You want to grow your business online, and you’ve heard how blogging and developing an audience is a great way to get leads – but how do you get started? Audience growth is more challenging than ever but it’s not impossible and in this post I’ll show you 4 key elements that will give clarity and help you to grow your blog’s audience faster. #1. Get clear on the WHO and the HOW Your ideal audience should be the focal point of everything you do. They are the reason your blog exists, and they’ll ultimately be the ones that help it to become successful, whether it be by sharing your content on social networks or telling their friends. But the problem that a lot of people face is that they’re now clear on who their ideal audience is, or how they’re going to help them. So what can you do? The easiest way to gain some clarity here is to complete the following sentence: My blog helps _____________ to _____________. For example, you might have a blog that helps those just getting started with marketing to learn more about inbound marketing. Or maybe, your blog might help bloggers to learn the basics of becoming a freelance writer. Whatever the case, you need to be as specific as possible. Once you’re clear on who your ideal readers are, and how you’ll help, it will become clear to your readers. They’ll instantly identify that your blog can help them. You can then take this a step further by creating your own marketing persona’s as shown in this guide over on the Buffer blog. Sure, it also means that some people will realize your blog can’t help them. But, that’s a good thing. The truth is that you can’t be all things to all people. #2. Build your blog on a solid foundation Building a blog is a lot like building a house. If you don’t have a proper foundation, it’s going to come crashing down. So what exactly counts as a solid foundation for a blog? Here are a few ideas to get you started: Web hosting – Sure, you can buy hosting for a few $ each month. Does it mean you should? No! Budget hosts are that price for a reason. Most of them cram so many customers onto their servers that page load times are so slow, most readers will give up. Invest in a decent host and you’ll be glad you did. Design – This matters. First impressions count, so it’s worth investing in a decent design. The great thing is that if you create your blog with the self-hosted version of WordPress, there are thousands of pre-made themes you can use. Accessibility – Is your website mobile responsive? If not, it needs to be. There are plenty of reasons why but the great thing is that it’s easier than ever. For example, almost all WordPress themes are now mobile responsive, and the same can be said for other content management systems. Usability – Is your blog easy to navigate? Or does it make your readers jump through hoops that aren’t needed? Keep your blog simple and remove what isn’t needed. If you’re unsure, there are tools that can help you. The best place to start is to ask someone you know to go through a bunch of pages on your blog and provide you with some feedback – this will give you an idea of how the experience new readers will get. #3. Diversify your traffic I’ve heard countless stories of bloggers who focus on driving traffic to their blog’s using a single promotional channel. Then the channel dries up and stops sending traffic. It happened with Facebook when they changed their news feed algorithm. Suddenly bloggers with thousands of page likes would only be able to reach 5-10% of their audience. And they’d have to pay to reach more of them. The lesson here is to diversify your traffic sources and avoid building on rented land where possible. Here are a few tactics you can use: Focus on building an email list above all else – Your primary goal should be to turn casual readers into subscribers. Yes, you may want more social media followers but email is far more effective at sending traffic back to your blog. It may require an “opt-in bribe” to encourage people to subscribe, but it’s well worth doing. Repurpose your existing content – Different people prefer different types of content. Some prefer written content, others prefer videos, and some prefer visuals such as infographics. When you repurpose your content, you’ll tap into a new audience. A while back I turned a blog post into an infographic that was published here on TYB and in turn received an extra 30,000+ views. Leverage paid traffic – Too many people focus on “free traffic” strategies but the truth is they don’t exist. You pay with your time. So it makes sense to buy cheap but relevant traffic from sites like Outbrain. Become an expert source for journalists – Using tools like Help A Reporter Out (HARO) you can answer queries from journalists all over the world. This helped me get coverage in HuffPost and CIO. Leverage the power of influence – If you mention an influencer in your blog posts, let them know about it via email or social media. They might just share it – just don’t hound them. You can take this a step further by inviting other influencers to contribute to content directly, all it takes is to ask for a quick quote or an answer to a question. The web is full of ways you can start driving more traffic to your blog. The key is to focus on one at a time and if it doesn’t work – ask yourself why, don’t just right it off. Admittedly, there are sometimes tactics that work better in specific niches, but it’s usually just a case of tweaking your approach or giving it more time to work. Blogging requires effort over the long term to work, but with patience, determination and the right mix of tactics – you can ensure your blog gains traction. #4. Set yourself apart and cut through the noise The web is a noisy place and with more competition than ever, it can be challenging to cut through the noise. But the truth is that it’s not impossible, and it can be done. First you need to figure out how your blog will be different from all of the other blog’s covering the same topics. One popular option is to narrow your topical focus. For example, if you’re running a blog on freelance writing, you could focus on strategies to get more clients and keep them. This can be tricky; it’s easy to narrow your focus so much that it makes coming up with new ideas challenging. But, that’s not to say that you can’t pivot your blog in the future. Another way to set yourself apart is to strategically research your competitors and identify what people love about them and dislike about them. You can then use that as your compass to figure out what you can use to set your blog apart. Maybe some have a poor user experience; others might publish thin content or content that lacks editorial integrity – whatever the case, and you’ll be able to work out what you can do better. Over to you Do you have any tips to add? Have you used any specific tactics that have helped you grow a decent sized audience? Let us know in the comments below. Images “Businessman Writing the Word “Audience” / Shutterstock.com“ ________________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. Would you like to write for us? An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.