Business owners who launch a new blog will start with an audience of zero—well, one, if you count yourself. And while you're waiting for people to find your blog and start following it, those first moments of writing may feel frustrating and demoralizing.
If you're new to this, it's easy to feel like you're doing something wrong. And even if you have strong storytelling skills, you'll wonder why aren't people flocking to the content.
The fact is, audience-building is a long-term process for bloggers. Consumers are constantly bombarded with infographics, videos, emails and written articles, so you need to not only stand out, but be patient.
Attracting An Audience
In addition to writing blog posts, you need to craft a strategy for audience growth. This process could take months, so it's important to remain committed and persistent. Here are a few things you can do to spur audience growth:
1. Create an editorial calendar. Consistency is a key first step for bloggers. It's better to blog twice a week consistently than 12 times a month erratically. After discovering your blog—and enjoying what they read—your readers will likely come back to give your writing another chance. If you fail to maintain your blog, audiences may think it's an abandoned hobby; a consistent posting schedule tells people you're committed. If your writing is good, your topics interesting and your posts consistently scheduled, your audience will come back for more.
2. Interview and quote people. Blogging is more than great writing—it's about building relationships with people in your industry and community. One way to attract readers to your blog is to write about them. Interview them, quote them and encourage those mentioned to share your blog post with their own audiences. If you interview five people with 10,000 followers each, you'll have the opportunity to promote your content to 50,000 people.
3. Guest post. Identify the top 10 blogs in your industry, and inquire about contributing free content to them. While the thought of contributing free content may seem strange—after all, blogging is time-consuming and potentially resource intensive—the value you gain from guest blogging will be in the form of exposure to an audience that's much larger than your own. If you're good enough, a portion of those readers will begin to follow your blog, too.
4. Syndicate your content. In addition to writing guest articles for other blogs, you should also think about cross-publishing your blog posts on different websites. Although syndication opportunities aren't typically publicized, many large media entities will happily syndicate content from reputable bloggers, but it'll be up to you to form the strategic relationship. Content syndication has helped many small blogs grow their readership, but these deals aren't easy to strike. Your business development and relationship-building chops will be crucial to your success in this area.
5. Build an email list. Email is an extremely valuable source for Web traffic. Just think about it—people who opt-in as subscribers to your email list already value you and your company. These same people are most likely to want to read and share your blog content. Let your email subscribers know when you've published a new blog post so they can make the time to read it. This same idea works backwards for building your email subscriber base: When your blog is up and running, start generating a list of email subscribers from your blog readership.
Blogging is about more than just writing—it's about people and relationship building. As you continue blogging, over time, you'll find yourself building strong, interpersonal connections with your customers as well as experts and authorities in your field. You may even end up meeting and doing business with some of them. Take your blog seriously because you never know who'll be reading it.
Ritika Puri is a writer specializing in business, entrepreneurship, marketing and quantitative analysis. She has written for Forbes, Investopedia, CrazyEgg, Unbounce, the Contently Blog, the SAP Innovation Blog and others.
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