It’s no secret that effective branding requires building a fan base. But in order to build a fan base, you gotta first know who your fans are. Lady Gaga has this whole concept nailed, and even has a pet name for her people… “Little Monsters”.
She knows EXACTLY who she’s writing, singing, and performing for.
As a writer in particular, it’s always important to know who your audience is, what they like and dislike, and why they’re reading/listening to you in the first place.
You have to suss out their quirks and soft spots, figure out ways to get their attention and then sweet talk and charm them into staying with you for as long as possible. (Or smack them up and call them your bitches, either methodology can work really…)
Sounds a bit like kinky detective work, yeah?
Well, writing actually does involve sleuthing, to a certain extent. Minus the kink of course.
Unless writing about kinky shit is your thing.
In that case, let your super freak flag fly, no judgment here!
But… I digress.
The first few questions you typically ask as a writer—who, what and why—are only the tip of the iceberg. When you ask yourself these questions, you are only just scratching the surface of what you can find out about your very own “Little Monsters”.
The potential for writers to grow an audience is always there, and growing bigger by the day. More and more people are coming online now than ever, seeking information, seeking a lifestyle change, seeking inspiration.
With the right strategy, you can take a slice of those millions of people who make up the backbone of the Internet community and make them yours.
Your people. Your “Little Monsters”.
Wanna know the secret?
You have to find your niche if you want to build a solid following and fan base. You can’t have everyone love you and listen to you because not everyone is interested in what you have to say. Cater to the masses and you’re just going to get lost.
Cater to the few, and suddenly you’ve got something special happening.
As a writer, it’s possible to create an extremely strong following if you make it a point to learn how to find your right people and connect with them on deeper levels than the typical who, what and why.
It can be. But it’s still doable, and probably easier than you think.
Here’s how you find your own “Little Monsters”, in 10 (mostly) easy steps.
Step 1. Pick your niche then cultivate your audience.
I don’t have anything against doing it the other way around of course…
But to save your sanity you just might want to concentrate first on what you actually know and move on from there. After all, you can’t write convincingly and for a long period of time about stuff you have no real passion for, right?
Your audience catches quite easily onto that sort of thing, so please don’t try to fool them. It’s a waste of your time and theirs. Pick your niche based on your knowledge and passions… then work on growing your audience.
Step 2. Know your audience inside and out, top to bottom and side to side.
I’m sure Lady Gaga feels an enormous sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, knowing she has her audience in the palm of her hand at every performance.
Hanging on her every word.
Really, it’s a great place to be.
But she wouldn’t be in that position if her “Little Monsters” didn’t feel she deserved to be there. People don’t pay attention to you unless they think there is something worth paying attention to.
Marketing 101 really… no one gives a shit about you and what you know, until they realize you give a shit about them.
It’s your job to impress your people, to show them you care about them and to make them realize that’s exactly what you are… someone worth listening to.
You can only do this if you have enough information about your audience to burrow deep and resonate somewhere inside of them.
Find out what makes them tick, what sort of sites they gravitate toward, what their opinions on different topics are, how often they surf the Internet, why they look for stuff online in the first place, what sort of information they consume on a regular basis—like I said, it’s detective work.
But it more than pays off in the end.
Step 3. Find who else your audience listens to and learn from them.
Chances are you’re not the only one that your audience is interested in. Just like Lady Gaga fans may also be Beyonce fans, individuals always have diverse and varied tastes.
You can’t play the jealous lover and hoard them all to your site—that’s just not possible. But, you can listen to the other people that your audience is listening to as well, and maybe learn a thing or two.
Trace your audience’s Internet activity, like where they were before visiting your site and where they’re going after. This gives you a deeper insight into the psyche of your readers and what they’re looking for as they read and surf.
Step 4. As a blogger and freelancer, it’s never easy to please everybody, so don’t.
I daresay it’s never even possible to please everyone. The whole range of human experience and public opinion will not allow any three people to agree on something absolutely.
It’s simply not gonna work, period.
Stick to your guns and write only what you believe in. Some people are going to disagree with you, but that’s the beauty of public discussion. If you go for the not-here-but-not-there approach, you’re certain to lose readers because they’ll think that you have no backbone.
Who needs wishy-washy? We need leaders in this world, not more sheep.
Step 5. Be genuine.
People are tired of reading all those come-hither-and-I’ll-sell-you-something approaches. If you want your voice to be heard, you have to send your messages in a way that will strike a chord with your audience.
Being yourself is a big step towards becoming a good writer and it almost magnetizes readers and pulls them closer to you. And since you’re working within a medium that couldn’t get any more un-personal, you really have to work hard at bringing back that personal touch in every word you write.
Entertain, inform and engage—this should be your mantra.
Step 6. Brand yourself.
It’s not easy to be heard over the din of other voices competing for the attention of readers and the millions who flock to the web. That’s why you have to make sure that you are unique in some way and that you stand out from the crowd.
Branding let’s you do just that.
Branding let’s you make an impression on your audience and allows them to get to know you and easily recognize you anywhere. It makes it easy for people to identify with you and relate.
There are many different ways you can go about building your brand, but one tip that’s important… be sure that you are sending out a consistent and cohesive message and image. And don’t forget, the more unique you are, the more people will remember you.
Step 7. Reach out and join online communities.
The idea behind the Internet is to bring together people from all walks of life and make it possible for them to communicate with one another easily and in real time. Distancing yourself from relevant online communities and groups is going to backfire on your overall strategy.
If you want to get out there and make waves, you have to appear in as many places as possible so people begin to recognize you. Do guest posts for other people in your chosen niche, join discussion forums, put your social media accounts to work for you—all these and more can contribute to making you popular, cool and relevant.
3 mighty important little words when it comes to cultivating an audience with sticking power.
Step 8. Say something insanely useful or powerful.
Your audience listens to you for a reason. They’re not on your site to simply browse the Internet and catch up on the latest posts of the people they follow.
(Well, some of them might have that luxury I suppose.)
But most are actually online because they want to know something new and/or useful. They are looking for answers, and it’s your job to provide them. Choose the most effective platform to make your expertise apparent and then, in the words of Nike- Just Do It!
Step 9. Make yourself easy to reach.
There are a lot of avenues for you to get together with your audience. Your blog or website is not the only thing that they can and will visit to get more of the valuable and entertaining content you offer: there’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, RSS feeds and email newsletter updates too, just to name a few.
The more communication channels you offer, the easier it is for you to tap into the minds of your audience and what’s percolating within their little heads. Ultimately you will be able to tailor your content in such a way that it meets your audience’s needs and wants almost intuitively.
Step 10. Be SEO-friendly.
Finally, it’s not just your human audience that you should pay attention to, because these days search engines are also being refined to make sure that they point visitors to just the right places.
Develop a comprehensive list of keywords and key phrases that you’d like to focus on when it comes to your blog, so that your site will begin to rank high for those search terms and you get more visitors. People often say search traffic is some of the best traffic you can get, and I’m inclined to agree, for the most part.
But know what’s even better?
When that search traffic becomes direct traffic and that direct traffic suddenly becomes new readers that check in regularly.
AKA your “Little Monsters”.