How to Build Relationships with Your Readers
Relationships matter in everything we do. Without good working relationships, day jobs are miserable. A bad relationship – romantic, parental, friend – wreaks havoc on our confidence and mental health. The rapport you build with people can open up new opportunities in life, make connections with strangers, and move your goals forward. Writing about sex is inherently personal. When you build relationships with your readers, you create a connection that can change lives.
Once you decide that you want to take your ability to write and connect and turn it into income, relationship building becomes even more important. Without readers, making money from your sex blog, erotic fiction, or advice moves slower and feels more difficult. In your search to create an income from you writing, make sure you’re building and maintaining relationships with your readers. Because without readers, we’re only writing for ourselves.
Show Up Consistently
The internet is a busy, noisy, loud, and sometimes (okay, mostly) angry place. Our attention is constantly pulled in one direction or another. No single person can keep up with the sheer amount of content added online every second of the day. We all have to pick and choose what gets our attention. Your readers are no different.
If you want people to pay attention to you, you have to give them something to read. Consistent blogging or writing doesn’t mean every single day of your life for the next 20 years. Unless that works for you. Being consistent means you’re setting the expectation that you’ll be around with something new to read on a regular basis. Blogging once a month or once every few months doesn’t give a reader anything to sink their teeth (or valuable time) into. They might read your single piece but without content reliably published in the past or future, you’ve given them no reason to hang around.
Your writing is uniquely you whether it’s erotic fantasy or your sexual experiences. So of course, to some extent, you’re sharing yourself but that’s not what I mean. To build relationships with readers, let them see your humor, your fear, and yes, even your anger or anxiety. We often believe that to be a professional writer we have to also wear a mask of professionalism. Sometimes that’s true. But to form a real bond with your readers, you need to let that mask slip at least a little.
A recent conversation on Twitter reminded me of how important this can be. A blogger asked for advice on whether she should post a blog about mental health issues she’d been dealing with. She worried it would turn readers away. Several writers told her that as long as she’s comfortable with the information she’s sharing, readers don’t mind, and they may connect in new ways. As writers, that’s what we’re after – a connection. None of us knows how someone will connect to us. Being a genuine person with thoughts, feelings, worries, and triumphs is a great beginning.
Find Your Voice
Not everyone will like your writing. Readers will reject your premise, hate your tone, or think you’re wasting time. Those people are not your audience. To find your audience, you have to find your voice. By voice I don’t just mean the overall tone of your writing, it’s also the topics you tackle, the views you present, and the opinions you share.
Will you always get it right? Of course not. We’re all works in progress. But what separates writers with a thriving audience from those with zero readers and no career is often a lack of clear voice and perspective. This isn’t about believing you’re always right when you express an opinion. It’s about having an opinion and a view of the world, sharing it, and attracting the people who are willing to hear your message, even if they don’t always agree.
Give Readers What They Want
First I say find your own voice, then I say give readers what they want. Relationship building is full of conundrums, even for sex writers. Your readers and audience found you for a reason. Maybe it was the dirty smut you wrote. Maybe it’s the thoughtful advice on gender and sexuality. Paying attention to your statistics and the feedback you get from readers can give you an idea of what your readers want from you.
Does that mean you can’t write other things? Of course not. For months I held back writing about my anxiety and bipolar disorder because I assumed my readers didn’t want to read it. Based on what I knew about them, they prefer the kinky fuckery I share. But because I’m a real person to them (see above), they also cared about me. To my surprise I connected with readers on a new level and grew my audience as a result. But if I decided I wanted to write only about mental health, I’d either have to make a complete shift (and lose part of my audience before gaining a new one) or start a separate website. Wanting to talk about different topics that doesn’t fit my original core audience is how I started The Smutlancer and Loving BDSM.
Why It Matters
Why do the relationships you build with readers matter? Because without readers, making money from your sex writing is harder than it has to be. A blog is a place to practice your writing, find your voice, and learn how to share what matters most to you. That will serve you well when you decide to pitch an idea to an online editor. If you write erotic fiction and go looking for a publisher, you’re more attractive to them if you have your own audience waiting to buy your book. Making money from a blog can be a legitimate stream of income but it doesn’t happen without an audience. Basically, a blog is the Ginsu knife set of writing – it slices, dices, and cuts cans in half – but to make it work, you need readers.
Build the audience, and you can build your income. It won’t happen over night, and you’re going to have to work for it. But connecting with readers on a personal level and knowing you’re making a difference in their lives is powerful. That you can make money doing it, takes it to a whole new level. (And if you act now, you can even buy your own Ginsu knife set – yep, they’re still around, too.)