The internet universe is a vast, hyper-competitive place. Countless blogs and websites come and go, instantly replaced by ambitious new sites looking to make a name for themselves while the giants of an industry only get stronger and stronger. So, taking the time to build and maintain a successful blog isn’t easy.
But what in life that’s worthwhile is?
The good news is that blogging doesn’t have to be a thankless, uphill battle where you try to be everything to everyone. In fact, if you what you’re doing, you can actually build a bigger audience by writing posts designed to connect with a smaller audience.
It’s not, and in this article I’ll show you how to do it.
It Starts At the Foundation
The person who tries to please everyone will end up pleasing no one.
The same thing goes for your blog.
And when you surf the net, you’ll find endless sites that offer to sprawl, open-ended content that, while might be very good, really speaks to no one in particular and does nothing to distinguish itself from the gazillion other “lifestyle” sites that talk about fashion, cooking, health, travel…etc.
So instead of catering to the masses, at least in the beginning, start with a very clear, very focused topic. For example, instead of just creating a general health blog, fine tune it down to something that specializes in developing core strength. Or instead of just announcing yourself as a travel blog, go for something that zeroes in on the Caribbean.
The simple fact is if you cast too wide a net with your blog, you’ll bring in too many of the wrong people while potentially turning off the ones you want to attract. On top of that, people like consistency, they want to have a good idea of what they’ll be getting when they visit your site. Bouncing around a general topic too much will make it tough to build and maintain a loyal, long-term audience.
Know Who You’re Going After
Just like you want to zero in on a theme or topic for your blog, you want to also identify your target audience, otherwise known as “buyer persona” or “avatar”.
So think about the specifics of your ideal visitor; gender, profession, age, worries, desires; this will be your avatar and by focusing on your avatar’s needs, you’ll create content that appeals directly to them.
For example, if I’m creating a blog focusing on developing core muscle strength, my avatar could be an athletic, active 25-30 year old who lives in Colorado. He rock climbs, he cycles, and he wants to build up his core strength to improve his balance and body control. Doing this lets you write specific, compelling content that will speak to and draw in a solid niche audience without having to spend a lot of time wondering what you should write about.
And, while it’s natural to feel like you’ll be shutting the door on potential visitors, the reality is that you’ll still attract plenty of people who might not perfectly match your avatar, but still find value in your content and become readers.
Remember, the point of creating a very specific avatar is to give you someone to effectively write to. And having that when you’re writing your posts will make your work more far more engaging.
Your Content Is For Your Audience
While it can be easy for bloggers to get a little self-indulgent with the types of content they’re putting out, it’s critical to remember that you’re writing for your readers – not you.
Your readers are 100% interested in your content. And the only thing you need to be concerned with is making them happy. Are your blog posts valuable? Will it answer the questions your target audience has? Can you provide the info in a smooth, accessible way? These are the types of questions you need to ask before creating any content for your site.
Here are some tips and tools to help you come up with valuable, relevant ideas for your posts:
- You can go onto sites like Reddit or Quora to check out the sorts of questions being asked related to your site’s topic. If you see any particular points or questions that keep coming up, then you should use them as subjects for your posts.
- Keep an eye on online forums that are relevant to your site’s topic. Once again, look for questions that show up repeatedly.
- Study the comments being left on your posts. Are there any subjects your readers would like to see covered in greater depth? What about problems or issues causing confusion?
- Buzzsumo is a great tool to lock on to highly read blog posts related to your site’s topic. Just don’t rehash the same old stuff, use what you find to spark new ideas or perhaps take something that’s already popular and put a fresh twist on it.
- Amazon is an amazing place to find out what readers are thinking. By looking up books related to your blog’s topic, you can analyze the reader reviews and quickly find out what people thought the book was missing or didn’t cover well enough. Your site can give them the information they’re still looking for.
Perfect Is the Enemy Of Great
It’s your blog and you want to do it right. But taking too long to get your content out can cause your readers to lose interest and move on to a site that’s more consistent.
The key point here is that presenting your valuable content in an easy-to-absorb, timely way, will go a lot farther towards building and maintaining your audience than “perfect” content that takes too long to post, ever will.
This is where the key term of “traction” comes up – simply put, you have to build it. And the way to do that is to first get a good amount of respectable work out there and then work on the finer points later.
Remember, if you don’t get your site and posts out there, you won’t get any readers, no readers = no traction.
They seem like simple little things, but headlines are so important people write entire books about creating them. Headlines draw readers in, it’s what they see first, and in less than 2 seconds will decide if they want to read your post or not.
However, why the entire point of the headline is to capture a reader’s attention, you don’t want it to come across as clickbait and it should honestly reflect the content of the article. You’re trying to build a brand and being goofy, or even worse, deceitful, isn’t the way to do it.
Headlines are an art, treat them as such and you’ll draw plenty of readers to your blog.
While you’re never going to be everything to everyone, by concentrating your focus on providing specific content to a targeted audience, your blog will have a much better chance of gaining the all-important traction it needs not just to survive, but to succeed. Combine that with the other elements I’ve laid out above, learning new tips and techniques plus some good old fashioned hard work, you’ll soon uncover a strong following and a devoted audience.