Photo Credit: MindSea

5 Ways to Grow a Following of Readers That Can’t Wait For Your Next Article

“Your greatest asset is your unique point-of-view” — William Ballard

In a world over-saturated with advice and information (some good and others, not so much), how do you get readers to read your content over someone else? What makes you different? Why should readers read your content over everyone else that is out there?

Whether you are just starting to build your platform, or your an experienced writer trying to maintain connections with your readership, what you’re about to read are what I consider to be the five core essentials you need to start establishing yourself as the expert I know you are.

1) Get Clear About Your Core Audience

In the business world this is referred to as your Target Market. Are you giving detailed writing tips to an audience of writers, or are you addressing small business owners and entrepreneurs in a specific niche or industry with business advice? Every time you sit down to write make sure it is clear what kind of audience you want to reach.

In fact, one way you should be looking at Medium is as being your own column in a newspaper. I would suggest looking at your Medium bio as being a short tag line where you state exactly what you do for the target audience you are trying to reach.

For instance, are you giving business advice? If so, your bio should state your credentials and the exact niche or industry you’re an expert in. That way, when people come to your profile they know exactly what they are going to learn when reading your “column.”

2) Assess The Tribe You Are Already a Part Of

You don’t need a Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) degree from Iowa before you can start blogging about writing. Or an MBA from Wharton Business School to start writing about business. What you need is to demonstrate to your readers that you have something valuable to offer them. What unique perspective or experience do you have that no one else does?

Just in case you haven’t noticed by now, I do have a Masters of Business Administration degree, which is why I think an write in terms of business. And I believe this is one of the things that separates me from the rest of the experts in my particular niche and industry.

You see, my first love has always been writing, and ever since I can remember I’ve always had my nose in a book. Where most people who love writing normally go to get their MFA, I went and got my MBA instead. Why? Because I knew that if I was going to be successful as a writer I would need to have some measure of business sense.

That was when I discovered how many writers are out there that miss the mark when it comes to the business side of writing. You see, writing and publishing is a very profitable industry but a lot of writers get taken advantage of — just like musicians and artist do in the music industry.

“The music industry is 10% about music and 90% business” — Pit Bull
Photo Credit: Cirad

With that said, look at the tribe you are already a part of. What piece of the puzzle do you see missing that no one else does? You see, the truth is: Everyone in your tribe, in your niche, in your industry (including you) has a unique perspective to the whole lot.

And each come bearing gifts of some kind. Each has a unique way of looking at things, and none of which are wrong. That’s why I suggest sharing your experiences and your unique point-of-view with them, with your audience. Share the lessons that you’ve learned along the way, and encourage them to do the same.

3) Know Your Competition and Capitalize On Their Expertise; Don’t Compete — Collaborate!

Medium alone has a infinite number of “column” writers writing about the same subjects you are passionate about, and even though I would recommend contributing something new, don’t be afraid to present old news in a new way. And don’t forget that your greatest asset is your unique point-of-view.

It is also important to note that when I say “competition” I’m using the therm very lightly. You see, I’m not a big fan of competition. I do believe that there are healthy forms of competition, but in most cases … not so much.

“ Amateurs compete, professionals create” — Bob Proctor

Therefore, when I say compete or competition I’m not talking about trying to establish a debate or argument or striving to contradict someone else’s work. This would just be an unproductive waste of mental energy. What I am suggesting is that you think more in terms of collaboration rather than competition. In fact, I wrote a pretty good article about this subject that you can check out here.

Photo Credit: Twitter

To that end, follow writers here on Medium that you admire and trust their expertise. And instead of competing with them, decide to engage with their content. Write positive comments on their work and leave your negative comments to yourself. In fact, my mother always told me, If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I’d say that that is pretty wise advise to follow online as well as offline.

And don’t forget to take Michael Hyatt’s advice when he said in his book, “Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World (AFF), Blogging is communal, and those that participate in the community win.”

This way you become more aware of the developments in your particular niche or industry. And don’t despair if someone has written on something you wanted to write about. Trust me, your readers (as well as your fellow writing colleagues) will appreciate you linking back to other sources that provide just as much value as you do. Think in terms of extending conversations beyond just one article instead of merely trying to be a copycat.

4) Use Images, No Matter What

Trust me, I’m just as much a lover of the written word as you are. But even though you and your audience (target market) may be a lover of words too, do bear in mind that we live in a visual world, and your articles need to reflect that reality.

There are free pictures on the Internet that are readily accessible, or if not free, available for a modest fee, so there really is no excuse for not breaking up the monotony of text with a memorable image. It is simply required in this day and age no matter how entertaining or useful your content happens to be.

Moreover, instead of posting a stock image of some kind, if you could include an image of you doing something that you are writing about, that is even better. You see, I’m of the belief that every writer should also be a lover of photography. In other words, it’s one thing to write about what you know and share your journey through the written word, there’s a whole new level of intimacy and transparency that takes place when you share an image of your life with your readers.

5) Create Opportunities for Your Readers to Share Their Expertise

Unless you are doing highly literary prose for a narrow audience (and there is nothing wrong with that), you need to give the reader a call-to-action or some kind of payoff for reading your article.

This could be in the form of a contest where you give away prizes for the level of engagement readers provide for your piece, or useful links to other sites that provide paid writing opportunities, or chances for readers to be a guest blogger or contributor to your site. And at the very least, some kind of open forum that allows your readers to participate in the discussion of the topic, rather than just passively reading your thoughts on the subject.

Taking a cue from Gary V’s book, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook,” the three jabs represent the areas where you give to your audience, and the right hook being where you ask for something. In short, the emphasis is on that we should give more than we take.

Photo Credit: Forbes

In fact, if you can provide away to feature your readers in your article, make them star of the show or the main character of the story, or give them the by-line cred … well, trust me, who wouldn’t want that?

As the Golden Rule states: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, you would want others to want to highlight you and your expertise in their work, would you not? Well, why not do the same for others? This practice will create more of a two-way relationship with your readers, and increase the chance that they will come back to your articles on a regular basis.

William Ballard, MBA is a highly sought after business strategist, marketing consultant, and founder of William Ballard Enterprise. He has been involved in digital marketing since 2009 and business management since 2013. William served a short stint in the military before becoming a serial entrepreneur. Since then, he has written 6 books and e-books and has no plan of slowing down.