Over the last few weeks I have been asked many times about creating an audience for your blog, especially when you are just starting out. This is a vital topic and one that is covered extensively in the book Born to Blog, but here are a few ideas that helped me in the early stages.
First let me say a word about how your goals as a blogger may relate to your approach to building an audience.
Some bloggers may be seeking raw “traffic” for their blog. This does not necessarily build an engaged audience but it can result in the “social proof” of a big number (“I had 100,000 page views this week”) and it might help your cause if you are trying to make money through affiliate advertising.
My approach is not necessarily to build “traffic” who will probably never visit again, but to build an engaged audience who will directly provide business benefits of some kind. That will only come through relationships … and that only happens over time, consistent content creations, and tireless engagement.
The ideas I am presenting here are focused on building “strong link” relationships, not “weak link” traffic.
1) The content focus — I know this sounds like tired advice, but it is absolutely true. Your number one priority must be on creating content that adds value so people WANT to read what you have to say and come back again.
If you focus on creating content that is RITE — Relevant, Interesting, Timely, and Entertaining — over time, you will be creating content that is compelling, conversational, and shared.
2. Build a Twitter audience. This is the fastest way to build a relevant tribe. It’s relatively hard to “pull” people to your blog but it is fairly easy to build a connected Twitter audience in as little as 20 minutes a day. Salt in links to posts among your daily tweets. If your audience is interested in you, they will be interested in your blog too! There is an entire chapter about audience-building in The Tao of Twitter, including strategies to use Twitter Lists and Twitter Chats.
3. Activate LinkedIn groups. There are more than 1.5 million LinkedIn groups for every region and topic imaginable. Find some that are relevant to you. The best way to promote your blog is to use it to be helpful. When you see an interesting question in a LinkedIn group, answer by creating a blog post. Then paste the link to your blog post as your helpful answer. Some of these forums get thousands of views.
4. Build your own blog network. When I started out, I found a core group of beginning bloggers and we all supported each other. I knew that whatever I wrote I could count on a few comments and tweets from my blogging buddies. Not only did this offer valuable emotional support, their audience became my audience. You can often find great new blogging friends in the comment section of your favorite blogs or you might look into a more formal approach through a service like Triberr.
5. Think about your blog like your email address. This is pretty simple but overlooked. Promote your blog URL everywhere you have you email address like business cards, PowerPoint slides, newsletters, email signatures, correspondence. Most of these sources are going to be high-potential blog readers, right?
I went through a lot of trial and error as I was starting out but these five ideas that seemed to work best for me. Any tricks and tips you would like to share in the comment section?