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The Anatomy of an Influential Blog

by Louisa Claire on March 31, 2014

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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.

Press play here to hear my introductory thoughts on importance of influence.

why influence matters

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”

Influence examples

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.

  do blog stats matter

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. You need to be able to demonstrate why that statement is true for your blog. In the next section of audio I unpack this further for you with some concrete examples…

 

  community and blogging

 

 

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.

blogging and reader actions    

 

 

   

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.

Take the time to really soak up some of the nitty grit of influence so that you can make the most of the opportunity before you and make sure you pop back up to the top of this page and subscribe to our weekly emails for more tips and updates.

 

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Seana April 1, 2014 at 8:22 am

Aha this is just what I need to read and learn. My blog gets plenty Google traffic because it has really useful info. But I feel loved and left!!

Must ask you, do you do any coaching 1:1??

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Louisa Claire April 1, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Oh Seana, I hear you. I don’t at the moment but happy to have a chat and I’ll have something to share in a couple of weeks that might be what you need!

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Mel April 1, 2014 at 10:55 am

Loved reading this. Wrote something similar for a Marketing Monday on my blog the other week. As bloggers we will never have the same reach as most traditional media but offer something very unique (and desired by brands I have worked on and work with) being engagement. From within the blogging community we have the opportunity to share with brands the value we can add.
Mel recently posted..My Agility StoryMy Profile

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Louisa Claire April 1, 2014 at 11:38 am

Oh that’s great – can you share the link Mel? I completely agree with you!

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Mel April 1, 2014 at 12:40 pm
Deborah April 1, 2014 at 12:54 pm

There’s nothing I love more than someone telling me that what I wrote was EXACTLY how they feel / felt etc; or how they could relate to what I’d written.

It is, however, hard to remember that when you look at your stats and they’re going nowhere. Fast. :-(

Deb
Deborah recently posted..Guilt: the thief of happinessMy Profile

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Louisa Claire April 1, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Slow and steady Deb – just keep loving on those readers and delivering them create content. xx

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Louisa Claire April 3, 2014 at 11:42 am

p.s. Deb, I think that it possibly sounds trite to say “slow and steady” but I really believe it’s true – being consistent and showing regular interest in your community is just such a powerful thing!

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Deb April 3, 2014 at 12:19 pm

True… but I see so many (newer) bloggers doing well and wonder what I’m doing wrong – after 5 years at it I sometimes wonder if I should move on to something else!

Deb
Deb recently posted..Book review: Losing KateMy Profile

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Louisa Claire April 4, 2014 at 6:04 am

I think it’s important to remember that some niches are in high demand and that impacts growth – for example the wellness industry is huge at the moment so if you are starting a blog that’s about health/fitness/wellness etc… then it’s likely to grow quickly because it’s “hot” now. What’s hot is constantly changing and so some blogs will grow faster than others and at different times. There are also topics that are always hot or evergreen – things like being a great mum/fun/crafty mum or being organised. Those types of niches will also grow quickly because of demand. If you have a more general or more niche topic to your blog then the growth will be slower which can feel disappointing but doesn’t diminish the value of that group of people and of your blog.

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Dannielle April 1, 2014 at 4:29 pm

This is really interesting, thanks Louisa! I have been really working to stick to my mission statement with my blog but I hadn’t quite worked out how that would fit with brands yet. Looking forward to the #bmbchat on this topic!
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Louisa Claire April 3, 2014 at 11:42 am

That’s great D – I think the next post I have planned with the “influence hack” will help too. x

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Bec @ The Plumbette April 1, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Fantastic post Louisa. Community and trust is so important. I have always seen myself as a small reach blogger but I didn’t realise my influence until I dd a plumbing job for a new client and she had bought a product I recommended and she told me she bought it because of my blog.
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Louisa Claire April 3, 2014 at 11:44 am

That is fantastic Bec and what fabulous feedback to get too. Well done!!

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Ai Sakura April 1, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Excellent post. Thanks for breaking it down so clearly and simply. There really a difference between being an influencer, and a blogger.
Ai Sakura recently posted..Bub & Me: LolliBox Sun, Sand & Sea Theme Edu-Play Kit + {Giveaway}My Profile

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Louisa Claire April 3, 2014 at 11:41 am

Thanks so much love, it’s true there is and it just really excites me when I bloggers starting to move into the influencer zone. Bring it on!!!

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Al Calder April 2, 2014 at 12:51 pm

I love your comments on community. I truly believe if you connect with your readers, if you have something valuable to offer them, they will come back. Perhaps more importantly, the interaction with your “tribe” can often be a great source of inspiration. If you truly listen to what your readers are saying, you’ll gain a sense of what’s important to them and how to keep them interested going forward.
Al Calder recently posted..How Important is Active Listening for Success?My Profile

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Louisa Claire April 3, 2014 at 11:41 am

So true Al, you are bang on! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, it’s great to hear when bloggers are just really getting it and doing great things!!

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Sanjay tiwari April 2, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Great tips Loiusa.I have just started my blog and your tips are bang on.
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Louisa Claire April 3, 2014 at 11:40 am

Hi Sanjay, thanks so much for stopping by and for the feedback. Congrats on your new blog, how exciting!!

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Tina April 3, 2014 at 10:51 am

What a great post thank you for sharing these insights. So thrilled I found you on instagram, the timing is perfect. I’ve avoided the idea of a media kit mainly because I felt they were for those with over 5000 unique hits daily etc. this post has changed that… this is great food for thought. Now I need to work on my level of engagement.
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Louisa Claire April 3, 2014 at 11:39 am

I’m so glad you found us too Tina! Thanks so much for letting me know that this post and the one on media kits was helpful for you – I’m so thrilled! Can’t wait to hear how it goes for you as you keep building engagement!

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Louisa Claire April 3, 2014 at 11:40 am

p.s. if you haven’t found our weekly newsletter yet then you might find it helpful :) The subscribe box is up the top of the page. x

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Seana Smith April 3, 2014 at 9:46 pm

Hi there, another point from me… comments are almost always made by fellow bloggers… it’s a rare and marvellous thing when a non-blogger comments, and it does happen on my blog, love that most of all. But how can we measure engagement apart from comments?? I do get some emails from people, so that’s also good.

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Louisa Claire April 4, 2014 at 6:08 am

This is a really good questions Seana. You can look at how many pages people are looking at on your site and how long they are hanging around for – partly this is about your bounce rate but it’s also about having a closer look at what the people who don’t bounce off do when they are on your site. You can also look at the bounce rates for individual pages and posts to see which ones are resonating the most. you can look at the number of shares or likes your posts are getting and if you search twitter you can see what commentary people are putting around their posts. I did that this week for this very post which has been shared quite a bit and it was helpful to see the people who commented along with their tweet and get an idea of why they were sharing the post. These are just some initial thoughts but happy to talk more about this :)

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Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me July 15, 2014 at 9:16 pm

A fabulous post – shame on me for not reading it earlier! Love the bit about not getting hung up on numbers, it can be hard to do. I really like comments, and most times I post get upwards of 20 or 30 – this makes me happy… and yes my stats aren’t incredible but I’d like to think that I have a little community!
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