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Earning An Audience: How To Be Irresistible + Grow Your Brand Online

  |   Blogging Tips, Business Tips, Classy Marketing, Customer Service   |   80 Comments

How to earn your audience: the actions that REALLY make you noticeable + irresistible as a small business and brand online. Get 13 beginner community-building tips + 4 advanced strategies with examples and questions to help you improve.

 

The best way I know how to share what I’m about to share with you about building a business on the interwebs is to start off with a little story-slash-confession. I promise, pinkie-swear, and cross my heart not to be boring.

 

Before I launched the Olyvia brand, I spent my time reading.

 

By my estimations, I read about 157 gazillion articles on business marketing strategies on a daily freaking basis in the months leading up to my website going live.

 

You see, even though I had experience in growing communities online — launching + promoting around a half dozen blogs over the previous 10 years, advising non-profits on social media marketing, informally assisting my friends who owned small businesses, and other rather unremarkable things — the truth is this:

 

I was certain that anything I knew would prove to be woefully, shamefully inadequate. Oh yeah: and I would fail.

 

In my mind there simply had to be the Holy Grail of marketing strategies out there that would guarantee my entrance into biz blogging heaven… I just needed to find it behind some internet guru’s squeeze page.

 

(Don’t even ask how many newsletters I signed up for in my quest for marketing enlightenment. #likewhoa)

 

But sales pitch after sales pitch errr, I mean webinar after webinar, all I found at the end of the rainbow were $2000 courses I couldn’t afford — and didn’t trust enough to buy even if I could.

 

So, alas, the day came when I finally could do nothing more than push Olyvia.co into being. I hoped (and ohhh it was a desperate hope, I might add) that what I knew from my past online experiences — in point of fact, what I had built my entire brand around — would be enough to get me started.

 

What was my so-called strategy?

 

Only this:

 

1) To be helpful, and 2) to be kind.

 

And yes, I know. By now you’re thinking I’m either a little bit off my rocker (totally possible, though that’s what makes the world interesting, yes?) OR that I’m some sort of digital saint (#iwishbutno).

 

It does not escape me that such a basic concept seems more than a bit redonkulous in our highly evolved age where it’s supposedly true that one minute is better than another to share a tweet, 99.7341 characters is the ideal Facebook status update length, and every Pin should be red or orange if we want to be Master + Commander of the Interwebs.

 

Scoff if you must, but here’s the deal.

 

It works.

 

With about 11,000 followers across my top four platforms (that would be TwitterPinterestFacebook, and email) in just over one year and a wonderfully engaged blog readership that has steadily grown like this…

 

Screenshot 2015-09-10 17.12.06

 

…the approach, well, it’s not so crazy.

 

Now, before I give you practical ways to carry this out for your own brand, there is, of course, more to the story of online success. You need to implement the things that gain people’s trust, have a basic understanding of how to set yourself apart from the masses, experiment with clever activities and follow solid blogging practices that help increase your visibility, know your social platforms and how to best take advantage of them (see the Ultimate Pinterest Guide), be an advocate for your reputation, and so on and so forth.

 

But this is the foundation of allll of that. I’m 500% convinced that if you don’t have this right, attracting an audience and then keeping it is going to be MUCH slower, harder, and overall more painful for you.

 

It’s awfully difficult to get noticed + be irresistible as a brand owner if people don’t sense you’re a friendly person who consistently cares + wants to help. (< Tweet this)

 

(On the other hand, sure: you could make a name for yourself as a bombastic and tactless jerk who only “cares” about the subservient people-pleasers who bend over backward to support them. Sometimes that tantalizes a select group of folks…though rarely does it last for long. [Eventually the bad feelings you create will become a permanent anchor on your brand, as you’ll be “leaking” people like crazy.] If that sounds like a good time, good day and good luck. You’re reading the wrong person, friend!)

 

With that introduction, I’m now going to walk you through the simple but crucial actions you should be doing on behalf of your business in order to earn an audience that adores you + will stick around.

 

(By the way, this post is the first in the #HeroicBrand series I’m holding on the blog, the mission of which is to help you build a healthy, long-term biz online by being a hero to the people you serve. There will be more to come next week!)

 

THE ‘HELPFUL + KIND’ STRATEGY THAT WILL GROW YOUR BRAND

 

PART ONE: The truth about business and community online + 13 tips to begin

 

In order for brands — in particular, small creative business owners, coaches, consultants, freelancers, solopreneurs, and other business-minded bloggers — to get readers, followers, steady clients, and sufficient customers via the internet, they HAVE to exist in community with others.

 

It’s the only way.

 

(I mean, you can’t be helpful and kind without another person around, right?)

 

Yet, for some reason, it’s also the least-mentioned among marketers and business consultants.

 

It makes me die a depressing little death inside when I come across other business owners who, by all appearances, should be steadily attracting a decent audience. They’ll have wonderful, marketing-savvy websites, informative blogs, interesting services or products, and perhaps even some significant guest appearances on big platforms…

 

But they’ll also have little to no engagement and stagnant, small blog + social media followings.

 

Why is this?

 

Invariably, the reason is because they’re not out there contributing to relationships with other people.

 

Sometimes this is due to ignorance and other times it is due to shyness, both of which I have a tremendous amount of sympathy towards. If you’re unfamiliar with the online landscape or you’re a quiet introvert, it’s really hard! You don’t even know what you should be doing, and when you finally do, you’re scared to open your mouth.

 

No matter what camp you fall into, here are some ideas — ranging from easy to you-gotta-be-kidding risky, har har har 😉 — to start getting comfortable in community. Choose at least four. Do five or more if you’re able:

 

1. Respond to (many or most) comments on your blog *

2. Respond to questions on your social media posts *

3. Comment on other’s blog posts

4. Comment on other’s social media posts

5. Join (+ participate in!) a Facebook group in your niche

6. Check out a Twitter chat or two (aim for 1-8 chats/month)

7. Contribute to a website forum in your niche

8. Join a Mastermind (or similar accountability group)

9. Start a Facebook group

10. Start a Twitter chat

11. Start a Mastermind

12. Hop on Periscope

13. Hold a G+ Hangout

* = required; if you rarely or never do these, start today

 

 

PART TWO: Practice kinder, more helpful, + more advanced relationship-building

 

Once you commit to being active in various online spaces, the real kindness + helpfulness can begin.

 

Remember this: the more you seek to serve others around you, the greater it will pay off for your brand.

 

1. GO ABOVE + BEYOND IN YOUR BLOG COMBOX

It’s one thing to say “thanks!” for a blog comment. It’s another to choose to really engage and provide some service to somebody, even if their comment was relatively short.

 

If you want to be memorable, always always always do the latter.

 

Some questions to help you guide your responses are:

 

1. How can I express my gratitude in a more authentic/sincere way?

2. How can I demonstrate interest in this person?

3. How can I make this person feel uniquely special?

4. How can I add information to my response that would be helpful to them?

5. How can I show a willingness to serve them/continue to maintain a relationship?

 

Susannah of Garnishing Co. is such a beautiful example of a dedicated, other-focused blogger:

 

Screenshot 2015-09-21 12.00.33

 

As is my favorite infopreneur alive, Regina of byRegina.com:

 

Screenshot 2015-09-22 13.04.36

 

2.  TAKE THE TIME TO GIVE PEOPLE YOUR TIME

When you’re busy juggling work, marketing, friend/family life, and #canijustgetsomealonetimeplease, it may seem like a huuuuge hassle to stop and respond to people’s comments or casual inquires on social media or email.

 

As a single mom of three young munchkins with five loads of clean laundry perpetually awaiting their return to dresser drawers, I get it. It’s tough. It would be easier just to ignore the masses and only focus on the “really pressing” matters.

 

But if you want to draw more people to you, give them a reason to be passionate about you, and influence them to shout your praises in pixels to the world, you can’t ignore them.

 

You have to give of your time in both the large and the small matters.

 

Ask yourself two things:

 

1. When can you commit 5-20 minutes of your day to check on your social networks + email and respond to people?

2. How can you make your responses more than the bare minimum?

 

Figure it out, write it down if you must, and then do it.

 

(Pssst. Even if you have do it imperfectly and can only respond to two out of the five emails you receive, those two you send are better than zero. Don’t let the best be the enemy of the good.)

 

Melyssa of The Nectar Collective (a busy woman if there ever was one!) illustrates this perfectly on her Facebook page:

 

Screenshot 2015-09-21 07.08.03

 

Maya of MayaElious.com is another incredibly classy woman who is happy to help out anyone who interacts with her:

 

Screenshot 2015-09-21 10.59.24

 

Then there’s Regina again, who always kills it with her epic customer service:

 

Screenshot 2015-09-21 06.35.25

 

And Pat Flynn, who is the the coolest man on the web IMNSHO:

 

Screenshot 2015-09-22 19.50.40

 

I’m really bad (like, seriously — if you’ve emailed me and I haven’t responded, I am SO sorry) at managing my inbox, but this is one of my better examples that I can show you for email:

 

 

 

3.  PRACTICE THE PROMOTION OF OTHERS

Where marketing is concerned, we don’t think twice about sharing our own stuff. And most of us find it pretty easy to thank people who help us promote it, too. (Though if you don’t, you’ll want to be sure to read Point #4…)

 

But you know what’s difficult…and thus 10x more powerful?

 

Spending your time spreading the good news about all of your fellow bloggers + biz owners.

 

It’s one of the most significant, generous things you can do for others online.

 

And believe me: people notice.

 

Personally speaking, the people I’ve ended up following the most + supporting with my own sharing are those who first came on my radar when they shared my content.

 

To make this habit an easy one, I suggest:

 

1. Creating a list (a private one on Twitter, in your browser bookmarks, etc.) of the people whose content you love and want to support

2. Spending 1x/week filling up your Buffer/Hootsuite schedule with their content (remember to tag them!)

 

Megan of MeganMinns.com is someone I highly respect for her willingness to support others:

 

Screenshot 2015-09-21 11.02.04

 

Kristie, the super smart blogger behind Blog Ambitions, is always doing it:

 

Screenshot 2015-09-22 19.13.57

 

Jamie of the (gorgeous!) Spruce Rd. gets it, too:

 

Screenshot 2015-09-22 19.01.41

 

4.  EXPRESS GRATITUDE WHEN OTHERS DO SOMETHING NICE FOR YOU

 

You know that warm, fuzzy, “this person is terrific” feeling you get when someone thanks you for sharing about them in a blog post/linking to their content on Facebook/etc?

 

You know how you remember them + want to keep on promoting them because you know they’re a nice person who appreciates you?

 

This is what builds brand advocates + word of mouth referrals, friends. 

 

It’s as simple as that.

 

To nurture your community growth by being a grateful human being, all you have to do is check your social media mentions when you’re doing Point #2 above and tell people you appreciate them.

 

I mean, guys…surely if Chris Ducker can do it, we can, too! #justsayin

 

Screenshot 2015-09-22 19.48.48

 

 

Let me know below if I spurred any new ideas or behaviors for you, plus feel free to ask me any ?s you have about growing a #HeroicBrand online.  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

earn_an_audience_heroic_brand_CTT

 

 

Erika Madden

(Chief Olyvia)

 

 

The other posts in the #HeroicBrand series are here:

valuable_blog_content_heroic_brand make_your_business_look_professional_online_sidebar The "secret" to consistent customer service online! This trick is used by big politicians + successful companies to wow their customers EVERY time -- and it's ideal for busy solo business owners, too! Implement it and you'll be faster + better at giving people the customer experience they hope for with your biz.

 

 

The free 21 day ecourse that creates pro online impressions for business owners!

 
 
 

  • This post was incredible, Erika! I’m one that struggles with being shy and tend to feel like I’m going to annoy someone if I comment on their blog or social media posts. Thanks to this post I’m going to do my very best to kick those feelings to the curb and get better at communicating with others!

    p.s. your hot pink + lime green color combo is THE best 🙂

    • Oh Krista – HA! I can so relate. I definitely remember when I used to feel like I was imposing somehow. 😉 But it really is the opposite. People LOVE it. I think we’re all so worried about speaking into an empty void, so when someone comes along and lets us know they’re listening, it makes an impact!

      I love your site, by the way. <3 Beautiful and FUN. Thank you so much for commenting!

  • The people you mentioned in this post are some of my absolute favorite people on the internet BECAUSE of how thoughtful their responses are. I remember I emailed you a question in response to your brand detox a while ago, and you sent me such a helpful, detailed email back! Genuine responses make all the difference.

    I mentioned Hal Elrod (author of the Miracle Morning) in a tweet about wanting to read his book, and I was so surprised when he tweeted me back and it wasn’t a generic response or anything. It made me want to read his book MORE because of it!

    • Thank you for reminding me of that! That makes me so happy that you had a positive experience. (Esp. because wow, I miss emails [unintentionally] all the time. I’m so embarrassed.) And yes, I really thought the people I listed are excellent examples of relationship-builders. Which in turn is why they are successful.

      Love that Hal Elrod did that!!! Any time a “big name” person takes the time to respond to me, they become my forever fan. (Or it can be something as simple as following me back. I’ll never forget when I had like 37 Twitter followers and Kat Cole of Cinnabon followed me. That was epic to me.)

  • Erika, this is just brilliant. Your advice is spot on and so HUMAN. It’s such a universal need to feel seen and heard, so when we connect with people online, like we would want to be connected with in real life, it affects us deeply. Love your site. Time to go share your post 🙂

    • You are absolutely right, Jackie. That is a great way to put it. It’s easy to underestimate its power, but we shouldn’t!

      BTW I love this post on your site: http://finallywriting.com/periscope-tips/ I am a huge introvert and your tips were super encouraging for me. 🙂 It’s nice to hear advice from someone who can relate.

      Thank you for commenting!

  • Everything you say in this post is so right. I totally believe liking, commenting, sharing and thanking brings you good Internet karma. And it’s real, real hard to grow your blog or biz without good Internet karma. (Or at least, I think that’s what they’re talking about in yoga class when I am concentrating on not falling over!) Really though, it does make people notice you, not to mention it is so important to support each other.

    Also, thank you so much for the mention in your post, Erika! It means a lot to me.

    • Yesss Susannah, it really is difficult to do it when you remain in your own little bubble! When I first started blogging years ago it took me a long time to reach out to others (or I didn’t do it at all). I let my introverted nature keep me isolated. And I firmly believe that’s why I wasn’t as successful back then. It was only when I started commenting on others’ blogs and such that I saw progress. (And, I should mention, started to enjoy blogging period.) 🙂

      And you are most welcome for the mention. Your attention to others is really exemplary. The internet needs more people like you.

  • Ahh! SO helpful. Saving this to read and read and read again. These are strategies I am going to start employing tonight. Thank you!
    – Kaitlyn | http://www.TheCrownFox.com

    • Kaitlyn I’m so glad! That’s encouraging to me. And I just have to say that you and your sister’s brand is GORGEOUS. As soon as I saw the logo on Twitter I was in love. Now perusing your website I am even more impressed. So much talent!

      Thank you for commenting, I appreciate that. 🙂

      • Ahhh thank you! I really appreciate you checking it out – we are very excited about everything going on over there 🙂

  • Erika, I think this post has risen you up there as one of my favorite people online. I absolutely LOVE what you’ve shared here and wish there were more posts like this in existence. This is the true MEAT of running a successful blog and business and just being a downright welcoming human being (in my opinion!). I found myself nodding along the entire time and could not agree more with the points you made here. Well done. And thank you for sharing this. I can’t wait to share it around, too!

    • I am seriously blushing over here. Thank you Melyssa for your kindness. You are so extraordinary in your down to earth, friendly nature online and it has made me admire you from day 1. That’s exactly why I believe so many others are drawn to you and your excellent brand as well! Thank you so much for sharing it around, I truly appreciate that. 🙂

  • Flavia Bernardes

    I love this post! So many great tips… I’m also on April’s blog tour and I’m looking forward to watching the bootcamp 🙂

    • Thank you, Flavia! I’m glad to meet another person who loves April as much as I do. She does so much to help bloggers!

  • Holly

    This is yet another amazingly helpful post, Erika. I am such a fan of your blog! For me, community is something I live my life by – it’s so important. But lately, I’ve been struggling to build my community on social media because it seems like conversations are lacking on there lately. I know a few other bloggers feeling the same which is why I’m trying to push interaction and now with this post, I can work on these points and build it even more!

    I also love everyone you’ve mentioned, they are awesome people 🙂

    • Ah, yes, sometimes it does seem like things can stagnate a bit, Holly. People get busy and, well, if real effort (or a “push” as you phrased it so well) doesn’t happen on one side, everyone gravitates back to their own little bubble. I think your approach is a good one and yes, unfortunately at least for this introvert, it does require repeated outreach to keep the relationships going! 🙂

  • Hi Erika! It’s incredible how every post I read from you resonates with me! I’m just like you, reading, learning, and taking notes hours per day. And I never feel it’s enough. I’ve become a total course junkie! Actually, I always knew I enjoyed the process of learning something. But, by now, it has taken me way more time I could have used to create content. I don’t know if it’s the writer’s block or whatever but, it has become harder and harder to just post articles. Sometimes, I regret to have launched so fast. The more I read, the more mistakes I need to correct, the more things I should have done etc. However, it seems endless. There’s always something more to learn. So, while I spend my whole time reading and fixing, I don’t write. I realize now that if my readership doesn’t grow it’s probably because of this. I’ve become one of these persons who seeks any solution to lose weight but don’t exercise nor change their eating habits. It’s like a whirlwind and sometimes, it’s very depressing. I start wondering if I’m the problem, if people actually don’t like me although I try my best at being nice, answering comments fast and check visitor’s blogs. Thank you for this smart article, I’ll try to implement all the things I’m not doing right like being more active on social media. I’m sorry I’ve been writing as if you were my therapist haha. But, you’ve actually helped me making this issue clear! Thanks!

    • Ha!! Oh I love that therapist reference!! 😉 No no, it’s no problem at all. I know exactly what you’re speaking to here as it’s something I go through from time to time as well. I am one of those people who, I imagine like you, would be happy curling up in a corner surrounded by piles of incredible books and just receiving knowledge for days, weeks, and months on end before we take one small step. It’s very easy for more introverted people to gravitate toward that I think.

      And with you, you’re still learning a lot of new things about blogging and so it makes sense that when you discover more, you get overwhelmed with any “mistakes” you might have made leading up that. It can be very frustrating, I know. I encourage you to do the best you can in just moving forward and letting the past be the past. When I first launched Olyvia I spent 3-5 months constantly revising my About Me copy, my sidebar introduction, and all this silly stuff that really didn’t matter…and I wasted a lot of time with that, even though I knew better. Looking back I can see that I should have just gone forward.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts!

  • Just discovered your blog, Erika and you’re doing amazing work down here! I gonna make myself a cuppa and read through all your tips as this post was soooo informative and well written! I just started sharing some tips + tricks on my blog too and got a fabulous response!

    http://www.kotrynabass.com

    • Kotryna (what a beautiful name!) thank you for commenting and letting me know this was helpful to you! I just visited your blog and it is so well done. I really like the tips posts you’ve been doing, too! Being helpful like that is a crucial part of drawing a blog audience, and something I plan on discussing further in this series.

      Thank you again for stopping by! Let me know if I can be of any help, with anything.

  • Thanks for mentioning me Olyvia! 🙂 Such a great blog post! I’m actually about to add it to my Buffer now! 😉 We have so many talented online business owners and I love sharing these resources with my audience. Thanks for all that you do!! xo

  • I love this post, Erika — so many great reminders as always. Thank you!

    One other thing that I really love to do is to send a short, encouraging email in response to a great article or post that I really appreciated. One on one emails may seem like a bit of a roundabout way to grow an audience, but it’s a wonderful way to demonstrate authenticity and build meaningful connections. I know how much I appreciate getting little “happy notes”, and I’ve found that taking the time to reach out directly and encourage someone who has impacted me has been a wonderful way to create a connection, give some feedback, offer to help if I can, and try to just make someone else’s day. It’s super personal and has opened the door to some great relationships!

    • I am SUPER glad you brought this example up, Kristen! It was something I had planned on writing about in this post but didn’t in the end due to time constraints, so I love that you took the time to mention it for others. Thank you! Yes, I completely agree that writing a short, personal email where you don’t ask for things but just encourage is an outstanding way to build relationships with people online. And it takes just a small amount of time, so it’s really do-able for everyone.

  • Yes yes yes! I love the helpful and kind strategy! 🙂

  • Abby

    Just discovered your blog through byregina and WOW!
    I will be back for sure. Added you to my BlogLovin’

  • Fabulous post Erika. This is exactly how I built up my blog, by doing all of these things. People have gotten too impersonal online and I find it so important to connect with your audience. One of my biggest pet peeves is bloggers who don’t reply to comments! I loooooove comments and love to reply to them. I just don’t get it.

    I also read once that you’re not supposed to thank everyone who shares your stuff on Twitter but I can’t help it. It just feels wrong not to say anything.

    • We’re not supposed to thank everyone who shares on Twitter? Whatttt?! Well, I am glad to break that silly rule. 😉 I do try to respond to the majority of people and say thanks. I’m definitely NOT perfect, but I think the effort does not go unrewarded!

  • I absolutely love how you give step-by-step tips of how to actually apply what you teach in this post. I like getting the big picture concept, but it seems so much more “real” as to how to make it work when the tips are there. Love seeing the screen shots of it in action too.

    • I’m glad the screenshots are helpful, Summer. That’s what helps me understand concepts, too! Thank you so much for your comment, I appreciate it.

  • Ahh Erika!! This post is so good and it def was a personal kick in the butt! Im so horrible at responding to emails within a certain time but this makes me want to focus a little more on being helpful! I 100% agree with you, being helpful and nice will take your brand a loooonnngggg way!

    • Ughhh, I’m not glad you struggle with responding to emails within a certain time, but also glad to know I’m not the ONLY one. 😉

  • Julie Harris

    Have I ever told you you’re my hero? 😉 As always, epic post. I loved seeing so many of my favorite bloggers and business ladies in here. What a great series!

  • You are the queen of providing really quality examples of everything your blog about! This post (and all the others I have read so far) have been incredibly helpful and thought out! I was actually just thinking I wish I had an easier way to save others’ content to share it later, but I’m going to create a private twitter list now – fabulous idea! So happy to have found your blog 🙂

    • Oh you are so kind, Elle. Thank you. And yes, do try to the Twitter list idea! It really helps me, personally. 🙂

  • This was an amazing post! I am all about creating a stellar consumer experience.

  • Love, love, love how helpful this post was, Erika! The examples you showed really gave me a great idea of the interactions you mention throughout the post. I’ve been pretty good about blog comments, but I definitely need to up my social media game. Hopefully Tweeting out others’ links will allow me to have some more interaction, because I LOVE talking with others.

    Awesome post! <3

    • Are you an extrovert, Aneeqah? 🙂 If so then you’ll be soooo awesome at all of these tips! (I’m an introvert, so they come a little less naturally. haha) Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment!

  • Even though there’s more to commenting (as you’ve explained), I love that it comes down to being helpful and kind.

    My struggle is whether to be helpful about absolutely anything, or to only go specific places so that I can be helpful and be known for some (one) thing. I have many interests and try very hard to find something kind (but somewhat valuable) to point out wherever I’m reading. But it does take time to be thoughtful and add something /more/ to the conversation.

    I have been practicing though. Someone found me on twitter, and I happened to recognize him as a previous online instructor, so I made a point to say hello and thank you even though he may not have known I was in his class. I’m glad that was one of your tips.

    • Hmm, I see your dilemma, Megan. My thoughts are that if you want to optimize your time spent online (as I know you don’t have 23 hours to spend with this!), focus primarily on being helpful/valuable as it regards your specific expertise. It definitely does take time to do this and add real contribution to a conversation, but it is time well spent if it’s related to your brand, your knowledge, and your ideal customer. If it’s not, then it can be a time-waster — which is no good, and can actually harm your business.

      Thank you for your comment. 🙂

  • This post was great and so encouraging! I’ve really tried to build my brand around being helpful and kind. I love when people email or comment and being able to respond back to them is awesome! Everyone wants to feel like their voice matters and it’s so important that we help people know that they are important, even in the overwhelming world of the internet.

    • I couldn’t agree more with this, Samantha: “everyone wants to feel like their voice matters.” That’s really it, and the more we can communicate our interest in others, the better brands we will have. Thank you for contributing to the convo with such a great comment!

  • Jamie Molnar

    Hi Erika! I love the bits about gratitude and sharing the love (i.e. promoting other services and friends). It really is true that what you put out in the universe you get back. If you are sharing love for others, it will come back for sure. I alos write a gratitude list every morning so that I can start the day off on a positive note. 🙂

    • I love that gratitude list idea, Jamie! I really should do this. I think it would be highly beneficial!

  • #LikeWoah there is so much great information here! I love that you have really broken it down into lists and steps that are manageable. Thanks for also sharing other awesome people that work with the helpful and kind strategies in mind. It’s always fun to find new creatives to engage with, and I think that by sharing the love, we all win! -Renay

  • Great advice! I definitely believe that being kind can help you go far in business. I enjoy responding to comments too. In fact, leaving comments on other people’s blogs is a big part of my marketing plan.

    • And it’s a killer plan, too! I bet it has helped you quite a bit so far. I know that I made it a huge part of my plan in the beginning as well and it was quite effective.

  • I love this! So in-depth and totally in line with my values as a blogger/entrepreneur – I ALWAYS respond to comments however short they are, and I set aside time to respond to reader’s emails. I think it’s so important to cultivate a kind and caring relationship with readers so, at the very least, they keep coming back!

    • Yes, yes, yes — and thank you for taking the time to share that, Lizzie. I know it’s difficult and we can’t always do it perfectly (esp. when we’re on our own and growth gets big), but oh is the effort worth it!

  • Marie Wintzer

    Really happy I found your blog, Chief Olyvia 🙂 A very good read, thank you! Kind of reassuring too, to know that there is hope for shy and non tech-savy people! Not without hard work, of course. The word ‘marketing’ IS scary! (armpits will know!) 🙂

    • There IS hope, Marie! Please believe that. I am very shy and the tips I shared did take time to develop, but with practice they become easier and more natural. (I still remember being terrified of tweeting to anyone on Twitter – hahaha. Can you relate? ;))

      • Thank you, Erika! Oh yes I can totally relate. I’m sometimes afraid people will unfollow me when I tweet anything! :-)) ridiculous…

  • One of the most depressing things is seeing a bunch of comments on a post left unanswered. Honestly, in most cases even a simple “thank you for commenting” would suffice – acknowledge the wonderful people who are taking the time to read your posts and support you. Argh. 🙁

    But then I see posts like this one and feel all happy again! 😀

    • I understand, it is depressing, Petra. I admit I can understand it for old posts (as I grow I’ve realized just how difficult it is to keep up on them along with everything else), but for brand new posts I see so much value in staying in the conversation as much as possible. It really is necessary to acknowledge people, like you said. Thank YOU for your comment; I’m grateful for it!

  • Angela

    Regina talks about you ALL.THE.TIME. She has never steered me wrong (nevah), and I am so glad I finally got on board. I’m trying to get my life together and work on my own, plus a possible other project so reading your lovely words helped me so much. Especially, being kind. I think that goes a long way. People may not remember who you are, but definitely how you treated them.

    • Aw Angela, thank you! Regina is The Most Incredible Online Person Ever. (And offline, too, I’m sure. ;)) She is so kind to me. I’m also just thrilled that this post encouraged you. Let me know how I can help (ie: if you’re looking for specific info that I can point you to). Thank you for your comment!

  • Hi Erika
    I have just recently started my blog and I am loving all of your posts. My favourite so far has to be this one as it was exactly what I was looking for. I also really liked your “Pintrest the ultimate guide to getting followers and repins.”

    I feel like I probaly am to self concious when it comes to commenting on others blogs. But my goal is to try and comment on at least 1 blog post I like per week starting now. So thank you so much for this post, I really needed it.

    Thanks
    Pol

    • Hi Pol! Thank you for spending time out of your day to come here and read my posts. I’m glad they have been helpful. 🙂 I understand the feeling of being self-conscious about leaving comments on blogs. I used to struggle with that in my early blogging days, too. I think your goal is a good one, though, because practice really does help you get over the funny feelings. And so much good comes from that interaction, too.

      Thanks again for your comment. 🙂

  • This was a great and well thought out post thank you so much for writing it!

    • Thank YOU, Linda! I’m so happy you liked it.

  • Alice Frost

    So much good information and advice. I am currently taking April’s class Double Your Followers with Creative Marketing and reading this article supports and adds so much to the discussion. I found this on Pinterest and am surprised to see the connection.

  • Wow! This post is everything I needed to hear! I am in the process launching my own brand and really just need to do it! It is just so darn scary sometimes. And I think I have subscribed to a million and one newsletters! Thank you for writing this!

    • Oh IT IS scary, Carolyn! I can completely relate to that. (I will freely admit that I was terrified of getting out there when I launched Olyvia.) And yes on the newsletters – hahaha, I did the same, too. 😉 You’ll find your groove, though. It takes a bit, but step by step you’ll get there. I’ve found the key is to A) be patient, B) not think too hard about what everyone else is doing, and C) just keep going, even when it gets tough/overwhelming.

  • SHANA JARA

    You are definetely ‘walking-your-talk’ Erika! Loads of value in ‘everything’ you offer! THANK YOU! And now you will join my ‘private list’ on Twitter (once I learn how to do it) lol 😀 <3 Fan for Life.

  • Jazmine Aluma

    Thank you for this. I’ve been really stressing out about copy because no matter what approach I take I always feel phony. “Be kind & be helpful,” are the words I needed to hear. Authenticity rocks!

  • Erika, you are a queen!

  • healthyhelper

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS!!! Everything you’ve said here is SO TRUE. Kindness builds connection and that’s what brings people back to your site!!

  • Daphna Romanoff

    Hi Erika! I love this post because it is the first time I feel like I am actually part of the amazing creative/ladypreneur community, because I recognize the names and my heart feels an affinity with your words. I am a WAHM with 2 kids under 2 and I get a knot in my stomach when I think about how I will be able to give of myself to my readers while taking care of them. But your post made me realize while it will be a challenge, it’s the whole reason I am blogging to begin with – to truly help and connect with others in a meaningful way. I commend you for being honest and brave about your approach to growing your brand through kindness and service. It is a fresh take I will be giving tons of thought to as I brand my new blog (baby #3 lol) xo!

  • Angie Franklin

    What a great post! You are insightful, real and honest. I love that you put kindness and thoughtfulness as the forefront of everything. Great resources and although it’s a lot to digest, it’s extremely helpful. You could totally make this a mini e-book, which may be true for a lot of your posts (that I plan to delve into soon). You rock girl, thanks for staying true and giving great advice!

  • Elizabeth (Plant Based Bride)

    I’m so excited to go through this series, Erika. You don’t even understand. I have 11 tabs of your posts cued up to read, take notes on, and implement! You rock. Thank you so much for everything you do 🙂

  • This is the most encouraging post I’ve read on this for some time. Thanks!

  • Chelsea Zimmerman Slusher

    Hey Erika! This was such a helpful post! I discovered your blog when I came across one of your pins on Pinterest! LOVE your ideas and approach to what makes blogs or small biz owners successful! You had me at Be Helpful and Be Kind. What you’ve said makes so much sense and I strive to be those things anyway. I just started my own blog moneysavingsavvy.com so I’m definitely looking for ways to grow and to differentiate my blog from others. Thanks again for the post! I plan to subscribe so I can keep up with any other great tips that you have! ? Thanks, Chelsea

  • Jessica

    This is so helpful and makes things seem so honest and personal, not skeezy and gross. Thank you!

  • Tori Bateman

    Hey Erika! I found this post on Twitter (via someone else’s referral, wouldn’t ya know) and I love the way you approach marketing in a kind and service-centered way. I’m starting my blog biz and I’m in the process of building my site (so I’m just a baby blogger) but I love reading your posts. They are so very helpful and genuine! I can’t wait to be part of the creative entrepreneur community!

  • Laura Schrader

    Thank you so much for writing this! I found it so encouraging and helpful in sparking some new ideas.

  • Beth

    Hi, I stumbled across your blog via pinterest. I am getting ready to launch my own business and found this post most helpful. I like to think that I am a kind and helpful person, but absolutey HATE marketing. These strategies seem easy enough to do, and I plan to put them into action.

    Looking forward to connecting with you! Thank you for the post.

  • This is such a fresh perspective on “marketing.” It truly is all about those relationships and nurturing them in real life and in the blog-o-sphere. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in a fun, relatable way.

  • Vivian

    The point of view with which this post was written makes alll the difference in really taking it in and digesting it. It’s great 🙂

    Question: Are there any known G+ hangouts to become part of?? I’d love to be a part of one.

    Thanks for an awesome post Erika!

  • Lauren Hutton

    Erika – Thank you, thank you!!! I have been doing some of the items you mentioned (not the extent I needed to though) and was coming to a wall of ‘should I be doing this?’, ‘is this recommended? shouldn’t I put myself out there more?’ – and you answered all of those questions in one swoop!! I really appreciate you being honest and sharing this, it makes total sense! Really looking forward to reading more about #heroicbrand too!

  • Else Kosberg

    I love this! I need to read all your posts now, and then try to put your advice into practise. Thank you for sharing! <3