If you're a freelancer and you have a blog, you're probably hoping your posts will impress clients and get them to hire you.
Unfortunately, most freelancer blogs don't get so much as a nibble, much less a steady stream of clients.
Here is my list of 12 different ways to get prospects subscribing to your blog -- and keep them on your email list:
1. Create a Free Report for Subscribers
The biggest problem many freelance bloggers report to me is that they can't get prospects to sign up in the first place.
Your report doesn’t have to be terribly long and complicated.
There's no question that the request to subscribe to your blog for updates isn't super-strong on its own. But throw in a free report, and you'll see subscriptions shoot up every time.
Your report doesn't have to be terribly long and complicated. It might even be something you already have lying around. Early on in my blog's history, my first free report was a co-written list of 40 tips that just covered a few pages. Yet it immediately increased my signup rate.
The best part was that the report was a handout I had already created as a handout for a one-hour paid Webinar I'd done. I just tied the PDF into my subscriber offer, made a nice graphic to advertise the report, and bang -- my subscriber rate shot up dramatically.
2. Create a Free E-course for Subscribers
When you have a free report new subscribers can download right away, you'll often see churn in your list. Subscribers will give you their email, grab the freebie, and then immediately unsubscribe again. Some will stay, but you'll see a decent proportion of "users" who will just rip you off.
Solve this by offering a multi-part e-course that's delivered over the course of many weeks or even months.
Once again, this doesn't have to be hard to assemble. I created a running blog-post series on marketing basics and later turned it into a 21-week autoresoponder series for new subscribers. I expanded some of the posts and added homework to each installment.
If they Googled, they could scare up the whole series on their own, but having it delivered is a convenience they love -- and remember, newbies don't know it's previously published material from your blog. They weren't around when it came out the first time!
Having an ongoing free course helps with retaining prospects on your list. It also gives the appearance of more value and attracts more subscribers. Since introducing my 21-week ecourse last year, nearly 3,800 people have subscribed to receive it, at a growth rate far faster than I saw for the small free product.
3. Build a Sales Offer into Your Free Product
Once you've delivered big value with a multi-part freebie, you can include links at the end to your offers or more information about what you do.
At this point, you've built so much trust with your audience that they won't be offended.
You can also end by encouraging subscribers to forward the final installment to anyone else they think could benefit. Include a link to where these referrals could go to sign up to subscribe and get the whole series, and you've created a referral marketing piece that can effortlessly bring you more subscribers.
4. Ask Subscribers to Guest Post
Nothing builds subscriber loyalty amongst prospects like getting a chance to promote their business on your blog.
I have a lot of guest posters, and often see them retweeting or otherwise talking up my services to others.
When you accept a guest post, you build a relationship with that prospect. They'll probably be more likely to hire or refer you after they get to know you a bit better through doing the guest post.
5. Create User-Generated Posts
Take the 10 or 20 best answers and turn them into a blog post.
Rather than a single subscriber getting the spotlight, ask a question of your email list. Maybe there's a key piece of business advice they could offer other business owners?
Take the 10 or 20 best answers and turn them into a blog post. Give all the contributors a link back to their own websites. They'll appreciate the chance to build their traffic and site rankings, and also the chance to be viewed as an expert.
6. Cultivate Comments
Subscribers who comment are far less likely to unsubscribe than those who don't.
End posts with an open question you'd like readers to answer in the comments, and you'll get more engagement -- and build subscriber loyalty.
When I really want comments, I'll send an email the day before, tipping subscribers off that I'm looking for their input on a post the next day and asking them to check it out. By promoting your post -- instead of your services -- you'll seem less pushy, especially since you're asking for the readers' input.
7. Don't Post Too Often
This may seem counter-intuitive, but if prospects are on your list to get a few design or photography tips, but you turn out to send them an email seven days a week, they may well unsubscribe because they're overwhelmed.
Consider scaling it back to once a week or even once or twice a month. That's a pretty non-intrusive level where subscribers are less likely to pull the plug.
In the alternative, if you want to put up many short posts, set your email campaign to scoop those up in a monthly newsletter, so that prospects don't get too much email from you but still get all your tips.
8. Don't Be Salesy
If all your posts end with, "So call me and let's get started with your project today!" clients are going to run.
People expect useful information from blog posts, not sales pitches. Most posts should simply inform, and not sell anything. This is what builds your reputation as a pro in your field and keeps prospects coming back for more.
Develop a nice variety of informative blog topics, and prospects will stick around on your list. That means when you get ready, you can occasionally send them something promotional. There's an art to that, too.
9. Send Special Sale Offers
When you pitch prospects on your blog email list, you don't want to hard-sell them. Instead, cast your offer as an exclusive only for your blog subscribers.
Make subscribers feel like they’ve got an inside line on good deals, and they won’t be annoyed.
For instance, you might offer free half-hour consultations or 25 percent off your first job -- for a limited time only, and only for subscribers. Make subscribers feel like they've got an inside line on good deals, and they won't be annoyed.
Remember not to do these too often, and to keep marketing emails rare. Personally, I send my marketing emails on different days than my regular blog posts, so that anyone who doesn't want to see my offers can sense it's probably a marketing thing and delete it if they're not interested in buying right now.
Meanwhile, they stay on the list for future updates, which means you can send them more sales pitches later.
10. Offer Referral Goodies
One good way to keep your business in prospects' minds without begging them for work is to ask them to refer you clients. I know solopreneurs who offer everything from free lattes to $200 cash for referrals.
Promoting a referral offer lets prospects know you are looking for new clients without asking them directly if they might be that client.
Also, there are some people who love referral goodies and really get into trying to earn referral swag. You never know who among your prospect list might be this type, and essentially become a free marketing person for you, out spreading the word.
Often, this sort of message may also get a prospect or two to call because they need a freelancer right now themselves. You've snagged yourself a new client -- without begging or sounding desperate.
11. Create Subscriber Exclusives
Don't put all your best tips on your blog for anybody to read. Instead, save one high-value post a month and only send it via email, to your subscribers. Spell out that this is something you won't see on the blog -- it's only for you, my loyal subscriber.
This makes it worth prospects' while to stay on your list, as they know they're getting special information they would lose access to if they got off your list.
12. Keep Asking Questions
Whenever you feel the creative well running dry on how to retain prospects on your list, take a poll, create a survey, or do a post that asks a probing question.
What's on prospects' minds? What keeps them up at night?
The answers will suggest more useful blog posts that will please your subscribers and keep them on your list.
Whatever strategy you use to get and keep subscribers, keep brainstorming about how to be more helpful to that audience. Surprise and delight them with tips that help them in their business, and you'll earn their loyalty.
Sooner or later, that will bring you more clients, either directly or through referrals.
How do you attract and keep prospects on your subscriber list? Leave a comment and add your tips.