It doesn’t matter what you blog about. If you blog, then there’s one thing you want more than anything: an audience. This is what all bloggers seek the minute they start on this path. There’s no reason to blog if no one is reading, and this applies whether you have 10 subscribers or 100,000.
You feel like you have something to say, something valuable to share with everyone. Some years ago maybe you would have written those things in a diary and locked it away, but today you have the opportunity to share anything you want and get people’s opinion and feedback. So one of your priorities as a blogger is to find the people who are willing to listen to you.
There is no set path!
I’m sure you have looked at least once for articles on how to build an engaged audience in as little time as possible. And I am sure that you have found some great tips and methods that might help you reach your goal. But have all of them worked so far? Let me tell you a simple truth about blogging and building an audience: There is no set path. No one can teach you how to do things right, because there is no right or wrong when it comes to this. It all depends on your niche and on the people you want to interact with.
I’m sorry if you expected a different answer, but this is the only true, honest answer I’ve got. I wish there was someone to tell me this when I first started blogging, because it would have saved me a lot of time and effort I spent trying to implement ideas that didn’t work for me. Now, maybe you are wondering “why don’t I just give you a list of the methods that really worked for me?” If I have so much experience in blogging, surely I can teach others how to build their own audiences, because I had to learn the hard way, through trial and error. Well, the answer is even simpler than the truth I have just told you above: The methods I used might not work for you. Some of them may work, but not all of them. Allow me to explain.
For example, take Leo Babauta, who owns Zen Habits, which is one of the most popular blogs in the world, with over 200,000 subscribers. At his readers’ request, he offered some advice on how to build an audience, basing it on his own experiences. However, he never claimed that there was a set path, and he even said that certain things might not work for certain people. The reasons can be various: maybe the suggested method is not appropriate for your niche, or maybe you don’t agree with a particular method. For instance, I must admit that Guest Posting has never worked for me. It has worked for some very popular bloggers, like Onibalusi of YoungPrePro, but in my case it just didn’t work because I have always disliked the idea.
As you can see, no one can offer you a set path to building an audience, not even the most popular bloggers. It is, of course, helpful to read as many articles as possible on this topic, because this is how you’ll get new ideas that will help you develop your own methods. You will see that you will have to fight for every visitor and every commenter, and figure things out for yourself. It might be difficult at first, but things will get easier as you attract more and more people who are willing to listen to what you have to say, and show it to you by subscribing to your blog.
Cross-referencing is the way!
Even though there is no secret formula to building the audience you’ve always dreamed of, you must not forget that you’re, by no means, alone. Today’s successful bloggers were in the same situation as you when they first started blogging. You can learn a lot from them, and this is why you should visit their blogs and read everything they have written on the topic. As long as you don’t regard their advice as something set in stone, and you only take it if you feel it fits you, your niche, and your blog, you should be able to gain an audience sooner than you have imagined.
This is what I call cross-referencing: reading about someone else’s experience, but taking only what you think is important. The point is to come up with your own method that would work for you. Read as much as you can, and try to learn from those who have been like you some years ago, then combine all the information and create your own plan. As long as you adapt it to your own needs and you target the right audience, there’s no way it won’t work.
Now that I have explained to you how things actually work in the blogging world when it comes to building an audience, I can try to give you some advice that might help you get started. If you’re wondering why I didn’t start my article with these tips, the answer is simple: I wanted you to know the truth and to understand that there is no easy way that will work all the time for every blogger. I wanted you to understand the process so that you would be able to apply it to every blog you write. And, yes, the methods might be different for different blogs, even though they were all started by you.
1. Visit other blogs and make new friends
If someone gave me this advice the first time I started blogging, things would have been way easier and different. But that was a long time ago and, probably, no one was really sure what would work and what would not.
Once you start blogging, you enter an online community that can bring you a lot of advantages. You just need to be smart enough to use them to build your audience. One of the first things you need to do is visit other blogs, engage in discussions, leave meaningful comments, and make new friends. If you want people to come to your blog, you need to go to theirs first. Trust me, they will then be more than willing to return the favor.
When I started by first blog, I had no idea what I was supposed to do to attract visitors, aside from writing great content. I relied on Google and the other search engines to make my blog known to the world through keywords. Needless to say, that didn’t work. I was relying on something I didn’t understand, which means I wasted time when I could have tried to find some good ways to promote my content.
Another reason for which I began commenting quite late on other people’s blogs was that I was very shy online and I didn’t want to bother the other bloggers by asking them for the favor of “following” me. Be careful, though! This doesn’t mean you can just go on other people’s blogs and leave the shortest comments that include a link to your own blog. In order to be successful, you need to read their posts, and leave insightful comments only when you feel like you truly have something to say.
2. Write content your readers want to read
Yes, this means you can ask your readers what they would like to read about in a next post when you have enough subscribers or “followers.” But it also means that you can figure out what your visitors want to see by analyzing their behavior while they are on your blog. So discover what your readers want, give it to them, and then watch as new “followers” appear on your blog and bring other interested readers as well.
But, on the other hand, I know that I was very successful with articles that were written strictly on what I was interested in, without caring much about the audience. I discovered that I often had the same success as with the posts written at my readers’ suggestions. So the only thing I can add here is to try and be original no matter what kind of post you write.
3. Expand your reach
What does this mean? It means that sometimes it can be a good idea to reach out into new niches and meet people who are very different from you, yet they love blogging just as much as you do. It’s true that it is advisable to stick to your own niche and not turn your blog into a place where you can find absolutely anything, but that doesn’t mean you cannot visit blogs in other niches and get to know the bloggers behind them. It’s not only that your experience will grow this way, but it’s also the fact that your number of “followers” will increase as well, and you’ll meet great people from whom you can learn about these other niches.
I can only repeat what I said at the beginning of this article: There is no set path, so stop looking for it. What you need is to learn from other bloggers, combine the information with your own ideas, and create a strategy that would work for you and your blog. You have to make your own path and discover what kind of blogger you are. And once you discover that, don’t hesitate to let your audience know who you are, because your honesty and your originality will keep it interested.
Don’t forget: This is your audience and no one can teach you how to build it or how to keep it. In time, you will learn and it will be easier. But, for now, try out some methods, combine them, change them, and adapt them until they suit your purpose.