In the last post, we talked about how great content is not the panacea of building an audience. You have great content on your blog already, but you may not have an audience still. So where is your audience?

Your audience is reading blogs that create tension. It’s not enough to “Write Epically.” Yes, you must put good information, good experiences, and good knowledge in many of the blog posts you write. But that’s just a small part of the puzzle. Because you don’t need those things in every blog post.

I sometimes write emails that have nothing of substance besides an announcement, and receive emails from readers thanking me for sending them a promotion that they care about. I sometimes write emails to share my story and my journey with readers, and still get new subscribers and more engagement. These emails are not epic at all—but they are still effective in building an audience.

The make-or-break ingredient of your blog’s success is going to be Tension, not Writing Epically. So let’s talk about creating tension next.

Open a plot, close a plot

As a novelist, I’m constantly thinking about plots. I spend an exorbitant amount of time reading so I can deconstruct different ways that writers do plots. Over the years, I’ve learned a crazy amount about plots and how important they are to bloggers (and how little bloggers know about this extremely important subject). In an effort to keep this email a reasonable length, however, let’s talk about just one of the things I’ve learned for now: what plots need to survive and thrive.

Plots need characters and conflict. Plots revolve around conflict between characters. Conflict creates tension, and tension is what moves the story along.

In the story you are telling on your blog, the characters that are in conflict are you and the reader. I know it doesn’t feel good, to think you are in conflict with your reader. But you are. Think about it—you would love for your reader to be so engaged in your work that he or she takes action on something—subscribes to your blog, reads another related blog post, tweets about what you’ve written, joins your email list, and so on. But your reader is fairly resistant—he or she prefers to sit quietly on the couch at home and be entertained or get a problem solved, without having to take any extra steps on your website. Totally misaligned goals.

Some might even say opposite goals: you want your reader to take as much action as possible on your website, and your reader wants to take as little action possible to fulfill his needs. Conflict, baby. The sooner you accept that you are in conflict with your reader, the better off you’ll be.

Embracing conflict and tension

Here is how to make yourself happy with this little push-pull situation you have going on with your readership: Embrace Conflict. Conflict is good, remember? It creates tension, and tension moves the story along.

Think of your favorite book. What if you didn’t have to work to find out the ending of that book? What if the book started with the last 25%? What if the ending was the beginning, middle, and end? The book would pretty much suck, right?

If you prefer movies, what if I told you how The Hunger Games ended? What if I told you that blasghalwknalsfh ;awe (haha, you thought I was going to spoil it, didn’t you). That movie would suck too.

Research shows that the harder you work for something, the more you will appreciate it once you finally get it. Just ask any guy who courts a girl for months and months before she finally goes on a date with him. He’s far more likely to put a ring on that finger! Because he had to work so hard for it. He’s invested.

So, the fact that you are in conflict with your reader is a wonderful thing. Think of your work as a story that your readers can curl up with at the end of a long workday. It’s your job to make the story interesting for them before surprising them at the end. You do this by opening and closing plots for them, giving them satisfying answers to some of their questions while simultaneously creating new questions in their minds. You move them along through your story, so they go from a random person on the internet to a blog reader to a blog subscriber and beyond.

You’re in the middle of a plot I’m writing right now, about building an audience. Will you keep reading? This is what plot is about. What if I tell you that tomorrow, I’m going to give you the exact steps you need (8 total) to create a plot on your blog?

If you are ready to build your audience, I encourage you to grab my free 7-Day Get Your Book Selling Quickstart. There are several tips to help you build your audience, and several more that will help you get your book selling now, if you have one. Plus, did I mention it’s free?

Here’s the two-step process:

You can also start at the beginning of this Audience-Building series here »

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