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Jeni B

Q1. Learning to listen

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When you started learning to read between the lines of what your target superfans truly needed, what was that like?

Was there a pivotal moment when things started falling into place?

Specific examples, wherever you can give them, will help immensely!

xo

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Hi Jeni,

I believe that my website has grown most from just learning simple marketing skills that I was oblivious to while working on my own. The BSP definitely went into depth on the hows and whys of such practices, so I got clear on just why they were so important.

Pivotal moment #1: My coaching call with you where I first started to learn about bundle sales. That led to making more in three days than I did in a month. 

#2. I learned from the BSP that I needed to concentrate on growing my email list. After discovering how to offer incentives for sign ups, my list grew by 10x in the next year or so. 

#3: A coaching workshop that made me think more about where I was spending my time. As far as I had read or heard before, I thought it was important to update all social media and SEO work at all times. And my perfectionist side wanted to use any leftover time to update old products, even though no one had ever complained about them. Making new PDF products had somehow fallen to the bottom of the TO DO list.

Once I considered that 2/3 of my monthly income was coming from PDF sales, NOT traffic, which is all the SEO and social media really helps anyway, I finally started focusing on making new things. I started a process of choosing a new product theme, asking my email readers for what they would like to see included, sharing sample pages with them, and then releasing the product with a special limited price. It's increased my monthly sales by about 25% so far. It's an exciting advancement for me, one I plan to build on for the future.

 

Edited by Kathy Barbro
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Hey Jeni, 

Things started getting clear for me when I identified one client--actually, both the mom and her young daughter were my ideal clients. Then I got this idea to go really deep and just BECOME her for a while. 

I imagined myself inside her body, and started journaling as her. In her voice, I visited my website and asked all the questions I thought she would ask. I took her through the journey I thought she would take, responded to her needs, spoke her language. 

This process was HUGE for me. I realized she was looking for things I didn't offer--and I had to figure out how to respond to that. Should I offer it? Write a blog post about it? Craft my messaging in a way that led her away from that and to something else? Partner with other people who offered it? 

It affected how I created my product. I changed my entire concept because of that exercise. It was really fun, and it helped me reframe everything I was doing in a way that felt really laser focused and relevant to my ideal client. 

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I am going to be embarrassingly honest here.  I took the Blog Smarter Course a pretty long time ago.  I think it was in 2016.  

It took me a VERY long time to learn to listen and read between the lines because honestly, I didn't really want to hear what was being said between the lines as it didn't fall in line with where I wanted my site to go and the role I could see myself in. 

The people visiting my site fall into a few categories about 20% are older people looking to relive some food memories (I cook southern comfort foods).  5% arrive for the spiritual message I post at the end of each post.  There's probably another 10% who come repeatedly for the more difficult recipes I do and for the flavors.  The other 65% come looking for cooking info that they are having a hard time finding anywhere else and basic recipes.  I didn't understand how basic those needs are.  I failed to read between those lines for a LONG time. 

The pivotal moment for me came in a one -two punch. I installed a polling pop up on my site through Hot Jar.  My poll question said something like, "What recipe can I help you find today" and then I asked for their email and I would email them back with an answer. 

PUNCH ONE : I kept getting questions like, "How do I make my canned green beans taste better" and in my head I would think, "What is wrong that these people are looking on my site for how to doctor up canned beans , don't they use google?  My site is about REAL cooking and FLAVOR and.... whatever else I thought it was about..... whatever I thought, I was wrong."

PUNCH TWO:   Then, I was at a community event and someone said to me, "I wish you would put your recipe for how to make dried pinto beans on your site".   I asked her why she was looking for that particular recipe?  She responded, "there just aren't any good recipes on the internet for dried pinto beans". 

I still wasn't completely listening but I did write the pinto bean post just for her .  The whole time I thought, "there's a recipe on the pinto bean bag", but I wrote it anyway. 

Within weeks that pinto bean post was drawing in thousands of visitors. 

Then, when the next question arrived for "how can I make canned peas good?" I googled it myself.  Guess what?  There are NO good answers to that question.  Well, there weren't any back then. 

At this point, I've written recipes, photographed step by step instructions and made videos of almost every canned good on the market.  

Let's be totally clear here.  I certainly didn't start blogging so that I could be  the canned food and pinto bean queen of the internet but the truth is, that is what my people are asking for. 

I did, however, want to improve my blog enough to make it a business that could support me.

As of today, my page views have increased SIX fold this year and my ad income has done the same (I'm up about 12X since I took Blog Smarter).  Before the start of 2018 I had cut my full time job down to part time and now I only do that job enough to keep my license active.   

All of that is wonderful, but my favorite part?  I recently had a comment from a newly single dad on my site.  He said that he had been struggling through trying to cook something for his two daughters when they stayed with him.  He said that meals are a problem because he can't seem to make anything taste good but that by following my "How to cook canned...." recipes he had actually made a meal that they ate every bite of! 

I could feel the weight lifting off of his shoulders and that sure put a smile on my face. 

There have been a number of comments like that ever since and that has made all the difference for me.  

I'm no longer all wrapped up in some fru-fru false idea of what my site is about.  My site is about real people with real every day problems who don't know more about cooking than "open the can and heat it up".   

So, there you are, these are my people.  This is my tribe.  I am SO THANKFUL that I finally started listening to what they need and want.  It has made all the difference. 

Check ya'll later.  I'll be over in the canned food aisle!  lol.

Wendi

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Wendi Spraker
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When I embraced with my TM really needed, which was more of the faith aspect of my content, it was really scary. I was afraid of abandoning a large chunk of potential customers But, I realized that I was actually neglecting my TM reader – she needed that specific content to help her. It was freeing and really increased my probability!

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I honestly never even considered a TM before Blog Smarter.  And this coming from a business/economics major!  I hadn't even thought to apply actual business principles to my blog because it was so different than any of the businesses I had studied in college.  When I realized that my website did have a specific market it was like dominoes.  Everything else that I had been thinking about doing with my blog and website fell into place.  I had a direction to go, rather than constantly trying out any and everything.  I knew that there were specific steps to take.  Watching my e-mail list start to grow from pretty much nothing was the final "aha" for me.

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So I'll be honest. I think I'm still learning to listen! But I am getting better since Blog Smarter. I don't think I ever listened, all I did was simply post on what I wanted to post about. Maybe what was seasonal and strike my fancy. During the BSP, I found it very difficult to learn how to listen. I don't think it was until after that all the pieces fell into place. I kept going over my survey responses and that's when I realized that I had a group of people coming to my site that were avid enthusiastic home bakers. They are there for inspiration but also how to grow their skills and try more complicated recipes. It was then that I realized what I need to focus on. Although my site always focused on baking from scratch recipes, I have embraced including step by step photos and more advanced recipes. When they told me their pain points were "working with yeast, or cake decorating" I realized these are advanced topics. I do have included "the baking 101" posts but my readers are beyond that. They want to learn more and expand their skills. That was a major "aha" moment for me and keeps me focused when I plan out posts. 

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Listening and honing into your target market is like learning to fish for a specific type of fish.  Instead of throwing a net and catching whatever enters your net, you are casting a specific fly on a specific rod  When you know specifically who you are talking to, you resonate better and can give better answers to questions and you can give better examples about how you can help.  For instance, I knew my target market does  not have enough time or focus - but no one has enough time or focus.  When I listened to who they were and why they did not have enough time or focus, I was able to help them with a solution.  

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When you started learning to read between the lines of what your target superfans truly needed, what was that like?

I've done this twice. The first time was intimidating. There was so much information to go through because I had a wide range of blog posts. I was scared that I'd get this step wrong and ruin everything for my budding business. Eventually, despite my rather irrational fear, a picture developed of a target market superfan and I moved forward, still a little nervous. Two years later, though, I noticed a shift. The people coming to me were different than the ones who were there before. Going through the process the second time still felt big, but it wasn't as scary. I had been listening and paying attention to what my readers were saying and asking over those two years, so I already had a strong sense of how I needed to shift to better serve them. 

Was there a pivotal moment when things started falling into place?

The first time I wrote a post dedicated to the need of my target market, the response was amazing. I had blog comments, organic social media shares, and emails back from readers who were deeply helped by my article. Getting that confirmation back from them was a huge confidence booster! When I shifted my focus and narrowed my niche a couple years later, the result was similar. Emails from readers, social media interaction, and blog comments all confirmed that I made the right choice. That gave me more information to keep moving forward with better ways to serve them and build my business.

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The first time I ever considered looking through my content, to make connections on what my readers actually wanted, was in 2017 when I took the BSP. Up until that point, I was a lifestyle blog, focusing on a variety of topics and providing everything I possibly could on “mindfulness” living. 

But after collecting and sorting through data, I realized there was an area I had overlooked. A post about my experience with a low-histamine vegan diet was getting a huge chunk of my traffic, and so I added a sign up form just to see what happened. In the first week I got 20 signups, and by the end of the month I had close to 100. This was SHOCKING to me, because I never even considered this as a market.

In the months following, I got a flood of emails, asking a million and one questions regarding this diet shift. It was amazing, to say the least. Because of this insight, I pulled together a recipe book and released it in February of 2018. The creation of the list and the cookbook ultimately landed me as a guest on Victoria Moran’s podcast, which was a huge win for me, considering that she’s a top dog in the vegan community.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t done the work, to LISTEN to what people were asking me to do on the blog. It was a pivotal point for me, because it made me realize that I had been stretching myself too thin with other topics. Niching down, while appearing to offer less, actually offers more in the long run.

In 2018, I made a full rebranding of my blog to Bohemian Vegan Kitchen, and I continue to get emails every day about that one post. This year, many things have fallen into place, and while it’s not always easy, I’ve definitely learned what the power of listening can do for your business.

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I'm still in the middle of it, but it's all very exciting to see the specific place I can help my readers based on my knowledge & gifts, and their needs. It makes so much sense to find my exact niche instead of trying to be all the things to all the people (and never be quite right at any of it). Now I get to be me and help folks in my particular way, based on their actual needs. Win-win. SO cool!

Best feeling so far: I was at a speaker's conference giving an impromptu talk shortly after I'd recognized my niche. Afterwards, one of the other attendees said, "Girl, I am buying everything you have in the back of the room — so hurry up and make some products to sell." Not only have I found my target market, but I could actually make products that they'll love. Wow! Big boost! (And you'd better believe I got on a Zoom call with her later to find out more about her needs! 😉)

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Learning to read between the lines was freeing for me. I had what I call the Curse of the Journalist. Because I had the ability to write about everything under the sun, I thought I HAD to write about everything under the sun. I wrote everything to apply to general audiences because I thought it was my job to be all things to all people. When your program gave me permission to niche down to a very specific audience, so far down that I could picture and name her, that was a game changer for me. I no longer feel run down or depleted by the prospect of writing a post or reaching out to my email list because I know exactly what my readers want and how to give it to them.

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This past summer, I sent my e-mail subscribers a survey and actually wept when I read the responses because so many of them were struggling with the same exact problem - they felt overwhelmed in their struggle to find time to care for their homes. Their problem has become the sole focus of my blog for my 2019, and I'm so excited to create products that will help my readers!

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