Providing Additional Content for Blog Readers

fishing tackle bait signWhen you blog to inform publishing how-to posts and tutorials, and curating content with added high value commentary are part of your blogging strategy. But not all bloggers blog to inform and bloggers in all niches are now doing much more to attract, engage and hold an audience.

© All Rights Reserved – Any content reblogged from one cool site must adhere to the terms of © Copyright

Have you noticed how many bloggers now offer high value content in a variety of formats in addition to blog content? They are providing readers additional valuable content free of charge or by donation or for a price.

I am seeing more List posts with resource links and Resource link pages are replacing the old mile long Blogrolls that used to appear in sidebars. Interviews of and/or guest posts by thought leaders in related fields seem to be increasing too.

Studies reveal most blog  readers skim read and may not become long term subscribers and few who subscribe will become commenters. Aside from product giveaways, contests and other inducements aimed at increasing readership it’s now common to see these being offered to blog readers:

  • Newsletter subscriptions including product launch announcements and/or discounts.
  • Document downloads including ebooks.
  • Media downloads (graphics, images, videos, podcasts).

Uploading documents

If you would like to offer documents downloads, see here for accepted file types. The following processes for uploading document files are particularly for bloggers, who wish to upload a document and add its download link to a blog post or page.

Embedding documents

If you want to embed the document itself into a post, then you will have to use a third party application like Scribd or Google Docs.

Additional Content Free of Charge, by Donation or For Sale

baiting the hookPublishers, agents and marketers tell us everyone has a book in them and advise that by publishing a book or an e-book, or creating any product that can be sold online, you can greatly expand your customer and client base. So if you are an author or a vendor or if you intend to become one, blogging to cultivate a reader base and encouraging readers to become clients and customers is recommended.

Neil Patel suggests 7 Tips: Convert readers of your blog into paying customersWebinars and remarketing content, signups, free trial offers and more besides:  Sidebar – by adding an email opt-in form within your sidebar, you should be able to convert .5% to 2% of your readers into an email subscriber. Blog posts – at the end of each blog post, you can add an email collection box. Typically .75 to 2% of your readers will convert into an email subscriber with this option.

WordPress.com Parameters

It’s noteworthy that without a Business upgrade WordPress.com blogs cannot be equipped for e-commerce transactions. None of the  three plans allow bloggers to initiate advertising contracts or FTP access to upload themes or plugins. If having readers pay for additional content is the aim then a self-hosted WordPress site is the way to go.

That being said, WordPress.com bloggers are allowed to sell any product they personally make or any service they personally provide. So WordPress.com bloggers can offer additional content to readers in three ways:  free of charge, for a charge or by donation.

For donations bloggers can post an unencrypted PayPal button. While there’s still no financial cost for “free” downloads offered by means of contact form and a link to a password protected post or a password protected page, note that the takers must provide their contact information to get it.

To facilitate online sales of products they create, WordPress.com bloggers can set up a shopping cart somewhere else online first. Then create a custom menu on their blog and include custom link to it in their custom menu.

Amazon.com and other select affiliate links are now permitted on free hosted WordPress.com blogs, as long as they are not the primary content of the site in question. WordPress.com allows bloggers to insert their own text affiliate links within post and page content only to their own products in Amazon or other third-party affiliate programs. Image affiliate links in posts and pages and any affiliate links in widget areas, are still considered to be advertising and are not allowed on WordPress.com blogs.

Gain and greed as motivators

All blog readers want to gain something from reading any post. That’s why identifying your target audience and creating high quality content that engages them and encourages them to return to read more is important. In an ifishnformative blog it  amounts to learning something new.  In humor blogs the gain is entertainment. In a controversial blog the gain is an opportunity to exchange opinions. In personal blogs the gain is connection and sharing.

Humans continually seek to gain from any connection they make with other humans. Seeking knowledge is in our nature but it’s not knowledge alone that we seek. We are a bright and opportunistic species, so it’s no longer unusual to witness bloggers baiting the hook in their introduction and/or using a variety of marketing techniques to attract, engage and hold an audience.

Discussion

  1. Did you offer additional resources to readers free of charge in 2013?
  2. Do you plan to offer additional resources to readers free of charge in 2014?
  3. Did you offer additional resources to readers in return for donations in 2013?
  4. Do you plan to offer additional resources to readers in return for donations in 2014?
  5. Did you sell your own products and/or services on your blog  in 2013?
  6. Do you plan to sell your own products and/or services on your blog  in 2014?

Related posts found in this blog:
WordPress.com: Who Follows Who?
WordPress Followers, Likes and Stats
WordPress.com Follower Management

45 thoughts on “Providing Additional Content for Blog Readers

  1. To answer all questions at end your post: no, not yet. And so far, I haven’t yet felt motivated to become more entrepreneurial about my blog. I just want people to ask my permission (as they should) for any reblogging of my stuff.

    Though many readers could do additional reading by searching on the free Internet by other people that relates to my blog posts, I hope that some of my offered links that are hand picked, help focus them more on topic and from sources that would be more reliable or effort that was researched and written with some thought.

  2. I think it’s nice to list places/sources of additional information on a topic – some readers get intrigued or want to learn more – or want to see how valid your thoughts are.
    But this it’s a blog – not an internet storefront. There are other places for that.
    I do get annoyed by blogs who constantly promote some venture/book – if it’s often enough, I usually wander off to read somewhere else.
    Different people are looking/ reading for different purposes/things, I guess

    1. Hi Phil,
      Different people are looking for different things in blogs, ’tis true. I’m not a Christian but I am appalled at the opportunism I just witnessed when it came to bloggers who were using this season to flog stuff on their blog and/or to promote others who are using a blog to flog model. At least here at WordPress.com bloggers are only allowed to flog what they themselves create or provide. In the larger blogosphere the resemblance to what it was like in the past faded away. It’s now a marketplace now. More’s the pity.

  3. As you know, we do sell products and a service. But the idea of giving something away has exercised my mind for the longest time. If I could think of something to offer in return for the right people being happy to add their name to a mailing list, I would. Just can’t think of anything – I think there must be many people in that position. I for one could do with guidance –

    1. Hi David,
      I’m sorry I can’t provide any guidance. Hopefully, other commenters will be able to. I’m wishing you a Happy New Year and then trundling off to bed to nurse my cold.

    2. I’m sorry about the broken comments chain. I have a cold, was coughing and I needed a rest. On your Quillcards Website: Distinctive ecards for all your stories you do provide a Free trial offer

      On your blog you also publish photo-shop tutorials and they are free to all blog readers.

  4. @TimeThief Happy Holliday Mate and All the Best for You in 2014! By the way my Expectation for 2014,there are many more New WP Blog Skins with Premium Quality but still Free :)

  5. I have to answer no to all your questions. As other commenters though i did not know a lot of this so it is all interesting, thankyou! and even though I am unlikely to offer additional paid content it is good to know this is an option. There are a few high quality content blogs around whose books I would buy simply because I think their writing is amazing and I would probably buy a book by an online friend out of solidarity as much as anything and have done so in the past.

  6. I haven’t offered any resources, products or services either free, by donation or for sale during 2013, but I may consider doing so in 2014. Until I read this article, I didn’t know it was allowed using wordpress.com.

    Thanks as ever for very useful information, Timethief :)

    Happy New Year.

    1. Hi Marianne,
      Happy New Year!
      I think we all know we can offer additional content free of change to our readers. I published this post because I didn`t think most WordPress.com users knew that
      (1) they can provide additional content they create for donation or sale via PayPal;
      (2) they can provide additional content they create for sale via external shopping cart site link;
      (3) they can provide additional content they create for sale via text affiliate links within post and page content.
      I wanted to provide a post that my readers could comment on and if they do provide additional content then I`ll link to it in my responses to their comments.

      P.S. Your travel photos are great so I won`t be surprised if you do consider offering some of them or even a travel tips guide.

      1. I would like to know your views on WordPress.com being used by multi-layer marketing businesses (pyramid scheme).

        These sites do provide content (eg, craft how-to, colour scheme, sketches) and share resources. These sites ultimately entice readers to buy their products, to recruit new members to reach goals, and offer reward schemes. They also provide links to catalogs and external sales cart site.

        Do you think allowing pyramid schemes (despite their nature, eg, insurance, craft, cosmetics…) to operate on WordPress.com a healthy one? Do you find WordPress.com being manipulated by companies using multi-layer marketing?

        1. Hi Janet,
          This, in part, is what WordPress.com poicy states:

          In addition to AdSense-type ads, please do not use the following services on your blog:

          Sponsored or paid posts, including PayPerPost, ReviewMe, and Smorty.
          Clicktrackers and any promotions of the “I made a million on the internet and so can you” type of advertising (i.e. MLM, network marketing, cash gifting, etc.).
          Paid or sponsored post content is also prohibited. http://en.support.wordpress.com/advertising/

          For more see:
          http://wordpress.com/types-of-blogs/
          http://en.support.wordpress.com/affiliate-links/
          http://en.support.wordpress.com/suspended-blogs/
          http://en.wordpress.com/tos/

  7. Hi timethief – thought-provoking as always …
    I share the occasional seasonal story on my microblog as a gift and trust this may invite a click on the Amazon link to my book. This feels like a good give / offer balance for now.
    Anything more aggressive wouldn’t be right for me…

    1. Hi Helena,
      Thanks for chiming in here. I do believe that the blogger`s personality type is reflected in their approach to blog promotion. I think your strategy is perfectly suited to your personality type and hope you experience lots of book sales. 75 Flash Faction Short Stories

      All the best to you in 2014.

      1. Ah that’s very kind of you timethief. Your personality too shines through on your blog – very clear, giving and always the professional. You are a wonderful find and have helped me hugely with your advice.
        All the best for 2014.

  8. Very interesting discussions. Thank you.

    My answers are “No” to all of your six questions. When we write blog posts, of course we share resources, or common sense, or stories, of course I see my resources as high value content — high value as the stories are truthful, relevant and I have done extensive research. However, these are not for sale. My writing, at present, is for pleasure, sharing and connecting.

    I buy books from a few bloggers on WordPress.com — but these writers never promote themselves heavily. They don’t have to as their writings speak for themselves. I’m pleased they let the readers know of their publications through external links and I get to buy them.

    I have given small donations to my favourite craft sites on WordPress.org as I value their generosity and resources.

    I’m not always keen to receive free ebooks or resources — as some are of low value and I am bombarded with more emails later.

    I find heavy marketing on certain sites on WordPress.com uncomfortable or irritating. These sites tend to ask or beg for donation, “like”, or ask for help to fulfil one’s dream of becoming a great novelist, or being a publisher, or networking, or ask for donation to appear as an advertiser or sponsor on sidebars……Personally, I don’t feel comfortable with aggressive networking like this. Aggressive marketing on WordPress.com sites have taken away the joy of reading.

    I like what you have been doing — sharing resources with extensive research, with a kind heart. You have established yourself as an authority, and when you do publish a book one day, you know lots of us will click the ‘donate’ and ‘buy’ buttons.

    Happy New Year to you!

    1. Hi Janet,
      I published a small book years ago and have no interest in publishing one now or in the foreseeable future. I am a technical writer without the time or inclination to undertake any commercial enterprises.

      I don’t object to tasteful offers of paid content such as courses, books, ebooks and other digital products. I’m comfortable with the WordPress.com policy that a blog must be an actual blog and not just a vehicle for flogging products. It’s aggressive campaigning that I find off-putting.

      Personally, I don’t feel comfortable with aggressive networking like this. Aggressive marketing on WordPress.com sites have taken away the joy of reading.

      I’m with you on that. No matter how valuable a product maybe, and no matter how valuable the content on the blog it is being marketed on may be, being thought of as a reader who ought to be transformed into a consumer, makes me uncomfortable enough to unsubscribe.

      Blogging is my hobby and I intend to blog on as I have been doing, offering what I hope is high quality content, as frequently as I can. If and when I do have free time I may create and offer more free content but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

      Thanks so much for your comment and Happy New Year!

  9. 1) Yes – Additional resources were offered (where to get free NOAA marine charts for instance, and resources for visiting Canada with your boat )

    2) No firm plans to add additional resources for 2014 – but for sure will at some time in the year, just the way my site seems to work

    3) Everything is no charge & not even a PayPal Donate Button

    4) No plans to offer additional resources in return for donations, I think about it from time to time but seems to be more hassle than what the payback would be

    5) I did not sell my own products in 2013

    6) I think about selling some of my own products from time to time but so far nothing beyond just thinking. The logistics for low volume is a bit rough (nothing fits in a regular envelope for instance)

    One question – do I get a gold star for following the instructions?? :)

    i do keep kicking around ideas for some revenue but so far nothing has made sense.

    1. @cptnmike
      Thanks so much for answering my questions. If there were a prize for following instructions than you would have to share it with Janet Williams so far and maybe with others too. :)

    1. Happy Holidays! Can I prevail upon you to answer the questions if you please? I’m trying to assess exactly how my readership feels about this subject and I’d really appreciate answers if you are so inclined.

      1. [ Smiles ] Well, I have a page devoted to blogging tips (Can that fall in the category of free resources?).

        I have never sold any resources or services.

        I definitely have no plans of selling any type of resources for the year 2014.

        And, I am not offering additional resources to my readers for donations either.

Comments are closed.