Build Your Audience The Right Way
As a business owner, you blog to build your audience, get leads and ultimately make sales. Ya, that seems like a given, but these days, everyone and their grandmother is blogging, from grandma with the great recipes, to the dog who blogs about his owners. How do you compete with that to win your share of readers?
Want you attract the attention you desire to build your audience in the sea of fluff and empty content? To accomplish this, it’s essential that you understand how NOT to build your audience first.
Even amongst my professional writing colleagues, I notice that mistakes are being made. Mistakes that impact on ROI and readership. And from one small-business owner to another, I can tell you it’s essential to get this right.
Next time you’re mapping out your article, consider these faux pas. They just might save you from wasting your valuable time and efforts.
8 Ways NOT To Build Your Audience
1) Confuse your reader by talking about too many subjects.
✓ Present one main idea/problem, and offer the solution for it. For the love of all that is holy, be specific about your subject matter and stick to it.
✓ Meandering and changing topics throughout your blog causes the reader to lose interest, because you’re not fulfilling his needs. And that’s no way to build your audience. And speaking of main ideas…
2) Blather on with a story or a topic, without mention of a particular problem or point of view.
When it comes to business, people aren’t reading for the sake of enjoyment. They come to you – Mr. or Mrs. Business Owner – for your knowledge, expertise and guidance. Give them a specific reason for coming to you today, to read what you have to say.
✓ Be sure you’re presenting one point of view about a current situation, or addressing one problem your customers might be experiencing.
✓ Your article is of no value if you don’t offer a solution to the problem at hand. Readers want to know what you have to say about that issue or problem. They’re not in it for the entertainment value. So be sure to offer a solution and how it can be applied to business needs.
3) Offer no perceived value in your message.
✓ Provide take-away tips. Business owners coming to your site rely on your expertise to solve a problem. As such, you need to offer valuable information they can take and use to get ahead in their business.
✓ Go deep if you need to. If your article topic requires in-depth explanation that’s too lengthy to cover in a blog piece, create a supplementary document in the form of a *white paper/study or report that you can offer later (for free). Doing this accomplishes a number of positive outcomes for your business, and helps build your audience further. I’ll touch on the benefits later.
4) Don’t inspire thought or engagement.
✓ How do you compel people to contemplate an idea or solution to a problem? I just did it. The answer is to ask questions to get your audience thinking – about their situation – then to consider alternatives and options to solve their dilemma.
✓ Asking questions is also a means of engaging with your reader, and to invite them into the conversation.
✓Additionally, asking readers to comment helps build relationships. You’re letting your audience know their opinion is valuable as well and you want to hear from them. It enables you to connect and converse with your prospects further – after they’ve enjoyed your article.
5) Don’t invite people to learn more or to connect.
Remember that *White Paper/Study or Report you prepared – back in No. 3? Well, it’s the end of your blog. Now’s your chance to mention that Free information and offer a mechanism to get it.
✓ Provide a “Learn More” link that leads to a form they can complete and download your report. Now you’ve captured their e-mail (or other contact information). They are now a warmer lead. They’ve moved another step closer as you build your audience.
✓ Offering Free documents of this type also works to establish your authority in your industry. That means folks are likely to return to you because they trust in your knowledge. A side note here…be sure to include proof/ testimonials of your statements inside your report.
✓ Before signing off from your blog (if you haven’t offered free reports), remember to invite readers to comment (in the comments section), or connect if they have questions. And be sure to provide a link to your “Contact Us” page to make it easy for them to do so. Even a link to another blog on a related topic is a good way to keep the conversation going.
These invitations are commonly referred to as a “Call to Action”. Be sure to include one in every article. In fact, there should be one on every page of your website too. A link that leads visitors (logically) to the next page you’d like them to go to in their search for answers to their problem.
6) Sell, sell, sell.
✓ Argh! Please understand…your blog is not a platform to sell a product or service. That’s what a Landing Page is for (I’d direct you to my landing page, but this post is not for the purposes of selling my products. 😉 ).
Blogs are meant to be information or education pieces. Don’t make your message all about you and your products or services. That’s not the way to build your audience. In fact, it acts as a repellent because you’ve abused the trust your reader has placed in you, as an information provider.
✓ Be sure to share usable, valuable information in each article. No one wants to be sold here. If you must, make your pitch (i.e. Call to Action) an invitation to connect with you if more answers are needed; and provide the link to your “Contact Us” page.
7) Don’t summarize or explain how to apply your tips.
✓ You’ve shared some great tips and solutions in your article. Now what?
Summarize it, and explain how these business owners can benefit from their newfound knowledge. They want to know how they can apply it to their problems. Tell them, “what’s in it for them”. And be sure to spell it out.
8) Have no agenda or regularity to your posts.
✓ Readers are counting on you and your expertise. To build your audience and keep them coming back for more, it’s important to connect on a regular basis – as best you can.
✓ Decide (realistically) how often you think you can create and get a message out.
As a sole business owner performing all tasks, it is a challenge to add blogging. If you have time, you’re good at writing, good at managing your website, and comfortable with SEO, it’s not such a big deal. But not everyone is at ease doing all this. There is a learning curve.
Perhaps starting with less frequent posts (ex: monthly) makes sense. For myself, my goal is to publish at least one article each month. That’s manageable for me. Once you decide, stick to your schedule. It establishes creditability more than you realize and helps build your audience.
✓ The key to fresh topics is to create an editorial list. Take some time to come up with 15 to 20 topics you’d like to cover over the next six months to a year.
You don’t have to be rigid about using these topics verbatim. However, having this list on hand provides structure and ideas for reference. That way, you’re not struggling to come up with a topic every time you sit down to write.
You can always change or massage them as needed. And if a new idea comes, go ahead…use that new idea.
Build A Lasting Impression
Blogging for business is a great way to establish industry presence and create trust, and to share information and build relationships. Don’t abuse that relationship privilege though. To build and keep your audience of enthusiastic readers, the key is creating a lasting impression and dependability. That way your audience is compelled to return over and over.
Avoid these mistakes above and make your way to bigger and better business results through your blogging.
I’m not advising that you give away all your business secrets either. Otherwise, you’re out of the picture business-wise. But it is important to share what we know so others will grow. All it takes is valuable tips and advice that is actionable, to keep yourself in the game.
Here’s to writing great blog articles. Best wishes as you build your audience.
Feel free comment or ask further questions below, or connect with me on my Contact page. I’m at your service.