Note: Before I get too far into this post, I want to announce the release of my new book, Building a Blog for Readers: 101 Questions to Ask Before You Launch Your Empire.

If you’ve been struggling with getting readers to your blog, or what to talk about on your blog, this little manifesto is for you.

Since blogging and writing online is all about asking the right questions, this little book is going to help with that.

It features questions from awesome bloggers and writers, like Pat Flynn, Danny Iny, James Chartrand, and more. It’s going to hopefully light that fire you’ve needed for sometime, and it’s really affordable. Like, probably around $3-4 (and sometimes FREE).

I hope you’ll check it out!

For now, though, let’s dive in to another aspect of building an online platform: Why Social Media Isn’t The Entire Answer.

There’s a “secret” to growing a massive platform in a very short period of time, and it doesn’t involve a ridiculous “get-rich-quick” scheme, a “blueprint,” or any other crazy method.

Chances are, you probably already know half of it:

Always Add Value

Period. Always Add Value to whatever you do online–and offline–and you’ll eventually start making waves. Eventually.

I want to talk about that word, eventually. When I write that, you might think, “yeah, but when is eventually? How long must I wait?”

That’s the wrong question to ask. Eventually can be ten years from now–but it can also be ten months, or ten weeks, from right now. You just need to understand the other half of the value-adding equation.

You see, it’s not just about adding value–it’s about where, and how you’re adding it. And to some extent, it’s about whom you’re adding it for.

The where, why, and whom of Always Adding Value 

You need to add value in the right places, in the right ways.

Sure, your blog is awesome. You’re an awesome writer, and you’re pumping out sweet posts on a very cool topic. Problem is, no one’s listening.

No cares, or even knows you’re there. We need to change that.

I ran into this awhile ago, and it led to a number of things:

  • I got really frustrated with the whole idea of “starting a blog” or “trying to make a living online”
  • I forgot what my true passion really was
  • I gave up and quit

That was the best thing that’s happened to me so far. Obviously, I picked it back up–you’re reading this now, right?

And here’s what I have to show for it:

My Google Analytics data over the period between March and April shows an increase well over 300%.

Certainly there were spikes, meaning that not all of these new visitors stuck, but my bounce rate plummeted and continues to drop (a good thing: the lower the “bounce rate,” the longer people are staying on your site).

I’m never one to swoon over data like this, but it’s worth noting that my newsletter subscriber count also managed to creep up by over 150% in the last sixty days:

What I’m trying to point out is not how awesome I am (I have a long way to go before I can declare “success”…), but that it can be done. You can grow a website in a very short period of time, and have a blast doing it.

You’re already a writer–a great one, at that. You and I both know it, but we also know there’s more work to be done.

I had a guest post go live earlier this week over on Kathy Pooler’s great site, called How to Develop and Win a True Audience Through Social Media, and yes–it’s about adding value on social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, in order to build trust and brand awareness. Go read it–I think it’s a good one, and seems to have gotten a pretty good response.

But don’t for a second think that “social media” is the answer. 

It’s certainly a part of it–when have we ever been able to quickly, effortlessly, and effectively been able to connect like we can now? But it’s definitely not the “end of the road” for us as creators. No, it’s merely the beginning.

The other half of the equation, as I mentioned, is where and how else you’re adding value:

  • Where are people going to find you on Twitter or Facebook? Be there.
  • Where are they reading the content that should link to you? Be there.
  • How are they finding the answers to the questions they’re already asking? Be there.

In a sense, “be everywhere.” 

At least, be everywhere that really matters. Are your future customers (readers, buyers, fans, etc.) finding their favorite stuff on Amazon? Better be there.

Are they searching for a specific keyword on  Google? Better show up on the first page.

Are they subscribing to a ton of RSS feeds, but only clicking the links that seem relevant? Better write some great headlines and offer something valuable!

Social media can help–it’s really easy to use Twitter to link to your awesome content–but it can’t be the only answer unless you’re a celebrity or already have 9 million followers.

But you need to use your content outside of your own website, in order to draw them back in to the content on your website.

Does that make sense?

You need to send your content–articles, blog posts, videos, etc.–out into the world, in the form of guest posting, article marketing, and uploading content to massive content networks with a link back to your stuff.

You can’t just expect people to find you: Field of Dreams was just a movie, and “if you build it,” they won’t “just come.” Yes, you need to be prepared for them when they do come to your website–have your newsletter sign-up form ready to go, and give them some awesome content to start with.

Show them the best content and offerings, and let them easily find what you’re all about. Then, reach out to them–tell them to subscribe, connect, or grab the RSS feed, or all three. Invite them to comment on every post, and thank them for visiting.

Then go do it again

Building a great blog can be misleading–it’s not about building something once and then running with it–it’s about continuously building and adapting as you grow. Changing your theme, adding/removing widgets, and releasing new products are all part of the ongoing “blog building” journey, but so is guest-posting on an ongoing basis, connecting with others through social media, and keeping up-to-date with your newsletter, even when the world comes crashing down on you!

Do all of this, again and again, and you’ll start to see what works and what doesn’t. Keep doing more of what works, and stop doing what doesn’t.

Ask yourself the right questions, and learn from your mistakes and successes. Teach others to fish, but also give them the fish, and then write about the fish.

It’s about the journey, not the destination, but you should have a destination in mind so you can measure the journey against it.

I’m excited for you

Really–the conversations I’ve been having through email and from subscribers on the mailing are truly inspiring. There are so many awesome stories waiting to be told; waiting to be released upon the world, and I feel like I’m a small part of them! I’m excited to help in any way I can, and I want to help.

That’s why I wrote Building A Blog for Readers, and why I’m making it as cheap as possible for people to grab it. I think that by asking yourself the right questions and then answering them to the best of your ability, you won’t just eventually succeed, you can’t NOT succeed!

I say this every time, but if you need help, have a question, or just want to chat, email me or leave a comment.

Try me–I respond to everything.