Having a loyal readership is key to achieving success as a blogger or
online publisher. You may have the best blog in your niche or even the
most useful posts, but what good are your efforts if you don’t have a
steady stream of readers to appreciate your work?
Even if your blog attracts 50,000 visitors per month, it doesn’t do
you much good if your bounce rate is 100%. No matter what your blog may
be about, you need faithful readers who keep coming back for more.
With the right promotion and SEO, you might be able to get some
eyeballs, but building a loyal readership isn’t something that happens
overnight. It is something you consciously have to create, and that is
where true marketing comes into the picture.
These nine tips, when executed properly, will show you how to build raving fans for your blog, but grow your revenues.
1. Know your target audience
Before you even start to market and promote your blog, make sure you
are clear about your target audience. Who do you want to reach out to?
The whole Internet? Sure. Good luck with that. Writing about every topic
known to man makes you an expert in nothing.
Focus your blog posts on a specific subject and you can narrow down
your target audience. For example, if most of your current readers are
freelance writers, then produce content that will cater to their
interests and needs, such as”
- How to become a freelance writer
- How to write better
- How to market your services as a freelancer
The important thing is that you know to whom you are reaching out.
Once you’re clear about that, you can mold your content to address their
problems and develop a marketing strategy with a clear message. This
information will also allow you to determine what types of products or
services your readers may be interested in purchasing.
2. Don’t make selling your focus
The Internet – no, the world – has too many people who just want to
sell you something and make a quick buck. Consumers/readers are aware of
that, and if your site is all about selling your readers something,
then they won’t trust you. And no one does business with someone they
Like Warren Buffett said:
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Now, that is not to say you can’t make money or sell anything. The
idea is that you do not focus on selling at all. Instead, try to educate
your readers and let them make decisions for themselves. In fact, don’t
be afraid to down-sell when you believe a cheaper product/service might
be a better fit for a client. Positive online reviews and social shares
catch on quickly.
This post builds goodwill with potential “customers” because the
focus is to educate them on their options when building a blog, not
force them into a sales funnel that convinces them “WordPress is the
only blogging platform available and you have to use it if you want to
make any money online.”
3. Blog to provide value
I am sure you have read this so many times, but what does it really mean? Value, just like beauty, is relative.
What you may consider “valuable” may be considered “useless” to your
target audience. That is why it is important to know your target
audience. Understanding your readers – both existing and potential –
will be your beacon when deciding what is valuable information.
For instance, if your audience consists of bloggers looking to grow
their online business, then you can offer a plethora of tips, guides,
advice, and tricks:
- How to build a landing page
- How to optimize conversions
- Understanding consumer psychology
- Essential plugins to increase page load speed
- Best themes to encourage social sharing
- How to write attention-grabbing titles
- Places to get free images
- New SEO news or Google algorithm updates
- How to develop a personal brand
- How to hire freelance writers/editors/designers
Be as specific as you can, so that you are addressing your target
audience’s needs, concerns, and questions. Eventually when you do offer a
product or service, your reader’s confidence in your ability to provide
“value” will encourage them to buy something you endorse.
4. Put extra effort into crafting your headlines
We’ve all seen how Upworthy and Viral Nova started a trend using the curiosity gap in
their titles. This trend highlights the importance of the title because
no one clicks through to read an article when the headline doesn’t
Don’t just use the first title that comes to mind. Think about it.
Write it down. Think about it again and again till you find the right
combination of words. Some of your better content may be getting
overlooked because of an overly SEO’d title.
5. Link to external expert sources
Linking is a sensitive topic, especially with Google handing out
penalties left and right. However, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t
link out to other authoritative sites or bloggers. In my experience, it
all boils down to providing your audience with valuable information,
such as research, case studies, white papers, posts from experts or
well-known bloggers, etc. Remember the “curiosity gap” link above? This
is also one of the better ways of developing relationships with other
6. Interact – respond to comments
Content providers do have the main goal of writing and publishing,
but your work doesn’t stop there. If you want to develop a direct
connection with readers, then you have to interact with them and fellow
bloggers as well.
A comments section starts a dialogue. By monitoring and approving
comments, you obviously accomplish the task of catching spam that gets
through anti-spam plugins. But you should also remember that your
regular readers look up to you, and if you’re an expert in the field,
maybe even see you as a mini-celebrity. Responding to comments forms a
powerful connection with readers because it indirectly shows you care.
7. Engage on key social media networks
When it comes to marketing, social media is a prime tool.
While it doesn’t directly factor into Google’s algorithm yet, it can
still drive an abundance of free traffic. Don’t turn your back on it,
but don’t overdo it, either.
Tighten Your Focus on Social Media
There are so many social media platforms these days, and some
bloggers believe it to be necessary to establish a presence on all of
them. While creating a profile on every platform is easy enough, not all
social media will provide a sufficient return on investment.
What you can do instead is look at the platforms where you have the
best results – a growing following, significant interaction/sharing, and
click-through traffic. For my site in the personal finance space, I get
the most traffic from Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. LinkedIn and
Google Plus haven’t had the same impact for me, but everyone has
Analyze Your Social Media Stats
Once you have identified your ideal platform(s), then you get down to
the nitty gritty. You can’t just publish a Facebook post or tweet
whenever you want and hope your readers see it, like it, re-share it,
and so on. There are some things to consider when maximizing the reach
and interaction of each of your posts:
- When is your audience online? Facebook gives you Page Insights so
you can find out what times your followers are online the most. With
this knowledge, you can time your posts accordingly.
- What kinds of posts/tweets get most views, likes, comment, and re-shares?
- What type of media do your visitors like and interact with?
- How do you market content on Google Plus?
Additionally, you can use tools to make it easier to manage posting
and tweeting as well as analyze their impact. I highly recommend Buffer,
which allows you to connect various social media platforms, set
schedules, schedule posts, and see stats such as clicks, likes, and
Don’t Be A Mere Broadcaster
Pushing your content on social media in order to get clicks is well
and good – we want that! But if you only focus on broadcasting your own
content, then you’ll probably turn people off.
We circle back to one thing…interaction!
- Respond to comments
- Like them. Reply to tweets
- Follow other people in the same niche
- Interact with authoritative figures in your industry
- Show your followers the real person behind the site.
8. Create something of extra value, and give it away
More than the usual blog post or article, why not occasionally create
something extra, like a guide or how-to manual? A short eBook in PDF
form will suffice. The idea is to bring something new to the table, and give it away for free. This can even be used as a hook to get email subscribers and grow your mailing list.
Set up a newsletter
You have a couple of options here. You can provide a roundup of what
you have recently published, something like a “Best Of” for 2014. Or
maybe an exclusive article only seen in the newsletter.
A few things to consider when creating a newsletter:
- You need to test the best way to convert visitors and encourage them
to opt-in. Some sites use a sidebar banner, a plug after every post, or
a popup for visitors who have been on the site for at least 30 seconds.
You will need to test to find what works best for your traffic and site
- Make sure you don’t spam. Be picky about what you include in the
newsletter. Make sure you yourself would want to open that newsletter
every time it lands in your Inbox; otherwise, you risk losing
subscribers and a shrinking mailing list.
9. Have passion
None of this would be possible without passion. You must be
passionate about your blog’s subject and genuinely want to help your
readers improve their lives or businesses. I once read somewhere that
writing is like sex – you can’t fake it, so don’t even try. Like a
significant other, your readers can always tell.
With some consistent hard work and execution, you can develop a loyal
readership too. Just always try to give more than you ask, and your
readers will love you for it.
How do you build relationships with your readers?
Author bio: Gary Dek is the blogger behind StartABlog123.com as well as a dozen other niche sites. His passion is helping new and professional bloggers build sustainable online businesses.
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