Turning Your Audience into a Community
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: your goal is to make the reader feel like every blog post is written just for them. This will make them feel like part of your tribe—so much so that they will share, comment on, and engage with your posts and purchase your products (because they know it’ll help THEM even further).
There are many ways to go about this.
1. Comments. Enabling comments on your posts allows readers to ask questions and get feedback from you.
2. Asking questions in your post. Show your readers it’s not just you talking but that their opinions matter too. For example, if you write a post on traveling NYC on a budget, at the end, you might ask, “What’s your favorite budget activity in NYC? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!”
3. Answering reader questions on your website. When readers ask questions, see if you can create a post to answer it in depth. You may even want to start a column—for example, Ask Kate.
4. Collaborating with readers. Think of a way to get your readers actively involved with your posts by submitting photos, videos, or text. For example, The Culture-Ist once did a collaborative “Universe Conspires Wall,” while Clarity had their entrepreneur community share valuable lessons.
5. Giveaways. Reward readers with tangible items. You can reach out to companies offering products you think your readers would be interested in and see if they’d want to work together to run a competition to increase awareness and engagement for both parties involved. Typically, contests that are easy to sign up for will do best, as will contests that have a really awesome prize. Make sure to also create a #hashtag for your contest so you can easily track it on social media.
6. Engaging content. Write engaging content that solves a problem for readers or inspires them to take action. Again, check Google Analytics to see what people are interacting with the most.
7. Creating a newsletter. This allows you to write personal messages to your followers and offer exclusive content. To really entice visitors to subscribe, offer a Content Upgrade that quickly solves a problem for them—such as a checklist or PDF—to newsletter subscribers to reward them for following you.
8. Making following and subscribing easy. Nobody is going to follow you on Twitter or like your Facebook page if the links are buried. Make your social media follow buttons easy to find, and give readers multiple opportunities to subscribe to your blog.
9. Starting a club.Think carefully about what your readers would be interested in. For example, if you’re in the writing niche, starting an online book club is one idea. Not only will you be helping your readers find great books, you can also offer perks like literary giveaways, gifts, and fun quizzes (again, Interact is great for this). Think, “Which famous American novelist is your soulmate?” or “Which [book title] character are you?”
10. Speak with them (vs. at them). Make your readers feel like you’re someone they’d grab coffee with (vs. someone who is lecturing them).
Your Turn: Growing your email list will be one of the most essential steps when building your community and monetizing your website. Create an opt-in freebie (called a Content Upgrade) to reward new subscribers. It’s best if it relates to the product/service you (will) offer to attract relevant leads.
For now, come up with an idea for a freebie and create it. Once it’s done, place the opt-in offer above, below, and within blog posts, in your social media bios, in an exit pop-up, on your homepage, on your sidebar, in your menu . . . everywhere.
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