When you first started your online business you likely registered a domain name and started a blog, set-up social media accounts and an email list, planned services and products. You put all the technical stuff in place, made a plan for who you’ll work with and what you’ll create, but what’s your plan for connecting with your audience?
Not just getting them to read blog posts and subscribe to your list, but really connecting with them in a way that will help support and grow your business.
I don’t know about you, but I want readers that come back to my website again and again. I want them to get excited when they see that I’ve emailed. I want them to be anxiously awaiting the launch of my next ebook or course.
I don’t want just one-time visitors that grab the information they need and never come back again or email subscribers only in it for the free worksheets.
I want an excited, engaged audience that really gets me (and all my quirks) and enjoys how I’m doing what I do. Why? Because these people will make for the best customers and clients, which makes it easy to grow my business without looking elsewhere for new ideas.
When you spend time watching what other people are doing, trying to figure out how they’re growing their numbers, you’re seeing how their stuff works with THEIR audience. Not only is this a waste of time, but the strategies they’re implementing might not work for you and your audience.
In order to avoid watching others for cues on how to grow your business, put your time into building a connection with your audience instead. The more your people trust you the more they’ll give you all the answers you need to create services and products that are perfect for them.
Here’s how . . .
Share your story
There are a ton of bloggers blogging about blogging. Knitters blogging about knitting. Designers blogging about design. Health coaches, life coaches, business coaches, freelance writers all writing about their craft. Which means it’s unlikely, no matter how unique your niche, you’re not the only one writing about your topic either.
But don’t panic about standing out in a crowd. You’ve already got what you need to draw in the right people.
Yes, YOU are what will not only separate your online presence from the sea of other people writing about the exact same things but it will also be THE thing that draws in the right people to hire you or buy from you.
Sharing your unique perspective, your experience, and your opinions helps to make your content more relatable. The more you share the more likely people will come to your site and see themselves (now or in the future) in your work, which helps to foster a feeling of “OMG me too!” and build a connection.
Share when things suck
Yes, on the internet it’s easy to make it seem like we have it all together. Skim over the details, clean one corner of the room, slap a filter on it. That’s easy, but to create a loyal audience, it’s not very effective.
For me, the blog posts and emails that get the biggest response are always those where I detail what I am currently struggling with or was struggling with. Where I share what’s going wrong as well as what’s going right and the details of how I worked through it or what I learned in the process.
Case in point, my most liked and commented on Instagram post (triple my usual numbers) is me sharing something that I was pretty embarrassed about for a while.
People want to hear these things because then they get a complete scope of what it’s like to run a business. Obviously not every day and every thing I do is a flawless success, but it can start to look that way (by nature of the internet and social media) unless I come out and share specific examples.
Create a conversation
One of the most important parts of building a solid connection is letting your audience know that you are open and available to hearing from them. This doesn’t mean you’re in constant ‘pick my brain’ mode, but it does mean that you answer comments and tweets, respond to emails, and are helpful when something goes wrong.
Putting this into practice means I spend a few minutes every Monday responding to people who have taken the time to hit reply on my weekly email.
Communicating with your audience even just a few times each week goes a long way in helping them see that there is a real person who actually gives a damn on the other end of those blog posts and emails. And people are more likely to hire or make a purchase from someone who gives a damn.
Conquer your fear of live video
I know what you’re thinking. “Sarah…please don’t make me do this! It’s going to be so awkward!” Trust me, the first 10 times I hit start broadcast my heart was racing, I stumbled over my words (or couldn’t think of any words at all) and I wanted to throw up a little. And to be honest it’s only been in the last few months that I’m going live with confidence, but hosting webinars and weekly Periscopes has been one of the best things I’ve pushed myself to do over the past year.
Live video allows me to show off my personality, your quirks, and share your expertise in a way that writing never will. I can create a conversation, get feedback, and provide help to tons of people in less than an hour (for a webinar) or just a few minutes (on Periscope). And now that I’ve got the hang of it it’s actually kind of fun!
Learn about your audience
Lastly, use all of these tools to REALLY get to know your audience. Learn their names, find out what they’re working toward, take advantage of the fact that social media allows you to touch base multiple times throughout the day.
One of the easiest ways I’ve done this is by adding Slack communities to many of my online courses. This not only gives students almost one-on-one access to me, but it gives me access to them. I can ask what they’re working on, how they’re working on it, what roadblocks they’re running into, and figure out new ways to help.
When you work online, your audience is the lifeblood of your business and building a connection is what keeps them coming back. Don’t be afraid to show off who you are, be open and vulnerable and even a little awkward at times. This is what builds trust, creates loyalty, and helps to keep your business running strong without looking for outside sources to help.
Want more from Sarah? Check out the Reach Podcast to hear her talk about FOMO, side gigs, and more!
Sarah Morgan is a digital strategist teaching creatives, bloggers and small business owners to build a kick-ass online presence. In 2012 she escaped the clutches of a corporate web design job to run away with the circus (literally!) and strike out on her own. She strives to help people build a home online that not only provides a stable income but fuels their passion for what they do without busyness and stress getting in the way. Since making her escape she’s launched three books, five e-courses, and shares all of her business and blog-building secrets at XOSarah.com.