It might seem an odd thing to talk about so frankly, but if you want to monetise your blog in any way, including through working with brands or if you want your blog to make a meaningful impact through your blog then it’s important that you build a blog that is influential.
Influence is the key to shifting a persons thoughts or behaviour. It could be the way they think about their life or circumstances, it could be how they approach their job or relationships or it could be how and where they spend their money. The Oxford Dictionary defines influence as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development of behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself”
If you have a heartbeat for your blog, a message that you want to get out or if you want to build a brand of your own that you can monetise then your blog needs to be impactful and influential. This isn’t about being icky or sly, in fact it’s the exact opposite. You can’t be influential without bucket-loads of trust.
Trust leads to influence and influence is bringing people on board with your vision and causing them to act.
Most of the conversation around blog growth centers on stats, getting more readers, and put crudely “eyeballs”. There are two main lines that I hear on this issue. The first has to do with growing your blog and building up your readership and the benefits of doing that. The second goes something like this: “smaller blogs can just as good, if not better than larger blogs because they have a more intimate, engaged readership.”
While both these statements are true, they are also incomplete. Numbers are meaningless unless they do something.
We all have traffic, be it 5 visitors a day of 50,000 – we all have people coming to and from our website. This does absolutely nothing for us, our blogs, or those people unless we are making an impact. In fact this is what makes blogs such an important vehicle for change – all of our blogs will have lower traffic numbers than mainstream publications be they print or online – what blogs have that makes them so significant is the personal connection and rapport that a reader has with the blogger.
While I completely understand the desire to grow your blog stats, to get more people coming to your site and reading your content if you want to have a blog that makes a different and a blog you can effectively monetise the numbers alone shouldn’t be your focus. I know that might sound strange when you are constantly being asked for media kits and traffic numbers but I really want to encourage you to put aside all that noise and just keep your focus on what you are trying to build.
Here’s what I mean. Both these statements are true:
- A smaller audience of engaged readers is more powerful than a larger group of web-surfers.
- A larger audience of engaged readers is more powerful than a smaller group of engaged readers.
The problem with the statement “a smaller audience of engaged readers is more powerful than a larger group of web-surfers” is that it’s not proof in and of itself and if you stop the sentence there you miss the juncture which will take you from blogger to influencer.
Think about a group you are part of – maybe a sporting team, a book club, a church group or even where you work. If there is community at work in your group then you keep going – you keep showing up, you feel cared for and you are inspired to care for others. The common interest brought you together in the first place but the community spirit is what keeps you going time after time.
Community is what keeps people coming back to your blog too. You could even say that community is the foundation for influence.
Now I’ve sat at various conferences and seminars and seen bloggers with huge stats talk about community and many a time it hasn’t felt quite right to me. Why? For exactly the reasons we’ve just talked about – big stats don’t a community make. Action is what makes a community so whenever you listen to someone talk about online communities if they don’t give you concrete examples of their community in action, they are not the people to be listening to. Community is when a Mum blogs about a problem with autism funding and her tribe join forces to buy her one without a word being asked. Community is when a blogger shares a heart for refugees and within days thousands and thousands of dollars and some huge brands including an Airline come together to delivery toys to refugee children at Christmas (that moment still makes me cry, read back through the posts if you want to be moved!).
Got it? It’s always, always about community so love your tribe.
The ability of a blogger to move their readers to act is one of the key things brands are looking for when they work with bloggers – this could be something as simple as entering a competition, or clicking a link or it could be something that requires more influence.
You need to speak to a point of commonality, and in particular a common challenge or concern and understand why your reader will be interested in what you have created with the brand in question. If you can’t see any value or any ways that a blogger might find the content interesting, useful, helpful or entertaining then you need to ask yourself serious questions about why you are doing it.
We started this post talking about what influence is and I want to finish it with an encouragement that I believe bloggers are incredible influencers. I am influenced most days by the blogs I read – they encourage me, move me, challenge me and yes, cause me to spend money! I want to encourage you that your blog has the power to create incredible change for good, to make a deeply personal and powerful impact with a person, right now.