Why did you start your blog?
Maybe your purpose was to educate kitten foster parents or to spread awareness about community cats. Perhaps your goal was to be a voice against dog fighting or advocate for elimination of the ferret ban in California.
Whatever your cause, at some point you decided that a blog would help further your message.
And you’re not wrong!
I’ve been witnessing a disconnect. Cause bloggers who want to write, share, and promote whatever is closest to their heart aren’t tackling professional development with the same vigor as their colleagues who want to create a monetized blog.
Let’s say there’s a blogger working to build her influence so that she can one day make money. Where does she start? Well, a blogger who wants to monetize needs an audience. Without an audience, there’s no appeal for the brand. So, the blogger works to attract and grow an audience using tips, tricks, and strategies proven to do so.
Let’s say there’s another blogger who doesn’t want to work with brands. Instead, he wants to advocate on behalf of community cats. What does he need to do that? An audience, of course! If no one comes to read what he shares, his work isn’t making much of an impact, is it?
Sometimes, bloggers in that second category decide that they don’t need to implement the same types of strategies as the bloggers in the first category. The assumption is that those tips and tricks are only for those who want to earn an income from their content.
Here’s why this is a mistake: Audience building, no matter your blog’s purpose, follows the same path.
The same core principles apply to bloggers who want to build an audience in order to appeal to a brand and bloggers who want to build an audience to represent a cause.
What are those core principles? And how can cause bloggers use them not to make money but to spread their message?
I’m glad you asked! Let’s dig in!
Great content is the cornerstone to any blog’s long-term success. (And that includes great photography!) Compelling content beckons people in, invites them to stay a while. For bloggers wanting to monetize, that’s important, of course, because it demonstrates to a brand that they can create great work that appeals to their audience.
For bloggers wanting to educate or advocate for a cause, great content catches attention. It grabs the reader through an emotion–humor, heartstrings, anger–and grabs their interest. That’s vital for spreading your message.
Either way, the principles of great content are the same. Don’t dismiss any techniques simply because they’re written for an influencer audience. Instead, follow the same techniques for creating great content, just write about your message! Here are some resources to consider:
I read a discussion recently that said something like, “I don’t want to learn about technical stuff like SEO. I want to write what I care about.”
That’s great! And if you don’t care about SEO, then I’d suggest buying a beautiful notebook and an incredible pen and journaling about your topic.
Seriously, though, absolutely anyone and everyone who writes a blog is doing so because they want other people to read it, right? Because, if you just want to write without any readers, a journal is the place to do it. If you dismiss SEO entirely, you’re doing yourself (and your cause!) a tremendous disservice because no one will be able to find you!
On the surface, SEO seems so overly-complicated, but it’s super simple: Search Engine Optimization is how search engines find you, figure out who you are, and deliver you to the right audience that’s dying to read what you write. Without it? One blog is a tiny needle in the giant internet haystack.
You don’t need to know the ins and outs and nitty-gritty details about SEO and algorithms, but if you don’t take the time to learn at least a few core strategies, your cause blog is missing out on some really great readers who just can’t find you. Here are a few resources that can help you simply and easily incorporate some SEO basics into your work so that the people who will be best served by your content can actually find it:
When in comes to influencer marketing, community building is the marketing piece. It’s how influencers leverage social media to share their content and to help promote others’ content, including the brand’s, across channels. It’s how influencers spread their influencer.
For a cause blogger, the goal is the same: to build community. Perhaps a cause blogger wants to organize volunteers to walk dogs at an overrun shelter or collect supplies for a TNR program. Or, maybe the blogger wants to educate a national audience about animal welfare policy. Building a community sets you up for success because your community amplifies your voice. They share your stellar content on their channels. They tag you on social and activate their audiences. Building a community is vital to draw attention to and support for whatever cause is closest to your heart. Here are a couple resources for building that community:
The bottom line? Those techniques that help influencers build their influence, attract brands, and make money are the same ones you need to learn and apply to grow YOUR influence as a cause blogger. Instead of cash, your currency is your readership and their passion for your cause.
And, at the end of the day, if a brand does reach out and offer to pay you for something, you can always donate that money to your cause! I use a portion of my blogging income to sponsor pit bulls in shelters!
Want to learn more? Dig into this and other topics in person at the BlogPaws Conference! Click for details!
Maggie Marton serves as the BlogPaws senior editor. When not hiking with her two pit mixes, Emmett and Cooper, or playing with Newt the Cat, Maggie writes about them (and the pet industry) at ohmydogblog.com and maggiemarton.com.