Does it ever feel like you’re spinning your wheels? For weeks I’ve felt as though I’m stuck – not moving forward. Unmotivated. Blah. At this point, I usually whine about it to a bestie, and figure out how to move forward.
Today we’re going to do the one thing that always gets me excited. Let’s step back, look at the pieces, evaluate how we’re doing and put our best foot forward.
The goal of blogging
Is your blogging actually resulting in more money? At the end of the day, those full-time hours aren’t supposed to be volunteer hours!
Over and over and over again, the best bloggers have one thing in common – can you see it? Consider Lindsay(Pinch of Yum), Mique (Thirty Handmade Days) and Chriselle(the Chriselle Factor): all super stars in Food, Lifestyle and Fashion niches respectively. Those links take you to their About pages & video – you should see the similarity by reading that one page.
Blogging is about making an income, but the most successful bloggers do this through authenticity and relationship! The goal has always been to transform a casual reader into a fan; a fan into a buyer; a buyer into an evangelist. Let’s look deeper at how to do this well.
If you prefer to watch me teach this idea, you can do that right here:
Creating a Fan from a Reader
The One & Only Reader
Yesterday I took my daughter to an appointment in the city. For us that is a 1.5 hr drive. She skipped school and it was a gorgeous day and she just beamed all the way there. Why do these times feel so special? Because she has my undivided attention.
(Then we promptly turned around and drove all the way home cause I had written down the wrong day.)
Consider the fake sing-song-y voice of the drive-through person, “Welcome to …. What can I get for you today?”; putting your change away after your purchase, and you hear, “Next!” yelled over your head. It is very uncomfortable when we’re treated as ‘less than’ or invisible.
When it comes to our readers, we must remember that we are not speaking to the crowd, we’re speaking to the friend that we’ve met over Facebook. And this is why its so important to know who your audience is.
Know Your Readers
I used to refer to WPBarista as ‘us’ and ‘we’ instead of ‘me’ and ‘I’ – even when I was a one-person show. I guess it comes naturally to want to portray the stability of a bigger business. The problem is that I wouldn’t start something kind and personal because once I have a million raving fans I’ll never be able to keep up…
Now I just figure I’ll worry about that bridge when we come to it! ha!
In reality, how can you be personal when you really don’t have time to email each person individually? How about some of these:
- featured reader interview or spotlight on Instagram stories
- monthly giveaway for loyal commenters
- list of readers’ blogs that you visit and comment, even if 2 per day
- create a twitter list of your readers so you can easily keep up with their tweets
- create a FB Live Q&A just for them
- create a FB Group on your topic just for your loyal readers
Once you start getting hundreds of emails this is undoubtedly a challenge. But what makes you feel more important than when someone you admire and respect takes the time for you? You may not be able to respond to everyone, but be sure to make a few people feel special every week.
In order to lower our response time to a few hours, we’ve added Allison to the team and the response has been amazing! I can’t recommend expanding your team enough! You can’t possibly be good at everything. If you want your blog to really succeed, hire people better at those things that you’re weak in!
This is my weakness, I love to lecture! Do you? We write these articles that are really me writing to the public. But if I want to really engage with my readers and go deeper with them, it must be a two-way street. How do you encourage dialogue?
- social media topics for discussion
- responding to newsletter replies
- surveys/fun quizzes
- personalized posts/downloads/topics
This plays into dialogue – if you aren’t really truly interested in your audience, you will likely just write at them instead of to them or with them.[info_box type=”note_box”]”The person who builds great relationships doesn’t think about what she wants; she starts by thinking about what she can give. She sees giving as the best way to establish a real relationship and a lasting connection. She approaches building relationships as if it’s all about the other person and not about her, and in the process builds relationships with people who follow the same approach.”
Jeff Haden, Inc.com[/info_box]
I found that article by Jeff Haden interesting: the best relationships are the ones that offer each other something. On the surface it sounds like the utilitarian relationships stand the test of time – so go find yourself a useful friend! Don’t do that!!
Consider this example: If you and a friend meet every couple weeks to catch up, the friendship is surface and friendly but there is no real purpose holding you together. Those friends can easily drift apart.
If you and a friend meet each month to go over your work projects and brainstorm ideas together, that is a stronger bond of combined interest and benefit. It will be much more difficult to let that friendship go.
As a blogger, do you bring benefit to your readers? Do you go deeper? Do they know about your big life events? Some of us are reticent to give up our privacy but look again at any really popular blogger and you’ll notice one thing in common with them all (except celebrities): they share themselves.
Go deeper with your topic: what purpose do you have for your relationship with your readers. Can you turn it into a dialogue?
Ways to Connect to your Readers/ Fans
Why is your reader consuming the content from you specifically? It could be cooking goals, decorating or family goals or a million other similarities and differences, but one thing will always be true: she shares some of your worldview. You believe in similar approaches when it comes to kindness, respect and relationships with other humans .
“You have to create your relationships. They don’t magically show up.”
Marcia Reynolds Psy.D., Psychology Today
Your relationships need to go deeper. We’ve talked about why and how, now lets put this into real world examples for bloggers. What media do you use? Do you publish your personal loss on your blog? Youtube? Facebook?
I propose the following formula:
Instagram, Facebook & Email.
Beautiful inspiring photos are made for Instagram! But there are times that the photo for Instagram isn’t ‘instagram-worthy’ and it should go straight to Stories. Stories is a great place to put things that might entertain or connect with your readers but aren’t directly related to your Instagram strategy.
Stories, I read, is a great way to paint the possibility of ‘what if’. If that reader did what you’re suggesting, what would her life look like? Put that in stories. Take the conversation deeper; two-way.
I’ve read recently that personal Facebook Profiles are the most useful place for ‘reaching your audience’… I’m not sure I agree… how do you feel about that? In the context of actually growing deeper friendships it seems my personal Facebook profile makes sense, right? You decide!
Facebook pages grow much faster with fascinating or funny content that is posted manually; and video of course.
Do you communicate via email with your friends or relatives? Anyone with a full inbox can attest to the fact that email is a favorite communication method. What emails do you look forward to?
Oh – that reminds me, did you know that we have a limited amount of decision making power for our day, so things like a capsule wardrobe, meal plans and organized routines make a world of difference? #thingsthatfascinateme
Here are some of mine, but this list will be different for your readers. The emails I LIKE getting:
- my mentor (she’s always encouraging)
- my monitoring server (alerts!)
- fave clothing store loyalty program (coupons! wahoo)
- amazon (I’m a sucker)
- my mom (it’s probably a cartoon)
- Andertoons (cartoons)
What does your reader like to get? Are you in that list? Can you be?
Sources: Psychology Today, Kissmetrics and Copyblogger.