Wow! We’re so excited to be celebrating 500+ followers!
I had a mentor tell me once to picture a roomful of your followers with you when you write or speak. When you start out with one or two or ten followers, you feel small, but it’s actually huge – to be able to share meaningful ideas and conversation with even one person.
I do the same thing now with my visitor numbers and downloads on the podcast. Even though the numbers are small, it feels huge to me.
I’ve also met a lot of genuine friends, which was my goal from the beginning. Thank you for listening, opening up, and sharing your own talents with us!
I thought about doing a blog party, but my spam box gets about 30 comments a day from awful websites (bots, not people) – so #confession , I use bulk edit and I’ve stopped reading the spam folder. Anyone have a fix for this?
In the meantime, since many of you are fellow bloggers, I thought I would share my favorite advice from over the years when it comes to building a community for your site!
My Top Ten Tips for Building A Following:
- Know who you’re reaching out to: (In other words, know your ideal client/reader.) Of course you’ll have an audience outside of this description, but it helps you know what to say and how to say it when you have an idea of who you’re speaking to. For example, I often write with fellow mamas in my mind. Some bloggers target specific age groups, budgets, countries, faith, you name it. I personally struggle with narrowing down, but a niche can often be a good thing, and we’ll talk about that. For now, fill in the blank: I help (who) do (what) by (how). Back in the day, I started out with this: I help moms struggling with postpartum depression to find themselves again by connecting with each other.
- Know what problems they are facing: Once you have an idea of who you’re talking to, get specific. What problems are they facing? How did last year affect them? What do they need to hear the most right now? What does a typical day look like for them? For my part, I model my target audience after me, so that I have something to share that is relevant for them. Because of that, usually the things I’m afraid to say or feel vulnerable talking about are what others connect with the most. Just yesterday, I had the most engagement I’ve ever had on an Instagram poll from sharing about how much I hate shaving my legs 😂. TMI? Probably. Engagement? Check!
- Niche down: Here is why narrowing down can be a good thing: it helps you be unique. Leaving out groups of people can feel like you’re cutting out a huge chunk of potential readers, but the truth is, appealing to everyone just keeps you from standing out. I have a friend who started a podcast for Christians about happy marriages. One day, she transitioned to helping Christian women lead fulfilling sex lives in their marriages. Her numbers sky-rocketed! Topic, you say? Maybe. But that’s the point. There are lots of people talking about happy marriages, and less people talking about the role that physical intimacy plays in a happy marriage.
- Go deep, not wide: Aside from your niche, going deep by cultivating meaningful relationships makes more of a difference than numbers alone. Cathy Heller always says that 10 customers who are willing to share what you have to say, or buy a product that they need from you (because you’ve done your ideal client research and built a genuine relationship) are better than 1000 customers who don’t know your name.
- Offer value like you’re already where you want to be: Along those lines, don’t wait till you have x amount of followers to offer value. Offer value now! That’s exactly what draws people to you in the first place.
- When it comes to content, sometimes quantity begets quality: Speaking of offering value, sometimes quantity begets quality. What I mean is, the more you write, the more often inspiration strikes. The more you create, the more likely it is you’ll create something you’re proud of. Not that you can’t otherwise! But the odds go up. And the relationships deepen as well.
- Know what works for you: You also have to know when you need a break. Don’t be afraid to do what is best for you and your family. Did you know that most podcasts fizzle out after three months? The people who “make it big” are the people who keep at it – for years. But, in order to do that, you have to know what works for you and make your goals sustainable.
- Set goals that align with your passion, not just number goals: For example, number and consistency goals are great, but you need a why that is deeper than that, too. I said my goal from the beginning was to make friends. I’m grateful for that! I also have a set of values that I try to share on a regular basis: resilience, purpose, grace, identity, & transparency… I hope through sharing these to help others feel less alone and more capable. These goals have kept me coming back on more than one occasion, and allowed me to take time off as needed.
- Focus on one platform at a time: It’s true that other platforms lead to greater exposure. But don’t spread yourself too thin. Start with one platform at a time, then work up from there. I started on WordPress, then began a podcast, then began an Instagram, and finally started adding posts to Facebook (which I don’t check it nearly as often as the others). I’d love to expand to YouTube and Pinterest at some point, but, for now, I just want to focus on giving the best I can where I’m already at.
- About monetization: The truth is, it’s hard to make money from blogging, or podcasting. I have friends who are at 15K+ followers who struggle with monetization. I like to write, and I like to podcast, but I don’t want to run a business, I just want to connect with others. Sometimes, though, it gets to be a lot of work for just a hobby! So, know what you want from the beginning, and invest your time accordingly. If monetization is a route you want to go, some approaches include: ad-revenue on your site, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, or creating and selling your own products. You can make the most off of the latter, but if you don’t have a product idea, affiliate links and sponsorships with fellow small businesses are a simple way to start. Good luck!
There you have it! I hope it was helpful for you and wish all of my friends here the best in all of the good that you do. Thank you for being here.