Later today I’m speaking to a couple of groups of business people about the power of blogging and social media to help market a business.
One of the question I’ve already been told to prepare a question for is – How do you find Readers for a blog?
The question is of course one of the most common ones that I get and the answer is far more complex than I could possibly answer while on a 45 minute panel – there are a myriad of techniques for growing a blog’s readership (I’ll link to some posts I’ve written on that topic below). But I did today want to share the main points I plan to make in my answer today.
By no means is the following comprehensive or applicable to every single blog – but it’s where I’d start in tackling the challenge of finding readers:
How do you find Readers for a Business Blog?
Start With Your Current Network
Keeping in mind that I’m talking to businesses about blogging here – I think the best place to start with finding readers for a blog is to start with those that your business is already in contact with.
Any business will already have some kind of network which will include:
- Previous and Current Customers/Clients
- Industry Groups
- Mailing Lists
This is where I’d start if I were a business starting a blog. Get those you’re already in relationship aware of your blog. These are the people who know you (and hopefully like and trust you) – they can help get the ball rolling in terms of generating some subscribers, comments – this will hopefully help create some social proof to help hook others.
Leverage Other Places Where you Have a Presence
Most businesses will also have other points that they can highlight their blog including
- business cards
- email signatures
- social media pages
There will of course be others – but the key is to find appropriate places to highlight your new blog and drive traffic from those who might be outside of your network but who you come into some kind of contact with.
Content as a Foundation
The content appearing on your blog will be one of the most important factors in getting those who stumble upon your blog to come back again (and spread the word of it to others).
Your blog posts need to meet a need of readers in some way. Readers of business blogs needs will vary but could include a need for news about your industry, a need to learn how to use your products, a need to get updates on developments/news about your company that relates to them, a need to see how others are using your products.
Once again – this list of needs could go on and on and will vary greatly from business blog to business blog. The key is to work out what your customers (and potential customers) needs are and to develop content that will help those people solve their problems and enhance their lives in some way.
Content also needs to be well written, clearly communicated, of a good standard and compelling.
Go to Potential Readers
A ‘Build it and they will come’ mentality does not apply to blogging. The reality is that your potential readers are unlikely to find your blog unless you get a little (or a lot) proactive.
One of the keys to finding readers is to identify what type of reader you’re looking to attract and then to identify where those types of people are gathering (online or offline).
Do some thinking about the type of person who you want to connect with – this might be a certain demographic, a person with a certain hobby or interest, someone in a certain type of job etc. Once you’ve got them pictured begin to brainstorm where they gather. It might be online on another blog or forum, it could be on a social media site, it could be reading an offline publication like a magazine or it could be in some kind of real life networking group.
Once you’ve started to identify your potential reader’s gathering points you need to begin to find ways to build a presence in those places. If it’s an online blog, forum, social networking site it might be as simple as joining the community and being a useful and social member. It could also include creating content for these sites. If it’s an offline networking group it could mean becoming a member, attending, presenting etc. If it’s an offline publication there may be opportunities to contribute or advertise.
Build Relationships with Others in Your Niche
Other bloggers and website owners in your niche may well be ‘competition’ in some ways – but they also could be collaborators. Blogging is a medium that has been built on bloggers within a niche having conversations, linking to each other and collaboration – don’t treat other bloggers as the enemy – reach out and see what opportunities for working together there may be.
Experiment, Track and Evolve
In the early days of a blog (and beyond the early days) it’s important to try new things on your blog. Try new types of posts, experiment with different voices and mediums (think video, podcasts, images etc) etc. In time you’ll begin to find that some types of posts get more reaction and attention from readers than others. It could be topic related or perhaps the style of posts.
Track what works and what falls flat on its face. Build upon the positives, repeat what works and learn from your mistakes. If you keep doing the types of things that have worked in the past you’ll often find you become known for a certain type of blogging and momentum will grow.
Many people online don’t just want to consume content – they want to belong, contribute, participate and interact.
I’ve found that the more I concentrate on creative spaces for interaction with and between readers and the more permission I give readers to be active – the more my blogs and business grows. This can happen on many levels but at the most basic level it can start by simply asking readers questions and interacting with their replies.
Don’t just be a content creator – be a community builder!
Add Your Tips for Building Traffic to Business Blogs
As I’ve mentioned above – there are many many ways to build traffic to a blog. I’ve got some further reading listed below – but I’m also keen to hear your suggestions – particularly from those who have ‘business blogs’ (ie blogs attached to an existing business). What would you add?
Further Reading on Finding Readers for Blogs
- How I’d promote my blog if I were starting out again
- 19 Strategies for Finding Readers For Your Blog
- Finding Readers for your Blog – What We Wish We Knew
- How to Find Readers for Your Blog (a collection of lots of articles on the topic)