To succeed in business, you need to get your message in front of potential customers. Your message needs an audience, and that's true for any type of business. So, if you want to grow your business, you'll need to grow your captive audience.
One of the best ways to do that is by blogging. In this blog post, I'll share the seven most important factors to growing an audience through blogging.
(1) Have a Voice
Having a voice doesn't necessarily mean the act of talking or writing. It means having a point of view, being distinctive, and maybe even a little opinionated or controversial. There is a lot of noise on the Internet, and one of the biggest challenges that people face is sifting through all that noise in order to find interesting and helpful content.
You see, blogging is a double-edge sword. What makes it such a great opportunity for you -- the fact that there are virtually no barriers to entry and that it's easy to start a blog -- means that there are a lot of not-so-great blogs out there. By having a strong and consistent point of view, you're already going to be more compelling than most other blogs.
You may already have an idea of how you want to go about building your blog audience, or you may need to take a little time to self-analyse your business and your unique selling proposition. The voice of your blog should be a good fit for the products or services you're offering.
For example, if you're a health coach, then a writing voice that's positive and nurturing is almost certain to be more appropriate than a voice that uses risqué humour.
Of course, in order to have a strong voice, you also need to know who you're speaking to.
(2) Know Your Audience
Be sure to consider this factor from a couple of different perspectives. First, take a look at your current customers and followers. On average, how old are they? Where do they live? How much do they spend with you, and how frequently do they purchase? Are there any demographic clues that you can derive from your customer data that might help you form a detailed picture of your ideal customer?
Next you need to focus on your potential customers. Who are they? Maybe you're looking to just grow your following with more individuals similar to your current audience. Or maybe you're looking to branch out into new markets and reach a new class of individuals.
(3) Relate to Your Audience
Be personal. Now, personal doesn't necessarily mean unprofessional, overly-familiar or over sharing. In fact, it probably shouldn't mean those things. Personal means that when you're writing to your audience, you should speak to them as you would if you were having a face-to-face conversation. Your audience is made up of individual people, not a demographic group or statistic. Appeal to them as individuals, not a market group. This means that your blog posts should build some type of emotional connection with them. The exact nature of the emotional appeal will depend on what you're writing about. You know your audience best. If you don't, then make it a priority to find out.
Even if your business is a large one, and you're setting out to create a blog that speaks to your customer base, there are always ways to make it personal. Show that you understand the issues they're facing and the problems they're looking to solve. Use your blog posts to demonstrate to your audience that you're the best solution to those issues and problems. Don't forget to use your unique selling proposition to relate to your audience.
(4) Provide Value to Your Readers
For someone to want to come back to your blog again and again, they have to feel that it's worth their time. Your blog should leave readers wanting more.
In order to do so, your blog needs to provide value - whether it's entertaining, educational, informative, inspirational, authoritative, insightful or aesthetic. Chances are it will be a combination of more than one of these approaches. Afterall, if you're simply providing information that could be easily found on other blogs, why would someone choose your blog over another? Remember that the value and uniqueness of your blog, and the key to growing your captive audience, is YOU. So don't be afraid to inject your personality and quirkiness into your blog posts.
(5) Create a Content Schedule
While blogging can give you a great return on your efforts, you'll only achieve that return if your blog has regular updates and fresh posts. Coming up with a schedule for what you're going to publish on your blog can help you avoid the content droughts that can cause your readership to dwindle.
Once you get into a groove of coming up with new topics to write about, you'll be able to identify other related areas that are of interest to your readers. Having a list of relevant topics can be a powerful thing, as many writers would agree that coming up with the answer to the "What should I write about?" question is often the hardest part of the process!
You don't have to write all of these articles at once, but at a minimum you should have a schedule for when each post will be published. Try starting with a once-a-week schedule and see if that needs adjusting. Whatever you choose, make sure to be consistent so that your readers know what to expect.
If you are able to write some a batch of blog posts in advance, you can schedule them for publication in the future. Most blogging platforms make it easy to do so. That way, you can upload your posts, choose exactly when each one will go live, and then be free to focus on other aspects of your business.
(6) Use Social Media
As you look to grow the captive audience on your blog, ask yourself what you're doing to drive new traffic to your site. Fortunately, one of the most powerful ways of drawing in new readers (provided you do it correctly) is also one that's free.
Does your business have a Facebook presence? Set up a separate Facebook page for your business. This lets you manage the boundaries between your personal and professional lives in exactly the way you want, by letting you focus on business promotion on your business Facebook page without annoying your friends and family.
(7) Help Your Readers Share Your Posts
Your current readers can be your best promotional tool. Think about the value that comes from someone recommending your products or services to one of their friends or family members. Potential customers are almost always going to trust the recommendation that comes from someone they know, as compared to advertisements or other promotions they might come across.
Make sure you make it easy for your readers to share your blog posts. You can't expect people to copy the URL of one of your blog posts they find interesting, open their email program, start a new email to the people they want to share it with, paste your URL, etc etc... you get the picture.
Instead, you can extend install one of the many plugins that will allow your readers to share your posts with a simple mouse click.
You'll also want to share your blog posts on your Facebook page. Again, it will be easy for your page followers to share your posts with a mouse click.
Personal recommendation and organic promotion is something that money just can't buy. You can leverage this type of promotional strength with your blog, provided that you make it easy for your readers.
Remember that blogging for your business is an ongoing process. You need to build an audience, but you also need to keep them. If you've tried blogging before but were unhappy with the results, read through this post again to see where you might be able to change things to get a better outcome.
You don't have to have a blog to build a great business, as there are other opportunities for you to create a captive audience. But if you start a blog, and put in the time and energy to create valuable content, building a captive audience will become that much easier.