This post is more for people who haven’t built an audience than those who have, though either may find it useful.
Building an audience is hard. Finding your people, getting their attention, giving them useful, relevant information, and keeping them engaged is no small feat. It takes thought, time and a lot of work on a consistent basis.
If you make that happen, you must protect your audience at all costs (literally).
Once you have an audience, people will want access to it. They will want you to share their information, and promote their products.
Unless it is to the benefit of your audience, don’t do it. Don’t do it for pay. Don’t do it as a favor to a friend. Don’t do it because you’re having a hard time coming up with fresh content.
If you betray your audience, they will leave. When you’re online, better information is a click away.
Your audience is with you for a reason. They like what you have to say and how you say it. They’re interested in your topic. If you dilute that with other information, you lose the thing that brought them there to begin with.
An example may help.
A former client wanted to increase web sales but did not want to provide a budget to do so, nor allow for much time. Right off the bat, it sounds unrealistic, right? But this is a common problem.
The client believed that if we just contacted bloggers in their industry, they would promote our products for us.
It doesn’t work that way.
While working for this client, I probably reached out to over 100 websites and blogs (among many other things). These were relevant to the product. I offered to send free products and if the blogger liked them, s/he could review them. If not, that’s ok too.
Most didn’t respond at all. Why? Because when you have a big audience, you get tons of requests just like this. Everyone wants to talk to your people. The smart bloggers are extremely picky. A free sample isn’t enough for most of them.
There are ways to do it (like creating an affiliate program), but that takes time to develop, both from a technical standpoint and a relational one.
If you are trying to get your message in front of a particular group, know that you will have to work at it. Don’t expect someone who has built an audience to just hand over access.
The people smart enough to build a large following will know not to do that. Now you do, too.