Audience, content. Content, audience. These are the two intertwined threads of blogging. And writing—and marketing.
Intertwined because who you write for determines your content and what you write about defines your audience.
Bob and I will be guests on Tshombe Brown’s radio show, Selling with Spirit, next Monday, September 24, 1pm Pacific Time. Tshombe helps entrepreneurs make positive changes and eliminate the disconnect between what they need to be doing to grow their businesses and what they are actually doing. The topic for the September 24 show: Can You Really Use Blogging to Sell Your Services?
As I thought about all the ways you can find customers and clients through your blog, it became clear that one thing needs to happen first.
You can’t generate income if your blog doesn’t have a focus.
You must first get clear on what your blog is about. This is where the “write for yourself” advice gets confusing, especially for new bloggers. They take it to mean that they are free to blog about anything that strikes their fancy on any given day. But the successful bloggers who “write for themselves” also don’t stray too far from the content that readers have come to expect. After all, it is what made them subscribe in the first place.
Whether our goal is to use our blog as money-making machine, or as a tool for attracting a publisher for our books, or something else, we all have one thing in common.
We want to grow our readership.
In my experience, that happens when I know who I am writing for (audience) and what they need and want (content).
I can’t write solely for myself and expect to meet my readers’ (or customers’) goals. I tell my blog coaching clients this:
Be yourself, but blog for your reader.
If you don’t blog for your audience, you might as well just be keeping a journal
If we blog for ourselves, with no intended audience, why even put our posts out there? When we hit that “Publish” button, we are aware that others are going to see it, right? Those readers are our audience.
Stephen King, in his seminal book, On Writing, talks about the importance of writing for your readers. His advice applies equally well to blogging:
You can’t please all of the readers all of the time; you can’t please even some of the readers all of the time, but you really ought to try to please at least some of the readers some of the time.
Do you know who you are writing for? Why do they come to your blog? What makes them choose yours over the gazillion other ones out there?
Call it category or niche or something else, but consider focusing your content
Niche blogging is a hotly contested topic. It’s too confining for some. Too limiting—too predictable.
But if your readers don’t know what to expect when they visit your blog, if they are looking for certain content and you stray often, you risk losing some of them. If you talk about cooking one day and medieval art the next, they will be confused—unless they have a passion for cooking, medieval art and all the other things you blog about.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t infuse your blog with personality and your own experiences. It just means that most readers need to put you into a category.
Author, speaker and marketer extraordinaire Seth Godin was talking about this topic just this week:
I want to put you into a category. When I meet you or your company or your product or your restaurant or your website, I desperately need to put you into an existing category, because the mental cost of inventing a new category for every new thing I see is just too high. I am not alone in this need. In fact, that’s the way humans survive the onslaught of newness we experience daily.
The other important point Godin makes is that if you don’t categorize yourself, it is going to happen anyway. And why give someone else control over defining you? Because what if they put you in the wrong category?
As I leave you, just a couple of things: If you’d like to tune into our guest spot on the Selling with Spirit radio show, go here. And here is more information on our Energize Your Blog online class that launches on October 10. Enrollment is open now.
What about you?
Are you a believer in defining your blog’s content?
What category would you put yourself into?
Do you know who your readers are?