Know what your audience wants. And then:
Give it to them in the form of quality content.
[tweetthis url=”http://goo.gl/nRsupD”]Find out what your audience wants. Then give it to them. [/tweetthis]
I could end it here. But you probably want more than that, right?
So let's start at the beginning, briefly, where we find out what your audience wants, and then continue through how to deliver what they want to them.
(That's content, by the way.)
If you're building any type of business (online or not), in some essence you are providing people answers to questions they have, solutions to problems they have, or giving them pleasure where pleasure may not exist (get your head outta the gutter, okay — think a vacation when you're really stressed out).
- I need to get from San Francisco to New York by 5pm tonight — travel agent
- I have this nagging headache — Bayer aspirin
- How to I deal with a difficult employee — an HR consultant
- How do I meet the right mate — Match.com
- I'm tired all the time — health & fitness website
You get the point.
Your job is to help. And in payment for your help, you want to be compensated. Compensation isn't always in terms of money. But money is often used because it pays the bills and is easier to account for than “good will.”
Put another way, good will doesn't pay your mortgage.
So the first part of your job is to find an audience that you can help. Maybe your area of expertise is health. You put together programs that help people feel better, lose weight, get stronger, and perform better in a sport or in the job that they have.
How do you do that? Luckily, we talked about that here, here, and here. I also talk at length about that in my book about blogging, The Ultimate Guide to Blogging Laying the Foundation Part 1.
You have a collective of knowledge and experience that nobody else has. It's yours and yours alone. You need to marry that with the right audience.
And ALL of your content creation will be the result of matching what your audience needs and/or wants with what you know. What you know comes from that collective of knowledge and experience PLUS research (i.e., new knowledge).
In short, you don't need to know everything about a given subject. What you do need to know is how to find the information you need to package it into a product that your audience wants to consume.
It's as simple as that.
A lot of your content will be published on your own site (I consider that a product). Some may be published elsewhere, say on Medium, LinkedIn, or Reddit. Other content may be in the form of books, videos, or courses you create and present to your intended audience.
In addition to creating your own content for the consumption of your audience, you can (and should) curate content from other quality sources. There is nothing wrong with publishing a blog post that quotes and links out to a quality source.
In fact, you may derive untold benefits from doing so. An influential blogger in your space may notice that you've linked out to one of his blog posts. He may reach out to you and ask if you could do a guest post for him. He may reciprocate and share a link to a blog post you made – and his audience may visit your site.
You could, in fact, become a great go-to source for everything about a topic or subject matter if you spend time creating your own quality content and curating others' quality content.
But enough about that. You know you need to create and curate quality content.
How will somebody know that you're producing all of this awesome sauce? They won't, until you promote it (or somebody else does).
A major part of ensuring that your audience actually knows about your content lays in the promotion of it. In short, you need to spend a considerable amount of time and effort promoting your content.
- Tell people about it.
- Share your content on your social media channels.
- Encourage others to share it.
- Reach out to influencers in your niche and subtly suggest that they take a look at your content; they may just tell their friends about it.
My advice: Spend at least as much energy promoting your content as you do writing it. And spend a good amount of energy (i.e., hours) creating your content.
It's a lot of work. Nothing worth doing comes easy.
However, if you produce high-quality content, and people know about it, you'll be much farther along than most people trying to accomplish the same things as you.
Now, you know I'm calling content only one of the three pillars. Here's why:
Let's say you have awesome content. But your webhost sucks. So nobody can ever consume it.
Maybe your site loads very slowly. Or your host has poor uptime. Or maybe, just maybe, your host shut down your shared account because their server security and maintenance is so bad that they shut YOUR account down because there was malware on your server (this happens, and it's YOUR server, Mr. Webhost, not mine, and if you'd a) harden things this wouldn't happen and b) it wasn't me, you jerk).
Or, let's say your webhost is incredible, your content is what everybody wants, but you leave out the third pillar (to be revealed in the next post)? You're outta luck.
Because leaving out the third pillar is something nearly every online business owner does at first, and it costs you dearly.
So, content is vitally important. But it works in conjunction not just with the other pillars but with a lot of other factors. The more of these you get right, the more profitable and satisfying your online business is going to be.