I’ve written a few times on the blog before about connecting with your audience as a writer.
But I feel like there are levels to this ish to quote the eloquent Meek Mill. Nonetheless, after a conversation with the mister, I realize there is an important step that we often miss in trying to grow our readership and that is realizing that it will take some investment on our part.
We live in an interesting time. So many people have garnered their fan base by way of pseudo celebrity-ism. Yes, I am making that word up. But it’s like we invest in people’s products based on other things that they’ve done. One of the biggest things that I think of is reality TV. People sign on for a show, have millions of people watching them and boom, they have an instant audience. Everything they do after that will either garner love or hate, but both seem to keep them in the limelight. But when I am talking about investing in your audience it’s for those of us that are literally building from the ground up.
For the rest of us that have not been on TV or that aren’t related to someone famous, it will take work on our part in order to really connect with people and make them buy into what it is that we do whether it’s telling stories or selling products. Whatever it is, so many of us want to just magically snap our fingers, create one or two things that we think are magnificent and think that everyone is supposed to care. You have to make people care and that part is the work.
Listen, I get it. In 2013 when I released my first book Dear Love, I didn’t think that anyone would care. Sure I had been blogging but I was really still transitioning out of my songwriting pursuits. I didn’t think that anyone would care so much about something that started as an Instagram series, when I barely knew anything about Instagram and was just trying to create some cool content. It shocked the crap out of me that with the help of Tabb Management we sold out our release event and sold out of books. That was the very moment that I realized I had to dig in. That if with this TINY following in my hometown, that I could do it, what more was I capable of if I actually put the time in?
Since then, I have pretty much tripled the following I had then, I’ve been speaking on panels and at Temple University, I’ve had the opportunity to freelance for Essence.com and contribute to other blogs. BUT, the key to that, was that I was invested in the people that seemed to be invested in me. I took note. I followed the people that I thought would give me helpful information. I interacted with people that interacted with my work. I sent handwritten notes and thank yous with product purchases, etc. I wanted to create an encounter with the people who like this blog. I NEVER take for granted anyone who has spent money on a product or has simply taken their TIME to read something that I’ve written. I have a genuine interest in people, and I believe it attributes to the little success I have gained since that book release.
So this is where I think that you can really begin to make an investment in your audience and I think that you will undoubtedly receive a return. And that return people doesn’t mean 10,000 followers. That return means an engaged following that will actually care about the things that you do and will probably be supporters for the length of your career.
[Find the purpose of your work in the life of your consumer and find out how to make it click for them.]
Now, I am not that smart. I didn’t do this work on my own for WriteLaughDream, it was kind of done for me. It wasn’t until I was in blogging roundups that I realized this was some type of inspirational blog. I was just writing. So once I realized that, I was able to say to myself, “People come here in order to be uplifted.” That is the purpose of this work. So then the way that I present my material becomes rooted in, “You will feel better after you read this.” You will feel like you can conquer whatever dream. You will feel motivated to write after you read this. Everything doesn’t have to have the same purpose. Too many blogs’ purpose is to help you make money or sell a product. Find your product’s unique purpose that doesn’t always have to do with making people money. Sure in turn you may make money from being motivated by the stories that are told here or through the instruction in writing, but that is not main objective.
[Spend time researching your consumers’ wants, needs, and fears.]
I do this in various ways. This is part of the reason I am a Twitter rat because people talk about crap there all day long. Lol. So I notice what people are talking about. What they are afraid of when it comes to writing, what resources they are looking for to become better writers. You cannot just create things and you have no idea if people are interested in them and shove it down their throats expecting them to get it. Like sure we all have time of just aimlessly creating, but you will want to eventually hone in on what it is that your audience actually is looking for. In many ways, people who come to my blog again, are looking for some motivation and some inspiration. I find various ways to feed that through different types of content. I know as a writer you may not think of your writing as a product but it is. With my book, that writing was about love. Though it was personal stories, I realized I was making it for an audience that is looking for new inspiration in love. They were craving optimism in love where so much else in the world makes it seem like it doesn’t even exist anymore.
[If people do not connect with you, it’s harder for them to connect with the work.]
Listen, I know we all have come to hate the phrase personal brand. But it’s here and it’s not going anywhere. Do I think that I am the best writer that ever walked the Earth? Nope, not really. Some of my colleagues are better writers than me and I know it. Ha! But what I do know is that I am a good writer on my way to becoming great. And I know that whether I am the best writer or not, some people frequent this blog because they like me. They like what I stand for. They like what I have presented outwardly on social or if they’ve met me in person and that is something that keeps them coming back. Make sure that you are telling your personal story well enough for them to buy into whatever else you may be selling whether it’s products or words of wisdom.
This feels like it needs to be the word of the freaking decade, man. I just crave authenticity and people that are genuine these days. There are too many people trying to do things just to get a buck and just to try to stunt for the Gram and just to be able to tell other people that they are not doing it right. Like be a real person with your audience. I promise you they will respect you for it. Bring them into your process. Bring them into your fold. Into your triumphs as well as some of your struggles. Let them in and a lot of times it will make them so much more excited about the work. That process of learning how to be transparent without selling yourself short is work. I know a lot, but there is also a lot that I am still learning and I am not afraid to let my audience into that space. It takes investment in learning your voice and making sure that voice translates through everything that you outwardly present.
The bottom line here is that everyone is looking for engagement. Whoop, the new buzzword for zillions of years. Engagement, engagement, engagement. But I want to tell you that investment in your audience is what creates engagement.
I know that once you have a larger following it’s unrealistic to think that you can truly touch people as personally as with a smaller following. But listen until you get there, you need to make the people that invest in you feel special. That’s what will really creates that lasting bond. Maybe it’s just my heart for people, but I truly love you guys. Like your comments, tweets, and email messages honestly keep me going. That’s what I think about every time I sit down to write or create a course or a writing challenge or whatever the case may be. I care. And that caring has created opportunities for me that I haven’t expected. And I hope that caring creates a lot more bigger and better opportunities for me in the future.
Stop just thinking that because you created something great, we should care. You try caring first and see where that leads you. It reminds me of the scripture that says we love God because he first loved us. (1 John 4:18). Love your audience and see if they’ll in turn love you back.
What are your thoughts? Have you been just expecting a return without any investment? Tell me about it in the comments below.