If you’ve just created your first blog, you are probably checking your blog stats every 10 minutes to see if you have any visitors or comments. Maybe you have already posted a couple of articles and you’re still eagerly awaiting that first comment that will confirm that what you’re writing about is worthy of the readers’ time. And if days go by and you still don’t see any reaction, you start thinking of a plan to bring visitors to your blog and to, eventually, create what all bloggers dream of: an engaged audience. Well, this is the moment when you have to stop for a second and ask yourself: do you blog to attract an audience and have the numbers, or do you blog because you have something to offer to the world and you think the audience will follow if your content is worth the attention?
Here is another question you need to answer before continuing your blogging adventure: why exactly do you want an audience? It’s true that no one wants to write without getting any kind of feedback, and the knowledge that someone reads your blog and enjoys it brings a lot of satisfaction. But, beyond that, what is your final goal? Is it an ego thing and you only want the numbers? Is it about influence or economics? Or is it about having an authentic experience and sharing it with people who are on the same page as you?
When it comes to the audience, there is one thing I learned in my experience as a blogger: Your audience is already out there; you just need to find the right way to reach it. And the right way is creating authentic content and showing these people who you are. They need to relate to you, they need to perceive you as real, honest and original, and when you convince them this is exactly what you are, they will follow you, interact with you, and tell their friends about you.
But you might ask: Is being yourself enough? How do you know this is the only thing the audience wants? I have several friends who are passionate about a certain niche and spend hours reading blogs and engaging in conversations on the topics they are interested in. Often, I see them writing long comments and getting so involved in the discussion, and I tell them they could easily create their own blog. Can you guess what the most common question they ask me is? “But there are already so many blogs on this niche. How could I possibly bring anything new?”
And this is where they are mistaken. The new thing they can bring to their niche of choice is their passion, their insights, and their experience. It’s impossible for writers to invent the truth, but what they can do is experience it and share it. The audience will be more than glad to read about your authentic experience, relate to it, and apply in their own lives what they see fit. Despite what others may think, reinventing the wheel is not a waste of time; it is a good way of better understanding ourselves and helping others do the same. Your blog may tackle topics that have already been discussed on countless other blogs, but what is going to be new and fresh is your perspective. What you’re really doing is translating your life experiences into something that other people will relate to.
These being said, have you decided why you want an audience for your blog?
If you came to the conclusion that it is an ego thing and the numbers will make you feel important, you’ll probably seek to grow your audience as big and fast as possible without paying much attention to how much people interact on your blog. Don’t get me wrong, building an audience just for your ego is not a bad thing. It’s just that it won’t translate into an authentic experience anytime soon.
You can also treat your audience as currency and target them in a commercial way, and this is where the numbers will prove themselves useful. Actually, I have businesses that do exactly that. But, in my opinion, an audience is, more than anything, an affinity group. Your blog should bring together different people with the same perspectives and goals, and if you meet their expectations, you’ll see that they will become more than “followers”; they will become participants. This kind of audience is special because it offers you the opportunity to share experiences, insights and ideas. It can help you grow because you will learn from your readers as much as they learn from you. It is something you need to consider the moment you create your blog, because once you’ve chosen a path it is very difficult to change it.
So choose wisely: Do you want to develop affinity, or do you want to use your audience as an economic system? Remember that it is nearly impossible to do both at the same time.