When I wrote my first blog post, I only had two readers. And I was both of them.
By my second, I brought on a third reader. My wife. And as supportive as she is, I’m pretty sure she signed up because she was tired of me moping around the house complaining about how nobody was reading my blog.
After about a week or so, I added a few more. My Mom and a couple of my friends. There may have been a random person in there who found me on Twitter as well. I’m not really sure.
And this went on for a few discouraging weeks.
It wasn’t until my second month that I had actually tripled my reader base. Which sounds impressive, but isn’t really that hard to do when you only have about a dozen readers. Most of whom share the same bloodline as you.
It should. Because that’s usually how we all start out. It’s the one thing we have in common as writers or bloggers or online entrepreneurs or whatever you like to be called. At some point we published our first blog post and nobody read it.
But writing the first post is the easy part.
The challenge comes when writing the eighth. Or the ninth. Or the tenth. All while nobody is listening.
You see, that’s why so many of us quit prematurely.
We’re writing for the audience we have. Not the audience we want.
In other words, when we have a small audience, we tend to write small. We put in less time. We withhold our best. And we convince ourselves that we’ll invest whatever is necessary as soon as we get more people to follow along.
But Here’s the Thing
Readers aren’t going to show up, let alone stick around, hoping that you are eventually going to break out your “A Game” as soon as there are more of them. Nobody wants to share “it’s not that good, but I bet if we all read it he will get better!”
They will show up when you are better. When you write big. When you put in the time. When you give your best.
And that probably means publishing something you spent weeks writing, only to have a handful of people read it. And then doing it all over again the following week.
So, before you write your next blog post, here are a few things you should consider in order to make sure you are writing for the audience you want and not the audience you have.
Overcome the Need for Instant Gratification
If you are like most bloggers, you probably share your post on Facebook shortly after hitting publish and then you wait an unbearable eight seconds before refreshing the page and checking your likes, comments and shares.
You spent an enormous amount of time creating this piece of art and you have chosen to share it with the world. For FREE, no less. The least they can do is immediately read it and share it with everyone they know. Right?
The truth is that whether or not people like, comment or share your post is not an accurate gauge for success. Sometimes they will. Sometimes they won’t.
And when they don’t (because at some point they won’t) you need to remove the meaning that you give it.
You’re not a failure. You didn’t waste your time. You are good enough. And you shouldn’t stop.
It doesn’t mean anything.
If you invested the time and energy into creating a high quality post, it will get the attention it deserves. It just may not be today.
Kevin Costner went through the trouble of building a baseball diamond after hearing a creepy voice in his head whispering “if you build it, they will come.” It didn’t matter that everyone thought he was nuts. He did it. And he saw it through to the very end.
And guess what? They came.
Now it’s your turn. You may not have a creepy voice whispering in your head (or maybe you do) but you’ve been called to do something bigger than yourself. Yes, it’s going to be hard. Yes, it’s going to be a lot of work. Yes, it’s going to be frustrating. Yes, you’re going to want to give up.
However, if you don’t. If you see this through to the very end. If you build it.
They will come.
Don’t Obsess Over the Stats
Statistics are good for two things. One is to gauge what is actually happening on your blog in order to help you make intelligent decisions as you grow your audience.
The other is to drive you absolutely insane. And they will. I promise.
So, if you are going to look at your stats, do yourself a favor and set aside a specific timeframe to review them.
Whether it’s once a day or once a week or once a month is irrelevant as long as you have a reason to review them.
And when you do, make sure you have a purpose for doing so.
For example, look at your stats once a month to see which pages on your website have the most visitors and then make sure you have a solid call to action on each. Or look to see which pages people exit your site the most and then adjust that page to try and keep them longer or send them somewhere else.
Or just review your stats once a week to see how much traffic you are getting to gauge what’s working and what’s not.
Just don’t obsess over the results.
Less is More
When I first started my blog I decided to write every day. Monday through Friday. Without missing a beat.
And now that I’m looking back, it was a bad idea.
All I was doing was churning out content. Sure, I was regular. You could set your watch to my blog post everyday. However, I didn’t have enough time invested in them in order to make them great. They were just…meh. And while you could have gotten away with “meh” a few years ago, it’s just not going to work nowadays. There’s too much good stuff out there already.
Better than publishing everyday is to publish less often and focus more of your time on the quality of your posts
For example, it’s better to publish something brilliant once a week than it is to publish something mediocre every day.
As long as you are spending the time in between crafting really good posts and not just slacking.
And that brings us to the last (and most important) one…
Give a Shit
Now, I know if you’re an anti four letter word kind of person, you’re probably going to find this one a little offensive. However, there is no other word that captures what I am trying to get at.
Care? Give a Darn?
Those aren’t strong enough.
If you want someone to commit to spending their valuable time reading the words you wrote on a regular basis, you have to give a shit.
And I’m not talking about pretending to give a shit.
I mean REALLY give a shit. That means seeing your readers as people and not just numbers or opportunities. It means getting to know them and the challenges they are facing. It means caring enough to help them find a solution to their problems. And it means connecting with them on a level beyond blogger and reader to where you are actually creating friendships.
It’s not easy to give a shit. But it’s the most powerful thing you will ever do as a writer. Or blogger. Or online entrepreneur. Or whatever you are.
So, Now What?
You write. That’s what. You write the best damn blog post you have ever written. I don’t care how long it takes. I don’t care how much blood, sweat and tears you invest in it. You write something that is going to change the world for at least one other human being.
And when you do, share the link in the comments below so the rest of us can join your audience.