That’s exactly what you want, right?
An insanely loyal audience for your blog. I know I do.
And if you’re anything like me, you dream about thousands of eager followers craving to read your latest post as they click through the moment you hit the publish button.
You want hundreds of appreciative and thoughtful comments. You want them to Tweet, “You have to read this!” and share your post with everyone they know on Facebook.
But it’s not happening, is it?
Instead, you spent hours crafting your post. You hit publish with a proud flourish.
And then… nothing.
Not one lousy click-through.
No likes or shares.
Just a trickle of fickle subscribers.
You’re ready to give up.
But hang on. Maybe you should try the Walt Disney approach?
Yup, you read that right. Walt Disney.
Sure, he wasn’t a blogger, but he built one of the most devoted audiences in history, long before the Internet came along. Imagine the audience you could attract today – with all the advantages of the web and social media – if you applied some of the skills and characteristics of Walt Disney.
Let’s examine how it all started for him back in 1920.
#1. Be Passionate About Sharing Your Passion
Walt Disney had a simple goal: to earn a living doing what he loved – drawing. So he got a job as a commercial artist for an advertising company in Kansas.
In the evenings, he would go to the movies where newsreels and cartoons were as popular as the feature films.
Like blogging today, the animation industry was young. There were no rule books. No conventions to follow. The door was wide open, and Walt Disney was hooked.
He found his passion.
He was itching to produce his own cartoons. He knew he could improve on what he saw. His brain was exploding with ideas.
He had always wanted to make a name for himself. He realized that sharing his ideas through this exciting new medium was the way for him to achieve that ambition.
The potential of engaging with a cinema audience through his cartoons sent shivers up his spine.
And that’s what you need to feel.
As a blogger, you must have the drive to share your ideas with a massive audience who craves the knowledge and information only you can provide.
If those two stars don’t align, your blog’s already in trouble, and you’ll never find – let alone build – your audience. Seriously.
So the first thing you must do it find your passion, and be passionate about sharing it.
References & Resources to Help You Find Your Passion
Barrie Davenport explores the three-part formula to finding your blogging niche: you must have a passion for it, there has to be an audience for it, and it should have earning potential.
Five interesting ways to find your passion, by Lisa Girard. I particularly like the one about revisiting your childhood.
Leah Manderson argues that your passion needs to be remembered – that it’s been in you all along.
#2. Work Your Tail Off – You Have a Lot to Learn
Walt Disney experienced his ah-ha moment sitting in a darkened movie theater. I bet he leaped to his feet and rushed into the night, bursting with ideas and excitement.
He probably raced home, pulled out his artist’s pad, and scribbled down rough sketches of his first cartoon.
But he was smart enough to know he had a lot to learn.
We’re lucky. We have the Internet. Walt Disney had to rely on his local library.
He borrowed a book on the human form in motion and studied every page. He devoured books on animation and filmmaking. And books about storytelling and creating characters.
Similarly, as a blogger, you must learn how to do the following:
- Choose the right audience to share your passion with
- Get inside their heads and master the skill of empathy
- Write jaw-dropping headlines to stop them in their tracks
- Write consistently great blog posts that provide answers to their burning questions
Be prepared to study hard.
Learning how to build an audience doesn’t happen overnight. Like Walt Disney, you must work your tail off. Day after day, week after week.
There’s a lot to learn.
References & Resources to Help You Learn
This is a thought-provoking piece about the importance of connecting authentically with your audience. A wonderful starting point. If you do nothing else today, subscribe to Bernadette Jiwa’s superb updates.
Leanna Regalla has packed this piece with actionable tips on how to master the art of empathy.
Jon Morrow is the king of headlines, and his cheat sheet (42 pages to be exact) should be on every blogger’s bedside table.
Be A Better Blogger’s very own Kevin J. Duncan recently updated this epic post, which is also available as a handy 38-page PDF. It’s the ultimate guide to writing a blog post and should sit right next to Jon’s Headline Hacks on your bedside table.
#3. Get Yourself Noticed
Disney soaked up all the knowledge he could about his craft while he was still working at an ad company. Then he borrowed a film camera from his boss and made his first cartoons at night.
After several attempts, he managed to sell them to a small cinema chain in Kansas. The price didn’t cover his costs, but he gained something much more important.
He got himself noticed.
He gained exposure to a wide audience. He won applause and attention. His audience wanted more, and Walt Disney experienced his first taste of success.
Today, we call this guest blogging.
Disney was able to give up his day job and launch his first commercial cartoon venture because he already had an audience.
You may already have a blog but not a sizeable audience. Or you may be about to launch a new blog.
Either way, you should consider guest blogging.
Because it puts you in front of a large audience who already shares your interests and passion. It gives you the credibility and endorsement of the blog owner and exposure to a wide network of influencers. It gives you traffic, clicks, and shares.
All of which are much harder to achieve when nobody notices you.
References & Resources to Help You Become an Expert Guest Blogger and Get Noticed
This is an invaluable product from Jon Morrow and his team at Smart Blogger. It’s not free, but it’s worth every penny.
That’s it. No other resources required.
#4. Be Prepared to Fail
“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” – Walt Disney
When Disney started his first cartoon company, Laugh-O-Grams, he had stars in his eyes and was ready to conquer the world.
But he was inexperienced and naïve, and he got stiffed by a movie distributor. It was his first failure.
Battered, but not discouraged, Disney packed his bags, scraped together the train fare, and headed to LA.
Over the next few years, he found success again with his Alice in Cartoonland series, and he followed this up with a new character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
However, Oswald turned out to be not so lucky. Once again, Disney was double crossed by a distributor, and in 1928, he lost his team of animators and his rights to the rabbit.
He felt betrayed, alone, and broke. For the second time.
But giving up wasn’t in Walt Disney’s DNA.
Legend has it that on the train back to LA from New York – after the final failed negotiations over Oswald – he sketched some ideas for a new cartoon character.
Mickey Mouse was born.
Some of the world’s top bloggers experienced failure before they made it.
But they learned from these failures and used them to become a success. So should you.
Follow Walt Disney’s example. Make failure your inspiration to create something even better. Find your own Mickey Mouse. Your audience will love you for it.
References & Resources to Help You Learn from Failure and Overcome Your Challenges
Read this motivational advice compiled by Brian Honigman every time you feel like a failure. Then pick yourself up by your bootstraps, and keep going.
Pin them, print them, or just take inspiration from these great quotes from the world’s greatest failures compiled by Ruben Garcia.
As Bryan Collins’ opening line says, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself!” Use this informative post to find out how top writers overcame their challenges.
#5. Add Massive Value
Walt Disney was always searching for ways to add massive entertainment value to his cartoons. To make them stand head and shoulders above the rest.
He wanted to make his audience draw their breath in collective surprise and beg for more.
Imagine his excitement when he discovered synchronized sound.
When Disney created Mickey Mouse, voice-overs and sound effects were new concepts in the movie industry. They were unheard of with cartoons. Literally.
Walt Disney believed he could synchronize sound with the cartoon action. He wanted to make sound itself play a character role in the Mickey Mouse movie, Steamboat Willy.
It was a highly complex and expensive technical process, and nobody had attempted it before. But Disney knew it would add massive value.
Steamboat Willy ran for two weeks in November 1928 to mesmerized audiences.
“It knocked me out of my seat,” one critic wrote.
Some audiences even begged the projectionist to delay the start of the feature movie and re-run Steamboat Willy.
It was Disney’s first viral moment, and it catapulted him to the top of the industry overnight.
Entertain, inform, educate, or inspire. It doesn’t matter as long as you are adding MASSIVE value to your readers’ lives.
References & Resources to Help You Add Massive Value
Pooja Lohana provides a comprehensive list of how to plan your posts and the type of posts you must write to create massive-value content.
While this post by Henneke Duistermaat isn’t strictly about adding value, that’s exactly what it’s about, if you get my twisted meaning. Simply reverse these 11 common mistakes into 11 habits every blogger should get into, and you will automatically add value to your audience.
#6. Be Different
Cartoons in America in the 1920s were rough and ready. Crude and violent. They made people laugh at the expense of others’ pain and misfortune. The industry gold standard was Felix the Cat.
Walt Disney spent hours studying these popular cartoons. He looked for ways to enchant his audience through his own voice. To stand out from the crowd and be different.
And, boy, was he different.
He put a real girl in Alice in Cartoonland and achieved mind-boggling success with Mickey Mouse, initially through the magic of sound.
Mickey went on to win the hearts of audiences around the world. No other cartoon character had been so likable, so human. And that was his point of difference.
Finding your own point of difference as a blogger takes practice, but you can do it.
Just remember: it has to be authentic. It has to be your voice.
It has to take your readers on an unexpected journey that leaves them captivated, educated, or entertained.
And moved enough to share the experience with an ever-increasing audience.
References & Resources to Help You Be Different
Henneke Duistermaat shows us why a writer’s voice is important and how to strengthen it.
If anyone knows about finding their writing voice, it’s James Chartrand. And if you don’t believe me, read this.
Jeff Goins provides some useful exercises to help you find your writing voice.
#7. Aim For The Heart
Almost 10 years after creating Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney risked everything he had on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
If it failed, he would be wiped out. Again.
Every star in Hollywood turned out for the premier in December 1937.
But Walt Disney was in agony.
He was unsure how his audience would respond. He guessed they would laugh at the antics of the seven dwarfs. He hoped they might boo at the cruelty of the evil queen.
But could he make them cry at Snow White’s apparent death? Could he take his audience on such an authentic, emotional journey with a cartoon?
It had never been done before.
The lights dimmed. The curtains opened, and the music boomed across the auditorium.
The audience was spellbound from the start. They oohed and aahed. They gasped and laughed.
But still Disney was in agony.
He gripped the arm of his seat, white-knuckled, for a full 75 minutes. Until that moment when Snow White took a bite of the poisoned apple and died.
You could hear a pin drop.
Then the audience started weeping. Shirley Temple, Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, George Burns. All in tears.
It was a triumph.
One reviewer wrote, “I could not help but feel that I was in the midst of motion picture history.”
He was right.
The movie went on to break every box office record across the world, with millions of people flocking to experience the magic for themselves.
It was Disney’s greatest moment.
So pack your post with emotion and surprises. Take your readers on a positive journey that broadens their minds, touches their hearts and makes them say:
I have to share this.
That’s how you build an insanely loyal audience.
References & Resources to Help You Tap Into Their Emotions
This is the “article that shook the Internet,” by Jon Morrow. It’s one of the finest examples of a post that connects on a deep emotional level.
Andrew McDermott takes us on an analytical journey about why people become engaged with certain information and how to capitalize on those emotional triggers.
Henneke is one of my favorite bloggers. She engages and delights while she’s telling us how to engage and delight. And that’s an art.
Bring It All Together and Create Your Own Magic
After Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney went on to repeat his phenomenal box office success with movies like Pinocchio and Bambi. Over the next 30 years, he built an empire of such epic proportions that even he would have found it hard to imagine.
And he did it all off the back of seven inherent characteristics and skills.
Inherent in him, perhaps. But here they are, laid out for you like the secret recipe to a wizard’s spell.
You start with a pinch of passion (and a strong desire to share it).
You add some serious study, getting noticed, the odd failure, and massive value.
Then you stir it into an offering that’s so different it’s going to surprise and delight your audience.
And the final ingredient? Emotional connection with hundreds of thousands – no, millions – of people who want to share it.
Now, close your eyes and whisper the magic words:
My audience is waiting. Step by step I can do this. And today I will take the first step.
Yes! (fist pump)
Now go do it!