Ask the Readers: What Will You Do Differently to Grow Your Online Audience This Year?

  • January 3, 2011 by Corbett Barr
  • 35 Comments

It’s been while since we ran an ask the readers post here, so let’s kick the new year off with one.

If you’re working towards building a bigger online audience for your website or blog this year, you may have recently considered what you plan to do differently this year vs. last year.

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results (according to Albert Einstein), doing same things over and over to build your site’s traffic without seeing results must be insane.

So I’m curious to know, what do you plan to do differently this year to grow your online audience?

If this is your first “ask the readers” post here, feel free to jump in with your answer. There is no right or wrong way to answer. These posts are a great way for all of us to share information about what works and doesn’t work when it comes to building online audiences. Your contribution is welcome and appreciated.

Oh, and if you plan to do the same things this year that you did last year, tell us what you plan to do and why it has been working.

Happy 2011 everyone. Here’s to a breakout year for you and your site!

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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wilson January 3, 2011 at 6:20 am

Listen more. Engage. and help others attain what they want.

TrafficColeman January 3, 2011 at 6:21 am

More than anything it will to be more consistence on following my market plan..once that’s done the rest should come easy..its all about staying on task..

“Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

Sarah Russell January 3, 2011 at 6:50 am

Focus on connecting with individual people instead of mass traffic strategies (social bookmarking, etc.). Make it easier for people to connect with me through a variety of different avenues. Attempt to finally understand what’s up with this “Twitter” thing… :)

Carlos January 3, 2011 at 7:04 am

Preparing and organizing.

Last year I did most things on a “when I can” basis instead of setting up routines and systems to actually follow through. Now I have a schedule with goals and processes to get me through my larger, overarching goals.

Ayngelina January 3, 2011 at 7:10 am

Guest posting. I’ve been blogging for a year now and I’ve never guest posted. It’s time I stepped out of my shell and wrote for someone else.

Susan January 3, 2011 at 7:13 am

Generate more content that is widely needed but rarely targeted. Like not just the motivation behind having a creative career or quitting your job, but how you actually implement and sustain that kind of lifestyle.

I want to increase my guest posting opportunities after having some success in that arena in 2010. But I also want to interview more industry pros and collect like-minded information on creative strategies and practical tips in one place.

In all, I want to fine-tune my focus and keep it laser sharp!

Azzam January 3, 2011 at 7:14 am

For a specific car and review blog that I have targeting the UK demographics an working towards inclusion into Google News. This should get me between 70,000 – 100,000 visitors a month with approx’ 3 posts a day.

I anticipate it all goes well the inclusion to be March/April. That would conclude a 6 month run on the blog.

Faith Janes January 3, 2011 at 7:18 am

I just relaunched my site under a new domain name in order to widen my audience. I did a complete site redesign and launched a free ebook to create interest and increase readership. Beyond that, I plan to keep growing my community on my blog by engaging readers more and do more guest posts.

Tom Meitner January 3, 2011 at 7:20 am

One thing: focus. That’s what informs all my decisions this year. The people who are doing gangbusters with their blogs aren’t “special” or more talented than us, they just have made their blogging businesses a priority. That’s what I’m doing this year, and it’s already working.

Christina Crowe January 3, 2011 at 8:17 am

Hey Corbett,

Building a bigger audience for my blog is exactly one of my new year resolutions (I set 3). I haven’t thought it through in detail yet (I planned to do that later on today), though I can name a few things on the top of my head that I’m going to do differently this year.

One, I’m going to write more guest posts. I haven’t written many of them last year, actually – maybe about 6. So I’m definitely going to crank it up a notch with the guest posts. I’m planning for maybe one guest post a week.

Two, I’m going to start engaging my readers more. While I do reply to each and every comment, I’m going to start asking more questions, hosting more contests for free stuff, and dropping by their blogs (to read their stuff, get to know them a bit more, and start commenting on their blogs). Some of this might be time consuming – but I think it’s well worth the effort. After all, they took the time to subscribe to my RSS feed and share a comment on my blog – so I think that I should do a bit more than simply respond to their comments and inquiries.

Three, I’m going to spend more time in social media networks. I only recently started being active on Twitter – and I love the community there so far. So, now I’m going to extend my reach and become more active on Facebook, StumbleUpon, and LinkedIn.

This post came at a really great time – and seriously got me thinking about my plans and what I wanted to do for the new year.

As always, keep up the awesome blog!

Christina

Sherryl Perry January 3, 2011 at 8:41 am

This year, I’m going to do the two things that I’ve been promising myself to do and still haven’t attempted. I am going to make it a point to guest blog (to gain more exposure) and I’m going to use video. I’ve avoided video because I’m uncomfortable in front of a camera but that’s a lame excuse. I am going to overcome that fear in 2011!

Marco Lee January 3, 2011 at 8:41 am

Leverage my facebook page, article submissions, and stumble upon or digg.

It has been a tough year for me cause my site was experiencing the yoyo effect from google. One day I’ll get a surge of traffic and on another, count your fingers.

So I’m trying to leverage in having a facebook page. Bloggers who wants extra source of traffic should put or create a facebook page from the very start.

Social Proof works actually. With that number of followers on your facebook page they may want to like it and check out what you’ve got to offer.

Submission to the likes of stumble upon or digg could also create a little of social proof. (if you have their buttons with number counts)

Article submissions. They are kind of old but a link is still a link.

And last maybe, blog commenting! LOL

Kris January 3, 2011 at 8:51 am

Spending more time on those tasks which are more time consuming yet potentially more productive: primarily guest blogging & press releases (and creating press worthy content).

When business is down the words that keep ringing in my head (not sure who said it) are “The links that are most worthwhile are those that not everyone can get.” So I plan on spending less time on blog commenting, article marketing, and other similar tactics.

Everett Bogue January 3, 2011 at 9:00 am

I’m seeing a lot of useless knowledge gleaned from Problogger above about building ‘bigger’ audiences and ‘engaging’ whatever the hell that means. So, I thought I’d share my #1 strategy for growing my work in the next uhm, few weeks.

A year is a long time, and I’m pretty sure blogging will be obsolete by the end of it, so let’s just focus on how to get work out there using blogging. A blog is just the easiest medium to carry your work right now. Becoming a blogger can’t happen because bloggers don’t exist. Form is not a function.

1. Aim for smaller group of extraordinary people.

The way that work gets out into the world is not by trying to reach a huge group of people. That’s stupid, because if you try to reach a large group of people you end up writing junk that no one wants to hear. Instead, aim to create work which will blow a few minds on the fringes of cultural civilization. Read some Seth Godin everyone, it’s all there.

2. Ride the evolutionary wave.

All good work comes from pushing the boundaries on the fringes. Last year this boundary was minimalism for me, but now everyone I care about is living with 50 things. So, writing about minimalism is not a good growth strategy. Instead we need to delve deeper, breathe into the work more, and start to uncover what lies underneath the surface. Minimalism was simply a side-effect. Chances are whatever you’re writing about is just a surface element of a deeper question. Can you ask that deeper question?

3. Ride the border between insanity and…?

Just like with technology, any sufficiently advanced idea is indistinguishable from magic. This means that the only way the audience for your work is going to grow is if you’re creating work about magic. What is really blowing your mind lately? Is it quantum computers? Is it the idea of a digital self that can take care of you? Is it the fact that we’re going to be using headsets that read our brainwaves to use our computers in less than 2 years?

Yes, it all seems a bit crazy and out there, but as Kevin Kelly says in his Ted Talk on the next 5,000 days of the Internet: we need to get a lot better at believing in impossible things. The impossible is happening all of the time, and they’re only impossible until they happen.

So, push yourselves, commenters of Think Traffic. You and your audience deserve it.

Faith Janes January 3, 2011 at 1:26 pm

I don’t understand what’s wrong with engaging readers. It’s just participating in the conversation. It’s the difference between talking with someone and talking at them. When did that become bad advice?

Joshua & Ryan | The Minimalists January 4, 2011 at 8:15 am

Ev,

Per usually, we agree.

That’s why we’re not writing blog posts anymore, we’re writing essays, essays that touch the nerve endings of the culture.

Take care,

Joshua & Ryan

Codrut Turcanu January 3, 2011 at 9:36 am

My game plan for 2011:

Create the best interview-style PDF “manifestos” that ever existed online and “infect” the web in all kinds of IM niches and not only…

How do I do this? By teaming up with professionals and specialists and picking their brains, then distributing the information through all the available social media channels and not only (with the help of others , of course)

Business is a team game (sport). Individualists don’t have a business, but a JOB.

P.S. Your blog gave me some awesome viral traffic ideas I’m going to be experimenting soon!

Sandy January 3, 2011 at 10:03 am

I agree with Everett about the ‘Seth Godin’ approach to marketing to less people who are more likely to want your expertise or services, targeted marketing instead of interruption marketing, as Seth puts it.

In that vane, I plan to speak to small groups of people in my market of date coaching, and build more reliable referral sources.

I did a few radio interviews last year, which drove some traffic to my site.

I am also working on more live in-person workshops, with a sign-up to build my list.

Doing a tele-summit by allying with people who are associated with my industry is also on my to-do list for this year.

And setting up ways to stay focused and accountable is key. Having a mastermind group has been indispensable.

Penelope J. January 3, 2011 at 10:08 am

Corbett,
Thanks for asking this question. Some interesting replies.

I plan to change my focus. Have a motivational message that will resonate among a specific target group (former professionals looking to make a new start after job loss).

Redesign my blog with the above in mind.

Have more of what you call “Soul-Baring” posts (Sep.28).

Look for quality rather than quantity.

Guest posts. I haven’t dared approach other bloggers about this before but I’m definitely going to try.

Use more Twitter. I’ve been lackadaisical about really getting into this but I know it can be used effectively.

Link with other bloggers with similar or motivational messages.

Try to grow an audience that will be interested in buying my book, “Don’t Hang Up!” when it comes out later this year, either the print or e-book.

Also, thanks for all the great information, tips and motivation.

David Cain January 3, 2011 at 11:05 am

Hi Corbett.

This year I’m going to return to being an active figure in the blogging community rather than just letting my readers spread my content. I was traveling for most of 2010 and got away from reading blogs.

Raptitude still grew rather well even though I was essentially out of the loop all year, so I’m expecting a huge year in terms of growth now that I’m getting down to business.

2011 is the year I’m transitioning to 100% self-employment, so a bigger online presence is going to make it a lot easier.

Jeff - Shackleton Syndrome/Soloconsulting January 3, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Actually write on my blog once in a while! All the networking in the world is useless if you (I…) never ship content!

Brian Driggs January 3, 2011 at 12:25 pm

I don’t know that we’ll be doing anything different. If nothing else, we’ve simplified things a bit. We pretty much have just three “rules.”

1. Help people build high performance machines.
2. Give people a sense of global citizenship.
3. Help people build high performance lives.

Anything we can tie to those is in. We’re giving all we can to our community. Nothing else matters.

Adria January 3, 2011 at 1:47 pm

As many people already said, I plan to engage more. Not just with my readers, but also other bloggers and the community as a whole. I have a lot of ideas on how to do this but the 5 main paths I plan on taking are:

1- Cultivate relationships with both readers and bloggers. This will include outreach, guest posts, etc.

2 – Get out more and promote. I really plan to up my efforts in spreading the word about my blog. No one is going to check it out if I don’t throw it out there. This will go hand-in-hand with cultivating relationships and guest posting with my fellow bloggers, but I plan to spread the word and take a more active roll in promoting my site.

3 – Get creative. I have a list of ideas of how to get involved with the community. For example, I hope to create a new series engaging fellow bloggers in my community.

4 – Up the content game. I really hope to explore new and more thorough content strategies, keeping it fresh and interesting. I’ve already started implementing different types of posts and information on my blog, and I hope to expand on this.

5 – Be aggressive in promoting my services. I’ve recently decided to add services to my blog. I haven’t done much with promoting them because I’ve been so caught up trying to get the look and voice of my blog the way I wanted. Now I hope to really throw the bone out there to people, being aggressive in getting clients and spreading the word. For example, I plan on creating an aggressive affiliate program (giving a minimum of 50% of sales to people who refer my services), giving away free services just for signing up to get my newsletter, contests & giveaways to all readers (not just of my blog but also my partners), etc.

And most importantly I plan to have fun! Now that I’m just about finished getting the functionality I wanted, I plan on really diving into content creations, relationships, and promotion. I’m excited to almost have the tedious work behind me and being able to fully focus on forging ahead in 2011.

Minimalist4Life January 3, 2011 at 3:13 pm

One thing I haven’t tried yet is guest posting. So I’m shooting for one guest post a month in 2011.

I’m doing it to become a better writer and get exposure for my blog.

Ryan Biddulph January 3, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Hi Corbett,

I intend to make an impact everywhere I’m at.

Sometimes I rushed through activities like leaving comments on blogs or visiting forums during the past few months. Last week I rededicated myself to making an impact by writing mindful comments on each blog I visit. I’m also writing more mindful forum posts.

Writing comprehensive content makes people take notice. Even though my opt-in’s aren’t as high my sign-up’s are steady. This is a form of laser targeted marketing. By offering comprehensive, usable content the right kind of prospect who seeks your service seems to always find you.

Forget about the number of prospects you reach and focus on making a powerful, positive impact wherever you are. Guaranteed your sign-ups or sales increase dramatically.

Thanks for posing the interesting question Corbett.

RB

Hear Mum Roar January 3, 2011 at 6:32 pm

I also plan on getting more guest posts out there. I love doing it, but I seemed to not have as much time. So, my other plan is better time management:P

I plan on giving my readers more value than ever before, I think when readers see value, they come back, and word gets out. I have some better strategies now for what that means for my readers and my niche.

I plan on taking the community side of things on my blog even further, that’s always been important to me, but I feel I’ve learnt more about what that means to my readers and I.

I also have two (maybe three!) top secret things I’ll be unveiling when they’re ready, and I think these things will excite my readers. Happy New Year!

David Damron January 3, 2011 at 8:06 pm

CONSISTENCY!!!!

I have rarely been a consistent blogger. I have a set schedule now that I don’t waver from at all. I think this discipline is highly overlooked. Most of the successful bloggers I follow (ex. Karol Gajda and Pat Flynn) have been on a fairly regiment schedule for a long time.

We’ll see how it goes…

David Damron
LifeExcursion

Victory Unlimited Show January 3, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Good Post Topic!

I’m probably not in the same “make money online/internet services” type niche as most of your readers, but I still get a great amount of inspiration and motivation from sites like yours, Corbett.

Why? Because you’ve PROVEN that it can be done. You CAN make your passion your paycheck.My passion is helping men (especially nice guys and good guys) get better with women by becoming BETTER men via my internet radio show.

In terms of website traffic so far, what I’ve learned is that depending ONLY on your niche market can be limiting. At first I thought that the following I had already built on men’s message boards would be enough to keep my traffic flow steady——-I was wrong.

What I’m finding out now is that the more people who listen to my show who have NEVER heard of me before have tended to be the more loyal listeners and steadier customers. There’s a lot to be said for casting a wider net that’s on the outskirts of my niche, instead of just smack dab in the middle of it.

The strategy I’ll be trying this year is expanding the recognition of my brand by mixing paid adverstising aimed at the broader portions of my men’s self-help niche and seeking to create more guest posting opportunities within the more narrowly targeted portions of my niche.

As the producer of a new show with VERY unique content, my focus will be on getting the word out to as many places where “nice guys” gather as possible——-even if it’ not necessarily the standard men’s dating and relationship sites.

Much respect and success to everyone here.

Victory Unlimited

Onibalusi Bamidele January 4, 2011 at 3:16 am

Awesome and timely Corbett,

My plan for growing my audience this year is to be more transparent while giving the best of my content. I have kick-started this by displaying my income and traffic report for this year and I’m getting great results so far.

Keep up the great work,
-Onibalusi

Graham Phoenix January 4, 2011 at 4:58 am

I love the way Everett pushes people by pissing them off! I just feel that he wasted his time because he really didn’t say anything worth while. What are you all about, Everett? Come clean and reveal your real self…

What am I going to do?

Engage with my communication channel through kick-ass, consistent content driven by customer feedback through lame comments…

…Seriously… I am intent on 2 things. The first is build powerful behind-the-scenes networking groups of like-minded writers so we will all benefit from group marketing. Why work on your own when you can harness the power of a group. (Let me know if this is of interest to you.) The second is to find my core audience through my writing. This involves challenging my readers to reveal themselves and respond to what I say. I write for myself and my readers, but to do this I need to know myself and my readers. This process will be my major focus.

Prerna January 4, 2011 at 6:59 am

There’s some really good ideas out there in the comments before me.. As for me, I plan on doing more guest posts, hosting guest bloggers, interviews and eBooks (spread across the basket of sites that I write for).

Del January 4, 2011 at 10:35 am

Hey Corbett,
I purchased a lot of products last year but only put a few things they recommended into action.

So, this year, I’m launching my blog in March.

Del

IamDavid January 4, 2011 at 4:51 pm

1) Guest post
2) Network better
3) Release a product
4) Start an email list
5) Write remarkable, outstanding content
6) Live life, don’t just write about living life.

(For example, I am moving to Bangkok this April. Should be some good person growth and a lot of fun!)

Anna Gogoman March 1, 2011 at 1:57 pm

More personal contacts, daring to ask for advice, take initiatives to building coalitions instead of trying to do everything on my own.

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