Running a blog is a lot of fun but it’s also hard work. One of the main reasons I started this blog was to have my own product to work on. I figured it was the ultimate test of whether I really can apply my product & marketing skills to anything.
I also knew that one of my toxic Product Manager traits is perfectionism. One of the skills you are forced to learn quickly as a Product Manager is to know when to let go of perfectionism and launch something that works. Your product doesn’t need to have every single feature and marketing channel available to be successful. You just need to sit down and think about the minimum build requirements that will solve a problem or meet a need of your customers. I knew that blogging would push me to sharpen this skill.
How did I build Product In Heels?
Product In Heels was an idea in my head for ~6 months until I started building it on January 5th 2021. I gave myself a deadline of exactly 1 month. I had no idea if this was realistic given I had never used WordPress or blogged before but no matter what I was going to launch it. I’m proud to say that I did launch my minimum viable product (MVP) blog on time.
The best and hardest part about blogging is that it is just me, myself and I running this show. I am: Product Manager, Marketing Manager, Brand Manager, Compliance Officer, Lawyer, Social Media Manager, Project Manager, Digital Optimisation Manager…the list goes on. If anyone wants some work experience let me know!
I thought I’d share a few of the ways I’ve applied product thinking to optimise my blog. I’m 7 months in and there are still a lot of things I want to achieve.
Start using a free design app like Canva
I originally designed my logo using some dodgy methods in PowerPoint. It wasn’t bad. It was MVP. But Canva made it better. Paying a graphic designer is probably even better but Product In Heels is a lean operation (for now!).
Catch people’s attention with your brand
I still have conflicting thoughts about what the mission of my blog is and who I should be writing for. I’ve actually gone completely against product thinking here and focused on creating a brand that looks fun. The theme for Product In Heels this year is scale. Who cares if the strategy is a bit fluid, we just need to attract as many eyeballs as we can.
I had this headline banner on my home page where I was trying to tell people what Product In Heels was. My gut feel (I’m not a web designer so open to feedback on this) was to set this up so that it was visually appealing and let the blog content speak for itself. I felt a more colourful vs text heavy shopfront was the way to go.
I honestly have a whole new appreciation for the brand teams at work. Big companies have 200+ page documents explaining their brand guidelines and now I know why.
If someone likes your blog, is it easy to follow?
One of the key features that makes a blog a blog is the subscribe function and email list. You can have a boring old “Subscribe for more content” or “Follow me” message on your home page but I’ve gone for something a little less traditional:
My Call To Action?
“Get Your Heels Today”
Will this resonate with everyone? Possibly not.
Is it something different that will capture the readers attention? You can bet your bottom dollar it is.
I could consider moving the subscribe tool further up the home page but that would require some rework that I haven’t prioritised. I do feel that if people want to subscribe they’ll find it on the homepage.
I’m also not a fan of home page takeovers. When implemented well you can see good response rates however I feel it compromises the experience. I’ll let my content be the deciding factor for my readers.
If something isn’t adding value, remove it
As a test when I first launched I had a full suite of social icons. I wanted to test what people clicked on to help decide my social strategy. I’ll do a separate post on this but three initial observations:
- Goodreads adds no value to my blog so I removed it
- Youtube had the most clicks (I don’t have an account, I wanted the data first before I go to that level of effort)
- Facebook and LinkedIn get minimal clicks – I’m going to kill LinkedIn, Facebook drives traffic to my site
You want to give people the most relevant options and you want to limit having too many choices.
Don’t forget to protect yourself
I can’t really talk about my products in great detail on here as I respect the privacy and intellectual property of my employers past and present. I do have the audacity to analyse other people’s products, and I have a growing base of Westpac followers, so I decided it was best to have a general disclaimer on my page. Feel free to leverage this copy for your site. I have a few more edits to make and I plan to have a qualified lawyer review this for me.
Backlog of ideas for the Product In Heels home page:
- Enhance the proof point “Join 56 other subscribers”
- Enhance the onboarding journey when someone subscribes – the emails are terrible
- SEO enhancements – I’ve done some basic updates but I’m still learning about SEO
Is this content helpful to people?
I’ve noticed a real gap in the market when it comes to blogging tips for beginners. I have spent hours reading through other people’s blogs to understand how to do certain things and often ended up completely confused. I’m not a professional blogger but I do come at this with a Product Manager’s perspective so I hope these insights are helpful.
I can’t pinpoint how successful each of these changes have been on their own however what I can tell you is that I’ve noticed a definite uptick in traffic to my site even when I’ve barely posted this month. Before I changed the subscribe button I was getting ~5 followers per month. It shot up to 10 in the last month. I am confident these collective changes are an improvement.