When you start a blog or news site you are entering a world that is already over populated with competitors. Although you will most likely have a unique selling point that you believe in, that really doesn’t matter if your corner of the internet finds itself unread and unwatched.
If you are creating your endeavor simply to express and opinion and have a voice, or if you are looking at making money by using any number of revenue generation streams, the basic fact is that you need to build an audience. This doesn’t happen overnight, and it can actually be the hardest part of the whole project, even after all the work needed to get things off the ground.
‘An audience’ means return visitors, people that like what you do and want to come back for more. Attracting someone’s interest in the first place can be straightforward by using social media, forums and even similarly themed sites to spread the word about your own project. However, even if they like what they see once you have gained their interest, the real trick is to make them want more.
People like brand identity and they like to support projects they feel an affinity with. Having a strong visual branding is important, but equally so is pitching the ethos of your blog or news site so that people can identify with it. This helps build a loyalty factor that means people actually support what you do.
This can be achieved by having a strong opinion or standpoint on issues relating to the content you work with. It can also be engendered by writing from a personal perspective, so that readers feel a connection with you that helps build an ongoing relationship.
Just shooting from the hip on unrelated issues won’t be likely to help you gain currency, so a good way of making sure your content has relevancy is by covering topical stories. Staying up to date on the latest news and trends that surround you blog or news site’s core subject matter shouldn’t be too hard. This is where keeping on top of what your rivals are up to can come in handy, as can using dedicated news aggregators or RSS feeds.
Once you’ve got current, hot off the press info, you need to get it out there fast and that’s where social media can really play a big role. Take the Making a Murderer Twitter page; since the release of the feature, the Twitter page has boomed in likes and followers prompting hot discussion. Using your official Twitter account can put your breaking stories out to a wider audience beyond your own followers and regular readers. Clever use of hashtags and buzz phrases can mean many more people discover you and generate traffic to your site.
Time and effort
The one thing that anyone starting a blog or news site should know is that building an online audience takes time and effort. There really is no simple ‘if you build it, they will come’ cliché that works. You need to put the work in to let people know about what you’re doing and then do everything in your power to encourage them to come back on a regular basis.
Although it might sound like hard work, there are plenty of rewards for those willing to make a good job of it. Not only can you make money from ads, sponsorship, related sales or even simply donations, but you can also gain a deep personal satisfaction from positive feedback and the knowledge that your content is really connecting with people.