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How To Attract Clients To Your Virtual Assistant Business Using Your Blog with @CorbettBarr

Michelle Dale - Tuesday, February 07, 2012

I recently got together with Corbett Barr from ThinkTraffic.net after discovering his awesome new programme Start A Blog That Matters. I was curious to see if his expertise in the realms of blogging could benefit online service providers – I was not disappointed!

This guy is amazing, and I love his approach to online business, check out the video top right where we talk about blogging for online service providers, and how you can use your blog to attract clients, he also shares a brilliant tip at the end, which I think we often can easily overlook. I have been so impressed by Corbett, I think you will be too. If you want to build an amazing blog that matters – Click here to check out his programme!

Transcription of Video:

Hi!  This is Michelle Dale for VirtualAssistant-live.com and VALive.TV.  Today, I am so honored, honestly, because I have Corbett Barr on with me.  I discovered Corbett when I was doing Digital Nomad Academy.  We kind of have a very similar lifestyle in the fact that we love to do business and we love to travel.  Corbett has recently introduced a new product online called “Start a Blog that Matters.”  As soon as I saw this product I thought that this is something very awesome because so many people are just not able to really start a blog and have it kind of impacted their business.  This is particularly in the service industry.  So, I’ve got Corbett on today so we can talk about blogging and particularly blogging for people who sells services online and how it can impact their business.  So, thank you, Corbett.  Thank you so much for being here.  It’s great to see you.

Corbett:  Thank you.  Thanks for having me.  I’m glad to be on.
Michelle:  Thank you.  For those people out there who don’t know who you are at the moment, can you just like introduce yourself, explain a little bit about what you do and your life basically because it’s very very exciting and interesting.
Corbett:  Okay, sure.  I’ll try to give you the brief version.  I started out my career as a lot of people.  I think I just jumped into working for big companies.  I was a software developer and then a business technology consultant for a number of years.  I just never found that life to be very fulfilling.  So, at some point in 2009 I realized that I was looking for a lot more in life.  Instead of jumping from one job to the next, instead, my wife and I decided to take a 6-month sabbatical road trip to Mexico.  We actually lived in California normally.  We drove down to Mexico for 6 months and traveled around the country.  While we were there, a number of really interesting things happened.  First of all, we started meeting people who weren’t rich or retired but somehow had figured out ways to make their work fit around their lives so that they could take months at a time and live in other countries or some of them could even travel indefinitely because they’ve built a career for themselves that allowed them to do that.  So that was the first interesting thing.
The second thing is that I discovered blogging in 2009.  I’d always been aware of blogging but I hadn’t really dived into it to explore and to see what it was all about.  I ended up starting a blog while we were on that sabbatical.  Basically, first of all, to explore my own thoughts on career and life and what I wanted for myself and then second of all, to share the stories of these really interesting people that we were meeting while we were on the road.  That was about 3 years ago, since then my life has changed in incredible ways because of blogging.  I actually now run 3 successful blogs.  The first one is called “Think Traffic,” which is all about how to build an audience online.  I have a personal blog at Corbettbarr.com where I talk about business and lifestyle.  My third blog, which is the newest, is called “Expert Enough” and that’s all about how to gain expertise in all kinds of different areas.  I run those 3 blogs and I built a business around those blogs that allows me to travel around the world.  I spent 2 months in Europe over the summer this year and now we’re back in Mexico again this year for the winter.  So, blogging has taken me on that journey and I started this course that you mentioned earlier basically to help people also who are interested to start a blog that matters so that it can impact their lives in the same way that it changed mine.
Michelle:  That’s amazing.  You’ve got such a history and such a story that it would take us like hours to go through it all.  It’s brilliant about how you traveled and everything like that and that’s kind of what we’re trying to introduce here on Virtual Assistant Live, it’s about how people can use the online world and use the internet to be able to live this kind of lifestyle.  You mentioned that you have 3 blogs, so 3 businesses.  So, let’s start with the first one with the “Think Traffic.”  What’s this about, this one?
Corbett:  “Think Traffic” is about how to attract an audience online because of something that I noticed.  The story that I gave you is the brief version.  The longer version starts in 2003 or so.  That was the first time that I started an online venture and tried to build a business online.  Very quickly I learned that it was going to take more than just a website and maybe some Google AdWords or something to build a really big audience.  At that point, I started wondering to myself, “What is it that makes different websites successful and the majority of them actually not successful?”  The majority of websites seem to fail.  They don’t ever attract an audience.  I started thinking about that.  I started studying it.  I started other projects.  I ended up running a venture capital back start-up in San Francisco for a few years before the sabbatical.  All the while, I was learning more and more about what it takes to actually grow an audience online so when I started blogging I used all that knowledge.  Within the first 6 months of starting my first blog I had about 100,000 people coming to my site.  I decided to take all those lessons and turn that into the second blog, “Think Traffic,” and share that with other people.  Now, that has become, really, the majority of my business.
Michelle:  It’s quite amazing, really, I mean I maybe sort of speculating here, but I think the way you see a blog is not about how to make money.  It’s about how to attract people.  Am I right in thinking that?
Corbett:  Yeah, yeah, I think so.  Of course I want to support myself and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with money but I think if you come at whatever you’re doing online with the approach of only wanting to make money then it’s not going to be a success because there are plenty of people out there who love what they do regardless of whether or not it brings in money.  You’re competing against those people.  That’s why finding out what you’re passionate about and being real and honest and being your real self and being transparent online, that’s why that’s so important because you’re competing against other people who are their real selves online and who are doing it simply for the love of what they’re doing.  They’re going to work their asses off and you have to compete against those people.  So, when I start a blog I try to start it on a topic that I really care about and that I simply want to learn about, to share with other people and to connect with other people about, first of all.  Secondarily, sometimes I turn those blogs into a business, you know, build a business around those blogs as well.
Michelle:  Okay.  So, obviously, you’re very okay with the whole blogging thing.  I’m really new to it.  I only started blogging about a year ago.  To be honest with you, I find it tough so I think what you’re doing with regards to helping people learn how to blog is a very major thing.  With regards to the whole blogging aspect of your business, what makes a good blog?  What makes a blog that matters?  What are the important factors of a blog?  Is it the content?  Is it the design?  Is it the topic?  What would you say are the most important factors of a blog?
Corbett:  It’s a combination of those things, honestly, but I think instead of the sort of tactics or strategies or whatever, it starts at a much deeper level than that to create something that really matters.  First of all, as the creator you have to be building it around something that you legitimately care about and that you’re passionate about and feel very strongly about.  Second of all, as the creator you have to want to help your readers or to entertain them or to inspire them in a way that will legitimately change their lives.  You have to want to have a major impact on people.  You have to be willing to put in the time and effort that it takes to learn your craft well enough that you can produce content that actually makes that sort of high level impact on people’s lives that I was talking about.  That’s really what it comes down to.  If you think about it, there are thousands and thousands of blogs online.  In fact, there are millions of blogs online and there are thousands of them started every day.  When someone comes to your site you have a very important question to answer which is, “Why the hell should I be spending time on your site when there are thousands of other sites out there?” and you have to answer that very clearly.  One of the ways to do that is to care more about your audience, to provide more value in the content and then also to differentiate yourself and to make sure that your blog stands out in some way so that when they come to your site they don’t think, “Oh, this is just like such and such but they do it better.”  You have to stand out and try to make your blog different as well.  So, that’s kind of the high level recipe that I use for creating a blog that matters that can attract an audience.
Michelle:  Okay, so say for example somebody is a virtual assistant or a consultant or provides some sort of a service online even coaching or something like that.  How can they take their job, which is basically providing services, attach a blog onto it?  How is that blog going to become instrumental into the services that they provide because technically they’re not bloggers but they want to start a blog to have an impact on their business?  How does it work?
Corbett:  Right.  Well, first of all, as someone who has been a service provider in the past myself I know that the hardest part of building a services business is finding clients.  No question about it, especially when you’re just getting started.  That’s the hardest part.  A lot of times if you’re starting out you don’t have a whole lot of contacts so you have to resort to things that might make you uncomfortable.  You have to network with people.  You have to go to conferences.  You have to talk to other service providers and try to look for referrals.  You have to do selling.  I know I don’t enjoy selling at all and, to me, the best sales pitch possible is really no sales pitch at all.  If you had a way for people to learn about your services and to know how extraordinary you are as a service provider and then to reach out to you because they want you instead of you having to bid on a project amongst dozens of other people or something and to have to prove yourself that’s what a blog can do.  It can make you the thing that people want, the thing that your clients want as opposed to them simply wanting a service from the lowest cost provider or something.  That enables you to do a lot of things.  You can raise your rates.  You can become booked solid so that you’re actually booked out by weeks or months.  You then get to choose from the clients that come in.  You almost get to audition clients as opposed to having to just take whatever comes your way.  Those are the types of things that you can do from a blog.  Now, to start a blog and attract those people I think you have to think in the same way that you do when you’re crafting your services to offer.  You have to think about what are the pain points that my clients have?  What is it that I’m trying to help them do?  What major benefits will they get by using my services?  How am I going to change their lives and to impact them in a significant way?  Then, through the blog you give them as much as you can give through free content.  Let’s say you’re a life coach and you want to help people make transformations in their business or something.  You might be able to give them an incredible amount in the sessions that you do, in the 90 minutes or something, but if you sort of abstract out the types of things that you’re going to give them in the sessions, in the consulting that you do and try to put that into the content that you create then that’s what you can use to attract people.  That’s what you can use to demonstrate how valuable your services are, how knowledgeable you are, why they might be connected with you from a personal level and then some of those people who read that free content will then want to take it to the next step naturally and become a client of yours.
Michelle: So essentially what you’re talking about is blogging about the benefits of yours service.  How the client will receive some sort of value from it?  How it will change their lives?  How it will impact their lives?  What they will see as a product of these services?
Corbett:  Not exactly.  There’s a bit of a nuance there.  I said earlier to start with the benefits.  Think about the benefits that your services provide.  I’m not saying that you should blog about your services or about the benefits.  I’m saying you should give them a taste of the benefits that they’re actually going to get.  Basically, think about what your services and how you could help someone through your content, not just to tell them about how great your services or that, you know, if they buy your services they’re going to get those things but to actually give them some of that benefit just by reading your content.  Give them a list of things that they can do.  Maybe tell them case studies of people that you’ve helped and how you helped them and be very specific and show them exactly how you helped them and what you went through in order to make that transformation.  Don’t be afraid of giving away your best stuff.  Literally try to help people with your content in the same way that you would with your services.  You’re going to attract a lot more leads that way and by giving away such awesome content through helping people that’s how you gain clients because there are clients who are going to want to go the extra mile.  There are clients who are going to want you to customize the generic advice that you’ve provided through your blog post in a way directly for them by using your services.
Michelle:  So basically you’re showing them a taste of what you’re capable of?
Corbett:  Exactly.
Michelle:  Okay.  Great.  So, moving on to “Start a Blog that Matters.”  I was very excited when I saw this because not only does it look like a great prospectus; it looks like a great cause.  It’s about doing something that you love; doing something that is going to impact other people’s lives.  It’s not just about making money.  It’s not just about putting a blog up and doing AdSense and things like that.  It’s really about changing people’s lives, not just your own through the blogging but for the people that follow your blog.  I would like to touch on this a little bit more.  I would also like to say that I think it’s too cheap because I saw the price of it and I thought, “Oh my gosh, this is amazing.”  Basically, what was your motivation for creating this?  Why did you create “Start a Blog that Matters?”
Corbett:  Mostly it’s true, the work that I’ve done, I think “Traffic” and just having gotten to know dozens of  bloggers personally, I’ve met some very big-name bloggers and I’ve helped other people create blogs that have gone on to be very successful but I also have gotten to know, maybe not quite so formally, hundreds of bloggers through the comments that they leave on my site, through the emails that they send me, and I know that people are struggling out there to create blogs that actually do something.  A lot of people launch a blog and they think it’s going to be easy.  They think it might be an easy path to make money or to get clients or whatever and they realize that it’s actually a lot of work.  Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the internet marketing crowd who are all too happy to prey on the fears and the desires that people have and to sell them a bunch of lies, frankly, to tell them that, like you said, that you can slap up a few posts with really basic information and then use a bunch of, you know, social media Twitter, Facebook, and that sort of thing and maybe some Google AdWords or something and then you can have a big audience.  It just doesn’t work that way.  I’ve watched people struggle so much.  I know that there are a number of simple things that you can follow, a set of action plans as I call them, over a period of 90 days in the course that are going to help you make major breakthroughs that you wouldn’t make on your own or if you were listening to the usual advice because the usual advice just doesn’t work.
Michelle:  Yeah.  Honestly, that’s a subject that’s very close to my heart, particularly in the sort of consulting virtual assistant industry.  You have so many people come to you who say, “Oh, I saw this guy and he’s making $100 a day and I just need you to create a blog and then I’m going to do the same.”  But, it’s very difficult to explain to people that it just doesn’t work like that, certainly for my service providers because, obviously, the virtual assistant industry itself a lot of internet marketers are encouraging their clients, I suppose, to use virtual assistants and then it sort of like the internet marketers doesn’t get blamed but the virtual assistant gets blamed for not producing the results that the internet marketer promised.
Corbett:  Right.
Michelle:  So, it’s kind of catch-22 that rolls in at the moment.  I can talk about that all day but, yes, absolutely, a blog, it’s….
Corbett:  Yeah.  I hear you.
Michelle:  It takes dedication.  It takes hard work.  It takes effort.  I also think as well it takes a lot of personal interaction.  Whilst you can outsource a lot of the technology and things like that, essentially I think what you’re saying is a blog has to come from the heart and it has to be personal.
Corbett:  It’s the same if you think about your line of work, being a virtual assistant, in order to be a really good virtual assistant you have to not be doing it just because you want to make $100 a day because if you do that you’re never going to put in the effort required to get the good clients and then when you get the good clients you’re not going to have the passion to help them make the kind of results that they need.  So, if you’re doing it for more than that, as a virtual assistant, if you’re trying to help people, if you legitimately care about their business and about making a strong contribution to that business, getting to know them, learning the ins and outs, then you’re just going to be so much more successful in that industry.  The same is true of blogging.  You have to be blogging because you want to reach out and help people.  You don’t start a blog just because you want to bring in more clients.  You start a blog because you want to produce content that is going to have a material impact on other people’s lives.  The satisfaction of doing that and the satisfaction of making new friends and things online that’s why you have to start a blog.
Michelle:  Absolutely.  Good stuff.  So, in terms of online service providers, in terms of virtual assistants, consultants and people like that, how can your program help people who are offering services online?  What can it do for them?
Corbett:  The course, as I mentioned, is essentially a 90-day action plan for starting a new blog.  So, if you have no blog at all or maybe you started one before but it wasn’t successful this course will give you weekly lessons and weekly action plans on exactly what you should be doing from start to finish.  On the service provider front we don’t dive very deep into how to make revenue but in your case that’s okay because you already know how you’re going to make revenue.  You’re going to turn some of the leads, the people that come to your site, into clients.  You already have the mechanism for doing that as a virtual assistant or a service provider, the people who are in your audience, Michelle.  But, what this course will do is it will help build a platform where people are coming to your sites so that you can stop having to go out and do the cold calling or the networking or attending the events or the hard sales pitches that frankly most people don’t want to do.  I think a lot of people end up failing in your industry simply because they’re not willing to do all of the selling that it would require to gain clients if you didn’t have a platform.  Again, that’s the purpose of building a blog if you’re a service provider, is to have a platform that draws people in.  I don’t know if you’ve heard the term “inbound marketing” but that’s essentially what a blog is.  It’s inbound marketing as opposed to outbound marketing meaning people are coming to you for the incredible content that you create.  It’s very easy to turn some of those people into clients as opposed to outbound marketing where you’re pushing messages out and you just feel like you’re almost spamming people, trying to tell them about how awesome your services are.  Instead, you attract them with honey with demonstration of how great your content and your services are and then some of those people naturally become clients.
Michelle:  So what your program can actually do is help people to attract potential clients to their blogs through the content and through your strategies that you help people with for them to potentially turn those people and those visitors into clients?
Corbett:  Exactly.
Michelle:  Okay.  Great.  So, just to recap.  It’s over on StartaBlogthatMatters.com, is that right?
Corbett:  Yap, that’s correct.
Michelle:  Okay.  So, if anyone wants to join it’s StartaBlogthatMatters.com.  We’re going to put the links and everything with this video and the blog post.  Do you have one final tip that you can give anybody who’s looking to start a blog or anybody who has started a blog and has maybe not seen the kind of results that they would like to see from it?  What is your top tip?
Corbett:  Well, I have a lot of top tips but here’s one that maybe people don’t think about very often which is:
“Oftentimes, your success as a blogger is directly related to the number of other bloggers that you know because if you think about it, traffic and visitors don’t come out of thin air.  Traffic and visitors that you would like to get to your blog are already hanging out somewhere else online.  They’re spending time on new sites.  They’re spending time on social media.  They’re spending time all over on the internet.  Your job is to identify where those people hang out and then to get in front of them somewhere, somehow and then to bring them back to your own site.  A really great way to do that is by getting to know other bloggers online because other bloggers might have an audience already.  They might have people that are visiting their site and some of those people might be interested in what you have to offer.  So if you get to know other bloggers via email, via leaving comments on their blog through social media, through Skype conversations like we’re doing now through interviews and things like that and you form relationships with those other bloggers because they’re in the same industry (for example I’m sure in the virtual assistant industry there are a whole lot of other people out there who are blogging about it and talking about it), if you band together and you make friends with those people then over time they’re more likely to link to your website, to feature you on their blog and perhaps to let you guest post on their blog and things like that.  So, networking with other bloggers is a really great way to grow your audience.  That’s one of the things that we teach in the course.  It’s one of the top strategies that I use to grow my blog and that I use when I’m working with clients one-on-one as well.”
Michelle:  Amazing stuff.  Corbett, thank you so much for your time.  I know you’re a busy guy.  You probably got a beach somewhere in Mexico to go and lay on.  Thank you so much for your time.  I look forward to seeing what you come up with again in the future.
Corbett:  Alright.  Thanks so much for having me on, Michelle.  Good luck.  I’m a big fan of what you’re doing.

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Hi I'm Michelle, an entrepreneur specialising in virtual assistance, a digital and real world nomad, and a down-to-earth mother of three.

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