So many times when you’re building an online presence and community, too much emphasis and energy can be focused on growing your audience, and you can start to become distracted from nurturing the community you’ve already built. A huge mantra I’ve been trying to create by in recent months is this - Serve My Community First, Grow My Audience Second. Today I want to start a conversation around this topic and hopefully encourage you to explore the many different ways you can be of service to your community. This post is for you if:
You have big and bold dreams for your blog: If you're thinking big with your plans for your online space, you'll probably already know the importance of building and nurturing a community around your blog. This post is here to help you really hone in on your community and the ways you can really connect with them.
You’re creating from a place of purpose and passion: If your blog is rooted in your purpose and your passions, connecting with your community is probably more of a priority for you than growing your audience. This post is here to help you remember that and stay focused and purposeful along the way.
Why Should I Be Of Service To My Community? Many of us create because we feel called or inspired to share and connect. If your blog exists as a space to connect, inspire, inform, encourage, or help your readers, your intentions are probably rooted in a very purposeful place of wanting to be of service to your audience. The more we give of ourselves, our ideas, and our time, the more our community can take away from our blog, and ultimately the more fulfilled we will feel with our process and work.
Not all blogs exist for this purpose, but I know for many of us being of service to our audience is one of our biggest intentions with our blogs. Especially if we're working towards making a living or an income from the work we feel inspired to do, creating an online presence that connects with our ideal community is one of the best first steps we can take.
But Should I Not Be Focused On Growth? I'm a big believer in focusing on purposeful growth. One of the biggest reasons I think it's important to focus on serving our communities first is that there are only a certain amount of hours available to us each week to give to our blog's. If we prioritise our time working on growth strategies and we then neglect our community in the process, I personally think this is one of the easiest ways to find ourselves lost and off track from our bigger goals and aims. When we serve our community, growth is usually a by-product of this, yet when we solely focus on growth, we don't always serve our community in the process.
For example, one strategy for growing your audience could be to focus on your SEO. Maybe you spend a ton of time researching techniques and strategies and your focus all of your energy into implementing them within your content. Because time is not unlimited, you may find yourself distracted from connecting with your community and creating content that will connect, inspire, and delight them. You may be attracting more organic traffic to your site, but this traffic may not be of a high quality. What I mean by this is that they may not be your people or truly understand and connect with what your blog is about and who it is for. On the other hand, if you focus on creating content that is of service to your audience, they will just naturally be inclined to share it with their own communities and friends. This may not drive as much traffic to your site, but it is more likely to drive high quality traffic and ultimately that is what you want. As much as there is a place for something like SEO strategies within our blogging process, if we prioritise growth over being of service to our community, we'll struggle to actually achieve the results we're working so hard towards.
Growth is without a doubt essential when building your blog to be successful (in whatever way you personally define success), however it's only sustainable when it's purposeful growth that is aligned with your intentions, your audience, and bigger goals.
Is There A Happy Middle Ground? Definitely - it's all about prioritising. Your blog will need different things from you at different times and my best advice is to always keep being of service to your community at the top of the priority list. Your community may change, the ways you are of service to them will adapt and evolve, but shifting your focus to your readers is one of the most powerful steps you can take if you really want to take your blog from a hobby to a game changer.
I say this often, but I think it's so important to really pinpoint what kind of growth it is that you want to work towards. For example, instead of just saying 'I want X amount of page views' or 'X amount of monthly visitors/subscribers', really dig deep and figure out what the growth means. What you probably mean is that you want enough growth so that you can start making an income and enough of a community so you can then start to share your work and your services in a profitable way. Or maybe enough growth so that you feel like you have an engaged and active community where you can have impact and reach and find creative fulfilment via your blog. Whatever it is, give growth a name instead of a number.
How Can I Serve My Community? Now to the fun part - digging deep and exploring the ways you can be of service to your community. The most important parts to explore are:
- Who is my community? Who are the people I really want to connect with and be of service to?
- What is it about my work/my ideas/my online presence that is of service to them? Do I inform? Inspire? Entertain? Encourage? Motivate?
- What is the purpose and the passions behind my work? Why do I want to be of service to this community? What are my own motivations?
- What is the ultimate goal behind everything I do? To find creative fulfilment? To convert customers and clients? To establish my voice? To have impact and reach?
- What can I create for my community that will inspire, delight, and connect with them?
- How can I turn the focus more onto my readers and community and their needs whilst still being authentic with what I share?
A challenge for you: What is one way you can be of service to your community this week? What can you develop, create, and share with your audience that will help you to nurture your community and engage with your audience?
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