(This is part of my series on Rainmaking Problems. I hope you will leave a comment with your thoughts on a solution to this problem.)
Today I place my own problem before you. As a person who puts himself forward as knowing something about selling professional services, I have tried to keep abreast of changes in marketing techniques. I do so by interviewing people who have used a technique, but also by using it myself. I’m able to talk about how to write an article, because I have written over 100. I’m able to talk about networking, because I have a large network that feeds me business opportunities year after year.
The Internet is changing the way that professionals market and sell their services. One of my efforts to keep abreast of these changes was starting this blog. Having published it for about a year and a half, I feel justified in making some comments about how blogging works. I may not be an expert, but at least I have a grasp of what I know and of how much I don’t know.
In the first category is my knowledge and that if this blog is to be truly successful I must take it to the next level. I know what this level looks like, but I don’t how to get there. Having looked at a good many blogs by now, I believe that successful ones move from the driving force of content to that of community and that this is done through comments. Let me explain.
The day you start a blog, you have no readers. You may be able to attract readers once with an advertisement or a mass e-mailing, but to keep them coming back requires content. And supplying that content can be deliciously fun at first. I look back on writing some of my early posts, such as He Talks Too Much and Three Ways to Get a Good Seat, with pleasure. In this way you build your first readership base. I will call this Level 1. Business blogs without solid content fade quickly.
While building to Level 1, your posts receive few comments. A low percentage of those who read blogs ever comment—the figure one percent is commonly thrown about. You simply don’t have enough readers to spark much comment, let alone dialogues.
But many people surf the net not just to receive information, but to exchange it. If you want to grow your base of readers to the next level, you must engage them in a dialog. That is, you must write in such a way to attract comments; not just any comments, but the kind that attracts still others. If you do this assiduously, those looking to participate in a dialog, plus those interested in reading debate in addition to content will form a community of readers, which I will call Level 2. It is much larger than achieved at Level 1. The community comes to your site to read and to be read, to agree and to disagree, and to feel. They come to feel smart or funny or provocative, but above all else they come to feel connected.
And that’s where I need help. I believe I have plateaued at Level 1 and want to move ahead to Level 2. But I don’t know how to do it. There’s something wrong with either my writing or my format or something. Or perhaps I’m just not patient enough. As bloggers and participants in blogging communities, can you advise me how to move from content to community, through making people want to comment to making them feel connected?
Or am I looking at the problem the wrong way altogether?
(Got a problem selling professional services? Feel free to email me your problem and it may become a future “Rainmaking Problem.”)