(Click on image to view full size)
Cooperative Blogging is something we have been putting together for a little while now. As you can see when you view the image in full size, the main goals of this type of blogging is to tackle key problems that many small business owners face. Those problems are:
- Little time
- Little budget
When running and growing a business, there is always a trade off of time and money. A business owner needs some combination of these two key ingredients for realizing success. In other words, if you don’t have a lot of money for marketing and advertising, you need time for growing the business by hand. The opposite is true as well. If you don’t have a lot of time to spend on doing your own marketing, it helps to have some kind of budget to hire it out or pay for advertising.
… but many people have very little of either of these.
A good number of people who are trying to run a small business and use the internet to grow their brand and customer base have very little time to build and maintain a website and a social media presence. Spending time with such things as blogging takes away from time that could be spent doing the work required by the business being run.
In addition to little time, we have found that many people also have little to no budget to work with. In the cases where people do have some money to work with, it gets used up very quickly; especially when they get nickel’d and dime’d to death trying to find different ways of advertising.
So, what happens to those people who have little time and little money to work with?
Quite simply, they struggle. I see it and hear it all the time. People need results, but nothing they try seems to work.
Handmade Marketing proposes that a cooperative marketing approach is a great answer to this problem. However, before getting into the meat of what this “Cooperative Blogging” product is all about, I want to describe some of the components and mechanics involved.
Why is blogging so important?
You may have heard or have been told that you need a blog if you are trying to market a business on the internet. Now, do you really “need” a blog? No, but we agree with many sources that it can certainly help a person grow a business.
Blogs, when done properly, can generate a large on-going stream of traffic to your site. This, of course, is great for anyone promoting goods and services. If you can generate traffic to an offer, it is just a numbers game. X number of people will be interested in the offer and sales conversions will happen.
That is pretty much it in a nutshell, but there is a whole lot inside that nutshell. What people discover is that blogging can be a lot of work. Not only do you have to deal with the maintenance of the site itself, but the constant creation of content. In addition to that, there is keyword research and content optimization (SEO) and a laundry list of things that can and should be done in order for a blog to get found as often as possible. It can literally be a full-time job on its own.
What about this social media stuff?
Social media has been a good idea to include in online marketing since it was created and widely used several years back. Now it is even more important as Social Media is shaping the way we communicate and discover and engage with people and brands.
So, in short… yea, do that too. However, that means more time and effort and money to build that up and keep it running. It’s enough to make many people want to throw in the proverbial towel… and some of them do.
Ok, so get a blog and get on facebook, twitter, linkedIn, so on and so forth. Push push push and go go go, but for a lot of people, it just doesn’t seem to work and the trade off for time and money is just not sustainable.
On top of that, it seems slow right? The ramp up time for building a blog and growing your social network is a relatively slow and gradual process. Even for those who stick it out and make it happen, it still takes a long time.
Is it worth all that trouble? Absolutely… or at least, in many cases it is. There is definitely a hump to get over, but for those who make it past the tough zone, they find that rewards are waiting. It is hard though, no doubt.
Isn’t there a faster easier way?
Yes and no.
The alternative is to pay for advertisement in various forms. This option takes money though and in some cases, it takes some know-how to be able to put together the ads properly. Going this route can be just as beastly as dealing with blogging and Social Media.
Let’s take a look at an analogy for marketing to help understand how each of the main methods work.
Marketing is like farming
Think of leads as being like vegetables. You have three basic options for obtaining vegetables:
1) You can go to the store and pay for vegetables. The cost is higher because a lot of work went into the growth of the vegetables and the packaging and transportation of the vegetables, but there is not much effort on your part and you can get your vegetables right away.
2) You can grow the vegetables yourself. Seeds cost much less and you can grow loads of vegetables. The cost is low, but you have to sow the seeds, maintain the crops so they grow, and then harvest, and store the vegetables when they are ready. Its a longer and harder process, but the pay off is huge because for the money, you get far more vegetables than if you had bought them from a store.
3) You can do a little of both. Use some of your money for seeds and working growing a smaller crop. While you are waiting for the crops to grow, you can buy some vegetables from the store to get you by until your crops are ready.
The analogy above is very similar to how marketing online works. Pay-per-click advertising, banner ads, media buys and so on are like buying vegetables from the store. Blogging and using Social Media to spread the word is like farming crops.
You may have noticed that something remains true regardless of which way you choose to go. There is always a trade off of time and money.
So, what is a person to do when there is little time and little money?
That is where we feel cooperative marketing can help. It is the concept of many hands make light work. In this case, we have tried to make it light work and low cost. The vehicle we have designed involves blogging and so we have called it cooperative blogging. The idea is that a handful of people work together on the same blog which requires far less work to produce massive content.
Introducing The Cooperative Blog
While the concepts of cooperative marketing and cooperative blogging are not new, the service and product we are putting together is a little unique.
The key to cooperative blogging is having multiple people contributing to the blog. However, this still requires one or more people to own the operation and handle the hosting, maintenance, optimization, and promotion. What we are doing is taking as much of the headache and cost out of the process so that members who are using this service have a bare minimum of expense and effort.
What Are Members Responsible For?
Cooperative Blog members are responsible for:
- the monthly fee and
- one blog post per week
What Is Handmade Marketing Responsible For?
The Handmade Marketing team is responsible for the handling and promotion of the blog including:
- Keyword research
- Content creation and curation
- Ad management
- Social Media management
- Video creation
- Social bookmarking
- Press releases
- Email marketing / management
- Contests and giveaways
… and that’s putting it lightly.
What Are The Benefits?
The benefits of being a member of a Cooperative Blog are what every business owner is seeking:
- More leads
- More exposure
- Low cost
- Minimal effort
With more leads comes more sales. With more exposure comes brand awareness and brand trust. Plus, if members do not have to spend a lot or do a lot, the return on investment can be quite huge. We have tried to keep the cost low enough so that even as little as one sale of a member’s product or service can cover the cost of this service.
How Does It work?
Each Cooperative Blog will be niche specific. The nice will be broad enough to accommodate 4 to 6 members. So, the members will ideally not be in direct competition with each other, but still fit within the niche.
For example, the health and beauty niche is one of the first niches we are looking at launching with. This could have members that sell products for skin care, make up, weight loss programs, weight control foods and drinks, wellness, and so on.
Members will post their single blog post per week. Members are welcome to post more than 1 per week, but we will require at least the one. We will be providing our members with eBooks that will be helpful for learning about blogging. It’s not as hard as it might seem and it gets loads easier after getting started.
The member blog posts should not focus on direct advertisement, but rather be informative or provide valuable information to the reader. This can be related to the products, but since there will be links to the respective member’s personal sites and sales pages in addition to any banner ads on the blog, there is no need to push the products directly. This is an opportunity to be informative and helpful to the readers so they can learn about the products and make informative decisions about their purchases. It’s a well rounded approach we are going for.
With the combined efforts of the members and the Handmade Marketing team, the information and promotional details will be present on the blog site, anywhere that each member shares their information, and will also be distributed through various external channels such as video sites, press release sites, external blogs, article directories and in any other way we can find to spread the word beyond the blog itself.
All of this will enable our members to reach the goals that Handmade Marketing tries to help business owners reach; which are to get more traffic, grow the brand, and sell more stuff.
We are really excited about this service. Please let us know what you think about it and whether you have any questions. More details will be coming soon along with the launch of this service. We are planning on adding a quick video about this as well to help explain the concept and how we plan to implement it.