Experienced bloggers know one thing for sure: shooting photos and writing posts is only half of the time we log to blog. The other half is time spent responding to and leaving comments. And why? Because when you don’t have a megabrand blog sponsorship, that’s what it takes to draw a reader in and keep them. That’s this week’s Friend Friday* topic—reader connectedness.
How important do you think reader connectedness is to the success of your blog?
It’s critical! Reader connectedness is completely responsible for the growth of my blog this year. As soon as I began visiting other blogs and commenting, and interacting with readers on my blog, my numbers everywhere grew—comments on posts, Twitter followers, visitors/page views, etc.
I don’t attribute my growth to commenting alone, however. I think what I write in comments is also a consideration. I’m totally floored by all the love and support my readers give me (thanks, y’all!), so I strive to be as welcoming and openly grateful as possible. I try to remember individual readers and what’s going on with them, and respond with a personal message, not something generic.
The G&G Comment Policy:
- On my blog, I will always have the last word. A thank you comment from me should be the last comment on every post. I never want readers to scroll through and wonder if I read their comments. If my thank you is at the end, it leaves no doubt in anyone’s mind.
- I will acknowledge comments on every single post. If I’m not able to respond to individual comments due to time constraints, I will at least post some sort of thank you comment on every post that I receive a comment on. Not acknowledging comments is just not an option. At writing, I had yet to respond to comments received on my last post, Mr.Stylist: Mixing Prints. But you can bet that while y’all are reading and commenting on this post, I’ll be working on my responses to that one.
- Don’t be flippant and don’t be rude. I don’t believe in leaving flippant comments on other blogs, and I try to keep it clean. Occasionally I slip up with my vocab, but only out of excitement…and then I use asterisks! With commenting systems like Disqus, your comments can be tracked and read easily. And if you sign your comments with your blog name or other identifier, they now show up in Internet searches. Go ahead. Google yourself and see. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t want a menagerie of comments containing four-letter bombs to be my legacy on the Internet.
What do you do to draw readers in and create that writer-reader bond?
Drawing them in…
First, I try to offer compelling, well-written, original content that allows my personality to shine through. My writing is the backbone of my blog, but when it comes to the Web, imagery is also extremely important. I’m still learning about photography and video editing—I’m always trying to go beyond the writing to improve visuals and keep readers (and me) interested in G&G.
Second, presenting content in a format that is conducive to online reading is crucial. I often post long narratives (which really isn’t advisable for any Web site, other than a news site, perhaps), but I think I get away with it because my writing is conversational and I adhere to the rules of writing for the Web:
- I make sure body copy is left-justified.
- My blog is clean, without a busy background or odd colors that impede readability.
- I use proper punctuation and casing, and follow the rules of grammar.
- I use subheadings and “chunk” copy for easy scanning.
All these things play into the reader experience and the level of respect readers have for you and your blog. There are some blogs I visit that I hate going to simply because it’s a bad user experience, not because I dislike the blogger; I may not visit as often because I have technical issues with a commenting system, or body copy is centered and hard to read, or the writing is full of errors, or it just goes on and on and on.
Creating a bond…
As far as creating a writer-reader bond, a good connection, I try very hard to acknowledge my readers, both on my blog and theirs. People want to be acknowledged! My G&G Reader Survey proved what I already knew about blogging: sincere interaction with readers keeps them engaged and loyal. In fact, just yesterday, @_IFB tweeted:
Do you prefer replies to the comments you leave or getting comments on your blog?
How can you make new friends if you don’t actually talk to them? It’s a two-way street. I know there are some superbloggers who have so many comments and readers, there is just no way they can reciprocate. But they ALL started with a handful of people. I want my readers to feel like they have access to me. I want them to know I am real and that I’m paying attention.
What is one way you could improve this connection?
I’m pretty much doing all I can to religiously interact with my readers on G&G and their blogs. But to improve my connection with my readers, I’m using Twitter a lot more. I’ve begun sharing posts I like on Twitter, I try to participate in #FF (Follow Friday), and I try to tweet back a thank you when someone has retweeted one of my posts or acknowledged me on Twitter. I used to be so anti-Twitter, but I’ve found it to be the most effective way to interact with others and promote my blog.
What do you do to cultivate new readers? How do you get them to your site in the first place?
If I had more time, I’d just go explore other blogs, and leave comments when I see something I like. At the minimum, when I see a new name amidst my commenters, I go check their blog out and reciprocate.
I’ve found that IFB has been a fantastic platform for expanding my reach. Being selected for Links a la Mode Weekly Roundups, and writing for IFB have certainly given me extra exposure. Helping other bloggers has also helped me…they’ve been great about sharing my blog as a resource for blog improvement tips.
Is there a blogger you think does a great job creating that writer-reader bond? Why?
So many of my blogger friends are doing wonderful things to create a deeper writer-reader bond. But one blogger definitely came to mind when I read this question. I came thisclose to naming her here, but you know what? I’m going to save it. Stay tuned.
*The Friend Friday project by Modly Chic is a way for fashion bloggers to share more about themselves and create a friendly connection with other bloggers. Join the conversation by joining the Fashion Beauty Friend Friday Google Group.