One frustration I hear from a lot of small business bloggers is that they feel like no one’s reading. They see the big subscription numbers of pros like Darren Rowse or Brian Clark and they’re discouraged that their numbers are just nearly breaking into the hundreds. And then they stop blogging completely. Because, if only 100 or so people are reading your blog, what’s the point?
The point is the 100 people!
As a local business, you don’t need to become the biggest, most well-read blog on the Internet. You just need to connect with your audience and the people on the Web who could become customers. If you’re a local hardware shop in Detroit, Michigan and you’re able to connect with100 people who live in your area – that’s a pretty significant number. There are lots of benefits to being a ‘small-time’ small business blogger. Here are a few more.
Yeah, so you’re probably never going to have the readership that Darren Rowse has at Problogger, but a smaller audience allows you to really get to know the people who are in your community. You get a better understanding of what your customers want, who they are and you can form real relationships with them in a way that bigger bloggers have a difficult time doing. You can reach out to the person who comments regularly on their blog and get to know them on a more personal level. You may even be able to tie the online person with the real-life customer so that you’re better able to target them. Playing to a packed stadium may feel great, but it’s those coffee shop environments that introduce you to your real fans.
At my other blog Outspoken Media last week I encouraged all the lurkers to leave a comment and tell me why they lurk instead of participating and how I could help bring them into the conversation. The response I received from people who had never commented before was amazing. And while reading over their replies, I noticed that many feared commenting on posts that had tons of comments or where they didn’t feel a connection with the blogger and the audience. They were looking for a place where (a) their comment would be heard and (b) a place they could establish a connection. Niche small business blogs are where many commenters enjoy hanging out. It allows them to get to know the blogger and really feel part of the community. Rather than feel like an anonymous person, now they know their voice will be heard and they feel more invested.
Having a smaller audience that you can get to know allows you to target content directly to their needs. There’s no trying to please a bunch of people who will never impact your business – you only have to worry about being useful to your customers. You can write content specifically designed to answer questions they’ve asked, respond to trends you’re seeing, and really talk to the people who matter to your company. It’s a lot easier to get to know your community when it’s made up of tens of dozens instead of tens of thousands. And the matter you know them, the more relevant content that you can create. Content that will get them off your blog and into your store.
As a struggling blogger, I know it’s hard to see the A-listers with their tens of thousands of readers, but for a small business, getting the attention of 100 of your most interested customers is nothing to turn your nose at. Imagine if you had 100 people in your store asking you product questions. Your blog is your customer service desk on the Web.