Excuse the click-bait title, but I really wanted to share my tips and tricks for building an online audience. None of these recommendations involve cheating the system, so if you’re after quick fixes, please look elsewhere.
Full disclosure: My online following was seriously stunted after I moved to Christchurch. When I left Toronto, my audience was growing pretty steadily, I was taking on some exciting opportunities and almost felt ready to work for myself full-time. Moving halfway around the world has meant a few steps backwards in my career. That said, I know numbers and followers aren’t everything (and can be deceiving), and there are many benefits to establishing an audience (basically) from scratch. In the process of trying to rebuild my following while staying true to my existing audience, I picked up a few tips that I want to share with those of you who might be in the same boat.
Why are you online in the first place?
My first piece of advice, if you’re feeling like you’re not growing or getting the engagement you’d like, is to step back and consider what you’re actually trying to achieve. If it’s just followers, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. Think about the reasons you started. Maybe it was a creative escape or to offer advice on a topic you’re passionate about… When you’re focused on why you’re online in the first place, you’ll stop focusing on the numbers.
Build a connection
Rather than working to build a following, work to build relationships and form connections within your community. I’ve heard many content creators talk about “going deep, not wide,” and this couldn’t be more true! If you’re able to impact one person in a positive way, you’re doing your job. When I wrote about my anxiety, I received a couple emails from you guys telling me about your own experiences. Being able to relate to others (even from afar) is the reason I started this blog in the first place.
Share the difficult stuff
I’ve talked about this before, but social media shouldn’t just be a highlight reel of your greatest experiences and achievements. Keeping it real and sharing ‘behind-the-scenes’ makes you relatable, even if it’s in the form of Instagram stories. I’m all about sharing beautiful, aesthetically-pleasing Instagram shots, but I always try to write honest captions that reflect what I’m actually going through.
Collaborate with other creators
I love working with local photographers, writers and creatives. Part of the reason I wanted to share our wedding planning journey on here was to highlight the AMAZING local vendors here in Christchurch. Support and cheer each other on, there’s enough work (and space) for all of us. There’s so much to learn from others in your industry.
Switch it up
If you’re finding your content is falling flat, try switching it up. Maybe you started your blog with the intention of sharing only city guides, but they are no longer resonating with your audience. Don’t be afraid to veer away from your core topic to talk about your home renovation project. If people are following you, it’s likely they are interested in you and your story not just because they want travel tips.
Use Instagram stories
I love Instagram stories because I can share the messy, behind-the-scenes stuff that would never make it onto my feed. Consistency is key when building a brand, but on Instagram stories, you’re allowed to be a bit all over the place and talk about subjects that don’t usually make it on to your feed.
We’re all guilty of spending too much time on our phones and laptops… I encourage you to get out, attend industry events and form human connections. I’ve met some of my closest friends at fashion and blogging events. Forming relationships with other bloggers is also key to growing your audience and getting approached about future projects.
Don’t put all your eggs in one (Instagram) basket
Use social media to drive traffic to something you own (aka your blog). We’re all at the whim of the next Instagram algorithm change, so that account you’ve grown and those followers you’ve amassed aren’t really yours. Instagram could get shut down tomorrow or we could all move on to the next platform. It’s important to have your own online space that you’ve built yourself.
Another thing to consider if you’re stressing about your numbers is to focus more on your skills and offering. Are you a copywriter, a photographer or a digital marketer? Those are tangible skills that people are more likely willing to pay for. Don’t rely on your ‘influence’ too much. Continue challenging yourself by taking on new projects and adding value wherever you can.
While it’s taken me a long time to establish myself here in Christchurch, I am finally starting to see better engagement. More importantly, I’ve learnt so much working in-house at creative agencies and developed incredible relationships with local brands. While I think there have been a few setbacks, I do still believe moving around and travelling is super beneficial in the long-run. Not only does it enable you to expand your reach across continents, you’ll build better relationships and understand what works in different countries.
If you’re a fellow content creator, let me know what’s worked for you.