“Building an audience” is one of those anxiety-inducing terms, especially when you’re just starting out.
As a matter of fact, most bloggers feel the need to constantly produce new content, as a way of increasing social shares and also better promote and distribute their content.
It makes sense, right? The more lottery tickets you buy, the more chances to win.
But at the same time, this path often leads to creative bankruptcy, while failing to address a question you might have asked yourself at one point or another, “How do I attract new readers without alienating old ones?”
The main issue with this formula is that bloggers tend to release so much content it becomes counterproductive. Instead of attracting new readers, they simply alienate the ones they already have, by sharing the same type of information, over and over again.
Perhaps most important is that blogs tend to become a collection of vaguely related articles as opposed to a cohesive library of content. At the same time, there’s a lot of repetition, as a direct result of the limited number of topics available within a particular niche.
The basic formula tells us that, in order to grow an audience, we need to continually attract new readers through a constant input of content.
But here’s the main issue with this:
You are constantly bombarding your oldest readers with new content.
What’s wrong with that?
Well, the truth is that your oldest readers will, at one point, outgrow your blog, and you will lose them.
To be fair, continually adding content is not a bad strategy, it’s just not the most effective one, especially from a creative standpoint. As you write and establish a presence within your niche, you’ll almost certainly gain traction because of your constant input of content rather than in spite of it. Still, we should consider the fact that people surf the web primarily because they want to solve a problem.
Think of the times you search Google. What are you searching for?
Most times, it’s because you want to find an answer to a problem. Most times, it’s a problem you want to solve.
The bulk of the folks online do the same thing. They will rarely subscribe to a blog, and will only do so if the problem they are trying to solve is complex enough.
Rather than consider them a database of people, we should view them as a constant stream of people.
When they need to solve a problem you can help them with, they will find you. Your audience is so dynamic, in fact, that it makes sense to think that your blog is helping out a different group of people each day.
This different formula changes your mindset drastically.
First of all, you let go of the idea of building an audience, but rather focus on a different dynamic altogether:
- You prioritize adding value and helping people solve real problems.
- You stop focusing on increasing your output, but rather focus on creating blockbuster, evergreen articles. The longer the lifespan of an article, the more people it helps.
- You realize you need far less content to become a successful blogger.
If you’re still skeptical about this model, I urge you to take a look at your stats. Which articles are getting you the most traffic? Probably only a handful of them, less than 5% of your total output. Those are the articles that have the most value to offer, either because they inform, entertain, or provide actionable steps towards solving a problem.
And if you look closely at the traffic you get from search engines, you will notice this trend even more, because that’s what search engines do: they supply you with a constant stream of people looking for specific content on a certain topic.
Rather than forcing yourself to an unsustainable creative output, you should focus on leveraging high-quality, evergreen articles.
At the same time, this mindset shift allows you to focus most of your energy and time towards distributing your articles across a number of different outlets:
- Submitting articles to content aggregators.
- Creating derivative content for social media, podcasts, and YouTube channels.
- Republishing your articles on other platforms.
- Answering questions on Quora (based on the information you provide on your blog.)
If content is king, then distribution is surely queen, but we must well aware of the fact that it’s easier to promote an article across multiple networks than it is to work on producing more and more content.
This mindset shift will allow you to focus on what truly matters: quality content and distribution. Rather than obsessing about having to be as prolific as possible, you begin to focus on creating blockbuster articles. Rather than feeling a psychological pressure to produce more, you will understand that the best course of action is to produce less, but of higher quality.
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