There is this guy I’ve been “mentoring” for a while now. I’ve mentioned him a few times on here. He’s pretty young, just started college, but he’s been working to make money online through blogging. He’s very creative and a hard worker so it’s always great to work with him. Recently he started a new blog and we talk a lot about the best ways for him to build an audience, what types of products he could make or promote, and deciding the direction of his website.
Building an audience is something that people make a lot more complicated than it has to be. Sure, eventually you may want to learn more about other ways of helping people find your site, but like with anything it’s best to start with the basics. (And honestly, the basics are still serving me VERY well.)
I’m going to break this down to 4 (kind of) simple steps. I say kind of because they are ridiculously simple concepts and they definitely aren’t secret. In fact, they’re pretty common sense. They do require that you dig in and work though. Building an audience isn’t something you can automate with a tool and anyone who says it is is lying to you.
1. Figure out who your target audience is.
You’ll notice I didn’t say niche. There are a ton of niches out there and if you’re blogging you probably already have an idea of what your niche is. What you need to do is figure out the type of people you are targeting. If you’re writing about cats are you targeting new cat owners? General cat lovers? Veterinarians? Think about the people reading your blog (or that you hope will read your blog). What kind of people are they?
2. Go where your audience hangs out and hang out there too.
This could be forums, blogs, social media… just figure out where they hang out there, sign up, and join in. If you’re an online marketer you may start commenting on blogs that resonate with you and posting on a few forums. If your niche is video games you may go to Reddit and Tumblr. If it’s cooking Pinterest could be a good option. Don’t make this too difficult! It’s about getting to know your audience and letting them get to know you.
3. Figure out what they need and want.
Usually this is going to come in the form of information they are looking for if. Look for questions people ask, where they struggle, and things like that. Listen to them. They are your target audience so knowing what they need is going to be the most important part of running a great blog.
4. Help them find the answers they are looking for!
You know who your audience is, you interact with them, and you know what they need. Go and give it to them! You can do this in a lot of different ways. I suggest not focusing on just one.
- Answer their questions on forums.
- Blog about the things they want to know about. Don’t just do skimpy posts to promote products either, really help them.
- Create a free report or email newsletter dedicated to answering their questions.
- Create a paid product that will help them meet their goals.
This may seem daunting, especially if your niche is one you enjoy but don’t know everything about. Don’t worry! You can do research, interview experts, and learn while helping others.
Keep repeating these four steps as many times as it takes. That’s really the basics of what blogging is. The rest is just details. I know that when I get too wrapped up in the details the best thing I can do is take a step back and remember these steps and refocus.
What do you do to find and help your audience?