When I started blogging, my ego told me that I am a strong writer. More pointedly, I thought that each of my blog posts would go viral as if they were the second coming of Harry Potter. No way. Rude awakening.
My first few blog posts were read only by family and friends, despite my thinking that they would result in my immediate Authentication Icon by Twitter and calls from Random House for my first book. Admittedly, my initial lack of readers bummed me out.
I love to write, and one purpose of my blog is to supplement my focus on leveraging passion, product, and social media to build companies through my firm Excel Capital Partners. However, just like there is a difference between writing and being a writer, there is also a difference between posting a blog and developing a blog audience.
A reality of blogging: for the large percentage of us that aren’t among the “blogger elite,” simply posting our blogs on social media websites is the equivalent to bringing sand to the beach. There are millions of bloggers who post every day: so the question to ask, what can we do to provide context and to engage readers? How do we built sand into sandcastles?
Here is how I’ve been gaining traction in this endeavor: by building a synergy to connect content with context. What does that mean?
To develop a blog following, there are additional steps that I have found helpful to take after I hit “publish.” I learned much of this from my meetings with mentors, including an exceptionally thought-provoking meeting with Gary Vaynerchuk. I write this having recently started my own company and my own personal blog, and am approaching 9,000 blog readers in under a month. Not a huge number, but a rising one.
Here are two areas of focus that I’ve found helpful:
1. This is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Patience isn’t something that comes naturally to me, but is required as a blogger. Why? Because it takes time to find our voices, to capture a core audience, and to carve out a niche within the pool of social media. This doesn’t happen overnight.
I learned that not each particular blog will resonate with masses, but the best way to slowly build your audience is to be relevant, raw, honest, and interesting. I learned that I can’t be discouraged by certain blogs not being a grand slam, because it’s simply impossible to be everything to everyone.
But I also learned to keep hustling: a key is writing every day; not necessarily publishing every day, but writing something, no matter what. Like any other muscle, the brain needs to do its daily pushups, and the more writing I do, the stronger the writing gets.
2. Provide Context To My Readers In An Honest Manner
Simply posting a link to a blog has a minimal conversion rate. There’s just too much content out there already. Fundamentally, I find it necessary to write with honesty and humility, and never forcing a thought or concept that I’m not fully passionate about.
I’ve found a key is to locate others on Twitter who are engaging in a dialogue on the topic of my blog and engaging with them. This creates a connection and context. This means doing extra diligence: engaging with new people, being a part of (and instigating) a conversation, and using your blog as leverage to make an impact. For example, I plan to find people on Twitter who are writing about how to blog, and engage them with a link to this piece. Boom: a captive audience.
Blogging requires finding that audience and then feed them context — the content is already there in your words, but step two is connecting that content to readers who are interested in the subject matter.
Alternatively, I’ve found it necessary to carefully target the right, relevant influencers and getting the posts on their radar, thereby creating a connection that leads to a more widespread audience. This has helped me develop a core group of readers, who in turn engage in dialogue about the subject at hand.
Sandcastles: using sand to build something that is uniquely your own. Use your blog to build towers, bridges, and moats. And have fun with it. Building an audience requires taking additional steps of engagement with context, honesty in writing, connecting with the relevant influencers, and understanding that an audience doesn’t happen overnight.