How to Turn a Small Blog Audience into Small Army

By Srinivas Rao, Contributing {grow} Columnist

Every single day we focus on how to get more traffic to our blogs, increase our conversion rates, and sell more. The result is an obsession with raising our Klout scores, increasing the number of followers we have on Twitter and inflating every metric we can in hopes that we’ll become the next … insert famous blogger of your choice. 

Let’s get real for a moment. I’m not going to become the next Zen Habits, Chris Brogan, or Seth Godin. Neither are you.  They had a substantial head start and don’t appear to be slowing down. But the good news is that you have an edge that you may be overlooking.  When your audience is small  you can run your blog like a VIP experience.

“If you only have a few readers, treat them like the most important people in the world because they are.” – Chris Guillebeau

Email Each Reader Personally

I have to give credit where it’s due for this idea. Chris Guillbeau told me he emailed every single newsletter subscriber personally for his first 10,000 subscribers. While each one may not have had an impact, the cumulative effect was incredibly powerful. You can’t really argue with his success.  I’ve made this part of how I treat my email subscribers and I recently received this email in response.

Thanks for your email! Of all of the resources that I subscribe to, I don’t think I have ever received an actual personal email that wasn’t an obvious use of email marketing personalization features.  Your content is awesome, and I am finding it really helpful! 

Just to be clear, while this is a tactic, if somebody does respond to you, that provides chance for you to take that relationship further. You’ve just discovered a super fan.  Be genuine and engage them.

Write a Post Specifically for Each Reader

A friend mentioned to me in a conversation that he only had 25 readers. I told him to contact each one of them.  If you have  a small group of readers imagine the impact you could have if you wrote a post dedicated to each one.

Phone or Skype Your Readers

Although we live in an online world, we can’t forget that 95% of communication is non-verbal. When somebody who reads your content hears your voice you go from “that person who writes that blog” to a real person.  Let your readers to get to know the real you.

Host a Fireside Chat

This is where an audience becomes a community. It’s no longer  a tribe leader communicating with a tribe member. It’s how you become a facilitator of conversation between the members of your tribe.

Visit Your Readers in Person

My friend Mark Lawrence, who was and still is a relatively unknown blogger, runs a start-up called SpotHero. He used all his frequent flyer miles to visit every single person he connected with online. He used his connection with me as an excuse to visit California and to this day we’re friends. His blog is more or less dead, but here I am telling you about it 2 years later. For the A-list bloggers to emulate this they’d have to spend their entire year, every dime they have and possibly their whole life to accomplish this.

The Cost of Failure is Minimal When You’re Small

One of the great things about being relatively small and unknown is that the cost of failure is not that harmful. That gives a blogger with a small audience a tremendous amount of leverage. If Mark Schaefer did something that absolutely bombed on this blog, his audience is substantial and lots of people would know. When you’re small you can take some bigger risks with your creativity. I’m convinced it’s one of the reasons small companies are so innovative, while big companies lose this capability as they grow.

Don’t forget attention is a form of currency on the social web. When people spend theirs with you, give them more than they paid for. Nurturing a small audience is essential to converting a small audience into a small army. So take that small audience and turn into a VIP experience that has people lined up around the block for an opportunity to be part of your army.

srini rao

Srinivas Rao writes about the things you should have learned in school, but never did and his the host-co founder of BlogcastFM.  You can follow him on twitter @skooloflife


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