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Why Your Blog’s Readers Should be Able to Contact You

Do you have a way for your blog readers to contact you?

I’ve just spent a frustrating 15 minutes looking for a way to contact a write on CNET’s Alpha Blog and am left quite frustrated by the distance that they seem to have put between their bloggers and readers.

Perhaps there is a way to contact their authors that I’m yet to find (it’s probably staring me in the face) but it’s actually an example of a problem that is increasingly common in the blogosphere – inaccessible bloggers.

Why would you want to be contacted by readers? Isn’t having comments enough?

I find that having a way to be contacted is beneficial on a number of fronts.

  • Firstly it gives your readers a way to privately contact you – having comments is a very public way of communicating with a blogger and there are some things that are just not appropriate for public comment. Having an email address or contact form allows you to keep unnecessary communications out of comments.
  • It gives readers a sense of power – having a direct line to a blogger might not seem like a lot but I’ve found it does mean quite a lot to some readers. For them to be able to quickly and easily let you know their thoughts, pitch you an idea, vent a little or just say hi is an empowering and personal thing that many readers enjoy. It helps create a sense of ownership and interactivity.
  • It’s about accountability - giving readers a way to get in touch shows that you’re willing to be held accountable for your blog and that you’re not hiding from criticism. The most common type of blog that doesn’t have contact details is the spam blog who hides the identity of the blogger for obvious reasons. While I’m not accusing bloggers without contact details of being spam bloggers it does send a message to readers if you’re inaccessible.
  • It identifies problems – while I don’t enjoy getting emails telling me what’s wrong with my blog it’s important to know it. Whether it is when features are not working, I have server issues that mean loading is slow, an image isn’t loading or when I have a spelling mistake (often) – it’s the emails from readers that help me improve my blog.
  • It opens opportunities – everyday my inbox has opportunities in it from my contact form here at ProBlogger. It’s like a treasure trove some days with questions that lead to post, potential partnerships, pitches for stories, anonymous scoops etc. While it does take a little time to filter them all it’s well worth the effort.

I do understand why some bloggers feel the need to put some distance between themselves and readers (issues of privacy, the distraction of loads of emails from readers etc) but I think that giving readers an avenue to give you feedback that goes beyond public comments is essential for a blog and that there are ways to implement it that mean privacy can be ensured and that the blogger is not swamped.

If you’re worried about your email getting out into the public domain then I’d recommend using a contact form for users to contact you with (like the one I have here). There are plenty of scripts around the web that will help you make one and if you’re a WordPress user you can even get a plugin to do it for you.

If you’re worried about being swamped by emails then you might want to put a disclaimer on the contact for along the lines of ‘I read all email but due to numbers can’t respond individually to everything’. At least this way you give your readers a chance to privately contact you. I know that the bloggers behind highly trafficked blogs would worry about the numbers of emails that they’d get but as someone who has a number of blogs with decent traffic I can say that it’s not really out of control.

Also – before people say that it’s just an example of how big media companies blog and that all are like this – take a look at the way Yahoo’s tech blogs are set up. Each one has a bio page with information about the blogger but also a contact form. In fact I’ve contacted each of their bloggers over the past few months and have enjoyed the interactions I’ve had with their bloggers who have been the recipients of the news that I’d wanted to send to CNET’s bloggers (Yahoo’s gain and CNET’s loss in my opinion).

This post is not one designed to criticize CNET or their bloggers – but instead is written in the hope that bloggers will consider making themselves accessible to their readers. After-all – that’s one of the things that blogging was built on wasn’t it?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Patrick says:

    This link might work but it isn’t directly connected to CNET’s blogs.

    http://www.cnetnetworks.com/contacts.html

  2. Sante says:

    Honestly, if you have a blog and your readers cannot contact you then what’s the use of having one – just to show off ?? :)

    I personally use all the technical features that my bloggin platform make available to me, including trackbacks.

    Having said that I do take note that many “important” peoples blogs (especially here in Italy) do not allow any kind of interaction: That tells me they couldn’t care less about what I think and have no interest whatsoever in my opinion – a one way conversation. But blogging is all about interaction and conversations isn’t it ??

    Sante

  3. Kyle says:

    Great post–thanks for the pointer on the WordPress plugin–it took me 5 minutes to set up a contact form that works perfectly!

  4. Cary says:

    Hehe… so true, so true :)

    I recently spent a large amount of time trying to contact ANY of the many writers on a popular blog, but couldn’t find any contact info so eventually gave up.

    Their competitors ended up getting the scoop…

  5. ShoeMoney says:

    Very good tip ;)

    I get 2-3 comments just on my bad grammar. Its like I have my own proof editors

  6. Keeton says:

    I actually encourage user questions on my importing website. Sometimes when you’re too close to a subject it’s hard to think of article ideas that are worthwhile to your readers. The Q&A section of my site is one of the most popular and it comes 100% from reader questions.

  7. razib says:

    Yes, so true indeed. Blogging is so popular because of its interactive nature and contact info is a part of it. So, if you dont people to contact you then why not simply go back to Web 1.0.

  8. Eric Gregoryh says:

    I found a quiz site yesterday (which shall remain nameless) that’s filled with errors. I wanted to inform the webmaster, but there’s no contact info anywhere on the site! Their loss, not mine.

    Anyway, if you have to get in contact with a webmaster, you can always do a WHOIS lookup on their domain.

  9. I totally agree. I always add 3 pages to my blogs – an about page, a links page, and a contact page that has a contact form. Actually, I don’t always include a links page, but I do always include the other two.

  10. jim says:

    Communication is key in blogging, that’s what separates it from mainstream media and what makes it incredible… not having a contact page is ludicrous! On my contact page I have an image with my email as well as a form, so anyone can contact me any way they like. I enjoy getting email too, it’s like a gift every single time! :)

  11. Ever try to contact eBay about something other than an auction?
    It is nearly impossible.

  12. John Hood says:

    Ironically I’d totally overlooked this! And have now set-up a contact form. Thanks.

  13. Wow, just yesterday another blogger that wanted to contact me brought this up because he had to fish my email out of his feed page or something like that. I said there must be a wordpress plugin that would help me do that and hey presto, today I read your blog and you point me straight to it. Thank you.

  14. Kuanyin says:

    I signed up with google or gmail for short. I think it’s fantastic, and this way all sorts of neat people contact me. Gmail has a great spam catch and lots of other neat features…I use their archive a lot! Leaving comments on Word Press is impossible. I like to be able to contact others too.

    Blessings…Kuanyin

  15. Lea says:

    Actually, I find it amazing how many people take what should be a private message and happily leave it in the comments!
    Silly people! Hit the ‘Contact Me!’ link! :)

  16. Had been hiding behind the once-removed wall of using a website link instead of my direct email addy until recently.. Realized I needed to practice what I was preaching of those within my.. field? being easily accessible.. Oopsie.. :)

    *LOVE* that you brought up CNET.. I tried to drop a *possible* lead to one of theirs.. Jumped through major hoops to email him through their networking setup then never got so much as a, “Hey, howdy-do.. Thanks for stopping in..”

    Tried to drop the same, again, *possible* lead to another blogger last week.. Ditto..

    That said………

    No promises it actually _is_ something, but.. You want it anyway..? :P

  17. Thanks for this great article! The WordPress plugin you mentioned has some bugs unfortunately and is only an alpha. After a little bit of searching, I found a form plugin for WordPress which I like much more.

    It’s called cforms. Here’s a link: http://www.deliciousdays.com/cforms-plugin

  18. Orna Ross says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Darren. We surf blogs regularly for a variety of reasons:
    * trying to organise conversations between writers and other writers/readers
    * organising virtual book touring for our authors
    * talent spotting writers that we think might be worth signing up or at least encouraging to write/finish a book that might be of interest to us/publishers

    If we go to a blog and we can’t contact the writer, it’s extremely frustrating — and often spells a lost opportunity for them

    Love your site, btw — we’re new to the blogosphere and you’re the best guide we’ve found…

    all best
    Orna Ross
    http://www.fontlitagency.com
    http://www.ornaross.com

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I am uncovering some REALLY great blogs – with NO WAY to contact these bloggers on their sites! No email, no contact page, no nothin’. Even blogging guru ProBlogger has ranted about this one recently, and I must wholeheartedly agree with him. [...]

  2. [...] Why Blog Readers Should Be Able to Contact You Darren Rowse, on Problogger.net, put up a great post today about the lack of open contact on many blogs these days. He spent a bit of time trying to contact a writer on CNET’s Alpha Blog and was unable to. [...]

  3. [...] Pro Blogger: Why Your Blog’s Readers Should be Able to Contact You [...]

  4. [...] Darren Rowse destaca los beneficios de que tus lectores puedan contactar contigo. Beneficios que he podido comprobar en muchos casos. Los comentarios son útiles en diversos aspectos, pero su labor fundamental es la de crear conversaciones alrededor de un tema y así potenciar la interactuación. [...]

  5. [...] Darren Rowse destaca los beneficios de que tus lectores puedan contactar contigo. Beneficios que he podido comprobar en muchos casos. Los comentarios son útiles en diversos aspectos, pero su labor fundamental es la de crear conversaciones alrededor de un tema y así potenciar la interactuación. [...]

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