That deep, dark secret you don’t want anyone to know.
That thought which keeps you up night after night.
You want… to rule the world!
You want to dominate your industry and be the envy of all. You want the house in the Hamptons and the spoils that go with it. You want two appetizers with your entree.
But you’re afraid.
You’re afraid of what others will say when they hear about your dream. You’re afraid it will seem too big — too crazy. Just like you’re afraid of what the waitress will think if you order onion rings and chicken tenders.
You’re afraid because you don’t know where to begin. You don’t know how to go from where you are as a blogger to where you want to be. You don’t know how to get from here to there.
The good news?
Just like eating an elephant, you don’t do it all in one bite.
World domination — or any major blogging goal — is a journey you take one milestone at a time.
For a handy visual of the 21 blogging milestones (that you can share and embed on your own site), check out the image below (click to see a larger view):
Share it yourself. How can you expect others to share your content if you don’t?
What to Do Next
Be friendly and appreciative. When someone shares one of your posts, thank them. In addition to being good form, this act of gratitude will increase the likelihood they’ll share your posts again in the future.
To boost the number of shares you receive, try using interesting images with embedded headlines as the featured images in your posts. Be sure to choose a relevant picture, or one that creates curiosity.
#11. Getting Featured in Your First Interview or “Expert Roundup”
When people see you repeatedly mentioned on other sites via interviews and roundups, their perceptions of you change.
Yesterday, you were just an attractive guy or gal oozing talent but drowning in anonymity.
Today, you’re a freaking rock star.
You’re no more knowledgeable than you were moments earlier, but suddenly your powerful words carry more weight with readers. That’s because someone they trust just called you an expert (or treated you like one).
To reach world-leader status, others must view you as an authority. They need to consider you an expert in your industry.
Participating in interviews and roundups is a great way to make that happen.
How to Become an Influencer People Want to Interview or Quote
Do more guest blogging. In case you haven’t yet picked up on the theme: strategic guest blogging is a solid strategy for gaining subscribers. Gaining traffic? Not so much. But gaining subscribers interested in your blog’s topic (assuming you’re guest blogging for relevant audiences)? Absolutely.
When you reach 1,000 daily visitors, your blog will be perched at a level many bloggers never see.
Your blog has momentum, which means your email list starts to grow on its own.
You’re selling more products and services.
Your social media shares are increasing too, which is bringing even more new visitors.
Your hard work is paying off. “Soon,” you say to yourself before laughing maniacally.
How to Get More Traffic
Strategically promote on social media. What gains traction on Pinterest won’t necessarily gain traction on Twitter, right? When promoting, always be mindful of the platform you’re using and adapt accordingly.
Become a SlideShare master. For many bloggers, SlideShare is an enigma. Unfortunate, because you can easily repurpose content with SlideShare and bring in thousands of new readers.
Think outside the box. Communities like Triberr and websites like Quora offer bloggers additional avenues for driving traffic to their sites.
Dig into Google Analytics and learn how to make the most of its data. Discover which topics and posts are performing best, and optimize your blog accordingly. Identify your most important traffic sources, and adjust your outreach efforts.
And if you haven’t started monetizing your blog yet, you’re leaving real money on the table each month. Get started!
Create content upgrades for all your most popular posts. Bonus material customized to individual posts can significantly increase your conversion rates.
Use Facebook ads in tandem with Facebook opt-in pages. In a case study, one blogger was able to add over 17,000 subscribers in six weeks using Facebook advertising to funnel readers to her Facebook opt-in page.
As your list grows, and your humble blog starts to look more like a viable business, you may need to trade your email provider for a more sophisticated solution, such as Infusionsoft that can handle e-commerce and relationship management as well.
Create joint ventures with other popular bloggers. Build a product together or just make it attractive for them to promote your products.
What to Do Next
Don’t quit your job just yet! Instead, create an exit plan.
Decide what kind of financial buffer you’ll need just in case things get tough. Your buffer will depend on your risk tolerance and personal situation, but a good rule of thumb is three to six months of salary in the bank.
Use the time leading up to your departure to ensure your blog is running smoothly by the time you quit.
Automate everything you can. Create processes to ensure you can work as efficiently as possible. Because when the paychecks stop, you don’t want any additional drag.
The sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads?
They’re all out there… just waiting for you.
They’re waiting for you to decide, “Today is the day I’ll make my dreams come true.” They’re waiting for you to stop reading and start doing.
So, don’t just sit there.
Work out where you are on the list and what you must do to hit that next big milestone.
And let’s do this thing.
Because the world isn’t going to rule itself.
About the Author: Five years after first writing this post, Kevin J. Duncan’s dreams of quitting the rat race, blogging full-time, and world domination came true when Jon invited him to join the Smart Blogger team as our Blog Editor.
What does effective marketing engagement look like?
In the common model we see today, it’s something like this: Brands push out relevant messaging, hoping to compel a response or interaction that leads to a conversation (and maybe ultimately a conversion). This can be anything from a comment on a social media post to a chat window initiation.
Nothing wrong with that. These back-and-forths between brands and individuals are important ingredients toward building trust and loyalty. The problem is that, as a sole method for driving engagement, the cast-and-wait approach is too dependent on explicit triggers to spark these interactions.
Devising and creating content that drives targeted engagement is hard work. It’s worthwhile, but hard, and sometimes even well conceived plans miss the mark. What if you were able to develop a self-driven engagement engine, which fostered strategic conversations built awareness among your most valuable customers and prospects?
Why Communities Matter to Digital Marketers
In his seminal book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin writes about turning scattered groups of followers into a unified “tribe,” which he defines as “a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea.”
Human beings have long gravitated toward these communal experiences, elevating the collective power of their interests, beliefs, or passions. According to Godin, a group needs two things to become a tribe:
A shared idea
A way to communicate
The internet has taken care of No. 2, making it easy for strangers around the globe to come together via message boards, social media, subreddits, etc. So really it’s about identifying that mutual idea, or focal point, and taking the lead in rallying people around it.
Coordinating Communities for B2B Marketing
It’s not uncommon for tribes to form around a B2C product or service. For example, my fiancée follows several social media groups dedicated to Oreo cookies. People in these communities share updates about new flavors, and where they can be found. Other examples of strong brand communities include Sephora, LEGO, and Starbucks.
In the B2B space, this is more challenging. People aren’t generally drawn to, say, cybersecurity software in the same way they are to their favorite coffee or cosmetics brand. But that’s not to say there isn’t a deep level of passion for cybersecurity — it’s a prevalent issue throughout our society, and one that many professionals spend their entire days thinking about. The key lies in hitting the right resonant note and facilitating connections.
In the case of cybersecurity specialists, we have to ask: What questions burn in their minds? Which elements of the subject excite or agitate them? Where do discussions among hardcore followers tend to center? This type of empathetic mindset should be at the core of our DNA as modern marketers.
Building B2B communities doesn’t always mean trying to create a “brand community” where your company and its offerings are the primary focus; this can be tough to accomplish, and even when you do, you’re unlikely to pull in many members outside of your existing customer base. The more effective approach, from my view, is building communities around interests and commonalities that align directly with what you do.
Pinpointing the ideal focal point for your community requires an acute understanding of the people you serve, derived through copious research. We can apply many of the same tactics for identifying best answer opportunities to arrive at data-driven conclusions about the most avid areas of curiosity for our audiences. If your customers are repeatedly asking the same questions to Google, they probably want to discuss them amongst one another as well.
Where Can You Build Online Communities?
Let’s say you’re interested in starting a community around a certain topic relevant to your brand. Where might go about doing so? Here are some popular options:
LinkedIn Groups: Often a better contextual fit than Facebook for B2B social media groups, as LinkedIn is (of course) structured around professional topics. Last year LinkedIn made its Groups feature more accessible by integrating it into the mobile app.
Microsite: A special section of your website dedicated entirely to allowing your customers and audience members to interact with one another. It might be a message board built within your site, or a more customized setup. Whatever the case, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy to navigate and follow conversation threads.
Benefits of B2B Community-Building
“Community is important because it brings people together. Community keeps people loyal, makes them feel like they matter. It also lets the company show how much they appreciate their customers,” according to Mary Green, a community-building specialist who shared her insights with B2B News Network.
Beyond the overarching loyalty imperative, here are a few other practical advantages to creating an online community:
Firsthand audience research. Marketers are always endeavoring to understand what matters most to their audiences. In many cases, this requires considerable guesswork. But by monitoring a community, you can watch conversations play out organically, seeing what impassioned followers talk about and how they talk about it. This can serve as a crucial springboard for your content planning. It might even help inspire new product features or service offerings.
User-generated content. “Brands and influencers can make great content, but the phenomenal stuff comes from the discussion. User-generated content is gold,” says Green. I’ve written here in the past about the power of UGC for authenticity, and online communities can be an excellent resource for uncovering it.
Finding and cultivating influencers. Within these communities, you’ll frequently see particular experts emerging with strong voices or magnetic insights. These might be candidates to incorporate more deeply into your influencer marketing strategy.
B2B Brands Running Strong Communities
Looking for inspiration? Here are a few companies that set the right example with B2B community-building:
Bank of America
They major national bank created a small business online community, which they describe as “a forum for small business ideas, insider tips, and the industry knowledge you need to help your small business grow.”
As you scroll through the links and discussions within, you’ll find that much of it is unrelated to banking or even financial matters, and that’s just fine. The point is that numerous customers and prospects are coming to BoA’s website to talk shop.
The QuickBooks Community is basically a public knowledge bank where users can help each other solve problems and learn new things. There are product-centric areas for QB troubleshooting, as well as general business discussions. Intuit company reps are also active participants in the community.
Jamf Nation describes itself as “the largest Apple IT management community in the world.” It’s a perfect example of owning a niche, and mobilizing a community while keeping product promotion on the backburner. Members are welcomed to “Dialog with your fellow IT professionals, gain insight about Apple device deployments, share best practices and bounce ideas off each other.”
Find Your Tribe
As marketing emphasis shifts more and more toward delivering holistic experiences, community-building should be a key consideration for practitioners everywhere, especially in B2B where the opportunity is especially ripe. Herein lies the next frontier of digital engagement.