7 Strategies to Invite More People Into Your Audience

Do you want to grow your blog’s audience? Today Chris Brogan shares some strategies on just how to do that.

It took me years to start figuring out how to grow my blog’s community such that it was steady and sustainable. A few years back, I figured out how to hit the Digg front page from time to time, but that never amounted to anyone sticking around. It was the equivalent of yelling, “Hey! Free beer!” and then the frat boys would show up, drink it all, and leave. Now? I’ve developed some methods by which I’ve grown my community at a steady but respectable pace. Leave the frat boys for the “get rich quick” crowd. I’ve got other plans you can work instead. Here are 7 strategies you can review, and see if any match your blogging goals.

  1. The Outpost Strategy – the simple plan is to locate the various places and ways you can point out your blog across the web. Add your RSS feed to your Facebook profile (and use some of the cool 3rd party apps that let you promote blog posts into the stream- I like Simplaris Blogcast)
  2. The Offering Strategy – provide free resources. Brian Solis builds great offerings all over the place, including ebooks, graphics, and more. Offerings keep people around, if only to add to their arsenal of useful things. See also Chris Pearson and his inexpensive WordPress themes.
  3. The Helpful Strategy – instead of being a consultant and asking “how can I help?” all the time, I like to imagine ways to be helpful, and then build posts that point out some starting point information. This gives me two benefits: it helps me find potential clients, and it grows entire populations of people who linger on my blog waiting for me to write about their vertical again.
  4. The Opinion Strategy – learn what others have to say by cultivating a culture of questions. Okay, I’ll admit that this isn’t as much a strategy of mine as a proclivity. I ask questions of people all the time. I know what I think. I want to know what YOU think. It’s one of the top ways I build audience, however, and I swear by it.
  5. The Media Engine Strategy – my approach for ensuring that you keep coming back isn’t that far off from Darren: make new stuff all the time. One reason this is useful is that it’s harder for people to copy cat. The other reason is that if we pump out decent posts all the time, you trigger other benefits because you bookmark the ones you can’t get to right away. If the bookmark is social (Delicious, StumbleUpon, Ma.gnolia, etc), you’ve just shot up a flare telling others that you think the piece is worthwhile. Either way, the tactics under this strategy are endless.
  6. The Timing Strategy – have you figured out when your best audience days are? Why aren’t you putting a “great” post in reserve for those days? And when you do that, when you get a post that you know is going to kill, write a post that will show up on the blog a few hours later (schedule it) that emphasizes subscribing to your RSS feed. Other tactics in this strategy including putting up an amazing post before attending a conference, so that people will check you out at the event and find some great material there.
  7. The Strategy Strategy – people love strategy, partly because most people get confused with which one is strategy and which are tactics. Strategy is the diet that helps you reach the goal. Tactics are ways to make sure the diet goes well. There, now figure out different ways to share strategy ideas with your audience, and they’ll stick around looking for other ways to feel smart.

As with all things, your mileage may vary. So far, my blog has been up in web-side visitors as well as RSS-side month after month. It’s working for me. If it doesn’t work in a few months or so of traffic, maybe dig into the content a bit and look for some fresh ideas there. Let me know which ones work best for you.

Chris Brogan is as surprised as you that his blog is in the top 20 of the Advertising Age Power150. He’s pleased as punch that he’s in the top 200 on Technorati. But more than anything, Chris wants to meet you in person at a conference, or on his blog at []

What I Learned by Increasing My Forum Membership by 400 in 24 hours

Yesterday I challenged myself to grow my Digital Photography forum membership numbers by 500 new members in 24 hours.

I only got just over 400 in the end – but learned a few things a long the way about growing forums – some of which can be applied to blogging.

The Challenge

I like to set myself challenges and little competitions. Yesterdays was:

to grow DPS forums membership by 500 members – without spending any money on prizes or advertising.

This was a fairly ambitious task considering that at the start of the challenge the forums had 21,000 members and so an additional 500 is around a 2.5% increase in 24 hours (it has taken me years to get to 21k).

Here’s the two main things that I did:

1. Emailed unconfirmed members – this was a no brainer really. When someone signs up for the forum they need to confirm their membership by responding to an email that they get sent.

1400 people had not made this confirmation over the last 2 years – either they’d changed their mind about joining, had not seen the email (perhaps it was filtered as spam) or had been too busy to confirm.

So I sent out a simple reminder email to this group. So far around 200 of them have confirmed their membership – many have already become quite active.

2. Emailed my most active members – Vbulletin (the forum software that I use) lets you email members based upon a number of criteria. One of these is to be able to target members who have been active within a certain time frame.

I decided to send an email to the most recently active members (from the last month). There were around 3000 of them sent.

The email was simply to thank them for their involvement and to invite them to share DPS with a friend (or friends) either via email, IM, social media, on their Flickr account or on their blog.

I was a little unsure about this 2nd option – but was quite amazed by the hundreds of emails that came back to me since it was sent. Every single one of them was positive and in almost all of them were promises to tell a friend in one of the ways that I suggested in the email.

Not only that – there were suggestions and stories on how they’d already recommended DPS to others.

Member numbers are up over 420 in the last 24 hours – based upon normal days of subscribers I’d estimate that 200 of these new members came as a result of recommendations of others.

What have I learned and how this applies to Blogging

1. The Power of Reminders – For starters – sometimes people need reminders when they join something. I’ve written previously about how emailing unverified email subscribers to a blog can increase your subscriptions. That is a technique that I use semi-regularly on my blogs and it always helps to bump up subscriber numbers.

The key with reminders like this is to do it in a non intrusive, polite and helpful way.

2. The Power of tapping into loyal readers – Most advice that I hear around how to find new readers for a blog seems to be about going onto other sites (particularly social media ones) and getting people to come to those sites to your blog.

While this works – I think there’s a more powerful resource for finding new readers at most bloggers fingertips – their current loyal readers.

Those who have already subscribed to your blog, who read your stuff every day, who leave comments, who get your newsletter…. these people are already sold on your site. As a result they make great evangelists for you. Give them a nudge and the tools and some suggestions on how to ‘sell your blog’ to their existing networks and you can potentially unleash something quite significant.

Not only are your current readers powerful – the emails I got from readers today indicate that they want to be involved and are grateful for being asked. It is a strange thing – while I felt weird about asking them to share about DPS with friends – asking them to do it seems to have increased their ownership of the site and given them even more of a sense of belonging. This is an example of the power of giving readers jobs to do and how it can impact their sense of community on a blog.

update: as I’m about to publish this post the 500 new members mark has been reached, in fact it’s on 800 new members in 48 hours.

How to Get Noticed [the Art of Positioning]

Jeremiah Owyang has written a good post today on how to get noticed.

Getting noticed is a major problem for most bloggers starting out (and most who have been going for years also). Jeremiah’s suggestions are great:

  • Have a goal, Develop a unique brand, Get personal, Attend local events, Lead events, Be interesting and Archive your achievements.

He writes great thoughts on each of the above points – well worth the read.

One other thought comes to mind as I read what Jeremiah had to say:

Positioning Yourself is Key

I think a key to getting noticed is to think carefully about how you position yourself.

I remember seeing a study a few years ago that found that in offices, people whose desks were positioned near where there was a lot of passing traffic (water coolers, near elevators etc) were among the most connected and known in the office. Those whose desks were off in corners of the building where few people ever went were often the most socially isolated and invisible in the office.

The take home lesson from this is that if you want to be noticed – you need to position yourself where the people whose attention you want to grab gather.

Gary Vaynerchuk from Wine Library TV is a guy who I think embodies this brilliantly.

I’ve not met him in person or even seen him in action live (this will change soon as he’s keynoting at Blog World Expo – but from watching from a far – Gary has positioned himself very cleverly at tech events and in social networks recently and in doing so he’s been noticed big time.

It might seem odd for a Wine Expert to position himself at Tech Conferences but in doing it he’s got himself (and his book – 101 Wines: Guaranteed to Inspire, Delight, and Bring Thunder to Your World (one that I own and recommend – particularly good for those who love wine but who, like me, know nothing about it) blog and company) on the radar of key influencers who have spread the Gary Vaynerchuck virus throughout the world.

The principle of positioning is there for all to see. Gary has decided who he wants to notice him and he’s positioned himself in the paces that they gather en masse (and from what I can see he’s done this prolifically).

This doesn’t mean Gary ignores the little guy – he’s someone who is dedicated to interacting with as many people as possible (see 1st video below) – but he’s also someone who I think has really mastered the art of positioning himself brilliantly also.

Let me leave you with some Gary Vaynerchuk teaching and inspiration via a couple of videos:

First – one on his mission in life, to meet every person on earth:

Here’s another video where Gary talks a little about some of the philosophies that he’s grown his business by – including a little on what I talk about above:

Check out the Gary Vaynerchuk blog for more videos on how Gary goes about his business – and if you’re a wine lover but need some help – check out his book book – 101 Wines: Guaranteed to Inspire, Delight, and Bring Thunder to Your World.

How to Get 2500 New ‘Subscribers’ to Your Blog Overnight (and Why I Don’t Really Care)

Every 2nd blog about blogging today seems to be writing about a video showing how to get 2500 subscribers overnight using a Netvibes accounts and an OPML file with thousands of copies of your own feed in it.

I’ve had a lot of people email me to ask what I think about the technique. My response:

1. It’s not surprising to see that it’s Possible – I’ve seen a few bloggers play with this type of technique over the years.

2. It’s an empty Achievement – so your feedburner button is a few thousand more tomorrow than it is today – but ultimately all it means is that you hacked it – no one new is reading your blog.

3. Do something that Matters – Expend the energy doing something that draws in real new readers. Network with other bloggers, write some quality content, write a guest post for another blog, make your blog stickier…. do something that matters

4. Social Proof? – Yes, having more numbers in your feedburner counter might convince a few extra people to subscribe (social proof) but what happens next week when feedburner closes the loophole and suddenly your regular readers see that you’ve just lost a couple of thousand readers? Is there such a thing as reverse social proof?

5. Risk? – I’ve never really been into ‘evil’ tactics – partly because I just don’t get into them but partly because when you deliberately do something to abuse a service that is provided to you by a company – sometimes things come back to bite you. I’m not sure if Feedburner (owned by Google) would take action against people trying to inflate their numbers – but do you really want to find out?

Want to know how to really build the number of subscribers to your blog?

OK – lets get back to blogging shall we?

Offline Blog Promotion Tips – Part 3

Over at ScribeFire they’ve just published the 3rd part of my offline blog tips series (read part 1 and part 2). This one includes 7 tips from some of my Twitter buddies as well as four more of my own.