Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, highly valued what people had to say. He once flew into Mt. Pleasant, Texas, and gave his copilot some unusual instructions. He asked him to meet him at a location over one hundred miles away.
He then hopped into a Wal-Mart truck the rest of the way so he could spend time questioning and listening to the driver. Sam understood the important principle of listening and gave it a high priority.
One of the hardest disciplines as you become more successful is to listen. You can begin to believe the lie that you’ve cracked the code and that you intimately understand your audience. The problem with that line of thinking is the fact that things change.
The more distance you place between you and your audience the more misunderstanding can occur. You can begin to forget what it felt like when you were just starting out. You slowly become disconnected from the goals, passions and struggles of your audience.
Your blog is about them, not you.
It seems so obvious and yet I find many bloggers who get this backward. I know there were times I had it wrong when I first started blogging. The tricky thing about blogging your passion is that you can make your blog too much about you if you’re not careful.
I’m not saying you should never be personal or talk about your life experiences. Just remember what the end goal is for you. You are going about this blogging thing all wrong if your end goal is to:
- Make a lot of money
- Make a name for yourself
- Prove someone wrong about you
- Try to be successful in other people’s eyes
- Live a comfortable life
Your end goal in blogging your passion ought to be to add value in as many lives as possible. In order to do this you must learn to be a good listener. The best bloggers have a 3 step process. Write. Listen. Adjust.
I love this quote: If you listen, your audience will tell you what to create. -Brian Clark
If you’re just writing and not listening, blogging can become weary. It feels more like forcing words on a page to just check the box instead of to change a life.
While not every post can be epic enough to change the world, it ought to change someone’s world. There is nothing more exciting than to answer a question, solve a problem, change a perspective, or offer hope to the discouraged.
But it all starts with listening.
I define listening as the constant awareness of the goals, passions and struggles of your audience.
Understanding Your Audience’s GPS
Dennis McIntee often talks about the importance of understanding your audience’s GPS. It’s a simple acronym that stands for goals, passions, and struggles. You’re a good listener when you’re intimately well-acquainted to the answers of these three questions.
What are their goals?
Whether we’ve written then down somewhere or not, we all have goals. We have dreams, desires, aspirations and things we hope to accomplish. Do you know what those specific goals are for your audience? Listen for them in blog comments, social media posts, emails, forum discussions and reader surveys.
What are their passions?
Have you ever seen someone light up in a conversation when you’ve discovered the thing they are passionate about? Whether it is about parenting, politics, snow boarding, surfing, camping, or being an entrepreneur, we are all highly motivated and energized about our passions. We gain an instant friend when someone is interested in our passions. What are the passions of your audience?
What are their struggles?
Many of us feel alone in our struggles. Too many gurus only share their successes. They forget that their audience will connect with them at a deeper level if only they’d share their struggles too.
Leading your tribe well begins by understanding their struggles. How can we recommend solutions unless we’ve walked a mile in their worn out shoes first? Only through listening well can you begin to truly understand the struggles of your audience.
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