We know how satisfying it is to publish a well-written travel blog post, post a gorgeous photo, or record an informative podcast. But without an audience on the receiving end of all that great content, it’s more of a one-way conversation than most of us would like. What can you do to help build an audience for your work, besides handing out flyers on the street corner?
Sunday’s This Week in Travel podcast may have been one of the best ever… But you’ll never get to hear it.
Co-host Jen Leo and I were interviewing Cory Taratuta from the Irish Fireside podcast and Mark Peacock from the Travel Commons podcast. On our Google Hangout we bantered about the latest travel news, we told humorous personal anecdotes, we gave useful tips and tricks for travelers, and we had an enjoyable time doing it. We even had a surprising call-in appearance from missing co-host Gary Arndt who was 150 meters down a salt mine in Eastern Europe and phoned in with a surprise video hello. In that way and others it may have been the “deepest” episode we have ever done. The only issue with the episode was discovered after an hour when we wanted to stop the show and found we had never started recording. It was a wonderful episode but only lacked one thing – an audience.
Somehow an audience makes the whole process of content creation more enjoyable and more rewarding. Here are 10 things that you can do to build the audience for your content just before and just after you press the publish button.
If you are hosting your blog with WordPress install the WordPress SEO plug-in by Joost. This plug-in will enable you to add in an SEO title and SEO description into your post. This title and description are what a search engine like Google will use to display your content when it is found by a search. A good title and a good description will increase your relevance in search results and cause your search ranking to grow. If you don’t provide an SEO title and description Google will use your article title as the search result title and the first few sentences of your article as a description.
The advantage of subscribers is that they’re people who have expressed preference to read, see or listen to your next piece of content. We want to encourage this behavior. Display on your blog a way to get e-mail updates when you come out with a new post. FeedBurner and FeedBlitz have widgets that you can place in your blog sidebar to allow people to sign-up to your RSS feed via email.
If someone takes the time to write a meaningful comment on one of your posts then they are often saying they like what you do (assuming of course that their comment does not contain the phrase “I hope you die slowly”). Why not make it easier for them to get more of your content. The new free JetPack WordPress plugin will allow you to put two check boxes after the comment form. The first will allow them to get your content via email and the second to get additional comments on this post via email.
Are there people who would be interested in that last piece of content you created? Could you email the appropriate tourism board, the relevant host at about.com, the hotel you mentioned, the restaurant you reviewed, or fellow bloggers who blog on the same topic? If you spent hours working on that great story it’s worth spending a minute or two getting the word out.
Build your social media audience. Every time you write a story get the word out. You may not have followers right now on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, or Facebook but one way to build an audience is to consistently provide valuable content to those networks. In addition to mentioning your latest story also tell your followers of other things that you think they will enjoy even if they’re from your “competition”. This will build your reputation as someone who can spot quality content.
Long Term Value
Does your content have long-term value? If you are writing a post about hotel deals this weekend and the answer is no. But if you are writing the definitive guide to backpacking in Vietnam or how to get around the Paris Metro your content will still be valuable next week, next month and next year. Make it easy for a new visitor on your site to find your best. Make a page on your site that includes your hand-selected best introductory content.
If you just wrote a new post that overlaps with a previous post then take advantage of the opportunity to link to it. Now that you have the definitive guide to the Paris Metro all the links in your blog for “Paris Metro” could link to that post. One mechanism for doing that is the WordPress plugin like SEO Smart Links. You enter in a series of keywords and links and it turns all references on your site to those keywords into links.
One of my favorite WordPress plug-ins is yet another related posts plug-in. At the bottom of my post it displays 4 or more (depending on the width of the page) posts relevant to the readers of this post. This one this will increase the time that people spend on your site will expose people to your older valuable content.
More Please Sir
An inexpensive tool to find out what posts you should write is HitTail.com. This tool lets you know what your next blog post should be about by looking at your search engine traffic at keywords that you are getting traffic for but could get more. This tool won’t help you identify radically new subjects to write about but will help you find a few productive subjects.
If you have great content why not deliver the same post or podcast you just produced in a different form to a different audience. If you wrote a great editorial rant then turn on the camera and record a YouTube video. If you recorded a podcast then maybe you could transcribe it (I once had a volunteer who transcribed some of my podcasts in exchange for me teaching her some technical things on the web). If you have a video you put on YouTube then make sure you post a blog post as well. Your same content can find a new audience.
Creating content is fun but building and audience can be more fun and more productive. Choose one of these methods above to grow your audience or give us your best idea below.
Guest Post Author Bio: Chris Christensen is the host of the Amateur Traveler, a popular online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations. It includes a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog. By day he works at PayNearMe.com where they create products to help people without credit or debit cards pay for things. Chris was formerly the Director of Engineering for TripAdvisor’s New Initiatives group, the EVP Engineering at LiveWorld which runs online communities like those for eBay, HBO, and American Express, and a Software Manager at Apple, Momenta (pen computing) and HP.