Step 9: Grow An Audience
Growing a following is what is going to give you leverage when negotiating with sponsors. You want to build a relationship with your audience and no matter how large or small, they are what makes your blog your blog.
This isn’t a one way street either, you are not taking advantage of your audience or selling them out. (Although some people do). You are building an audience because you have something to offer, something of value that people spend their limited time and energy doing because it benefits them. All the while you are pouring time, energy and soul into what you are creating.
Building your audience does not have to be hard. In step 7 we talked about Getting Out There. But once you have those people on your site, you need to have a convincing reason for them to stay and keep coming back. 5 things to keep in mind.
1. Be genuine and be yourself. Your blog should reflect your personality and your love of your niche.
2. Make your site easy to share. Don’t be afraid to ask your audience to share every now and then. Don’t go overboard, nobody likes to get spammed with pleas for them to share, but if you wrote a particularly interesting and insightful post then don’t hesitate to ask. There are several WordPress plugins that make easy sharing a breeze. I find Easy Social Share Buttons (premium) and SumoMe (free) to be easy and flexible in styling, offers floating share buttons and has options to lessen the effects of negative reinforcement that we discussed in Step 5.
3. Get feedback. Ask someone to give you a brutally honest opinion of your site. It is a vulnerable experience having someone rip apart what you have created. You might be tempted to take it personally but don’t! Having honest feed back stings in the short run but is necessary to make something great in the long run. Very often people get sucked into a feedback loop, a self congratulatory circle jerk, that reinforces terrible quality content.
Tip: It is better if you are not there in person as people are less confrontational in person. Your audience will not be experiencing your site in person so your feedback should also come from the same place. If you have no one who will give you an honest opinion then shoot me an email and I will take a look at your site.
4. Start publishing ALOT then shift your focus to higher quality content. In the beginning you are going to want to rank on Google and get some traffic via search but as you progress and have enough content for Google to scrape you want to shift your attention to people. Real people. People with busy schedules and limited energy. People who do not have the time to read 100 mediocre articles. It is much more effective to have 10 jaw dropping amazing posts. These will be shared more and there will be a higher chance of being featured on a large site.