I love to pretend that people come to my site because I'm awesome, charming, a wee bit stylish, and they can relate to me. In reality, our presence on the internet is based on what we have to offer.
As a female-dominated niche, I think it can be hard of us to answer that question. Women tend to speak up less (or be humble) about their accomplishments, and as a result, its hard for us to think quantitatively about what we're offering the visitors of our sites. Even to ourselves.
It's hard to think of our blogs, which are something SO personal to us as something so transactional, but think about how you use the internet. When you visit a site, what's the reason? Because the site has something you want. It has something to give you. Whether it's a pair of new shoes, the phone number to or reviews for a restaurant, or what books you should read before you die, you're visiting websites because you're in need of something.
What can you offer… your readers?
While we love to think our blogs are for us, if we're hoping to have and grow an audience, at some point we have to accept that our posts are as much for us as they are our readers.
So what are you honestly offering your readers with each post? Are you explaining how to do something? Are you sharing where to buy something? Are you opening up emotionally, so that there is a sense of camaraderie or shared experience? Am I providing inspiration on X, Y, or Z?
If you've gotten to the end of your post, and you can't answer, “What is this giving my readers?” maybe you should rethink the angle, do a little editing, and revise it.
What can you offer… brands?
Over the 6 years I've been blogging, I've worked with dozens of brands. Yet, whenever a new one reaches out and asks, “What can you give me?” I hesitate to respond. What can I offer them?
If you want to work with brands, it's a great idea to track the work from each project. How many comments do they receive? How many times do you tweet about it, and what kind of response do you get? You could do this in a document or spreadsheet. What are the page views of that post for the week it's on the main page? Even if prospective brands never see the document, it helps give you the courage, confidence, and data to back up what you CAN give them.
What can you offer… other bloggers?
Oof. Y'all, this is a hard one. I'm a huge advocate of building genuine, heartfelt relationships in life. Yet I often see members of the IFB community complain about being spammed by other bloggers, expecting other bloggers to act as a mentor, or promote the hell out of their posts on social media, and I ask myself… Well, what do you have to offer?
I don't mean that in a mean way, but the heart of most relationships is that we have something to offer our companions. Maybe your best friend always makes you laugh; you feel unconditional love and support from your boy/girlfriend. You can always meet the new girl at work for gossip and laughter at the water cooler.
Building relationships with other bloggers happens the same way; what can you offer other bloggers that no one else can? Maybe you always leave long and thoughtful comments to their eloquent posts. Maybe you're a rabid retweeter, loving their playful witticisms and the links they share. Building a great relationship with another blogger isn't about what they can do for you– it's about what you can do for them.
This idea– what I can offer others– has been one of the hardest lessons I've learned as a blogger, and one I still struggle with to this day. But as I seek to reshape my blog, being able to honestly answer this question (to myself and to others) has given me a new kind of insight into how to make my blog experience more rewarding.
So… open up with me. With the rest of IFB. Are you REALLY providing value to your readers, the brands you work with, and other bloggers? What can you do to offer more to those you interact with?
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]