My husband, Jake, has always been stumped as to how Jimmy Buffet has such a loyal following. Even Jimmy will admit that he doesn't have the greatest voice in the world, and yet his fans have their own special name - 'Parrotheads' (and 'parakeets' for those younger Buffet fans). How in the world does this happen and what does this have to do with blogging? Jimmy Buffet and the best bloggers both realize that gaining a loyal audience is all about creating an experience.
So how can you create an experience for your readers? What are some tips that you can implement that will create excitement and keep your audience coming back time and time again? Here are 4 tips that will help you gain your own faithful blog 'parrotheads.'
People love personality. Authenticity allows them to connect with you on a personal level and although it can sound a little creepy, it makes readers feel like they know you. When you feel like you know someone, you're more likely to visit their site and keep up with their latest posts.
For example, Young House Love has always been one of my favorite blogs. While I enjoyed seeing their home transform project by project, I was won over by their writing style, humor, and friendly personalities. In a weird, non-stalker kind of way, I felt like I knew them and I enjoyed keeping up with their sweet little family. They made a loyal follower out of me!
Be yourself and use your tone and voice to connect with your readers. This is one of the most fun and effective ways to keep them coming back to your blog.
Create appropriate, relevant content
Blog readers are selfish. I don't mean this in an ugly way - I'm a blog reader myself - but the posts they love most are those that entertain them, inspire them, educate them, or give away some other free content. They always want to know what's in it for them. If you aren't creating content that's useful for your readers, you can almost guarantee that they won't return to your blog very often.
Creating content that benefits your readers not only builds your audience size; it build's your audience's trust. When they're able to try out your recipes, implement your tips, or follow your advice with success, your credibility increases and your readers will become even bigger fans of your blog. It's a win-win.
Maintain a strong point of view
A strong point of view is a magnet that either draws people to your blog or repels them, both of which are okay. Trying to appeal to any and everyone gets boring quickly, and it will always have the opposite effect on your blog; a broad appeal will end up appealing to no one. It's okay (and encouraged!) to narrow in on your audience and tailor your aesthetic, writing, and focus to appeal to your niche. Blogs with a strong point of view gain a more loyal following because their audience can wholeheartedly relate to them.
Consistency is another key component to building a loyal blog audience. When readers know that you post each weekday, they're more likely to return day after day to read your latest posts. When readers see that you're consistently posting useful content that's relevant to them, they're more likely to return day after day to read your latest posts. And when you consistently post content with a strong, authentic point of view, your readers are more likely return day after day to read your latest posts. Slow and steady wins the race; consistency is key.
Last summer I wrote one of my most popular blog series on how to start a blog. I shared tips for those who are new to the blogging scene about common topics: creating a loyal audience, finding your niche, choosing a name, growing readership, and creating quality content. It was a fun series to write and it continues to be a favorite among Elle & Company readers, but since then my blog has tripled in size. The way I blog has evolved and I've learned new tips and strategies for creating content, marketing my blog, and growing my readership. Since I love sharing what I know about blogging, business, and design with my readers, I thought it would be helpful to go back through that How to Start a Blog series and touch on some new things that I've learned and discovered about blogging success. My hope is that these posts will help you approach blogging a little differently and that your blog will continue to grow and evolve, too.