OK so most of us know that we need to keep our websites refreshed with new content. And we’re always telling our clients to create a blog because this is often the simplest way of adding new content without getting your dev guys involved. When you write a blog for your business you don’t just want to be writing for search engines. You want to create content that real people will want to read because it’s useful, interesting or funny.

In my last blog I looked at how to promote the content that you’ve spend valuable time creating, now I’m going to be looking at how to grow an audience for your blog. Having zero readers is like talking to a brick wall at the end of the day. I don’t know about you but I have a bit of a tendency to talk to myself. Just me? Oh dear. Either way, it’s much more fun to have a conversation.

1 – Work out who you want to reach

Identifying your target audience will help you with all aspects of creating your business blog content. You’ll be able to plan what topics you’re going to write about and what angle you want to take. Writing about computer games for teenagers is going to require a different style to writing about the use of gamification for marketing, for example.

Once you know who you’re writing for, you can write blogs to meet their needs. For your corporate blog to interest a reader, it needs to either solve a problem they care about, entertain them, or both. If you don’t know who you want to reach, how will you know that they care about?

2 – Find out where you audience congregate

If you know where your target audience hang out, you can build a presence in those places. For example, if you are targeting avid independent travellers who use Twitter on a regular basis, take part in Twitter chats and read travel blogs. Get noticed by those people by taking part in those chats, or start your own, maintaining an active Twitter profile and being sociable, and try to secure some guest post opportunities on popular travel blogs.

3 – Find some competitors for your target audience

This might sound like a nonsensical suggestion, however working with competitors can help to grow your own audience. If someone’s an avid cook chances are they have a large recipe book collection. It’s unlikely that they’ll only have one book by one author. People look to more than one expert. In this way, building relationships with people who have the audience that you want is a subtle way to grow your own following.

4 – Don’t forget the people who may never buy from you

The helpful people at Copyblogger tell us to discover our ‘second customer’. These people might never actually buy your product so why would they be important? They tell us that “this is the person who shares your content, tweets your post, talks up your product, gives you a great review on Yelp, and helps let the rest of the web know they should be paying more attention to you.” To attract the second customer you need to create awesome content that makes the people that share it look super smart and cool for doing so.

5 – Do your keyword research

Blah blah blah - keyword research helps you to make sure there's an audience for your blog topic.
Content nowadays is not about keyword-stuffed drivel but you do still need to keep keywords in mind when you’re writing so that you can optimise your blogs. Keyword research helps you to understand what people are searching for and get an idea of what your audience want to read about. When you’re writing about a particular topic, such as ‘how to grow your blog audience’, chances are the term ‘grow blog audience’ is going to come up naturally at some point. If not, you’re probably going a bit off topic! It’s important to remember that readers can tell if a business blog has been written as an exercise in SEO.

6 – Make your audience want to read your blog!

If your audience actually want to read your content that would be brilliant. The aim is to have your audience looking forward to reading your next blog so that they sign up to your newsletter, etc. The key to this is to create consistently good blogs and give your readers a reason to keep coming back. Make sure you’re involving your readers and writing about topics that they want to read about. Reader polls can help with this. When writing, it’s important not to write like a robot. People like blogs because they are reading the thoughts of a real person. Write conversationally and don’t be afraid to show your personality.

7 – Cite your references

If you take inspiration from another blog for your post, include a link to that blog in yours. This will draw that blogger’s attention to your blog and could prompt a comment or link in return, potentially gaining you new readers in the process.

8 – Find and entertain your superfans

Make friends with your blog's superfans to increase shares and grow your blog audience
It can be tempting to keep checking analytics to see how many visitors your business’ blog receives. I’m not saying that analytics aren’t important (see my previous post on using Google Analytics to drive your content strategy), however it’s important to stop worrying so much about numbers and focus on the devoted followers that you do have. Have a look at your newsletter stats and social accounts. Do you always see the same people engaging with your blog and/or sharing your content? These people are your potential superfans and keeping these guys on side is an awesome idea. Superfans share your posts and sing your praises, helping you to grow an audience for your blog by introducing you to their friends.

Conclusion?

Growing an audience for your blog takes time. Don’t worry if it doesn’t happen straight away, just keeping plugging away creating interesting and useful content that your target audience will want to read. Once you’ve written your blog, don’t forget to promote it to attract new readers.

Good luck and happy blogging!