Building a strong online presence is critical in an increasingly digital world. Whether you’re building a blog, your business, or your personal brand, you’ve got to build a tribe of faithful online followers to experience the success you’re working so hard to find.
Remember the movie, “Field of Dreams?” In the movie, Kevin Costner’s character hears a mysterious voice that says, “If you build it, they will come.” And of course, it’s the movies, so it happened just that way. He built it; people came; it saved the farm. Literally. (If only things really happened that way!)
IF YOU BUILD IT, WILL THEY COME?
I think most of us can quickly get to the place in our minds where our businesses are a success. We see readers, followers, customers coming in droves. We can visualize the “they will come” part.
We just like to skip over the “if you build it” part. But it’s the building part that is critical. You have to build your field of dreams before you can expect anyone to show up. (Tweet it!)
And because you’re my people and I love you, I’m going to share with you what I think are some of the best ways to build your online platform. These are the same methods I’ve used, so I know they work. (And trust me, I probably tried all the same sucky methods you’ve used or are using, so let me save you some time and some very costly mistakes!)
#1 MAKE SURE YOUR BLOG DOESN'T SUCK
Yeah, I know it’s not rocket science. But you’d be surprised at how often this gets overlooked. And don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a beautiful graphically *designed* blog is a great blog. It’s not. Want to know why? Most graphic designers don't know anything about critical components like usability, readability, and skimmability. (Calm down all my designer friends. I said ‘most’ designers. Not you! ) :)
Your design is critical, but I’m not talking about how beautiful your header is or how great your sidebar is. I’m talking about formatting design. Well-formatted copy makes your information come to life. You can be an incredibly gifted writer, but if your formatting is terrible, no one will care (well, your mama probably cares, but she’s about the only one.)
Let me be perfectly clear here. Everything Matters when it comes to formatting your copy.
What you bold, what you offset, where you break your paragraphs; every aspect of formatting matters.
#2 WRITE FOR THE WEB
You have less than *10 Seconds* to capture a reader’s attention online. Ten. Seconds. Let that sink in. (Tweet this!)
From the moment your site opens before them you have to grab their attention and convince them they want to keep reading. You have to convince them they have arrived at THE PAGE that will give them all the information they want or need.
Believe it or not, there is a science to this. A lot of science. More science than I can possibly give you here, but here are the high points of what gets people’s attention online:
- Bulleted Lists
- Short Paragraphs
- Numbers & symbols (see what I did there?)
- Bolded Words
- (Things in parenthesis, even unnecessary things)
- Periods. In. Random. Places.
Steve Krug wrote in “Don’t Make Me Think” that readers want information but they don’t want to have to think to get it. They really don’t even want to have to READ to get it. They want to scan, skim, and jump around and it’s your job to make that process easy.
#3 KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO SAY AND WHO YOU WANT TO SAY IT TO
You read a lot about target markets, niches, customer avatars. There’s a reason so much is written on this topic.
You cannot write to the masses because the masses aren’t going to read you. You have to know who your market is and then Own. That. Market. Write for the people who need your outlook, your wisdom, your product or service.
#4 START WRITING EVERYWHERE
Once you’ve accomplished 1, 2, & 3 , then you need to start writing everywhere, not just on your own blog. (Why would you want to write on *other people’s* blogs when you’re trying to get people to your site? Crazy, right?)
You are establishing yourself as an expert in this niche, to your target market.
- Connect with 5 other sites who have a readership / target demo you want to get in front of
- Think in terms of how you can add value to other’s sites (real value . . . don’t save your best stuff for your own site)
- Build community for what you can add to the community (I’m a firm believer in being generous.) As you build community you will build your platform organically.
#5 KEEP LEARNING
New technology, new tactics and new information are always coming.
Invest in yourself and your blog, business, personal brand and stay on top of new trends.
You cannot afford to overlook this step. For goodness sakes, your primary business takes place in the land of technology and information!
Stay educated and stay ahead of the curve.