I heard a discussion on one of the cable news networks about whether Oprahâ€™s opinion matters in the upcoming presidential elections. One of the people on the panelâ€™s opinion was that Oprah was good for selling things much the same way as Michael Jordon is good for selling shoes. The news commentator missed the mark on that one, and he missed it by a lot.
Oprah Is Not A Salesperson
Oprah does not sell â€œthings.â€ Sure, she has a book club that recommends books, and the books she recommends do sell, but Oprah doesnâ€™t sell books. Oprahâ€™s recommendations matter because people trust her; they value her opinion. She has spent her career building a relationship with her audience. The audience thinks of her as a friend or a trusted advisor, not a sales person. Ron Propiel made a career out of selling things, but I never once heard anyone discussing his choice for president.
Do What Oprah Does
So what does this all mean to you? You may not be to blogging what Oprah is to day time television, but the principle is exactly the same. If you want to succeed as a blogger you need to build a relationship with your audience. Thatâ€™s not something that is accomplished overnight, or even over a couple of weeks. It means day in and day out you offer your audience something worth reading. You offer good advice, useful information, and well thought out opinions. In other words, become a trusted advisor.
Blogging is not a one way street. It is a chance to voice your opinion, and for your readers to give you feedback. When they do comment on your blog, respond back to them. It is an exercise in give and take. If you donâ€™t respond to them, they will quit commenting, and maybe even quit reading.
This is what Web 2.0 is all about; building communities of like minded people. As a blogger, you have the opportunity to become a mentor and a leader in your community. However, that means you need to take the lead. You canâ€™t get away with merely regurgitating what you read on someone elseâ€™s blog yesterday. Itâ€™s OK to use what you read as an inspiration or starting point, but put your own spin on it. Take a piece of what you read and really dig into it looking for the nugget of gold that you can share with your readers.
Itâ€™s Not About Gimmicks
The most important thing to remember is that it takes time. Donâ€™t get so caught up in your visitor stats that you start taking shortcuts to draw readers. That might work in boosting your stats in the short run, but readers are too smart to stick around long term if they feel like they were tricked into stopping by. When you get them to your site, you better have something of value to share. That is how relationships are built.
This brings us back to Oprah. Whether you like her or not, you have to admit she does have a fiercely loyal following. She built an audience that faithfully tunes in day after day because she offers them something that they value. She doesnâ€™t rely on gimmicks to try to boost her ratings; she offers her viewers advice, entertainment, and stories that touch her audienceâ€™s hearts.
It is a great example of how to succeed with your blog. Itâ€™s all about the relationships.
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