4 Ways to Grow Your Audience

4 Ways to Grow Your Audience

Growing sapling

Growing sapling

 

Do you ever feel like you are writing your heart out and no one is listening? If so, you’re not alone. That struggling-artist-laboring-away-in-a-dungeon feeling is common among bloggers.

The blogosphere is cluttered with wanna-be writers and the web is full of noise. Growing an audience is hard work, plain and simple. Picking a niche and knowing your target audience are critical, to be sure, but here are four additional ways to break through and grow your audience.


1. Accuracy:

Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Daniel Moynihan

Be a fanatic about accuracy. I think it was Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan who said, “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.” Putting all the nonsense in Washington D.C. aside, facts are facts. Your writing is your brand. Sticking to the facts is the same as being honest and being honest is how you build trust with your audience. In fact, it is your job to build trust between you and your audience. If your readers believe you play loose and fast with the facts, that you aren’t a credible source of information and opinion, they will abandon you. If they think your space is just an ongoing rant about how you feel at the moment then you’re work is probably no more compelling than a teenager’s Facebook page. Few readers will not stick around unless you offer interesting facts and unique opinions. Doing good research shows you are a thoughtful and serious person and not just another self-indulgent blogger with a keyboard and free time. Search engines and wiki’s are great places to locate and verify facts. A couple sites I like are http://www.factbrowser.com and www.snopes.com. Here’s the lesson: Don’t cut corners and don’t be lazy. Put in the effort and protect your reputation.

2.     Consistent Voice:

The web is an almost unlimited source of information. So every blogger needs to ask their self, “With so many choices available, why would anyone read my blog?” Beyond your impeccable research and use of facts, is your unique writing style and tone. Professional writers refer to this as your voice. You need to find your own writing voice. There are many things to consider when developing your voice. Pace and grammar are two important elements of your voice. Pace refers to the rhythm of your writing. Some writers prefer writing everything in short declarative sentences. Others prefer long complex sentences with lots of commas. I like to mix up my pace, my sentence length, to give my reader some variety. Using all short sentences can be dull and too many complex sentences is too much work for today’s readers. Grammar contributes to voice and can be quite technical. There are many websites dedicated to grammar. One of my favorites is www.grammarly.com. But owning your unique writer’s voice doesn’t mean you get to throw-up on the page, ignore the rules of grammar, and be a crappy editor. Practice the rules of good writing and you’ll find your voice.

3.     Mix it up:

If you are certain the information you are delivering is relevant but you’re still not getting the readership you desire, experiment with your format. Instead of writing a traditional narrative post, like this one, produce a short video. The equipment is relatively inexpensive and, who knows, video may be your thing. Curating content and sharing them as lists using online tools such as List.ly, is growing in popularity but make sure to add your insights and opinions. Interview pieces is another great way to grow your audience by leveraging the brands of more established experts. Experiment for a few months and then if you want to focus on one format or continue to mix up formats. Another blogging tactic is to simple double or triple the number of images you insert in your posts. Blogger stats indicate that image rich posts are found and read more than posts with fewer images. Finally, mix up your content as well. Publishing the same topics over and over is boring for you and your audience. Even a really important message can grow stale. If you want more ideas, Problogger posted (written by guest blogger Karol K) a long list of “52 Types of Blogs that are proven to Work.” Test and measure various ways to deliver and share your content until your audience grows and you find a comfortable format.

 4.     Relevance:

I put relevance last but probably should have put it first. Ask yourself if your content is relevant to your target audience. Are you writing about what interests you or are you writing about what interests your target audience? It’s a serious question. You’d be surprised how many bloggers are doing the former when we Grow Readership thru Blog Relevancyall should be doing the latter. This is a common mistake with new bloggers. You need to write about what your audience cares about, whether those topics interest you or not. An easy way to check yourself is to simply review your prior blog posts and determine which ones are popular with your target audience. Once you’ve done that then it’s your job to write more about those topics. If you’re new to blogging and have no history to draw from then a good way to select topics is to search popular social media platforms, see what your target audience is talking about, and then share your opinions on those topics.

Here’s a checklist you can use as a reminder. To grow your audience you must:

  • Use verified facts to support your opinions.
  • Write clearly in a consistent and authentic voice.
  • Mix up formats and see which one works best for you and your audience.
  • Write for your audience, not yourself.

And here’s a bonus tip, “Have fun!”

Shareable Content

Everyone struggles to create shareable content, content that is retweeted, Liked, and spreads out on the various social media platforms.

Writing quality content can be a challenge, for sure, but it’s more than just the quality of your writing. Creating shareable content requires good headlines, images that quickly convey your message and have meaning for your audience and some idea as to when is the best time to post.

In short, creating a steady stream of shareable content requires knowledge and a plan.

Here are six articles that will help you understand how to meet those challenges.

10 Platforms for Content Marketing

10 new platforms that could become the next-big-thing in content marketing are reviewed in this deck.

The background information on funding, early users, and sustainability digs deeper into the people and technology behind each platform is very interesting but would have been more insightful had they went into details about growth plans,  monetization, and what pain-point they each hope to ease.

Of note, platform funding includes household names as diverse as Mark Cuban and AOL and early adopters (customers) range from WalMart to Intel to Bud Light, to the NBA. Major brands are using many of these platforms already.

However, to truly understand the value of these platforms you should visit the sites yourself. Generally the sites do a much better job of explaining their technology, value, and target audience but, more importantly, exploring the sites gives you a personal, customer-like, experience which may also help you judge the viability of the platform and determine if one or more of them is right for your business.

Link to presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/jchernov/10-rockingcontentmarketingproductschernovbeutler

Note: Sorry about the link but Slideshare does not yet support embedding all presentation formats in WordPress. With some browsers it may be necessary to cut-n-paste the url.

Hacking Your Blogging Schedule

Hack your blogging schedule

According to Hubspot companies that blog have 55% more website visitors. Yet in our recent  survey of the industrial and electrical industry creating quality content, such as blogging, is the leading challenge for most business executives.

keys spelling out blogHere are 6 hacks (time saving tips) for getting your blog post out on time.

  1. Set-up a blog calendar in Excel. You’ll need six column headings: (1) blog title, (2) posting date, (3) category, (4) keywords, (5) key points and (6) comments. Use the comment column to free-write about calls-to-action, target audiences and list links you want to include in your post, anything you want to remember to think about or do. The spreadsheet is a tool to give you structure.
  2. Blog topic selection are hard for some people but they don’t have to be. Your opinion on industry problems, for example, is a quick and easy way to come up with blog topics and position yourself as a thought-leader. If you are a member of any online industry community, take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions and react to those posts. You don’t have to solve world hunger, you’re just trying to find an audience. It’s a blog, not a contract so try to be conversational and informal.
  3. Invite others to write guest posts for your blog. It’s a win-win approach. You get fresh content, your audience gains a new perspective, and you both gain visibility to each others (broader) audience.
  4. Let other employees write blog entries. You’ll need guidelines such as word count and topic selection but don’t be too restrictive. In addition, you’ll want to approve every post before it becomes public but you may find there are people in your organization that enjoy writing and view this as an opportunity to grow and add value. If writing is difficult for you then delegating your blog is the way to go.
  5. If you are comfortable in front of the camera adding a short video to your blog, or reading the entire blog, is a great way to engage the audience and attract the search engines. The search engine like video more than text because they know their audience prefers watching videos to reading. Check out my Aligned Marketing blog post on creating videos for tips on video production.
  6. Blogging isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have the time or interest in blogging you can always outsource. You’ll need to set the guidelines and, in my opinion, want to hire someone with industry knowledge. For the best results I recommend you list the topics and provide your writer with an outline of key points. In the end that will save you time and money while, at the same time, produce better results.

What other hacks work for you?

 

Edited from original post on 3-12-12 by Aligned Marketing, LLC