One of the most common questions from our readers is how to grow their audience.
Most often this question comes from bloggers who want to grow their readership base or boost website traffic. But increasingly, this question comes from brands who use social media and blogging to connect with potential customers.
If you’ve ever gone to a live performance before – the kind where people pay to see that exact performer – you will see branding in a much simpler light.
Do you ever notice how similar an audience looks to the performer? How similar their language is? How connected fans are with their life stories?
Even when you don’t make music, you need to treat your blog like the stage for your performance. So where do you start?
1. Know Your Audience
If you go to water plants in a garden, you must first know where they are. Otherwise, you end up watering weeds and dead things that never required your attention. The same goes for growing your audience.
Before you can grow that group, you must first know who they are. How old are they? Where are they from? What stage of life are they currently in? Are they college educated? What kind of music do they listen to? What’s important to them? What content can you produce that will catch their attention?
2. Pay Attention to Appearances
Every day we get requests to look at blogs and give feedback. When we do, there’s no telling what we’ll find. Sometimes we’re really impressed, but most indie blogs leave us scratching our heads. Here’s why.
If you want to appeal to an audience, look at the blogs that appeal to you. There’s a reason they do. What do they look like? You certainly shouldn’t copy their look, but there’s nothing wrong with taking notes.
Creativity is important, but taking it too far can make for a tacky ending. Beware of the colors and font you use, the quality of the images, and your writing. Appearances are everything, even when your only currency is words and likes.
Appearances should also include paying attention to how your website appears on mobile devices. We use our smart phones for everything from finding love to paying the mortgage these days.
We’ll use it to browse your site, too. Optimize your website for tablets and cell phones.
3. Publish Great Content
Simple and unique appearances catch readers’ attention. Good content makes them stay.
Great content keeps them coming back time and time again. So what makes content great? This is subjective, but there are some features that are universally applicable.
Great content is:
- Entertaining and/or informative
- Well articulated
Great content is not:
4. Build Credibility
For better or worse, the Millennial Generation is one that loves to tell other people what to do, and how to do it.
When you’re looking for advice and tutorials, this is handy. But every so often you run into a source that makes you wonder what makes them such an expert? Don’t be that source.
If you use your content to provide advice or tempt people into buying your products and services, you must position yourself as an expert. Don’t leave readers guessing at your credibility.
You do this with more showing, than telling of your expertise. This entire article so far, for instance, has been a showing of our expertise. Statements like best writer ever don’t show us anything. We want to know why. Provide access to your portfolio and resume.
Get testimonials going. In fact, if you’re doing a great job, “testimonials” should already be in your comments from readers who love your content. These are the results that show credibility.
5. Put on a Good Show
No, we’re not telling you to dupe your readers by pretending to be something you’re not. Instead, you should have a story worth telling; something people will want to read.
Write in a way that engages your readers. If you don’t know how, hire someone who does, or hire an editor that polishes your writing until it shines like the midday sun in July.
Remember to share the obstacles just as much as you share the triumphs. Authenticity is key.
6. Use Social Media
Don’t just create an endless collection of social media accounts. Brand them. When people jump from one platform to the next, they should always be able to tell that you or your website stands behind it.
Try it on your friends. If they can’t tell, it’s definitely time for some re-branding. Link your blog to your social media platforms, so that your posts are automatically shared in your feed. However, this should not make up the bulk of your feed, especially on Twitter.
Unless you’re a big corporation or news agency, no one is interested in a bunch of links on your page. Be personable. Be sociable. Be authentic. Do more than sell yourself.
7. Don’t Spam
There is nothing more annoying online than spam. You know it. We know it. And yet, in their attempts to attract readers, many bloggers find themselves committing the abominable sin of the internet age.
Do not spam your readers. This involves not just having a page full of nothing but links, but repeatedly sending those links to people who never showed an interest in seeing them. It’s great to share your work with others, but beware of who and how.
Share with friends and family who have an interest in your work, and who showed an interest in the past. If you share a few times and they have never responded, this is a good hint you should stop.
The same goes for social media, including WordPress. Visiting tons of blogs and asking everyone to visit your page and provide feedback means WordPress will eventually mark you as spam, sometimes with no intervention from us. We have quite a few such comments sitting on our spam folder.
Many bloggers also feel as though you only came by to promote your blog, and not to support theirs. This translates into an unauthentic engagement, so quite often bloggers don’t reply.
8. Guest Blogging
Once you’ve identified and connected with your audience, it becomes easier to find other blogs that your audience visits. In fact, you can just ask them.
Compile a list and then pitch these blogs to post content there. Ask for a byline, and link back to your current blog. If that blog does not allow bylines with links, then at least ask to be credited.
Sometimes being visible is the most important aspect of building a brand. After all, when you put a billboard on the highway, passersby can’t click on it. Think of your guest post in this way.
9. Run Paid Ads
Paid ad campaigns can help to grow your audience on social media, especially when your content includes more than blog posts.
People don’t always want to read a 500 to 3000 word article, but you may engage people with memes and relatable posts, who may finally drop by to skim your posts and look at your pictures. Sometimes this is the best you can hope for online.
A large social media following can also help you build credibility in your niche, which can bring you sponsorship deals.
10. Hire a PR Firm
You knew this one was coming, didn’t you? Ah, well… you should have. The truth is, most PR firms don’t work with indie bloggers. In fact, we don’t know any who do, besides Alexis Chateau PR. And those you can convince, probably come with a hefty price tag.
Our firm helps bloggers to do all nine tips above, and then some, at reasonable prices. For those of you looking to turn your blog into a business, we help with business formations, and all the other boring and technical aspects of setting up a business that you’ve been putting off.
Interested in having your blog analyzed by our team? We’ll send you recommendations for improvements! Check out our blog analysis page for details.
About the Author
Alexis Chateau is the Founder and Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR. She is an activist, writer, and explorer. Follow her stories of trial and triumph at www.alexischateau.com.