Building Audience

This afternoon, Colin McEnroe’s show on WNPR will “look at the State of the Blog. Specifically,… where blogging and other online communication/journalism is -- especially here in CT”. In a little discussion about it going on over on Facebook Colin says, “Old media seems shakier than ever” and continues on to ask “Do you bloggers feel ready to step up and fill the vacuum?” I answered in terms of volunteer and professional journalists and referred to my blog post Covering the Local News.

Jackie Lightfield brought up a related issue, observing, “Don't forget the corollary, advertising and marketing is evolving away from old media, will old media figure it out...” The timing of this is particularly apt, because this morning the American Press Institute holding a conference, “Newsmedia Economic Action Plan Conference”. For more information on this, check out The Information Valet Project, which includes links to live blogging of the conference.

Yet even before you can think about monetizing online content, or any sort of content, you need to have an audience. Colin is fortunate. He has a long history here in Connecticut and when he started his show on WNPR, he had an immediate audience. Yet he needs to grow and maintain that audience. His use of Facebook can help in this area, and his keen focus on keeping his shows interesting is an important aspect of maintaining the audience. This is one area where local newspapers seem to fail. They take the audience for granted, and the audience is diminishing. I suspect the American Press Institute conference will delve into this a little.

This is also an area where I think many bloggers are failing. They write their blog for their family and friends, or for some special niche. Yet too often, they don’t interact with other blogs. I often write about sites like BlogExplosion, MyBlogLog, Blogcatalog, EntreCard, Adgitize and others which provide means of joining in a discussion with other bloggers, visiting their sites, getting them to visit your sites, and perhaps even exchange links.

Some sites go even further with this. Cornyman has been running a contest where bloggers win EntreCard credits for commenting on other blogs. He describes his blog as All you want to know about being financial independent... Saving, investing, earning money worldwide opportunities for your personal finances!. This is not the sort of blog that fits closely to a niche that I would be most focused on. Yet I visit that blog, and he visits me. Hopefully we both get a little bit out of our visits.

I participated in the contest and won 500 EntreCard credits from Confessions of a Fitness Diva. Anyone who knows me will recognize that this is even further from being a niche that I would regularly visit. I will use these credits to advertise on other blogs and bring in hopefully more readers.

All of this is part of reaching out and build a larger and broader audience. For those interested in monetizing traffic, a larger audience usually means more monetization opportunities. For those interested in getting their message out, it means more people reading what you are writing, often people that might not already be thinking about things you are writing about.

I hope I’ll have time to call in to Colin’s show this afternoon and chat with him and others about how bloggers can step in and fill the vacuum being left as the old media becomes shakier and shakier. Perhaps some of the discussion will even be helpful for old media folks rethinking their relationship to online media. I hope you Listen Live to Colin’s Show at 1 PM this afternoon and help grow his audience as well.