A Guest Post by Glen Allsopp from ViperChill.
There’s a ton of advice in the blogosphere about how to increase the size of your blog audience and become an A-lister. There is far less advice though on how to deal with such a large readership and the changes that come with it.
While I don’t consider myself an A-lister, my blog is closing in on the 10,000 subscribers mark after less than a year since launch, and quite a few things have changed from when I had a much smaller audience.
Some of these are good, some are bad, and others are completely what you make of them. This is simply my guide on the things to expect and possibly watch out for.
Growth which Snowballs
The first few months with blogging are generally the toughest. If you’re not learning how to tweak your design and implement good on-site SEO you’re trying to establish yourself in your niche and build relationships. Growth at this time can seem slow or even stagnant.
Thankfully, it does get much easier. Once you have built an audience you have more people to naturally share your posts for you, buy your products, and help spread your brand. When I grew my old personal development blog to 500 subscribers it took me 7 months of non-stop hard work.
Yet, in the next 5 months after that, thanks to this snowball growth effect, the blog had over 4,000 subscribers. The bigger you get, the bigger the growth spurts tend to become as well.
I’m very fortunate to have built a following of people who are very positive and thankful for the effort that I put into my articles. However, as with any project that grows large, I’ve faced public criticism as well. This didn’t seem to happen based on anything I did but came about when my audience hit a certain threshold, resulting in feedback that was seemingly random.
Some people say things like “you’re just trying to be like X blogger”, “you’re scamming people” (even though I have no ads or affiliate links) or they may claim I’m lying when I write about certain figures, even after posting screenshots of everything I do.
At the end of the day, criticism is something you should come not only to expect, but forget. If there’s something negative out there about you that you agree with and can change, then do so. Otherwise, leave the internet trolls to do their thing and continue doing what you do.
It’s not just in the blogosphere where this happens of course, but in all areas of life. Look at the launch of the iPhone 4 as an example. It was Apple’s most popular product launch in their history and has less refunds than any other iPhone by far, yet every tech blog is jumping on the bandwagon about the issues it appears to have.
Whether you believe Apple should be scorned or not, you can’t deny that it seems that the more popular a person or company gets, the more people want to take them down. At certain times I like to remind myself of a quote my Sean Stephenson which is quite relevant to this situation: “What people say about you is none of your business.”
A Rise in Reader Communications
As much as I didn’t want to do this, I’ve had to make it significantly harder to get in touch with me over the last few months. First of all, I stopped returning follows on Twitter and went from following over 3,000 people to less than 100. If you follow someone they can send you a direct message (DM) and I simply couldn’t respond to even half of them. I can’t imagine how other people who have much bigger audiences deal with it.
I then had to create a new Skype account as people were using the ‘find by email’ feature and adding me personally. As I give away my Skype address frequently when buying new websites, I would sometimes be flooded with support requests because I couldn’t tell if someone was a blog reader or they were selling a website I was interested in.
Finally, I made my contact form much less inviting and put my email address right at the bottom of the page. I hate that I had to do this one the most, but I think people would rather find it harder to contact me than spend time writing a request for help that I simply can’t fulfil.
Of course, I still respond to many emails and I try to reply to every single blog comment I receive, which can take hours each week, but I can’t keep up with the other communication channels. Similar to my last point, people can be very vocal on social media platforms if they get in touch with you and you don’t reply — even if it’s just a day or two later.
If you have time to respond to everyone then that’s great but make sure you’re prioritising tasks (writing posts, tweaking your site) and not trying to be everywhere to please everyone. My simply philosophy is that I would rather spend a few hours writing an article which helps thousands of people than spending hours in my inbox helping only a few.
Higher Expectations from your Audience
When I said there would be points which you can view in your own way, this is what I was mostly referring to. This may just be a personal feeling and not something other large bloggers can relate to, but I definitely think people have higher expectations of the information and ideas I share after following my work for a while.
I personally see this as a good thing as I don’t want to stand behind work which I believe to be mediocre so I’m reminded to produce valuable content. You may see it as added pressure to publish only your best articles but realise that your audience just wants the same great value that they’re used to. When asked how he dealt with the pressure of his fans, rapper Lil Wayne simply said:
“I would rather have the pressure of fans wanting me to do well then the pressure of running from police or something like that. Fan pressure is good pressure.”
When you start out you can make “mistakes” you wouldn’t normally do like fill your site with ads, write reviews just for money or publish guest posts which are of a far lower standard to the content you usually put out here. Once you grow though, the reaction to those kinds of mistakes can be a loud voice in the online space.
I love growing my audience for the obvious benefits such as:
- Having more eyeballs on my content
- Having more people who can share my content
- Connecting with a bigger audience
- Being able to make more money
- Having a bigger influence
These are all great advantages to becoming a bigger blogger, so definitely don’t just focus on the points that I’ve highlighted above. Just become aware of what you may have to deal with as your site does begin to grow. At the very least, if you do experience these things, now you know you’re not alone.