One of the most requested topics for Guide to Blogging was how to build an audience for your content. And rightfully so because unfortunately, they don’t just appear out of nowhere. It takes time and work to really grow a sustainable audience. And today is the day I share my insight on doing just that.
Based on my knowledge and experience, there are three areas to consider and focus on when striving to grow awareness and build an audience for your blog. These areas are:
You may be thinking to yourself “I do all of these already so why isn’t it working?” Well, it is definitely more detailed and complicated than you may think. You may believe you are doing these broad areas, but when we get into the details you’ll realize it’s more nuanced and specific. So let’s breakdown these areas.
Consistency is most often what I see bloggers say they struggle with. Consistently posting new content can be difficult, especially when you have other responsibilities outside of the blog which we all do to some extent. But, out of everything you can do to help your blog grow, consistency is the most important.
Don’t mistake consistency for frequency. While frequency, or posting a lot of new content, can be helpful for growth, it is not an equivalent to consistency. Let’s look at an example. A Geek Girl’s Guide posts twice a week, every Monday and Friday. That is the frequency with which I post. The consistency is keeping to that schedule long term.
Consistency matters because an audience will grow to expect new posts on the day(s) you set to post on. And posting consistently with relevant topics will improve your search rankings, which is a huge boost for being found by people easier.
I’d argue most people fail to post consistently because they don’t make it a habit. Consistent is not having a content calendar, or planning a consistent schedule, it is the act of actually posting on your set schedule. Consistency is usually thought of as a goal for bloggers, which is fine, but I don’t think having it be a goal will actually make it a long-lasting. Making it a habit however, it becomes ingrained as a part of your blogging process and thus will more likely last.
The other thing that prevents consistency is the idea that you failed at it when you miss a single post or need to take a break. Honestly, cut that thought out of your brain because it is not true. Life happens, you may miss a post, or a break is really needed cause you’re feeling burned out. Those things don’t automatically mean you fail at consistency, but giving up on your schedule does.
Now I know what you’re going to ask. “How often should I be posting?”. First, that is frequency, not consistency. Second, the more the better but within your means. If you can only reasonably post once a week, then do that. If you truly believe you can post every day, then go for it. Consistency is sticking with whatever schedule you see fitting.
Promotion is probably the one thing every one thing they are doing right, and they probably aren’t. At least not entirely. As a broad concept, promotion is sharing your content in order to get it seen. We can segment promotion further into things like advertising, social media, and SEO. It’s going to be a mix and match to find what works best for you, but no matter what you need to understand one very important thing: who is your audience.
If your answer is only “whoever reads my blog”, you are wrong. Your audience is specific, and you need to be able to specifically identify them so you can better promote to them. So let’s cover how you figure out who your audience is.
First, I am going to refer to the people you want to read your blog as the target audience, also referred to as target market in case you broaden your learning on this topic. Now, I can tell you that you have already started your audience targetting is you read my getting started post. How? By figuring out your niche. Your niche is what category your blog fits into, and what you write about essential. If you know your niche, you can now begin by figuring out who are the readers of that niche.
Demographics and Psychographics
Target audiences are differentiated by finding the demographics and psychographics of your ideal readers. Demographics are things like age, gender, ethnicity, location, profession, education, income, marital status, family size, etc. Psychographics are more intangible and consist of things like hobbies, characteristics, interests, habits, attitudes, emotions, and preferences.
Do you need to have every demographic and psychographic item defined? Not really. It depends on your content and how specific you want your target audience to be. But you should have both demographics and psychographics defined to have a nicely narrowed down target audience. You can tell when an item is relevant or not to you usually, and if you’re not sure then define it anyway.
Want a starter set of items to investigate? I suggest knowing at least the following:
- Where they are online (ie social media platforms)
Now that you have defined your target audience, you can now figure out ways to start promoting to them. The benefits of having a defined audience are knowing where they are online, like if they prefer Instagram or Twitter, being able to target ads correctly, and how to communicate with them in general. You can now start sharing your posts on their preferred platforms, as well as promoting yourself in general. You shouldn’t only be promotion your posts, but also your overall blog and yourself as a person.
I’ll be covering the specifics of social media and advertising in future Guide to Blogging posts.
There are two parts to community I want to cover: the community around you and your blog as well as the community of fellow bloggers around you.
I briefly mentioned above how you shouldn’t just promote your content, but also yourself. Audiences tend to follow you and stick around because they like you as well as your content. Come for the content, stay for the blogger as I like to say. So replying to comments on your blog help readers connect with you and want to stick around and using social media as more than just a sharing tool help create a community feeling.
Knowing the other bloggers around you is great for many reasons, and not just for building an audience. For this post, however, I will just focus on the benefits of audience building. There are three aspects of this that I find significant, which are:
1. A blogging community can help with advice.
Being able to turn to a specific community of people who do what you do and ask for advice is super helpful. I often reach out to my communities and ask for input on content, like with Guide to Blogging. How does this help grow your audience? Well, you can ask these communities for advice and see what others have experienced and what has worked for them.
2. You can reach out to other bloggers for collabs and guest posting opportunities.
Collabs and guest posting are often highly recommended for growing your audience, and for good reason. Those are opportunities to get your writing in front of new eyes with more of a guarantee that those eyes are relevant if you find the right opportunities. I’m going to cover collabs and guest posting in their own post, but the one suggestion I want to make here is to find opportunities that are relevant to your content. Don’t just take anything you find, cause it won’t help you as much as writing in your niche will.
3. Those bloggers can also become part of your audience.
I’m pretty sure a good chunk of my consistent audience is fellow bloggers, and I am happy with that. When you find a community that you fit in with and you have fellow bloggers that write about the same topics you do, there is a very high chance they will enjoy your content and go read it. Also, we know the struggle and we all, for the most part, want to support you and your blog.
So how do you find these communities?
A lot of them have formal groups, usual on Facebook. There are tons of blogging groups for various sized blogs and various niches, as well as general blogging groups. I recommend aiming to find ones that are more specific to your niche versus the general groups, especially if you have a small niche like geek blogs. Also, read the rules and see how they run things. I have been in blogging groups before and not really enjoyed how they were run, mainly because it was very impersonal and forced interaction. To each there own, but that was not for me.
You can also make your own group, both informally and formally. An informal group would be basically a friend group of bloggers and you share a group chat of some kind and discuss your blogs. A formal one is the Facebook Group types, and open for more people beyond just your friends. I ended up creating a formal group for my fellow geeky bloggers, Geek Blogs Unite, because I didn’t love how few groups we had for our niche and how a lot of general groups were run.
As you can see, building your audience takes more than what you may have thought, and this is honestly just the beginning. I’ll be writing about more specifics in future topics, so make sure to check back for those.