Should I write blog posts that increase my traffic or that help change the way (a few) people think?
Seth Godin, Driveby culture and the endless search for wow
Several weeks ago, I wrote a post titled “How to Get in the Groove: Work, Jason Fried, and Timothy Ferriss.” I rather enjoy the word “groove,” because it can mean a few different things: getting locked in between two objects, staying focused, or can be used in terms like “Groovey!” I happen to be in a groove right now and feel more focused and energized on my ambitions than ever before. Since I enjoy the word so much, and happen to be in a groovey mood, I’m going to keep using the term in short posts in the future.
In this first Getting Your Groove On post, I want to touch on a topic that has been coming up a lot for me recently: building an audience.
Speak, write, blog, tweet, make videos- whatever. Share information that’s valuable and you’ll slowly but surely build a loyal audience. Then when you need to get the word out, the right people will already be listening.
- Jason Fried, Rework
I’m currently working my way through (rather quickly, I might add) Rework, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. One of the sections is about the role of an audience for a business. Essentially, you want people to come back to you constantly. He highlights how important the 37 Signals blog (Signal vs Noise) is for their business, but there are many other examples out there. Ramit Sethi, Timothy Ferriss, Leo Laporte, Steve Pavlina, and so on, have all ramped up their content production to create huge audiences. These audiences then turn around and buy their products (or donate) at huge volumes that have eliminated the need for each of them to have a regular 9-5 job.
When it comes to blogging, I discussed elsewhere the importance of layers of content (and how not to be a dodo when doing it) to create different levels of participation with your audience. Some bloggers use email lists as a form of monetization; others, as extra content to reward subscribers. But what I did not write about was at what amount of readers do you make that leap to create an extra email list?
Seth Godin discusses his concerns about audience building in his post, and it matches my concerns about starting my own list. Do I have the ability to create more content for my readers that I would not want to share directly on this blog? The important question is not whether having an email list would be valuable to me, but would it be valuable to my readers? I want to avoid creating a list for the sake of having a list in hopes that it would build my audience. I also want people to follow this site for a while before deciding to take that next step in subscribing. A plugin called Popup Domination has been spreading like wildfire that is very upfront in getting people to subscribe to a newsletter. People hate it; but people still click “subscribe” automatically.
On the other hand, when I was thinking about that, I read Steve Scott‘s post about how he earned a substantial amount of money in one day through his email list. When you see the dollar amount he includes in his post, it makes you think about setting up a list, too.
There are hundreds of articles about building an audience out there, but what it all boils down to is this: the size of your audience depends on the amount of value you can share with them that will make them keep coming back for more. Without content they want to read or a product that people want to use, there will be no audience for you beyond just friends and family.
I will start designing a newsletter now through MailChimp, but I only plan on releasing the newsletter once my subscriber number hits 50 or have one of my posts be shared by a large amount of people. Those are only my limits, of course, but I want to hear from you:
- Do you crave reading more from this blog and would you subscribe to a newsletter?
- If you have a newsletter, which service do you use and why?
- At what readership level did you start your newsletter?