Good Day, Class!

Today we have the privilege of having a substitute teacher (guest writer) who is not only a blogger, but who is a spiritual coach, as well.

Please join me in welcoming Akemi Gaines of Yes To Me to the Blogging Without A Blog “classroom”.

Welcome, Akemi.

Starting a blog
Hello, class.

(Is this a déjà vu?  Oh, I WAS a teacher before . . .)

It’s my honor to be here. Thank you, Barbara.

Please take your seats.

Let’s get started.

In marketing, understanding the difference between features vs. benefits is critical.

With a blog, features include the topics, style, visuals of the posts as well as the blogger’s expertise, background and personality.

But the question is: What are the benefits of reading your blog?

Today’s Lesson

For a long time, I thought I was blogging well because I could write clearly and convey my message. I also presented my posts with beautiful photos and spent time and money for my designer theme. (And . . . I am an entrepreneur as spiritual coach, so I have expertise in what I have to say on my blog.)

I was wrong.

A good blog is a blog that says what benefits it delivers and actually delivers them.

All the nice features matter only after the benefits are there.

Case Studies:

The benefit of reading this blog is clear. You learn how to improve your blog. The structure of each post (Introduction – Today’s Lesson – Today’s Assignments) clearly supports this benefit.

The benefit of reading Copyblogger is clear. You learn how to write good copy for your blog. Brian uses the name of his blog itself to neatly express the benefit.

The benefit of reading this post by Steve Pavlina is clear. “How to Make Lots of Money During a Recession” The title says it, and he supports it further in the first paragraph.

If you want to market your blog to larger audience, you need to present the benefits clearly. You may have the good intention to help others, but that intention needs to crystallize as focused benefits

You can do this by plainly pointing out the value it delivers or by asking well-designed questions. (Exception to this rule can be when the benefit is about entertainment rather than specific information.)

This is a rather new epiphany for me, too, and I’m diligently working to implement it on my own blog.

Your questions and comments can help me and other readers learn further.

Today’s Assignment

Review your blog.

• Is the benefit of subscribing to your blog obvious even to the first-time visitors?

• Is the benefit of reading your post clearly stated in the first paragraph of each post?

Go ahead, speak up! I’m excited to hear your input.


akemi.jpgAkemi Gaines is the spiritual coach at Yes to Me – Spiritual Healing and Growth for Greater Success. She is starting a new program to help you develop intuition. You can subscribe to her blog here.


Photo Credit: Annie Mole

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  1. Hi Barbara and everyone,

    Thank you for this guest posting opportunity.
    I’m not very used to teaching evening classes, so I’ll go have my sweet dreams, but I will be back to respond to all comments.

    Akemi

  2. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hello Ms. Gaines – It’s a pleasure to have you here. Hopefully the class won’t get too rowdy.

    I’m enjoying the topic of your lesson. Often we concentrate so much on what our blog looks like, we forget about our readers.

  3. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara and teacher Akemi. I like this topic and the question. It makes me realize I WANT to be more focused. I think writing a mission statement would be a good idea.

    Last night I was at a workshop where the topic was on setting your soul’s intention vs setting New Year’s Resolutions. I realized that my blog is helping me to do this.

    I found myself thinking, “I love my blog.” It is growing and I’m learning more about what I want to put into it, and who I am as a blogger… and a person for that matter. This is weird, but I almost feel like I’m coming to my blog as a reader too… so, who is writing it then? :-)

    I enjoy finding ways to shine new perspectives on things… to tickle the think box and offer readers other ways to “see” things.

    Davina´s last blog post..How Curious Moments Add Value

  4. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    How ironic … I ran into the benefits vs. feature with my latest post title.

    I originally called it “working memory vs. routine activity” … but the actual benefit is “avoid mental burnout.”

    It’s like WIIFY … so simple, so effective and so easy to forget.

    Beautify lesson and I look forward to how you turn your latest epiphany into results.

    J.D. Meier´s last blog post..Avoid Mental Burnout

  5. Hi Barbara/Teacher,
    Well, it’s a good self assessment opportunity, right?

    According to me (and some readers) my blog provides some deals and tips (blogging and money making) that some people seem to be benefiting from. At least the number of mails and comments that I receive shows that.

    I try to be genuine and gives away the sponsorships and income that I am receiving in some form or other. Of course there are well-known bloggers in my niche but I am trying to find a space for myself and be original as much as I can.

    Ajith

    Ajith Edassery´s last blog post..OIO Publisher Coupon Code – Jan 2009

  6. Good topic Akemi – like others have said, I love blog building because it is such a rich ground for realizations. It seems like many are waking up to the need for focused, strategic marketing these days. That can only be a good thing because when we get it together we’ll all provide greater benefit to our readers.

    I’ll give myself a B in this class. Delightful Work almost hits the nail with each post. I don’t always remember to give a benefit laden reason to read further in the first sentence.

    Tom Volkar / Delightful Work´s last blog post..Time and Money

  7. I have asked myself this question a lot in recent months and as a result have gone through a lot of considerations about the direction of my blog and my business. I’m working on a new marketing strategy and plan to announce changes, etc very soon. This is an important question and one I ask myself frequently.

  8. RibbonNo Gravatar says:

    Brilliant food for thought. I’m very new to the blogging world and welcome all this shared information.
    My blog is titled fragments, treasures, memory – sharing my internal map of reality—–
    it’s a creative outlet for me and apart from that at this point in time I’m unable to narrow it down beyond that.
    I would like to help people help themselves – so they in turn can help others.

    Thanks for the lesson – a great reminder.

    Ribbon´s last blog post..Youth & Beauty

  9. Hi Akemi

    Very interesting topic – something I’ve just begun to really look into, so opportune.

    Thank you for starting this discussion.

    Juliet

    LifeMadeGreat | Juliet´s last blog post..Would You Choose To Be Immortal?

  10. LingNo Gravatar says:

    Never gave much thought to this. I have 3 blogs, and all have a wide prospective audience, and the subject of each post is quite different, so I haven’t really thought over drilling down to offering something specific. Maybe the blog post should be fun to read, no matter what the subject? I suppose you could say that’s a benefit. But how do you convey that the post is going to be fun to read? Funny titles?

  11. LindaNo Gravatar says:

    I work hard to make sure my content is informing, educate or just plain tips. Asking the right questions can be interesting and not sure I hit the right ones. It is a continual effort and every once in a while I certainly try to put in some humor. Variety is the spice of life!

    Linda´s last blog post..Not So Trivial Green Trivia – (Not!)

  12. Yes, I suppose the more benefits one offers to the reader the more traffic the blog will have. Ideally, the content of the post has to be useful to a reader.

    Shamelle- TheEnhanceLife´s last blog post..Ways To Regain The Hours Television Steals From You

  13. [...] just published my guest post at her popular blog.  Please check it out and give it some stumble [...]

  14. Hi Davina,
    The good thing about blogging is we get to learn as we go. And I agree with you that this learning is not just about how to blog and the subject matter of the blog — I am also learning about myself. And my blog and I grow together.

    For one, my blog Yes to Me started as new entrepreneur blog. It quickly got the flavor of spirituality, however, and now it’s more about spirituality, including how we apply it in business.

    Mission statement is a great idea. Good luck!

    J.D.
    I like your new post title. It’s very clear.
    Thank you for your kind words.

    Ajith,
    I think there are still plenty of room for new and original blogs to cut into the existing market. How many people on the earth do you think NOT been converted to blog readers, you know? :)

    So I think providing benefits (tangible or intangible) is critical. Good work you are doing with your blog!

    Tom,
    I think you are doing great. The name of your blog, “Delightful Work” pretty much says it’s about — work! (Although some may not think of self-employment immediately.) I’ll give you A.

    Stacey,
    Yes, this is a very fundamental question we all need to ask and keep asking. Good luck with your blog!

    Ribbon,
    Keep blogging, and I think the unique benefits you can provide would surface. Good luck.

    Juliet,
    Hi, nice to see you here, and thank you for your kind words.

    Ling
    As I mentioned in the post, entertainment-oriented blogs are a little different from education-oriented blogs. Fun is definitely a big valuable benefits, and I think you can convey that in various ways, like the title, the tone, overall design and other visual clues, etc.

    Okay, I am taking a short break here, but I will be back in a few minutes to respond to the rest of the comments.

    BTW does anyone know why my CommentLuv is not working? I see it’s checked, but I don’t see my blog feed …

  15. Linda,
    I hope your effort be rewarded, and I think making the benefit clear is helpful to make that happen.

  16. MayaNo Gravatar says:

    Great post Akemi!
    Now you make me think about what value my blog is delivering – I will have to do a little evaluation and set a goal in mind….
    Thank you – this is really useful perspective that I think I am lacking :)

  17. DotNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Akemi and Barb,

    A very good topic for marketing.

    Like a few others have said, I started my blog for mysef. I had a need to write, and I wanted a non-threatening way of finding out what people thought of my writing and who it would attract. I’m continuing to enjoy that. So, my tag line says “Sharing my ideas, thoughts and humor.” Although I’ve changed some of my writing to suit the needs of my readers, I still prefer it to be an outlet for my writing, not a source of help necessarily.

    If I plan to do another blog or site, that one will be for others and your advice will be good to remember there.

    Dot´s last blog post..Question for Subscribers

  18. Features vs. benefits is a very important topic to think about. In some cases, small changes can dramatically affect results. I still have a hard time fully understanding it, but I think I need to put my thoughts into a 2,000 word post on my blog instead of a 2,000 word comment on yours!

    Another thing is that the About page should convey benefits. The reason why people should read it should be at the top, while personal details should be at the bottom. That way, people who don’t read the whole thing will see what matters most to them.

    Hunter Nuttall´s last blog post..ThunderCats: Setting Kids Up For Disappointment?

  19. “Is the benefit of subscribing to your blog obvious even to the first-time visitors?” That’s interesting to ponder. I doubt mine does. I wonder what I could do to make it quite obvious I am more or less in that “entertainment” exception you mention. I guess one could say I veer towards comic relief. Any specific suggestions for me, Akemi?

    And thanks, Barbara, as usual for another helpful post.

    Jannie Funster´s last blog post..Does It Mean I’m Crazy?

  20. Manori MoneyNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks for the interesting topic. It def makes me think about how my blog looks.

    Manori Money´s last blog post..Why blog?

  21. NaTuRaLNo Gravatar says:

    good topic. first glance, i said my blog doesn’t have any “benefits”.

    not entirely true. it’s entertaining and [hopefully] it arouses people’s mind with thought provoking questions and often times looking for the ‘whys or why nots’ of the world.

    NaTuRaL´s last blog post..Fat and Happy?

  22. Maya,
    This is an important topic worth of a lot of thoughts. I like your blog, but like so many personal development blogs, I think it will do even better when the value it delivers is clarified.

    Dot,
    Blog is a great way to share ourselves, and there is nothing wrong about blogs whose main objective is personal outlet and sharing. In fact, if the blogger is interesting (in whatever way), it might attract big traffic.

    Hunter,
    I look forward to reading your post on this topic as I am still learning this. Your advice on About page is appreciated.

    Jannie,
    I think your blog name, along with its tag line, conveys the sense of humor well. And often the pictures you use. I’m not sure if I have useful advice for you — I am not particularly good with entertainment — but maybe, you can craft the post title to grab attention? Just a thought.

    Manori,
    Happy blogging!

    NaTuRaL,
    It’s one thing to have benefits and another to make it clear for the readers. Your blog has benefits — otherwise people wouldn’t be reading it — but the question is, is it clearly expressed?

  23. JulieNo Gravatar says:

    Hi, Akemi: Your suggestions are welcome and thought-provoking. I’ve been pondering my purpose since I started several months ago, and I’ve come to no conclusions that suggest changes. It just feels as if my title says it all. Hmm. Since I write what comes to mind, since I’m simply sharing glimpses of my life/world/thinking—and since I’m not about making money blogging—I don’t know that I’ve anything to change. Yet, with all the conversation in the blogosphere, I feel as if I’m always out of whack. ;) ~ Julie

    Julie´s last blog post..This is the Day!

  24. Shamelle,
    Absolutely. And again, make it clear. Not every reader “gets” the benefit quickly.

    Akemi – Yes to Me´s last blog post..Gratitude For New Possibilities, Online Gratitude Journal #22

  25. Dennis EdellNo Gravatar says:

    Very thought provoking article. Impressive. :)

    When dealing with a blog; assuming you don’t have a static home page or a sticky post (new), two of the best things you can have for this are, 1: an expressive tag line. 2. an up to date About page.

    Yes?

    Dennis Edell´s last blog post..FINAL CALL: $100 Blog Review Contest Ends The 31st!

  26. Ahhhh what a simple question… what a deep meaning…
    Why would anyone read another blog among million others…? Seriously! that question occupies me a lot when I think of my blog.
    My answer is expressed in my blog post called “values, mission, vision”.
    In short my blog’s mission is:
    “Share simple and easy to consume and apply practices for personal growth, achievement, and balance.”
    I believe I mastered few practices that many would appreciate when applying it. If it works for it should work for you, ah? ;)

    Alik Levin | PracticeThis.com´s last blog post..Kaizen Parents – GTD Kids

  27. WereBearNo Gravatar says:

    Well, my cat advice blog has it right up top (my own design.) It’s got a picture of a cat and the words “understand their nature.”

    And since one of my main tools is explaining cat behavior in terms of their still lively instincts, I’m very fond of it.

    Because you are absolutely right. People are looking for how this blog, this site, would answer their questions, or intrigue them, or just give them a reason to linger. The faster the blog conveys a reason, the easier it is for someone to stick around and explore it.

    I must admit I like to start my posts with a provocative question or situation. This makes for lively writing, but poor SEO friendliness. So I added a SEO manager to my WordPress blog which lets me change the title and the summary to something more likely to be sticky in a search engine.

    And now I have the best of both worlds.

    WereBear´s last blog post..Cats Who Love Packing Materials

  28. Julie,
    There is really nothing wrong about blogs that are mainly about personal sharing. This post was meant for those who want to market their blogs. Also, blogs grow as we grow. You may realize your new purpose sometime down the road.

    Dennis,
    Blog name, tag line, overall design of the blog, post titles, etc all play a role in defining what the blog is all about. I didn’t think about About page until Hunter mentioned it, but he is absolutely right about it.
    So, it’s not A or B issue. It’s an overall, synergetic issue.

    Alik,
    It’s great you’ve thought about this and wrote your mission statement. Not many blogs have mission statements yet.

    Akemi – Yes to Me´s last blog post..Soul Shifting And the Light Ascension Of Maybe 2012

  29. Thanks, Akemi–this was a good reminder. Copyblogger is a perfect example. I don’t visit because it’s pretty; I visit because I know I can count on helpful, practical writing tips.

    It’s definitely challenging to find the middle ground between writing about what gets me excited and about what readers would want. I’m absolutely convinced that middle ground does exist, though!

  30. WereBear,
    I guess you are talking about plugins like All In One SEO? Yeah, that’s a great plugin.
    I think your blog is VERY clearly about cats;)

    Sara,
    Your own blog is a pretty good example, too, of how a clearly defined benefits (simplified life) can boost the blog’s growth.

    Akemi – Yes to Me´s last blog post..What To Do When A Customer Makes Unreasonable Demands

  31. Nope to your questions, and that’s okay. I see my blog as more of a social forum. A place where people can come and read about my thoughts on my experiences, and by answering the question I ask, share their thoughts.

    Although I adhere to theme days (Marvelous Monday, Terrible Tuesday, Weigh-In Wednesday, Then Thursday, Fiction Friday), I am not a niche blogger. This means my readership is low (about 50-60 visits per day), and I make zero money off of advertising.

    Right now, I am okay with that. It keeps me writing. And one day, when I retire or at least semi-retire, I will have gained the discipline and skills to write a book, and to create a niche blog with clear benefits.

    Urban Panther´s last blog post..The true hunters are always female

  32. RuthNo Gravatar says:

    Wow. That’s an interesting question for my blog. I suppose I hope that it provides food for thought, that it gets people to reflect on their own lives and (if optimal for them) change something they want to be different.

    I have more of an idea of what I want it to be for me…a place where I can articulate the things I reflect on. Writing it down and talking about it through the comments helps me get a better handle on my ideas and thoughts. And it’s fun! :)

    Ruth´s last blog post..Judge Not? Why Not?

  33. UP,
    I think you already have the great writing skills, with a delightful sense of humor. Does your bro talk to you about his Someday Syndrome?

    Ruth,
    Like I am repeating, there is absolutely nothing wrong about blogs that are mainly about personal reflections and sharing. In fact, blog is a great way to do that. This post was meant for those who want to market their blogs.

    Akemi – Yes to Me´s last blog post..Soul Shifting And the Light Ascension Of Maybe 2012

  34. PiterKokonizNo Gravatar says:

    Hello ! ;)
    I am Piter Kokoniz. Just want to tell, that your blog is really cool
    And want to ask you: is this blog your hobby?
    Sorry for my bad english:)
    Thank you:)
    Piter.

  35. [...] just published my guest post at her popular blog.  Please check it out and give it some stumble [...]