Blogging is all about having an audience.
While there are similarities between blogging and keeping a diary, the sole difference is that diaries are personal while blogs are public.
Most diaries lead a quiet life – hidden under the bed, in the ceiling, or locked safely away in a safe. We would be embarrassed to find our diaries in the hands of even our most trusted friends.
On the other hand, when no one reads our blogs, we get depressed.
I know of many bloggers who have given up their blogs out of the sheer emotional weariness of seeing their traffic stats line-graph maintain a flat path for months.
It is therefore understandable that all bloggers want to grow their readership. We want to be able to put an RSS counter in our sidebar or even a Twitter follower counter and not be embarrassed by the figures.
We do not just need an audience to thrive; we also need to let others know we are thriving and that we have a voice – one people listen to.
The question to consider, though, is this:
Do you have a relationship with your readers?
Making the time sacrifice it takes to engage with your audience is rewarding, as it can make a big difference in just how successful your blog becomes.
To succeed as a blogger, you are first and foremost in the business of helping people.
Gathering thousands of social followers will not make them really follow you.
Have you noticed how you tune out of the conversations of many of your Twitter connections? Take time out to really think about why you no longer give them your attention, and you would be on your way to a big truth:
It is not all about the numbers
Having big numbers can serve as social proof, but do you have active relationships with your audience? How often do you communicate with those who leave comments on your site? How often do you go out of your way to be nice to your audience and prove to them the web is still a place where real persons dwell?
In other words, just what does your social proof prove?
When building an audience for your blog, it pays to focus on trying to be useful to your audience by being of help.
Your being there for others will brand you as an authentic part of your community. You will be like a goldfish in a sea of sharks who just can’t get enough!
When you do good things to others, they feel indebted to you and go out of their way to look for avenues to be useful to you. They may tweet your posts, like your pages and comment on them.
They become your friends.
When someone leaves an insightful comment on your blog, how do you normally respond?
Most bloggers just leave a reply and they go off feeling accomplished. For you, that should be a luxury you may never be able to afford.
Go over to their blog, and look for a way to compensate them for the time they spent on yours. Leave a comment, or even offer to do a guest post if their blog is good enough. If they read your post and left a thoughtful comment, chances are they respect your voice and would be delighted to have you speak for them to their audiences.
If your guest post pitch accepted, make sure you do not stop there. Return and continue commenting on their posts. If you notice something they are not doing right on their blog, send them a mail and bring it to their notice. Whether they take the advice or not, they will remember the kind gesture.
What do you do, though, when your guest post pitch is politely declined? It would look selfish to just disappear.
Stick around and leave honest comments on their future blog posts. Before long, they will consider you a friend and may even be embarrassed they refused you that guest post slot.
So offer to do a guest post. I have had more than 90% success with than one. Now you have it, go use it.
If you have fifteen decent relationships, that’s fifteen comments, fifteen tweets and Facebook shares for your future posts. Is it worth it?
As I said before, this is hard work, but it is also good work. The time and commitment you invest in being useful to your audience will also make you indispensable to them. By building real relationships that is above the common “Hey Jerry, thanks for stopping by”, we show people we care and want to see them succeed. When people know that you have their best interests at heart, it is amazing how loyal they can become.
You make them a fan of everything you put your hands to, for life.
It all starts with comments
The comments section of your blog should become the recruitment ground for new friends.
Respond to every comment and send personal emails to commenters that posted very thoughtful comments. Thank them for being a part of the conversation and tell them you will be pleased to continue having them.
Head over to their blogs and join the conversation and show them by example what you expect from them.
Believe me; if you are sincere, this pays off big time.
What if you are not getting enough comments on your posts?
Make a list of thirty blogs in your industry and leave comments on them. Keep a day aside as your blog commenting day. If you like, you can be more flexible and spread the commenting over the week, but make sure you make a schedule and stick to it.
Address the blog owners by their first name in your comments and make sure you say something that stands out and adds to the conversation.
It is no good to just post another “Great post!” kind of comment when you are trying to attract a following to your blog.
Now the sweetest thing about this is that you will be noticed, not only by the blog owners, but by their audience. That’s what I call killing one stone with two birds.
When people come to your blog from any of your target blogs, make them know you know who they are. Carry the familiarity and friendship over from the target blog to yours.
Before long, you will be part of the community of large friends who know they mean something to each other, and your comments section will know no quiet again.