Writing a blog is an extremely effective way to build a loyal audience, drive traffic to your website and strategically drive sales of your products and services. But creating content can be time consuming and it can be difficult to know what to write about and how to build a blog audience. Identifying what your target market will respond to and engage with is no easy feat. The web is a crowded place with over 200 million blogs online, you need to create content that will allow you to stand out and draw people in.
Your blog posts need to attract and engage your customers, building relationships and positioning you as an expert and authority in your field. The more you build up this reputation the more trust people will have in you (and people only buy from companies they trust). It’s also important to remember that it’s not the number of people you drive to your blog, but the quality of people being driven to your blog that counts. You could drive a 1000 people to you site, but if only 10 of them are your target audience, you’re not going to make many sales in return for all of your hard work.
To help you, we have created a list of 13 easy ways to build your blog audience and drive traffic to your website.
Firstly, you need to have a thorough understanding of who your customers are. There’s no use trying to appeal to everyone, as people have different needs and wants and are in different life stages. For example, if your customers are women starting their own businesses, aged 25-40 who are looking for funding, you’ll need to profile them to discover who they are, what challenges they face, what they most respond to and what their main concerns are. Do they have children? What websites do they visit? What TV shows are they watching? What are they tweeting about and commenting on?
You’ll need to gather as much intelligence as possible, and you can do this by looking at online notice boards and comments within blogs and websites, by attending relevant Meet Up’s and by simply searching on Google. Once you have a clear idea of who your audience are, you will be able to identify stories that they can relate to and engage with.
Your blog posts must not be used to directly sell your products and services. The worst thing you can do is to use this platform to force your products and services down people’s throats. It’s about providing content that is informative, educational, engaging and inspirational and above all something that’s enjoyable to read. Be your authentic self and write in your own tone and try to be different in order to stand out from the rest. Don’t be afraid to show your kooky or funny side, as this will grow your audience faster than if you were to produce a dry, humourless, personality free blog. If your business isn’t part of a fun or creative industry, it’s an opportunity to set yourself apart from others by tapping into your individuality.
You know your industry better than anyone, and should be able to identify topics that you could write about in an engaging way that is relatable to your audience. Think about why you read the articles that you do. What motivates you to read those features? What about them do you like? What draws you in?
If you are in the beauty business and your customers are women aged 20-40, perhaps you could share make up tips and tricks for slimming the face (contouring is big business at the moment), or share new season colour trends showing how to wear them and which skin tones they suit. Any behind the scenes insider information is always interesting if written in an engaging way.
Writing about one of your customers and their experience of using your product or service is also a great way to peak interest as well as building credibility. People react positively to case studies and real human stories.
Make your website look attractive. Add attractive images to all your blog posts to make them more visually appealing. Choose a maximum of two different font types and keep it visually clean and tidy. If it looks a mess people will trust you less and will not want to engage with you. You don’t have to spend lots of money having one professionally designed, simply take a look at what’s out there then create something tailored to you.
Use SEO and name your blog posts well using key words (which you can find using Keyword Tracker). This enables you to use the most searched for words within your blog titles, making you easier to find in search engines such as Google.
You can share your blog content via social media as a written article, Slideshare presentation, cheat sheet, video or podcast and images, or you could choose to share it in all of these different ways on lots of different social media platforms. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc. are all used in different ways, so you will need to choose the best way of presenting your content according to the platform. Whatever you do, don’t just share links to your posts. To make things easier you can use one of the free sharing systems available such as Hootsuite, which allows you to schedule and post your content across multiple channels in one go.
Using as many social media platforms as possible is a must for extending the reach of your content. Not all of these platforms however, should be used to broadcast content so much as engage and interact, and ask questions and for opinions. If your audience are avid watchers of Dragons Den you could use this as an angle for a story. For example, on Twitter you could comment on an episode of Dragons Den as you were watching it, asking people what they thought, engaging in direct conversation with them. This builds relationships a lot quicker than simply posting out content. You could then write and share an article based on your discussions about preparing a pitch which outlines helpful tips and resources that they might find interesting (if relevant to your business). The idea is to tease and engage strategically so that people are enticed to click on the link and be driven to your website or blog. Gauge and monitor what works and what doesn’t and what your audience responds to most, as this will shape your future posts.
Adding social media share buttons to your blog and website will allow visitors to easily share your content with their followers. Ensure you place share buttons at the end of every post and always ask people to share your content.
Read other people’s blogs that are relevant to your business and build a relationship with them. Linking up on webinars, podcasts and videos is a great way to mutually grow your audience. Ask people to guest blog on your site and vice versa, as well as submitting your posts as reposts to other blogs.
Creating your own Meet Up will inevitably attract people who are interested in your topic and emotionally invested in your industry, which will grow your audience and win you some new fans.
Join groups on Facebook and LinkedIn where you know your audience will be. Engage with them and participate in discussions before sharing your site with them.
Schedule your blog posts so that you write and post your content at the same time each week. It’s important to be consistent and regular with your posts to maintain traffic. Find out what time of day your audience tends to be online the most (online traffic is usually at its peak early mornings, mid-afternoons and evenings), and make sure you post ready for their visit. Spending an hour or two each week writing posts is all it needs to take.
Add a link to your blog and website to your email signature. Think about how many emails you send out in a day, each of which is an opportunity to promote your site. Also, do remember to add a link to your blog and website on all of your social media profiles.
Ask visitors to your site to sign up to something once they reach your blog or website. Depending on what your business is, you could offer them free insider guides, cheat sheets or e-books. Whatever it is has to be fairly substantial and of value to your audience. The aim is to build up your email mailing list so that you are able to regularly and consistently contact your customers directly with new blog content and exclusive information, as well as having another platform to be able to sell your products and services.