When I was five years old, my family went to Disney World. I don’t actually remember much, but I do remember absolutely loving Pirates of the Caribbean. Since then, I’ve been back to Disney a few times, and while the basis of the ride is still the same, I think it has an important lesson to teach bloggers: if you want to survive, you have to grow with your audience. Otherwise, you’re dead in the water.
Get it? It’s a pirate-themed post. Dead in the…yeah, let’s move on.
The blogging world is changing faster than Lady Gaga’s hairstyle. I’ve seen a lot of bloggers embrace this, moving to start up social networking accounts, implement new blog plugins, and adjust how they monetize. I’ve also seen bloggers refuse to change how they do anything, then wonder why their readers are leaving them behind.
Back in 1990, Pirates of the Caribbean was a boat ride filled with creepy animatronics. Today…it is a boat ride filled with creepy animatronics. But some of the animatronics are modeled to look like Johnny Depp. And many scenes reference the popular movies. Kids are excited to go on this ride, even though it is pretty obvious that the pirates aren’t real. Of course, the ride dumps you into a pirate-themed gift shop at the end, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that families are going nuts buying stuff from this one Disney store. I’m willing to bet that it’s one of the most profitable gift shops in the whole park.
And it’s all because Disney wasn’t afraid to grow with their audience.
What about you? As new and innovative social networking and blogging tools are hitting the market, implementing them in your own life is one of the best ways to keep your audience excited. Do you have a Twitter account? Because in the vast majority of niches, at least half of your readers will be on Twitter. Does your blog show up nicely on mobile phones? Unless you’re catering to a very tech-unfriendly market, many of your readers will be browsing from mobile devices. Have you created a fan page for your blog? Your readers are probably there, too.
It is about more than just growing with the blogging world. You also have to grow with your specific market. Let’s say that you blog about home improvement. Just a few years ago, the concept of “going green” was innovative, but today, it seems like everyone has a compost pile and Energy Star appliances. If you aren’t blogging about eco-friendly options in home improvement, your blog isn’t keeping up with your audience. Another great example? Book bloggers. People will always read books and want reviews, but are you offering downloadable books with your affiliate ads or just traditional print books? You’ll make a lot more sales if you have links promoting both options.
Change is scary, but it is good, too. If you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward. A rolling stone gathers no moss. If you stop, you die. Insert your favorite proverb about stagnation here. You don’t have to jump on new technology bandwagons right away, but when a trend has proven that it has staying power, it is time for you to evolve. Otherwise, you’ll just become extinct.
Allison Boyer is a writer for BlogWorld Expo’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. She will consider herself a success when there’s an animatronic character of her at Disney World.