When you think of your audience, do you think just of your visitors and RSS subscribers? If so, you might be missing out.
If you can extend your influence beyond your blog then you have many more opportunities, plus at the very least you have protection should your blog go down, or worse something catastrophic happens to feedburner.
The obvious place to start is with email. You do not even need to pay out any money. Add FeedBurner and FeedBlitz email subscription as an option. Your readers get a friendly and familiar way to get your content, and you get the bonus of their email addresses. Get into the habit of downloading those addresses just in case.
After email access to feeds you can consider a newsletter. Yes, an actual newsletter in addition to the feed. You might be surprised the difference a newsletter can make and how many bloggers have them. It doesn’t have to be a newsletter as such, I have a multi-part email sequence telling people about my approach at Authority Blogger (I really need to add to it). Perhaps you could do a 10-part how-to instruction series for your blog?
Talking of Authority Blogger, I have a forum. Forums are a lot of work, luckily I have a superstar moderator. OK, you might only get a few hundred people sign up, my own forum is not huge, but they are people who want to talk, that should not be overlooked. It’s amazing what a difference 1,000 true fans can bring. If you have the time and energy a forum is well worth building because of the tight and engaged community that forms. Again, that community is related but separate to your blog readership.
Conversation happens outside of forums. There are email discussion lists, like the programming list I started with a couple of friends. I don’t do programming any longer but the list is still going strong. Then there are Usenet newsgroups. Terry Pratchett still has a huge community of fans interested in his novels who interact with him that way.
Of course newest discussion platform is Twitter. I am running an interesting experiment where if you follow me on Twitter you are entered for a chance of winning a premium news theme. My Twitter followers overlap my blog audience but surprisingly not by that much.
Have you tried any of these approaches? Which ways do you use to gather an audience outside of your blog? There are approaches I don’t use that do work – Do you use Squidoo, MySpace or FaceBook? Please share in the comments …