I think the best way to kick off the #BloggingBreakthrough series is to tell you a little story.
So the very first word I learnt the meaning of in the blogging world was nearly three years ago. What was it?
I remember thinking, what the hell is SEO and how the hell do I use it?
Now, I could talk to you about it for hours.
Three years ago, I hardly had any idea of what anything meant when it came to building an online presence. I didn't see myself as a brand, I didn't know how the hell to use Twitter and I definitely didn't know what a flat-lay was.
Since then, my blog has started my career, and it's now providing me with guest speaking and workshop opportunities. While I'm super-amazingly grateful for those experiences, I realise that not everyone wants to go through their blogging journey trying to figure out what every single thing means and how they can use this to build their presence online. Unless, you know, you want to do it the hard way....
But who does, right?
Enter #BloggingBreakthrough - a brand new series taking you through all the letters of the alphabet to tell you not only what the most important words in the blogging world are, but exactly why you need to know them and how you can use them to build the online presence you want.
I already went through what you can expect in this series in a post last Friday, but just to recap:
- There’ll be a post going live every Friday morning on a different letter of the alphabet, all relating to terms in the blogging industry that we need to know.
- Every Friday afternoon, I’ll be doing a Periscope to expand on the particular topic of the day and reveal extra tips that won’t be included in the blog post
- And if you sign up to join the #BloggingBreakthrough community, you’ll get access to a special freebie and even more tips every Monday.
Sounds pretty cool, right? So are you ready?
Let's get started with week one and the letter A which is for....
But I know what you're thinking.
No way Holly, I already know what an audience is!
I know you do. But if you think harder about it, ask yourself: how much do you really know about audiences? How much do you know about your own? Is it the right one? And how do you grow it?
Those are just some of the questions this post is going to answer.
I’ve also put together a pretty cool checklist of some amazing hashtags you can start including on your Instagram posts. I’ve been using these and getting more likes & comments than ever before.
What is an audience?
Dictionary definition: a regular public that manifests interest, support, enthusiasm, or the like; a following: Every art form has its audience.
Our definition: an audience is anyone you know or think would be interested in what you have to offer. In blogging terms, this is the content you create, the category your blog fits into, what your brand represents and the community you provide.
While the dictionary definition is about them coming to you, the phrase "build it and they will come" is very outdated.
The blogging definition is about you going out to find your audience, especially when you want to make a breakthrough with your online presence.
Your audience is one of the most important things when it comes to being online. We can't run a successful presence, blog, brand or business without them.
Audience members turn into regular viewers. Viewers turn into commenters. Commenters turn into subscribers, and your subscribers are your VIPs.
But the difficult thing is actually getting to that stage, right?
Who is my audience?
Your audience is anyone who is interested in what you have to offer and who needs it. You might end up being a source of inspiration for them, a place where they can learn something new, or simply somewhere they can go for a chat.
But how can you understand if your audience is receiving your message and getting in tune with your blog, if you don't even know who you're talking to?
Really, discovering your audience has a lot to do with discovering more about yourself. It’s about finding your way by putting yourself out there. It’s thinking about who you want to help and finding the people who respond to that.
Let’s look at it this way. For me, I’m writing and creating content based around who I was two or three years ago – a person just getting started building her brand online, building her blog and starting her career. This person had absolutely no idea how to put everything together to create a successful strategy, had no idea what she wanted to do for a living and was searching for this information every day.
Now, this is what ABOH represents – a place where people don’t have to search for hours, because all this information is here.
So if you think about it in that sense, ask yourself these questions:
- What are three reasons why people would come to your blog in the first place?
- What are three reasons why these people would return to your blog? What do you give them?
- What are three reasons why these people would share what you have to offer them with others?
Your answers to these questions will help you understand not only what you are trying to provide and achieve with your online presence, but also who you are trying to help.
A lot of people tell you to “find a niche”, but sometimes I think there are negative effects to this. I’ve tried to niche and I thought I had it nailed – yet my brand is attracting all sorts of different people in different industries: lifestyle bloggers, authors, freelance writers, book bloggers – all of these people want to see what I have to offer.
If you feel the same about your audience, then don’t try and niche – if all these people want to come to you then you’re not going to send them away, right?
But you can feel free to get specific. If you’re a beauty blogger, you’re getting specific by targeting people who are interested in beauty. Those who aren’t really interested in beauty won’t come to your site. But if you go even further and say you’re a beauty blogger for women aged 40+ - that’s targeting a very specific audience. That’s a niche.
Now there are, of course, more ways to find out who your audience is, but you might not actually discover these until you start putting yourself and your content out there. You can do this by gaining people’s trust, understanding how what you can offer makes yourself unique, experimenting with different strategies, follow solid blogging tips that help grow your online presence and visibility and so on.
So before we go on to talking about how to actually find your audience and where to find them, I’m just going to cover something else. This is going to be a key part to the #bloggingbreakthrough series.
Why Do You Need To Find Your Audience?
If you don’t have an audience, you don’t really have a presence. If you want to build a community online and make blogging a regular part of your life, this happens through your audience.
The more you know about your audience, the more you can create content that relates directly to them. That way, the more your audience will share your content and the more other people will start to recognize you.
It’s as simple as that.
How Do I Find My Audience & Where Do I Find Them?
Here’s the thing. When I was planning to launch this blog, I read what felt like millions and millions of articles. All of them said: “you’ve got to go out and find your audience. Where do they hang out online?”
But none of them told me how to do that and where to look. I didn’t even know where to start.
It’s all well and good if you’ve got thousands of followers and subscribers. You could have the best content and the best-looking blog in the world. But if you’ve not got engagement and interaction you haven’t got anything. You haven’t got an audience.
I get it in a way. Self-promotion can be icky. Too much and people will think you’re just being pushy. Too little and you won’t be seen. It’s hard to find a balance.
Ultimately, you’re not going to get your brand out there in front of other people without an audience, because these are the people who share what you have to offer.
But there are some ways that I’ve found really do make a huge difference in finding your audience and building it. The things listed below I know even the most successful bloggers have done. Try to do all these at some point if you can and I promise, your audience will start to look really really good.
1. Get on Bloglovin’ or Search for Blogs You’re Interested In
This is super SUPER important – so much so that I said super twice. If you’re really in this to build an engaged audience and strong community, you need to find other blogs you love. In your industry and in other industries too. This is how you build connections. This is how you start to build an audience.
If you’re a food blogger, search for “food blogs” on Google. Then go onto Bloglovin’ and go through the categories that interest you. Follow blogs based on recommendations. Look through the comments on these blogs and find other bloggers who you think you might like to get to know more. You might also find that some blogs have a “blog roll” where they list their favourite blogs on their website.
Here’s an example from my friend, Stephie at Teacup Theatre.
See the list on the right-hand side? That’s a list of her favourite blogs ready for you to click on.
I know this takes time at first. But once you’ve got this list of blogs to keep up to date with, you might find that your audiences start to come together and overlap.
2. Follow the Hell out of Each Person – Everywhere
So here’s what’s annoying – when someone hits follow for your blog and that’s it.
I mean, who does that?
Here’s what to do. And I don’t usually like telling you, friend, what to do. But you’ve just gotta do this, OK?
- Follow their blog
- Join them on Twitter
- Join them on Instagram
- Join them on Pinterest
- Sign up to their mailing list
- Join them on Facebook
Get the picture?
We have our social links displayed on our websites for a reason. If you like what you see, open up each one in a new tab and go for it.
Bloggers will notice when you do this. You want to build an audience everywhere, not just in one place. If you cover all platforms, you’re also allowing for a lot of places for your audience to find you too.
3. Get on Social Media
Your audience is on social media: fact.
Let’s keep this part short and sweet. You know the bloggers you’ve just followed? Look at your suggested followers and follow them. Then go to see who those bloggers are following and who is following them and follow, follow, follow.
That’s how you find your audience.
You know a great tool for using this? Crowdfire.
So I heard about Crowdfire in a Facebook group I’m a part of recently. I checked it out and at first, I didn’t think it was legit. But it works.
Here’s what you do. Let’s start with Twitter. Download the app and sign in with your Twitter account. In the left-hand menu, click “Copy Followers”.
Enter the handle of someone you know who has a similar audience to you. Let’s say you’re a beauty blogger. You know that @EsteeLalonde is one of the best beauty bloggers out there. Put in her username and a list appears.
It’s a list of all her Twitter followers. Now what you can do is go through that list and follow everyone you think relates to you.
You’ll soon start to find that people follow you back.
This is how you find your audience!
How Do I Build My Audience?
Finding your audience is the easy bit. It’s keeping them that’s important.
"Growing" and "building" your audience are terms you're probably already familiar with. For some, it happens quite naturally. But for others, we have to work at it.
Here are a few ways (some less scary than others!) for you to start getting more comfortable in your community and attracting more of the right people to your website:
- Comment on other blogs – not just “great post!” Read it and leave a detailed, thoughtful comment
- Respond to all comments on your blog in an amazing way. Not just one sentence – really read it and craft a thoughtful, unique response
- Interact with at least three new people every day on Twitter
- Start a conversation with your social media followers
- Answer questions on social media. Join in with other people’s discussions
- Find Facebook groups, join them and interact with them. Google search Facebook groups for … bloggers”
- Join in with Twitter chats – try and do at least one a week, if not two
- Join forums – do the same search as above
- Take part in a special series run by a blogger (like this one!)
- Get on Periscope
- Hold competitions
- Respond to all emails
- Start a mailing list and interact with your subscribers once a week
- Guest post on other blogs in your industry
- Include content upgrades with all your blog posts
I could go on, but I’ll leave you with those to think about. But seriously, if you do this, put the work in and go out to find your audience, you will find them. And they’ll keep coming back to you.
So we covered a lot today, friends. But that’s the beauty of a series like this. Some posts might only take 800 words to explain it all to you. But some, like this, will take over 2,500! (I know, right).
But just to recap in case your brain has turned to mush, here are the most important things you need to remember:
- An audience is anyone you know or think would be interested in what you have to offer. In blogging terms, this is the content you create, the category your blog fits into, what your brand represents and the community you provide
- Ask yourself the three questions we talked about earlier in the post to find your “why"
- Find your audience by getting yourself out there
- Grow your audience by being active everywhere in your community
Now remember – each of these points is designed to help you understand more who your audience is and how you can find them. You don’t have to do all of these strategies. These are my personal favourites. You can start with one and just try others as and when you want to. The more you do, the more your audience will grow and a stronger connection you’ll build.
So there we go with the first letter of the #BloggingBreakthrough series! Look out for me on Periscope this afternoon where I’ll be sharing even more tips based on this cheeky taster headline:
Be active, be optimal, be consistent.
Are you excited? Yes!
And if you sign up to join the #BloggingBreakthrough community, on Monday you'll get access to two more amazing freebies to do with Twitter & Facebook.
Everything just got real.
Let's chat in the comments. What's the one thing you learnt about "audience" today that you didn't know before? What's the one action item you got out of this post?