Jim Wang, the founder of Wallet Hacks, has been blogging for 14 years. In a recent interview with the FinCon Team, Wang gives practical steps for honing your message and assigning a purpose to every blog post you write.
Think about your blog from a business perspective
One mistake Wang sees people making is not thinking from a business perspective about why they are writing each post.
If your blog is a business and you want to think of it that way, every post has to have one purpose–a single purpose that you can think about. As you are writing it, you can keep it in the back of your mind so you don’t get distracted. –Jim Wang
Wang says each and every post you put on your site should have a meaning and strategical reason behind the post. He suggests there are 3 goals, or buckets, to choose from when writing a post:
3 “buckets” to choose from
- Money Generation: The first bucket is to generate income. This is where you put your affiliate links, products, services, sponsored posts, and other ways you earn income from your site. A post is designed specifically for that reason, and when this is your focus, you may not have as many personal stories or as much sharing about your journey.
- Audience Connection: These are the posts where you are sharing about you, your story, or your journey. They are often vulnerable and transparent meant to connect with your audience on a personal level.
- Traffic Driver: These posts are meant to drive traffic to your site. This is different than a personal connection. These posts can easily be shared and may include blogger round ups to send traffic to other blogs in the space.
Beware of mixing buckets
Knowing the purpose and honing your message means not mixing the purpose of your posts. Wang says a good example of pulling from Bucket 2, Audience Connection, is your About Me page. The purpose of this post is to connect with people, not to generate income.
Your focus should be on connecting with people, not selling something. If I was suddenly telling you about my family and where we live, and then thew in a credit card offer, you’d wonder, “What’s the deal with this guy? Why is he sending me this way for him to make money in a place where I am expecting to be learning about him?” –Jim Wang
Don’t make your audience feel duped by reading your story, Wang says. The problem then is that you don’t achieve either goal. First, you will not make money putting any kind of affiliate offer on a page where you are sharing your story. Secondly, you will not have that authentic connection because they will feel like you are trying to sucker them in with your story.
When mixing buckets, especially the fine line of generating income and connecting with your audience, it will feel “a little off” to your reader. When that happens, you lose that person.
If they were interested enough to read an about page or read a blog post, you don’t want to lose them for that reason. Maybe they don’t connect, Wang says, and that’s fine, but don’t let it be just because you decide you want to put in a credit card offer or some other kind of affiliate offer when it didn’t fit.
How often do you draw from each bucket?
Should there be a certain amount you should take from each bucket each month? Wang suggests to mix it up a little bit.
People are a follower of your blog for a reason. They might come to your site, like Wang’s, for the latest financial products, or they may want to hear about the challenges your family is facing. If you think about who you are writing for, mix in something that speaks to them.
Let’s say you have 1,000 people come visit, not everyone of them are there for the same reason, but you need to feed them periodically. Whether that is once a month, every other week, or whatever cadence you feel is right. –Jim Wang
A great way to do this is to send out a survey to find out what your readership is most interested in. You aren’t trying to reach all 1,000 with every blog post, but rather you are trying to sprinkle in something that reaches them to feel that connection.
When it comes to the mixture of how often to draw from each bucket, trust your gut, Wang says. in the end it is your blog–don’t force yourself to draw from a bucket if you don’t have to.
There is no right formula when it comes to pulling from each bucket. Wang says it ultimately depends on the goal of your blog.
Are the buckets the same for everyone?
According to Wang, goals are generally the same across the board, but they may not be the same focus for every blogger.
Wang gives the example of a blogger friend who writes about being environmentally friendly at a corporate level. Her goal is not to make money from the blog, but rather to connect with other people in her industry.
She has $0 in her Money Generation bucket, but that isn’t to say that bucket doesn’t exist for her. She may choose to utilize that bucket in the future, but it currently doesn’t fit with her overall goal for her blog.
The power of transparency
What does transparency have to do with making money? Wang says it is more effective.
The FTC requires to that you let your audience know you may generate income from links on your site. But it also helps your audience to see that you are transparent and not trying to hide something.
When your audience are loyal fans, they will understand that there is a financial interest for you. They know affiliate links or sales help you to keep the blog going. You aren’t trying to hide anything, and your readers will understand because you have taken the time to build their trust.
When building an audience is your focus for a post, it is okay to link to other posts that may contain affiliate links, just as long as you aren’t mixing your buckets.
Listen to the full interview with Jim Wang on episode 67 of the Money & Media podcast. Plus, hear a bonus interview with full-time, freelance writer Michelle Black in a new feature exclusive to the M&M podcast with tips, tricks, and tools used by the FinCon community.
Subscribe to the Show
Subscribe through Apple Podcasts and new episodes will show up every month.
Never subscribed to a podcast before? Here’s Apple’s easy tutorial.
Would you rather listen on your smartphone? Try Stitcher, the iPP app for Android, or the iPhone podcast app. We’re available on each of these platforms.
About Our Host
Joe Saul-Sehy is the co-host of the Stacking Benjamins personal finance podcast and operates the Stacking Benjamins blog.
Join Us for #FinCon19
Do you want to learn more about blogging? Check out the blogging track at FinCon19 September 4-7 in Washington D.C. Register for your pass today!