Readership is built, reader by reader. I was reminded
of this last Thursday. I was waiting for the train, and a man
made small talk with me while we waited on the platform.
Once the train arrived and we sat down he proceeded to
inquire about what I "did", then told me he had a 9 to 5
and a business. I reached in my bag to get my lotion and
started to put some on my hands. He reached into his bag and
did the same, and said "Why should we give our money to Duane
Reade when we could buy our products independently?"
His lotion smelled like cherry-apple. I don't do cherry-apple.
If there is one thing that I am particular about it is lotion. I like fancy
lotion and its one of the major indulgences that I will probably
always allow for myself.
That being said, he took out his catalog, asked me if I finished
holiday shopping, I told him no, that I was looking for something
for my six year old nephew. The man proceeded to show me a catalog with
telescopes. I just shook my head at him with a big smile and said,
"I would never buy a telescope for a six year old."
He then asked me whether I would be intersted in shopping
with him this holiday season. I responded flatly, no.
It was clear to me that this salesmen knew very little about building
relationships. He would have been much better served by making
small talk. He could have tried to make a connection with me
about something and then handed me his card, telling me that he has a
small business and that if I was interested in supporting an
entrepreneur and using some great products to contact him.
He decided to try and sell first, then get consent later. A no-no.
This incident inspired me to share what I have learned about
blogging over the last three years.
Know Your Audience
I write about a very niche yet intersectional topic, Thugs,
Feminist and Boom Bap. This translates into urban Culture,
Feminism, Hip Hop, Gender, Politics in general, Political
economy specifically, The law, and Black artistic culture.
Some are interested in just the feminist discourse,
others in hip hop, some in the gender talk and finally others
in the intersection of all of the above.
That being said, people do not always agree with what I
have to say. Trust, they e-mail and tell me. But, what they do
say is that they appreciate what I have said.
The lotion salesmen did not know is audience.
Ask You Readers What They Want
Every once in a while, I will ask folks what they want me to
write about. Recently I did this and a couple of people
e-mailed me and said they wanted to me write about
"How to Be in Pain and Not Fall Apart." This, of course
was difficult to write. However, yesterday, I was surprise to
received a thank you e-mail, which was a month after I wrote
the original piece.
Follow Your Numbers
I check my links on Technorati, Site Meter and Feed Burner
almost every other day. From looking at this I learned that I
get a lot of traffic on issues pertaining to Black women and
the Black female body. Because of this I take time to write
about the Black female body in popular culture. This has
included essays on Venus and Serena Williams,
a post titled "Thick Women Rock" and finally a post titled,
"Buffy the Body is Venus Hottentott."
I also get a lot of referrals from a piece I wrote called "The
100 Worst High Schools in America", which has me wondering
whether there should be a follow up post where people write in
and compare their schools from a student centered point of view.
Visit Other Sites
Visit other sites and leave comments. Its genuine. It gets your
voice out there and it is a great way to drive links back to your site.
Do NOT Asked to Be Linked To
This can be tricky. If other people like your content they will link to you.
I will link to people in a post if I think my readers may be interested,
or as a show of support for the site. Asking can be perceived as being tacky,
unless you have already linked and it is clear that the folks who read at
your requestee's site would like the content on your site as well.
If someone links to you, thank them. I try and do so every time I see
myself linked somewhere.
Talk About What You Know
I talk to other bloggers about how specific my niche is.
The feedback has been that specific is fine because
people will come to you to hear about the new Kanye
album, but will stay to hear you talk about the financial
crisis or the price of gas.
That being said, paying attention to these six things
should enhance your readership.
Try out some of the tips and let me know how they
turn out for you.