How to Attract Prospective Customers Through a College Blog
I'm guessing you have a major passion for helping students and families. You probably really enjoy meeting with a new family one-on-one and talking them through the college search process. (You wouldn't be an independent educational consultant if you didn't stampede your waiting area in your excitement to talk to someone new. I know your type! Ha!)
I totally get how fun it is! I worked with families for 12 years as a college admission counselor. My favorite thing, hands-down: Learning about everyone's individual story. People amaze me.
Speaking of your customers, have you ever considered using a blog to attract prospective customers? If you haven't, you're missing out on a critical tool to market to a new audience. Blogging means more customers and more opportunities for you to expand your business.
Why Use a Blog to Attract Customers?
One of the biggest reasons: It's free. (FREE!)
How much did your business spend on marketing last year? A general rule of thumb in the marketing world says that you should aim to spend between 2% to 5% of your sales revenue on marketing. That can take a big chunk out of the ol' budget, so who can resist a free marketing tool?
Let's go through a few other reasons to launch a blog, then I'll teach you the basics of how to put together a blog for your independent educational consulting business.
Check out the reasons why you want to use a blog as one of the tools in your marketing arsenal:
-- It gives you credibility. When you have a well-written, thoughtful blog that cites credible sources (such as the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) and Federal Student Aid), your credibility skyrockets because you associate yourself with credible sources. (Those sources can boost your SEO as well!)
-- It'll appeal to the right people. When you write blog posts that really resonate with prospective clients, they start saying things like, "Oh, wow, I totally feel that way!" or, "Wow, this person really knows what she's talking about!" or "This dude can totally read my mind!" This means they may want to become a potential client. You might be amazed to learn how far your blog posts can reach, especially when you "get inside the head of your clients."
-- You already have so much expertise. Use it. Share it. It's all in the name of education.
-- You can write for other publications to get your name out there. Bloggers all over the world have made a name for themselves using a colorful blog, dozens of blog posts and a great message. Publications may want you to write for them because in this day and age of credentialed SEO expertise, your expertise really does matter.
-- You add a call to action. At the end of every blog post, you'll create a call to action (CTA). Guess what your call to action is? Call me. Contact me. Let me help you with your college plan. In other words, you direct people to your business every single time.
-- Your current clients will find you a helpful resource. Do you already send your current clients a newsletter every week or so? If so, you can refer them back to your blog, time and time again.
How to Attract Prospective Customers Through Blogging
Ready to ramp up your business' potential? Take a look at a few simple steps to get your blog moving in the right direction.
Step 1: Take a critical look at your existing blog.
Does your existing blog look like one of those diary-type blogs, circa 2002? (You know, with the dates of each post along the right-hand side?)
You might want to dust it off and consider making your blog look professional. It may require a quick phone call to your existing web developer or prodding your cousin, Ernie, to make your blog look fantastic. (I hired a friend of mine. Whoever can get it to look sharp, hire them!)
Take a look at blogs you admire for design ideas.
Step 2: Don't have a blog? No worries.
Fortunately, you probably already have a website. You (or your developer) can easily add a blog section to your site. If you don't have a website yet, I highly recommend using Wordpress.org, which means you host your own site. WordPress.com, on the other hand, offers hosting for you, but you give up some freedoms.
Step 3: Learn about SEO.
Okay, it's true that you can spend your whole life learning about search engine optimization (SEO). However, successful independent college consultants learn about SEO in conjunction with their blogs if they want to gain customers.
Just in case you're not sure what it is, SEO refers to the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page using search engines as a tool.
You also need to learn about keyword research, which you can learn about in my FREE download: 6 Secrets to Killing It With Your IEC Blog: College Blogging That Gets Noticed. Check it out!
Step 4: Learn the fundamentals of a great blog post.
This is my secret love. (Just don't tell my husband or kids.) I seriously get so excited when I get to create a blog post for anyone -- a client or myself. A great blog post has these components:
- An attention-grabbing headline
- SEO-aligned headers (check out this side hustle for moms post as an example)
- Great primary and secondary keywords
- Fantastic, lemme-read-more writing!
- Excellent grammar, spelling and use of all other Rules of Good Writing
- The right word count
It has other components, too, which you'll learn as you practice.
Step 5: Write. Repeat.
Aaannnndd here's the deal breaker for many business owners: You have to write a LOT. All the time. Three to five times a week.
When you declare yourself too busy for that, I totally get it. However, you might have to put aside some time to work on your blog and dedicate your time to that, several times per week.
Step 4: Patience.
It can take a while before your posts start to rank on search engines. However, when allllll the things come together, it can feel amazing. (I'll never forget the first time one of my posts ranked No. 1 on Google. I screenshotted it and sent it to all my family and friends. And colleagues. Quite literally. I was so excited I sent it out to EVERYONE on my list. Oops.)
Anyway, you'll feel that way. Promise.
Are You Ready?
Whether you've been thinking about blogging to expand your business or have never thought about it before, consider it. Blogging can offer the perfect way to market yourself, your expertise and gain you more customers.
Don't miss out on my FREE, special offer to get you started. It's called 6 Secrets to Killing It With Your IEC Blog: College Blogging That Gets Noticed. Don't delay! Get my secret tips so you can craft the best blog for your college business.
Melissa Brock, owner of College Money Tips, worked for 12 years in college admission and started freelancing on her own during lunch breaks and after student-parent meetings. She couldn't keep her hands off the keyboard and realized she needed to take her passion for higher education in a different direction. She served as a freelance contractor, then money editor for a fintech company, Benzinga, for almost four years. She was one of two individuals who formed the original lead gen team. During that time, she learned the secrets to ranking posts on Google. She now runs CollegeMoneyTips.com full time and hones her SEO content writing skills by writing for a variety of companies, including Red Ventures' HigherEducation, Investopedia, Rocket Mortgage, College Ave, the Journal of College Admission, Breeze, Niche, MarketBeat, UNest and more. Get her free guide, 6 Secrets for Killing It With Your IEC Blog, so your posts will rank on search engines. Get instant tips on how to write to your audience with a college-based SEO roadmap. You'll instantly feel like you have a path to move forward with your blog so you post the right type of content for your prospective client audience!