Many bloggers don’t have a value problem. They have a great deal to share. I am sure you do – I have never met someone who doesn’t.
Why then do people struggle to find an audience. Never mind an audience who knows, likes and trusts them – ANY audience?
It’s weird but a lot of the time it is because you have SO much to offer, it’s hard to know who you are for and what specific benefit you provide.
A lot of my coaching clients have this problem and, thankfully, there is a solution. The solution is simple, but it isn’t always easy.
Check out Ryan Sullivan and his blog, No More Bacon.
When you look at his site, it’s a really nice blog. I am sure you will agree he is doing a great deal very well … but what stands out as the key, specific, compelling benefit?
What is going to get you to come back, week after week?
This is what struck me when he asked for a blog critique. It’s hard to tell someone that they are doing very well when they obviously are not happy with the results they are getting!
Ryan is a talented and in-demand writer. He is an interesting guy with a fascinating story to tell. His blog should be doing stellar things.
Unfortunately his blog has lost its way due to a lack of direction.
Your audience needs to know what they are going to get, and it has to be something they want.
If your readers are going to share and spread your good stuff, they are going to need to be clear on how they communicate why your blog is awesome too!
Where are you going, and where are you taking us?
Look at the screen grab above and check out the various elements.
- Free download – cool. It’s about “Great Blog Design”.
- Free email updates – call to action mentions free email updates. Possibly bacon.
- The tag line is about weight loss? Life hacks? Focus?
- Navigation pages have “Feel Good”, “Dad Life”, and “WordPress” as captions.
Even the social media connection buttons are a buffet of choice!
When you want your visitor to take an action, past a certain point, more choice is seldom better. In fact narrowing choices usually increases the chance of getting an action.
You have to know where you are going and where you are taking your audience. If you don’t know then you will not be able to communicate it, and if you can’t communicate it then you can’t expect your audience to understand!
This has to go through all your content, your interactions, your messages, your products and your services.
The key word here for the whole situation is focus.
Tighten Focus, Get Better Results
Being the “bacon dude” is fun. It might be memorable, and might be unique, but it is not enough.
- Why do only a small number of people come back regularly?
- Why are so few people subscribing to his blog right now, despite the richness of what he has to offer?
You have to remember that when you suggest people subscribe, you are not just competing for attention with other blogs and sites, you are also competing with the option of doing nothing. Your call to action has to be more appealing than the status quo. Your prospect is debating if giving up their email address is going to be a net benefit or more clutter in their inbox.
Despite what you might imagine, the value you offer is not obvious, and it is not more compelling for being free.
What will the reader really get that they can not get anywhere else? What will it do for them? Why should they care?
It’s not about just standing out, it is about standing for something.
Make it specific, beneficial, and unique.
The more generic you seem, the more they will think they can get this stuff elsewhere, and the less compelled to stick around your audience will be. Yes, they might be attracted by a piece of content, but they will not have a clear idea of why they should become a regular reader.
What is your mission? What is your promise?
Through your brand, you are making a promise to your reader. What is that promise?
The short version of mine is I help people build a business around sharing what they know. There are longer versions and tag-line versions (you will see more when my re-design is in place), but it all comes down to the same key messages:
- Attract an audience of people who know, like and trust you.
- Grow your authority so that you become the go-to person in your niche.
- Build an advice based business around your knowledge, ideas and experiences.
Your Signature Story
An exercise I often do with my clients is your signature story.
In conversation with Ryan I discovered he has a great story to tell about laughing in the face of adversity – that’s fantastic. It has drama, emotion, and lessons to take away. That’s his message to the world.
One way to come up with your signature story is the “Oprah Test”. I am not sure where I got this from but it is not my invention.
Essentially you imagine you have a once in a lifetime opportunity to be interviewed by Oprah (or John Stewart or your niche alternative) at short notice.
What do you talk about?
If you don’t know, then that is possibly why you are not getting people to pay attention to you.
My signature story will possibly be familiar to you. The abridged version goes like this:
- I was an IT and programming geek.
- Worked at various consultancies, and advertising agencies.
- By sharing my solutions and tutorials I built an audience.
- This content sharing and community building lead to opportunities, a side business and book deals etc.
- Decided I didn’t want to be known for the computer side, I was enjoying the marketing side more.
- Reverse-engineered what I had done the first time around and established myself as a marketing consultant.
This is essentially the story of Authority Blogger but parts of the story have been used in all kinds of places (especially the mistakes I made along the way) because it explains my approach in a way that shows I have “been where you are”. When you hear it I might emphasise the human side or the strategy side. On rare occasions I will tell the whole thing, including family elements, tears and all. Our stories allow us to connect with an audience in a way tricks and tips never can.
Can you see how my story connects with my “mission”?
Having something specific to share, a compelling story to tell, will help you gain attention and will help you find your place.
This signature story can form the basis of your about page, your presentations, your networking, even a book.
The Best Draw is Self Interest
Want to make your stories and messages even more compelling?
Make the connection between what you offer or talk about, and what your audience wants and needs.
Even better if the audience already knows they want it. Especially if they want help urgently.
- Who is the audience you most want to attract and can most help?
- What are their goals?
- What are their problems?
- What are their biases?
- What experiences do you share?
How does what you offer help or connect with this? How does your signature story show empathy with their situation and a way ahead?
In my case I demonstrate:
- You don’t have to be a natural entrepreneur or salesman (I am anything but).
- There is power in sharing what you know, generously.
- That there is a way to build a business around what you are most interested in talking about.
- It’s possible to have a business that provides a lifestyle rather than be a slave to your work.
If you show you understand, that you have been there and learned the lessons, and that you can share a plan, then people will come along on the journey with you.
- Get clear on who you serve and what their goals and needs are.
- Decide the outcome you can promise them (even if that promise is simply entertainment).
- Connect what you offer to who they are and what they want.
- Pull together the elements of your story that reinforce this.
- Give your audience the content to lead them from where they are to where they want to be.
Most important of all? Clarity and focus!
What do you think? Please Check out “No More Bacon” and give Ryan your feedback in the comments because I am sure he will appreciate your thoughts …