Increasing your traffic and creating consistent income opportunities depends on one key activity – building a blog community! If you are looking for ways to grow, start with these 9 strategies.
Between algorithm changes, Pinterest updates and the sheer number of websites and blogs on the web, it can feel impossible to stand out. But your message, your story, is valuable. The key is connecting with the people who need or want to hear it in an authentic way – in short, you need to build a community around your blog and brand.
There is magic in a community. People connect with others who share their interests and concerns. There is a place (digital though it may be) where your audience feels heard and valued. We enjoy that sense of belonging. When you create a community for your audience, you become a trusted authority among that group. They are more willing to click your links, buy based on your recommendations and engage with your social media accounts.
But how do you make that happen, especially with the struggle that so much of social media has become? You build a layered experience for your audience with your blog content, social posts, and email list marketing – and here are 9 ways to do just that.
1. Know what your community shares
I’m not talking about what Facebook posts they’re convinced their best friend from 3rd grade needs to see (although it will help answer that question). I’m suggesting you identify the thing that brings them all you. What do you and your audience have in common?
- What do you love?
- What do you enjoy doing?
- What gets you excited?
- What can you not help but share on Facebook because it speaks to you?
What is your audience finding in your blog, on your social channels and in your emails that keeps them consistently coming back for more? This is something you need to be deliberate about developing and consistent with delivering. Here at Blogging in Balance, I’m delivering immediately actionable tips and tools to overcome the overwhelm of tackling your wild & crazy dreams by building a blog that makes money without taking over your life.
2. Study your audience
In order to find and deliver that content that unites your audience, you need to know them. Which means that you take the time to study them. Start with your Google Analytics (or by installing it if you don’t have it already). Then, check out your Facebook insights and Pinterest analytics. Take 15 minutes a day and browse through Facebook groups your audience belongs to, making note of any questions asked.
- When is your audience online?
- What are they engaging with most?
- What problems are they looking for the answers to?
- What questions are they asking?
- What do they get really excited about?
Pay special attention to any topic that consistently gets the “me, too!” response. Those are those things your audience shares.
3. Share your BIG ideas
We create our social channels and email lists to promote our content, right?
Well, our audience doesn’t engage with us just to be promoted to. Instead, they engage with us because something that we say/write/share resonates with them. When you are creating your social media calendar, editorial calendar, and email plan, start with the big ideas. Those main, overarching concepts that you want to come to mind when your audience thinks of you – start there. Then, fill in the space around those big ideas with promotional content that supports those big ideas. Because without them, no one is going to stick around.
4. Talk with them, not at them
In order to turn your audience into a community, there has to be a conversation. The flow of communication needs to go both ways. This means that at every contact point – social media, blog comments, etc – you respond. Ask questions, answer their questions, and cheer them on when they comment. One important component of this that frequently gets missed is that you may, especially while you are early in your blog building, have to go to them instead of waiting for your audience to come comment and interact on your channels. Be an active, helpful participant in Facebook groups popular with your audience. It’s a great way to start establishing relationships! Need ideas on how to do that with your blog posts? Sign up below for 52 blog post prompts delivered to your email along with tips for how to use them!
5. Get informal
There is so much that goes into creating our brand – logos, imagery, fonts, colors. And it’s important. Sometimes, though, in trying to stick to our branding we become stiff. If it gets to the point that you are playing a role, your audience will not buy into the community you are offering. Our readers want to identify with someone they admire who is also like them – someone who makes mistakes and has bad days and isn’t always Instagram picture perfect. One really effective way to get real with your community is a Facebook group. There the conversation can flow in a more natural (less news feed generated) way. You can also take advantage of the slightly more private (and supportive if you’ve guided your group carefully) atmosphere to utilize live Facebook video to give your readers a glimpse behind the curtain. Groups are a wonderful investment in your social calendar time.
6. Regularly check your accessibility
This one is no joke. At least once a month, you should have a checklist of website maintenance that includes ensuring that your website displays correctly on a variety of devices and your email opt-ins are functioning correctly. Mobile browsing and social media use is on the rise – more and more of our online consumption takes place via our phones and tablets. Email, in particular, must be mobile friendly. If you are making it difficult for your audience to connect with you because of the device they use, the likelihood is that they will simply find somewhere else to engage instead of attempting to solve the problem.
7. Create a conversation with your list
I’ve mentioned this one before, but I still see a ton of emails in my inbox that misses this incredible opportunity. Every single person on your email list has offered you an incredible honor – direct access to their inbox. You must be respectful of that. I see each email as an opportunity to engage with an audience member, so I want to give them a chance to reach out. In each email, I ask for a response. I ask for what they are struggling with, what they are celebrating, what is working, and what hasn’t worked the way they expected.
For one, the responses are a wealth of content inspiration. Second, it offers a chance to nurture the relationship with that consumer and show them more places they can find value on my site by answering their question with existing content. Three, think of the engagement required for that person to open and read your email, then hit reply and type out their response. You’ve now had a direct, personal conversation. Think they’ll be more likely to stop and read your Facebook posts now?
8. Be a connector
It is tempting at times to hoard your audience. You’ve worked hard to get these people opening your emails and visiting your blog and commenting on your social posts. Why should you share them?
The short answer is that everything you offer your audience should be valuable. And sometimes what they need is an introduction – to a book, to an author, to another website with the information they need, to another reader experiencing their same struggles. As an influencer, try to be a connector. When you connect your audiences with things that they want, need, or simply appreciate, you build your authority and their trust.
9. Share your challenges
When we position ourselves as thought leaders, it may feel like we need to assume the “mantle of authority”.
Of course, I always follow my meal plan.
I keep my craft supplies stored in this adorable DIY set up that I blogged about and can always find things.
My blog editorial calendar is rock solid and I never get distracted and forget to publish posts. (want to guess who did that last month?)
Y’all, this is real life. We all mess up. We all make mistakes. And the reality is that we trust people more who are upfront about the learning process. Putting your challenges out there for others to learn from makes you more relatable. It makes your wins more achievable. In short, it makes you more of an authority than perfection ever will.
Build Blog Community
Each of these strategies can be applied in a number of ways, but it starts with your content. Not sure what that looks like for your content?
Feel like your blog posts are meeting with dead air?
Ever feel like you just don’t know what to write about?
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