I had to write this down for EJ Insiders because it's a realization that I am continually drumming into my own head over and over again.
When I started blogging I cared about how many people visited my blog as the most important thing.
Then as blogging took off, it was RSS that seemed to matter most.
I quickly realized it wasn't RSS subscribers that mattered, it was email subscribers.
I saw what the direct response email marketers were doing. They could write a message to their list and money came back. It seemed almost like magic.
Bloggers back then were focused on Google Adsense advertising and hence traffic is what mattered most. Email marketing was not a priority, everyone cared about SEO and writing lots of articles to bring in more pageviews, a tiring business model for sure!
Thankfully most of the blogosphere has caught up with this critical concept today – email subscribers matter.
Most bloggers who spend any time studying how to make money from their blog will have an email optin form. The best will make email the center point of their whole strategy (as I hope all EJ Insiders are!).
However, that's not quite the right answer either.
There is one more mindset change you have to make. One more subtle strategic shift towards the metric that actually matters.
The Metric That Matters Most
If you're blogging as a business then there is only one metric that matters. Strangely enough the corporate world makes this a priority, yet possibly because blogging has evolved from a hobby, it has taken a long time for this “sound business practice” to seep in.
What matters is how many buyers you get from subscribers and how much they spend.
It's return on investment (ROI) that matters most.
It's called a return on investment because everything you do to acquire a customer is an investment. That might include writing blog posts and marketing your content, or buying facebook ads, or creating a podcast or youtube channel – it's all an investment (some call it a cost) designed to attract people to you and turn some of them into paying customers.
This is why your overall strategy is critical. You need to attract the right type of audience to your blog to get the right type of subscriber to your email list so you make sales.
If you're not making sales, then everything else doesn't matter, no matter how much traffic you have or how good your optin rate.
A 50% optin rate on your landing page that doesn't lead to any customers is much worse than a 10% optin rate that leads to one sale a day.
The added benefit of this attitude shift is that it forces you to focus on selling, to create products and make offers. You can't come to any meaningful conclusion if you do not have the most important data points – are you making sales and how much is each customer worth to you?
You Must Make An Offer
Right now if you are feeling bad because your traffic is low or your optin rate is terrible, you're worrying about the wrong thing.
The only variable that should push you into action is how can you get as fast as you can to making some kind of offer.
Once you are making offers, then the rest of the data you have gains meaning.
Ideally you should remove the emotional component from your analysis. You're not doing bad or good, you're simply looking at each point in your conversion process to improve it.
Once you are making sales, then you can start working your way backwards to find the weakest links and then focus on improving them. This is when it becomes valuable to work on things like improving your optin rate.
If you increase your optin rate from 40 subscribers a day to 60, and that results in one more sale per day at a value of $30 ROI, then you have a meaningful result.
When you have ROI, you can look at things like optin rates, email open rates, email click through rates and sales page conversion rates, and draw conclusions that matter. You can see how these things influence your cash flow. Once you have cash flow, then you have the ability to scale and it's much easier to scale when you know your numbers.
Start With Your First Offer
For most people in the EJ Insider the key take away from this article is knowing that until you have a product for sale, you have no means of truly gauging how well you are doing.
Yes you should celebrate every little step, from setting up your blog, to attracting your first email subscriber and beyond. However, it's the day you make your first sale that you truly begin running a business, hence you should focus all your efforts towards making that first offer.
This is why for many people just getting started, I recommend you focus first on offering private coaching or some kind of service you can sell. This is an offer you can make tomorrow and immediately use as your base metric to test your whole system.
Now go get busy and do whatever it takes to get your first offer in front of people and make that sale!