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How to Build an Insanely Loyal Tribe: One Reader at a Time

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been watching new bloggers come out of the woodworks and I’ve been learning more from them than anybody. In a recent post on the new rules for winning the blogging game,  my buddy Stanford Smith (@pushingsocial) said something that I think needs to be the the mantra of an early stage blogger: “Kiss lots of digital babies.” I’ve been reworking my strategy for Flightster and so today I want to give you my thoughts on creating an insanely loyal group of readers.

Your Very First Reader/Commenter:

One thing I realized is that there were people who read this blog very early on and I still don’t know much about them. I wish I had made more of an effort to get to know the very first group of readers that started commenting here. Fortunately guys like Archan Mehta who wrote this awesome guest post, have stuck with me despite that. Your very first reader/commenter is the lifeline to your digital destiny in my opinion. If they leave a comment, do the following:

5 Steps to Building Your Tribe

1) Subscribe to their blog: The power of people at your same level is far greater than you probably realize right now. In Tribes, Seth Godin said that it’s much easier to get people in your tribe who are looking for tribes to join than it is to recruit people from other tribes. The early stage bloggers who are at your same level are looking for tribes to join. Invite them to join yours and join theirs.

2) Let them know of Your support: A while back I said you should form a blogging entourage. This could be the start of your entourage. That very first reader is somebody you should make an effort to build a really deep relationship with. In fact I would try to replicate this entire process I’m talking about for the first 150 readers if you can. Remember my famous words which I want you to tattoo across your forehead:“150 followers is all you really need

3) Follow them on Twitter: Once you have started to identify the members of your tribe it’s time to make them part of your inner circle on twitter. As Seth Godin said you need to not only have a way to communicate with your tribe, but you need to enable the members of your tribe to communicate with each other. Twitter is a fantastic facilitator of this process. In fact I recommend you make a point to introduce members of your tribe to each other at least once a day. Start creating your inner circle and connect them to each other.

4) Organize the members of your tribe: The other day I decided to write a post called 40 Flightsters you should know about. When Jenny Leonard from WhereisJenny contacted me and told me “hey, I’m a new blogger putting together this article on defining moments”, I realized where the goldmine was. Many people write these list posts and include really well known people. I decided to do the exact opposite. I wanted to put together a group of people who were on the rise or who had just started. In fact I decided to join their tribe by replacing all the lousy corporate travel blogs in my RSS reader with blogs of these “digital babies.” With each new discovery I put out a tweet from my flightster account mentioning each person I had come across and asking for more recommendations from each person. I think the best thing you can do is ask each member of your tribe for referrals for which tribes you should join.

Another way to organize your tribe is to write a series as a group. April Bowles Olin did this and here’s a recent quote from an email she sent me.

Within two months, I had a day where I reached 4,933 readers, 11,802 page views, and got over 75 newsletter subscribers. -April Olin, Blacksburgbelle.com
Not only did she get those results, she’s created a movement of people following in her footsteps and getting included in the series of other bloggers. You’re a rockstar April :) .

5) Write a Manifesto: When I was listening to Tribes the other day, I heard this concept mentioned and I finally realized where it originated. With regards to your manifesto, I think it should be something that helps the world in a way that is uniquely yours. I also think investing in a designer is something you should do. Your manifesto has the potential to spread far and wide.  My manifesto is going to be substantially meatier than most paid e-books. Give something away for free that is better than most paid products and word will spread like wildfire. If you want proof, go read Corbett Barr’s post about the results of giving his manifesto away.

Believe it or not 100 readers who love you will carry you really far. I think Jenny’s blog is a perfect example. Go look at her #’s, 100’s of stumbles, double digit tweets, and only 100 subscribers as of the last time she mentioned it.  Something tells me it won’t be long before her tribe starts recruiting new members to join her tribe. I already have. Keep an eye on this digital baby because she won’t be one for long.

I’m going to steal a line from a very smart blogger, Farnoosh from Prolific Living, who deserves credit for this next idea. Treat all your readers like real people and forget about the numbers. You do that and I promise you, you will kick so much ass in the blogosphere it’s crazy. Read The 6 degrees of Jade Craven if you want to see proof.

One reader at a time will seem like a really slow way to do things when you are first starting out. But I promise you if you do this for 3 months you will be much better off and build a much more loyal following. It’s something I wish I had done with this site. Thanks to all of you who have stood by my side along this journey.

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