One of my favorite online influencers and up-and-coming bloggers contacted me a couple of weeks ago with a proposition. Mars Dorian emailed me with a simple plan for a blog post series he was putting together and asked if I’d like to join.
Here’s why I said yes. I may sound like a broken record, but I honestly can’t say it enough. One of the most important things you can do to grow your online audience (and influence as Mars would put it) is connect with other bloggers and online personalities.
You can’t grow an audience out of thin air. I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work.
Everyone you want to reach already hangs out somewhere online. Your job is to identify where those potential visitors already congregate and become a part of that conversation. Gradually those people will follow your bread crumb trail of links back to your site. Then you have to convince those new visitors your site is worth coming back to.
It’s actually liberating when you realize that your audience already exists. It’s just out there in different forms, fragmented across different websites and online networks. You need to reach out to those fragmented groups, bring them to your site and unify them under your cause or unique world view.
How do you become part of and shape the conversation your potential visitors are already having? Plugging into social media is one good way to do it. Appearing in the search results when people search for something related to what you do is another way.
Both of those methods take time though, and tend to build your audience gradually over time.
The fastest way to grow your audience is to be featured on other sites that are closely related to yours. The closer the connection between your site and the one featuring you, the more likely those visitors who click through will become part of your tribe. Of course, the bigger the featuring site the better, but it’s better to reach a small but interested audience than a big unrelated one.
To get featured on other related sites, you have a choice to make. You can either sit around hoping someone will link to you or interview you or run a story about you, or you can become proactive and make those connections happen yourself.
Every story, video or audio segment that could possibly feature you and help grow your audience is created by a human. This is why so many people have a hard time growing a popular website or blog. People forget that humans are behind everything online, and that human connections are the key to growing your audience.
If you want to grow your audience online, you have to start making relationships with people who can help you.
Let’s get back to the Mars Dorian example I started talking about. Mars and I have known each other for at least a few months now. He has written a guest post here, and we’ve mutually linked to one-another many times. We’ve both helped each other grow our online audiences, and it all started with him leaving several comments on my blog and eventually grew into emails, Skype calls and a real relationship between us.
Mars is just one example. I talk with dozens of other bloggers every week behind the scenes, either in-person, on the phone or over email. Those relationships often turn into opportunities for everyone involved.
The point is, you can’t just sit in front of your web browser all day hoping to uncover the “secret” that will make your site explode with traffic. You need to connect with real people so they become aware of you.
Is this making sense? Sorry to hammer the point home, but it’s important.
And of course, I don’t have to tell you that these have to be real, organic relationships, not just “I want you to promote my shit” kind of interactions. You’re smart and you know that you have to give before you get, right?
Back to the Mars Dorian example. Sometimes the connection will naturally lead to cross-pollination of your audience, and sometimes it will be more intentional. In this case today, Mars came up with the idea for a blog post series called Striking 6. He reached out to me and four other bloggers he and I know and respect to create a little blog mini-series on the topic of crafting an inspirational and powerful online presence.
I’m the fourth blogger to publish something for the series. These others by Mars, Francisco Rosales (Social Mouths) and Ashley Ambirge (The Middle Finger Project) have already been published in the series, respectively:
Start with Mars’ post to see how a series like this is crafted. You’ll also learn a lot from the posts about creating a powerful online presence.
The blog post mini-series is a simple but effective way to join forces with other bloggers and grow your audiences together through cross-pollination. I used this technique extensively when I started my first blog last year, and it works. Plus, the relationships you grow often turn into other even bigger opportunities.
The next post in the series is coming this Friday. Check out the teaser below.
Have you joined forces with other bloggers or online personalities? Has it helped grow your audience? Have any tips to share? Let’s discuss in the comments!
He’s built 2 popular blogs during the last year. One of them is about his life experience, while the other one shares kick-ass interviews with inspiring online entrepreneurs. His passion and interest has helped him get in touch with the A-list players of the industry. In his part of the series, he’s going to share his networking secrets with you!
Stay tuned for member five in the Striking Six Series, who will publish his post this Friday. I’ll link to the post here when it’s up.