When I was at Blog World Expo a couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to sit in on a presentation by Darren Rowse of Problogger.net. During the session he explained that one of the vital keys of successful blogging is to “love your readers to death”.
I thought this was a fantastic way to summarize the ideal relationship between a blogger and his or her audience because if you take care of your people, your people will take care of you.
I think we all have an idea of what it means to love your readers to death, but really how does one do so?
Here’s my quick take.
Provide Content That They Want or Need
Many bloggers (including myself) sometimes get “off track” and begin writing for ourselves, our computer screens, or search engines rather than for our audience. It’s the community and relationships you build with your blog that make it successful, so giving your audience exactly what they want to read (or listen to or watch) is the key.
- Understanding who your audience is. Before you can provide content, you’ve got to know who your audience is. I mean, how can you love someone before you even get to know them, right? By understanding their wants, needs and desires, you’ll know exactly what information to provide.
- Providing Unique Content. If what you’re writing is something your audience has seen before, then it’s not going to make a difference. Yes, I agree that content can hardly be 100% brand new and something that no one has ever talked about before (heck, most of the stuff I present on this blog isn’t totally brand new material), but the way you deliver that content can be 100% unique.
- Providing Undeniable Value. And of course, what you present should be of the highest value. If you can write something that leaves your readers in awe, feeling more knowledgeable, or enlightened, you’ve done the job.
I know it can be tough to determine exactly what your audience wants to know, but there are a few simple things you can do to find out:
- Just Ask. Asking questions in a blog post, newsletter, on Twitter, Facebook or any other place your audience congregates is one of the best ways to make your readers feel included and get an understanding of exactly the kinds of things they want to know.
- Just Listen. On the flip side, it can be as simple as taking the time to read through your comment stream (or the comment stream of other bloggers in your niche) to find out exactly what people want to know and what questions are being left unanswered. Forums related to your niche are perfect for “listening” too.
When someone does something for you, you should do your best to do something in return. For example:
- Respond to Comments: I’m a strong believer that a blogger’s work is not finished when they hit the publish button. In order to build a relationship with your readers, you must become a part of the conversation in the comment section of your blog as well. For a while, I was doing my best to respond to each and every comment on this blog and people did appreciate it. I was doing well for a while, but the rapid growth and totally active community of this blog (which is totally awesome! Please don’t stop!) made me slow down a little because it was cutting in to time I needed for some of my other projects. I do, however, always read every single comment and although I no longer respond to each and every comment, I do respond to quite a few, especially to those who have questions.
- R.A.O.K: This stands for “Random Acts of Kindness”. Every once and a while a reader will perform a random act of kindness towards you or your business. When this happens, you must do your best to repay them somehow. By giving back, you’re strengthening the bond with those who have already taken the time to help you, and chances are they will be happy to help you out again. This can be as simple as a retweet exchange on Twitter, or even giving away some of your products for free because they really helped you out.
Skip The Sales Pitch
Not too long ago I was really pumped to meet an old friend from high school who said he was starting his own business. I was stoked to share some of what I’ve been up to also and offer some advice, so we met up for some coffee.
After some good catching up, I asked him what his business was about. Five minutes later I realized that I was sitting in on a rehearsed MLM presentation, all about how if I joined this program we could be making loads of money together, blah blah blah.
I politely declined, and although we are still friends, ever since that day I just felt like I was just there to be sold to, and it almost leaves a sick feeling in my stomach. Now that I think about it, we really haven’t made an effort to meet up since, and I would be worried that if we did he’d ask me about that MLM program again.
The point of this story is that people, especially friends and people who have learned to trust you (and double-especially people online) don’t like to be sold to.
They are tired of it.
As Corbett Barr from ThinkTraffic.net so eloquently puts it: “The best sales pitch ever is no sales pitch at all.”, and I truly believe in this statement.
If you haven’t already noticed, there are no sales pitches anywhere on this blog or in my newsletter, yet I’ve been able to generate over $15,000 in affiliate commissions last month in a way that leaves everybody happy.
One of the most successful pages on this blog is the Resources Page. This single page alone brings in $3500-$5000 in affiliate commissions each and every month. My readers are happy because they’ve found quality products that I’ve used in my businesses that will help them too, and I’m happy because I earn a commission from many of those resources. For example, out of the $3,510.00 in BlueHost.com commissions I earned last month, 41% ($1,439) came from the one link in my resources page.
And lastly, if you love your readers to death and build strong bonds with them, when you do eventually come out with your own product or course, no convincing will be necessary because they already know exactly who you are and what you can provide for them.
To all of my readers out there, thank you for your support – and seriously, you know I love you to death.