right here about converting your blog, visitors to your mailing list, you’re going to want to have a place for them to opt in on every blog page.

So, if right now I go to your website and your homepage has a place for me to join your mailing list, but your individual blog pages do not. You want to fix that. We call it entering through a side door. So like in my house right now, like some people come to the front door, but most of our visitors will come through the sliding doors over here on the back and then some people will come through the other side and doors on the other side of the house, just depending how they’re entering. It’s kind of like that with your website. Some people are going to go directly to your home page and from there they going to navigate your blog post. But most visitors, if you’re a blogger, are going to come through those side doors. They’re going to get linked to a specific blog post and that may be the only page they see.

So it’s important to have your opt-in available there. Now, beyond that, I have had huge conversions and that means something like 70 percent, 80 percent of visitors to my blog posts will opt into my list when I offer not just a generic like here, join my newsletter, opt in, but a very specific gated content upgrade I know fancy, right? What that means is you create a very special freebie that goes along with the blog post. They like go hand in hand and to upgrade to the content that you’re already writing about or that this person is already reading about. I’ll give you an example. Last year I wrote sort of like an epic blog post about women’s digestion. I explained why women are more likely to have digestive issues and then I offered a free upgrade to help women fix their digestion problems. That’s like a no brainer, right?

Like, anyone reading the original article is probably going to want that upgrade, so they give an email address, they get my free download and now they’re on my mailing list from there. Of course, if you’re savvy, you will follow up with them in subsequent emails and invite them to a free consultation call. I know it’s a lot of moving parts and I go over all of this in depth inside healthy profit university, but do you see how this strategy can move somebody from googling something to landing on your blog to now they’re on your mailing list and now they’re becoming a paying client? It happens, so that’s been the goal with my blog for the past several years and we are going to move along now to some other blog related questions. By the way, anybody watching, if you have a question, go ahead and drop it into the comments please, and I’ll get to those in just a moment.

I just said, I’ve been looking for ways to build up and expand my business. How many of you have a blog? Do you find it helpful or necessary to your success? Is it lifestyle, recipes? Any feedback would be appreciated. Okay, so I’m just going to answer this from my own experience. My blog has definitely been helpful. Pivotal even in my success as a health coach, absolutely, but you’ve got to remember I’ve been writing for a really long time. I’ve been blogging since several years before I even started my health business, so I have quite a foundation and I think that’s why it worked for me so well, especially in the beginning because I already had a bit of an audience reading this blog when I said, oh hey, by the way, now I’m accepting clients as a health coach, so it helps that I’ve been consistently writing for years and it helps that I take advantage of techniques like the one that I just told you about with the gated content upgrades, a blog by itself is not going to contribute to your success.

Like just because you have a blog and doesn’t mean anything. What you do with that blog has the potential to catapult a business- true story. As for what kind of content to create, like should you post recipes, should you post articles? This really goes back to who your target market is and what that person is looking for, because for the most part, people are not just browsing blogs, they might be, but for the most part they are searching for an answer to a question and they’re searching for a solution to a problem. So we really had to think about your target market and if you’re not clear on who you serve and what the big one big problem that you solve for them. AS I have something for you, I have a free workbook that Can help walk you through this process. It’s really pretty simple, not easy, often not easy but simple.

And I’m going to put the link to that workbook in the show notes so that you can grab it if it will help you nail down your target market. So for example, um, let’s say that you decide your target market are busy corporate women and you, the number one problem you help them solve Is whatever. You would not post a recipe on your blog for lamb stew that simmers for 12 hours on the stove. You’re busy. Corporate woman is not looking for that. You’re not speaking her language, so you would want to create content for your exact target market so that you attract the right readers and PS, I do like to put recipes on my blog, partially because I love to cook. I have recipes, it’s just who I am, but also partially because recipes do so well on Pinterest, which is a whole other topic, but I do get a lot of blog traffic from Pinterest and people go to Pinterest for all sorts of things, but recipes or you know, one of the top reasons anyone’s there.

So anyway, just something to consider. I do think recipes can be helpful, but now the big question, the question is, do you need a blog to be successful? Because I know some of you out there are like, Michelle, I don’t want to blog. I hate writing, so I don’t want to make you feel like you’re screwed. You are not screwed. You do not need a blog in order to succeed. No way. There’s so many different ways to become successful as a health coach. If I think of the health coaches I know who have made it big in any sense, uh, you know, they don’t all follow the same formula. Some of them work locally, some of them, you know, do a podcast, some of them blog. There’s all different ways to put yourself out there and get clients and make a difference in the world and a blog is not a necessary piece of that puzzle.

And like I said, it’s not for everyone. Like if you don’t like to write, don’t sweat it. It’s only one form of content creation. So you could start a podcast instead. You could start a YouTube channel where you’re posting videos, you could write a book. There’s definitely something to be said for creating content. That’s true. And I encourage – especially if you are marketing yourself online, I would encourage you to create content in whatever medium suits you best. But no, no, you do not have to have a blog.

Now, Mary, asked some questions about this. She said, are there any resources for improving your copywriting skills as well as the format?

Yes, probably Mary. I don’t know of any offhand. I’m sure there are plenty of resources online for improving your copywriting skills, but I find that practice has really helped me more than anything.

She also said, what about the rules of grammar format and punctuation?

Mary girlfriend. Relax. You’re fine. Blog writing is actually fairly casual. Maybe not as casual as like texting your best friend with a bunch of emojis, but it’s pretty casual. If you read blogs, sometimes they’re written in a really formal way with footnotes and all the rest, but sometimes they’re written in a real stream of consciousness fashion so you can write in whatever style works for you and having proper grammar. Having perfect punctuation is not that important. I mean, you don’t want glaring typos, but I think everyone’s going to forgive you. If your quotation mark comes before your period. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. It’s really the content that matters most.

Now, Laurie said one of my intentions is for 2019 is to be consistent about blogging on my website. Anyone else? Anyone else has that goal?

It’s so interesting because when we’re not doing something, I mean, my question would be like Laurie, why don’t you want a blog? Because if you’re not doing it, it’s probably because you don’t want to. And that’s okay. It’s just like a little thing that you want to question. Well, why don’t I want to. What’s standing in the way? Is it because, you know, Laurie says I’m drawing a blank for topics. Does anyone care to share? So my ideas. So yes. Laurie, I would love to share some ideas and I would encourage you to not look at what other health coaches or writing because if you looked at My blog to see what topics I write about, that’s what I choose to write about for my target market. What you choose to write about should really, really come out of what your target market needs. So again, I’m going to refer you to the free workbook to help you figure out your target market. I put the link into the show notes for you.

And then. So the comments here, um, because once you talk to people inside your target market, you hear what they’re struggling with. That’s the greatest. That’s what you want. That’s what you need to know in order to write great blog content. The other place where I often get inspiration for my blog posts are inside my client notes. I mean, obviously I’m not going to write a blog post and be like, my client, Betsy has IBS, you know, that’s not cool. We’re going to like maintain privacy and I don’t even necessarily write about the people, but I just noticed themes that come up over and over again, you know, it’s um, my clients don’t know what to eat for breakfast or my clients are always hangry at 3:00 in the afternoon or, you know, whatever problems they come to me with lately. A lot of my clients have been coming to me and as we do the deep work together, we’re talking about childhood trauma.

Aces, if you’re familiar with that term. And I’ve been thinking this is something I really want to either write about or do a podcast episode about because it’s such an important topic and it comes up so frequently, so mine, your client notes, your current clients or past clients for great topics because ultimately you want more people like that. So if you have this individual talking to you about specific topic, that’s a great topic for you to write about. If you want more clients just like her or just like him. Okay. So we’re going to move off the blog topic now, but if you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them because there’s two other really great questions recently that I wanted to get into this episode. It’s been a while since we did one of these over the holidays. It took a little break.

So I wanted to answer this question from Shannon. Shannon said, I wrote an eBook about fertility wellness and I want to sell it online. Which would you recommend Instagram or Pinterest?

I’m going to answer this question not the way you want me to answer it. Shannon, I’m really sorry about that. My answer is neither Instagram or Pinterest and I will go a step further and say it is not very useful to sell an eBook. Truth. How big is your Audience? Got 100 people on your list, a thousand people on your list, 5,000 people on your list. Great. Whatever it is, how many of them are going to buy the book? How many Facebook followers do you have? Most health coaches, you know, we have a couple thousand, maybe tens of thousands, but we don’t have hundreds and hundreds of thousands of followers of people on our list, right? Most of us, myself included.

So, if you’re selling an eBook, how much can you possibly sell it for 10 bucks maybe. So you sell 10 copies, that’s $100 in your pocket. Maybe you sell 100 copies, that’s a thousand dollars in your pocket. Here’s what I really would prefer that you do. Take that eBook and turn it into a high-end program. Something that costs $1,000, $1,500, $2,000, $3,000, whatever it is. I got great advice. One time somebody told me it takes just as much time and effort and energy to sell a $10 product as it takes to sell a $10,000 product if something like that, which is so true because you have to market it, you have to find your target market, you have to go through all the steps of marketing something and then in the end if someone only pays you like 10 bucks for eBook, imagine if just one person signed up for your $2,000 program, $2000, you would have had to sell 200 eBooks in order to make 2000 bucks and it would have been much harder.

Trust me. So that is my opinion. Take it or leave it. The only other way that I would use an eBook is to give it out for free. If it’s a short, short, maybe, maybe less of a full book and more of a booklet as an opt in on your website and opt into your mailing list.

And then finally I have a question here from Kayla. Kayla said, have any of you quit your full time job to pursue your health coaching business? I’m finding it hard to stay at my full-time job when all I want to move forward and put all my energy into my business. Anyways, I’d like to hear your thoughts and what steps you took.

Yeah, Kayla, I quit. I quit my career. I didn’t quit my job. I got laid off from my job, but I was planning to quit my job so it actually worked out beautifully. You just never know how things might unfold for you and I’d encourage you to be open to the universe helping you figure this out. Anyway, when I lost my job, I had a choice. I could get another job in advertising or I could just make a break and go for health coaching full time and that’s what I did. So some of the steps that I had been taking in advance of this because I knew it was coming, I knew I was going to quit eventually, that I would really encourage you to do is to minimize your living expenses. No matter what you do, you’re going to have a in your salary and it’s going to take a couple of years to build it back up. most businesses don’t go into the black until after like three years. Small businesses are usually losing money now. I never lost money in my business, but you know, I was only like barely in the black for a while.

So you have to prepare for that. That’s just part of the game. So one thing that, um, you can do, you can save, save, save. You can get a part time job. Some health coaches will get a part time job to help give them some steady income while they build up their coaching business. But the very best thing I did was, like I said, to minimize living expenses. So for example, my husband and I bought our first condo back then. It’s funny to think about that so long ago now and we purposely bought something that we could afford on just his salary. So we wouldn’t be feeling strapped if I didn’t make anything right. That was so helpful. Such a stress reliever and we didn’t buy a car for a really long time. We moved somewhere that had public transportation and yeah, we used it.

We used the public transportation for a while, so anything you can do to cut down on those major expenses in your life, you want to do that before you take the leap. All right you guys, it is just about 3:30, so I think we will end here. Please, please keep asking great questions and if you’re getting value out of this podcast, I would be thrilled if you would go on to iTunes and leave a five star review for us because this is helping us reach more health coaches and allows me to continue putting out this free content every week and continue managing a Facebook group that is steadily growing up, up, up into the thousands. We’re going to hit 7,000 sometime in the next month. I think. Whew! Love you guys and I’ll see you next week.