We love to connect you with others who are changing the world. With that in mind, I’d like to share a conversation I had with Lori Deschene of Tiny Buddha. We talk about inspiring others via social media.
Pace: You started out by tweeting inspirational quotes. Why did you start? What was your goal? And why did you stick with it?
Lori: I started tweeting quotes for two reasons: I wanted to use technology in a way that felt meaningful and fulfilling, and I wanted to share the different ideas that I was considering to create happiness, peace, and passion in my life.
At first, I didn’t really have any goal other than to feel good about possibly lifting other’s people’s spirits. I didn’t see the value in Twitter at first, but then I realized it could be a powerful tool to address the universal problems we all face.
I stuck with it because I enjoyed it, and other people seemed to, as well. Everything else has been a wonderful consequence of that.
Pace: How did you grow your following so much so quickly? What advice would you give bloggers seeking to grow their readership?
Lori: The Twitter account grew quickly because there were a lot of retweets from day one — and many from highly influential people. When I launched tinybuddha.com, there were already 50,000 people following on Twitter, which helped generate immediate interest.
For anyone trying to build a following, I’d recommend:
- Be clear about the value you offer. There are a lot of blogs out there, and many dealing with the exact same ideas. What makes your blog different is you, so highlight that. Share your story in your About page, open up in your posts, and generally provide a unique perspective.
- People don’t follow blogs just for advice or information; they also follow for connection and conversation.
- Focus on strong content. It’s far better to write infrequently but provide strong value to readers than to write regularly without putting time and heart into it.
- Present your content well. Make your site scan-able by using bolded parts and bullet points. Keep paragraphs short to allow for an easy reading experience.
- Maintain consistency with branding. Wherever you have social media accounts, present the same information and focus around the same ideas.
- Consistently expand your reach. Contribute guest posts to related sites. Read and comment on similar blogs. Reach out to the bloggers you admire and build relationships — not to get anything from them but just to set the stage for mutually beneficial connecting.
Pace: What do you do when you’ve got “be inspirational today” on your to-do list, but you’re feeling glum?
Lori: It helps that I never actually put that on my to-do list! What’s always on my to-do list is “be authentic today.”
If I’m feeling sensitive, I write about sensitivity. If I’m feeling lonely, I write about connecting with people. I suspect that’s part of what people enjoy about Tiny Buddha. Neither I nor the many contributors write from a stance of authority. We’re all just people, teaching what we’ve learned and learning from each other.
Pace: Tell us about the business side of Tiny Buddha. How much blog coaching do you do, and what are your rates? Do you have plans for additional products or services?
Lori: The business side is actually fairly new. I just recently started offering my coaching services, and I’ve only worked with a few clients. Now that I’ve finished my first book, I’m opening my schedule to new ones. I will likely work with no more than three clients per week to ensure I can provide optimal attention and value. I offer hourly and package rates, and I’m always willing to work within someone’s budget.
As for products, I just launched the Tiny Buddha Zazzle store today with a small selection of shirts and other products. After the New Year, I will have a compilation eBook available on my site. Then at this time next year, my first book will be in stores.
Pace: Tell us about your book!
Lori: Gladly! Earlier this year, I asked my Twitter followers a series of difficult questions about meaning, happiness, pain, and more. After I collected responses for a couple of months, I created a guide of possibilities, directed by their wisdom and infused with stories and lessons from my own experience.
In much the same way I run my site, I put a lot of heart and vulnerability into the book. I’m excited that so many people lent their insights, and I can’t wait to share it next year! The book will be available through Conari Press right in time for New Years 2012.