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Finding Readers: Dustin outlines the 5 Crucial Elements for Growing Readership

growing-readershipIn today’s instalment of the Finding Readers theme week, we delve right into Dustin Stout’s incredibly eye-pleasing site, dustn.tv, and hear how he has built a blog people just can’t help but read and share.

When I launched dustn.tv in March 2011, I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was that I had some insight and skills that people needed and I genuinely enjoyed helping people.

Between then and now, I’ve had successes and complete WTF-just-happened failures. Through all of that I believe I’ve landed on a handful of crucial elements that have allowed me to get to where I am today.

1. Give the Reader A Beautiful Experience

It doesn’t matter if you have the most amazing, jaw-dropping, slap-yo-mamma content in the world, if people don’t read it. When someone lands on your webpage you have five seconds or less to prove that your site and its content is worth their precious time. So if your web design is cluttered, hard-to-read and visually unattractive, you’re content may not have the chance it deserves.

One of the primary reasons people continue to visit and read my blog (rather than just through an RSS reader or email) is because the reading experience is enjoyable.

With all the templates, themes, and examples of good design permeating the digital space, there’s no excuse for poor design. You don’t have to be a designer in any sense of the word to create a beautifully-designed, content-focused blog. Just find what’s working, what you would enjoy looking at, and imitate it. You can read my tips for creating a stunning reading experience for your readers here.

2. Write For Real People

Once your canvas is ready (your design) you can now fill it with glorious content that knocks people’s socks off! But the most important thing to remember is just that— you want to knock people’s socks off. Not robots: real people.

Having a voice that people can relate to is crucial to growing your readership. If people can’t relate to what you’re saying or how you’re saying it, why would they return?

One thing that has helped me to communicate effectively to my readership is focusing in on exactly who I’m speaking to. No, I’m not talking about my demographic or target audience— that’s not specific enough. To effectively write from an authentic, relatable voice you need to write as if you’re talking to one person.

Try this as an exercise– the next time you draft up a blog post, think of one person in your life that could benefit from the information you’re about to write, and write it in such a way as if you’re talking directly to them. This will help you communicate your message more clearly and your voice will be more authentic.

And people will love you for it.

3. Engaging Content (Actionable)

Another thing I’ve found when crafting content is that the actionable always wins out on engagement. Give people clear, easy-to-do actions and watch your engagement soar.

People don’t always know right off the bat how to take the action you may be moving them towards, so make it easy for them. Tell them exactly what to do.

4. Compelling Content (Sharable)

Making your content sharable is a crucial peice to the continued organic growth. When people share with other people there is power that no degree of marketing could ever capture.

In order to compell people to share your content, you have to first understand why people share things. The motivations are many but here’s just a few powerful reasons someone would share your content:

  • It makes them look smart
  • It makes them look funny
  • It makes them look cutting-edge
  • It makes them look interesting

Do you see a pattern there? People tend to share content based on how it will make them look to others. So if your content gives someone the chance to look better in front of their peers, they will be compelled to share it.

5. The Right Distribution Channels

Okay great, so you’ve got your awesome content written and wrapped inside a beautiful package (your web design) ready for people to consume, engage, and share. So now how do you get people to that content? Distribution channels, otherwise known as social networks.

The right distribution channels make all the difference. For everyone’s audience it may be different. If your target audience is mommies looking for great recipes, then Pinterest may be your best channel. If you’re ideal audience is teenagers who don’t want their parents knowing what they’re up to, then Snapchat may be your ideal channel.

My biggest piece of advice though when it comes to distribution channels is to resist the lie that you have to be on all of them. I’ve built the majority of my audience by doing one network really well. You can either do a mediocre, semi-invested job at many networks or you can knock one single network out of the park.

The latter will grow your audience faster than the former.

For me, I’ve found that the most powerful distribution channel in both driving traffic and acquiring new readers is Google+. No platform has yielded the return on investment that Google+ has, despite what lazy journalists might have you believe.

For me it’s about being able to not only distribute content, but also to be able to create and repurpose content in different formats such as images and video. With Google+, the number of tools at your disposal is beyond that of any other platform making it the most diverse, feature-rich and multi-demensionally engaging platform of them all.

Ultimately though, your perfect distribution channel will be one that has all of the following characteristics:

  • Your audience is there (or at least willing to follow you there).
  • You can fit it into your workflow.
  • You thoroughly enjoy the platform.

One Last Thing

Above all else, be true to yourself. Don’t be someone or something you’re not. Be uniquely you because that is your secret sauce.

Nobody else has the perspective, experiences, and thought process as you in the same combination of skills, knowledge and insight. The more true you can be to yourself, the better you can relate to your ideal audience.

Top 3 Takeaways

  1. Make it more about them than about yourself.
  2. Give them an enjoyable reading experience.
  3. Be a real human, not a regurgitation robot.

Finding Readers Week: Corinne Talks Commenting, Engagement, and Are Forums Right For Your Blog?

Theme Week

Welcome to the first post in the Finding Readers series here on ProBlogger.net. Corinne runs the successful blog skinnedcartree.com, and consistently gets genuine engagement from her readers and community across the board. Corinne introduced forums at the beginning of the year and has seen that engagement increase sharply. We are very excited to have her here to share her secrets with you.

I only started blogging late December 2012. To be honest, I had no strategy or goals. I knew nothing about growing an audience or how to promote myself. The only two things I knew were:

  1. I wanted to write.
  2. I wanted people to read what I wrote.

I understand there’s more to successful blogging than simply getting comments, but I wanted engagement. So I did what made sense to me with the little knowledge I had, and it worked.

What I am about to share with you is simply how to build a network of regular commenters. It’s not a quick and easy tactic, and it’s not going to make your PageRank soar, enabling you to quit your day job – but is a key step towards doing so.

theme week social media

Call me an idiot, but during my first year of blogging I went against one of the most common blogging tips: I didn’t use Twitter to promote my blog. Since starting a Twitter account in January, I’ve been asked the same question multiple times - How do you get so many comments? 

Twitter is great for getting traffic to your blog, yet I find it’s not so fantastic at encouraging engagement. Those that engage with me on Twitter tend to only do so there rather than on my site. The same can be said about other forms of social media. It’s fabulous for page views, but does naff all for building a community within your blog – and as I can babble for England, a community is what I wanted.

How I created community and drove up engagement:

Twitterless and clueless, the only way I had of promoting my blog (or so I thought) was through commenting on other blogs. I had no idea how to find them, so I would comment on the few I knew. Then I would look at who else commented, visit their blog and find something to contribute.

The idea I had was that I was targeting:

  1. People within my niche who would probably like my blog.
  2. People who left quality comments on other blogs.

You can do this for hours -  and I did do it for hours – aiming for around 20-40 blogs a day at one point.

We all know starting a blog isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t quick. I don’t know about you but I’m sick of reading ‘write good content and they will come’ like it is the only thing you need to do to grow (I’ve never been a ‘sit and wait’ kinda gal). Good content is vital, but what’s the point if nobody knows you exist? The real trick is getting them to your blog and then getting them to return. As soon as they start engaging with you and contributing, they are more likely to return as they’ve invested precious time in you.

Remember: The quality of the comments you leave will reflect the quality of comments you receive. People are not stupid, it is obvious and frustrating when a comment is left purely to link drop. Nobody likes a spammer, yet people still use it as a tactic. We’re looking to build longstanding relationships here, not fickle ones.

theme week get your stuff shared

I find consistent posting makes a huge difference to the amount of readers I get. I’ve seen the daily number of readers that subscribe to my blog triple since I’ve started to update daily, as have my page views and the amount of traffic I am getting from search engines. I was updating every 2-3 days, but in the past few months I’ve posted daily and it’s the best thing I ever could have done for my blog. I have posts scheduled for the same time each day and link back to my previous two posts at the end to make it easier for readers that don’t visit daily to access them, which was one of my main concerns around daily blogging. The only downfall is finding the time to push out quality content, I plan my posts in advance using an editorial calendar and will sometimes write 4-5 posts in one day around my work schedule. Planning is key!

theme week whats next

Once I received comments, I replied to every one and returned the favour by leaving a comment on their next post. This encouraged them to return and even subscribe. I was using this tactic for around 10 months until I was unable to keep up with the amount of comments I was getting.

finding time
But guess what? I don’t need to keep up anymore and I no longer struggle with the ‘write vs. promote’ conflict like I used to. I find I need to spend less time commenting and am able to concentrate on creating daily quality content – I now have a mixture of long term readers I’ve made through commenting, and people who discover my blog through other blogs, social media, Google, etc.Leaving 20-40 quality comments on new blogs daily is a time consuming activity and is difficult while having a full time job. I aimed for 20 comments on work days and 40 for days off. I wasn’t blogging daily so had more time for getting my name out there and I commented a lot while watching TV on an evening or listening to music – I’ve always been a multi-tasker and struggle to sit and watch TV while not doing anything else. I often gave myself ‘goals’, such as leaving a certain amount of comments to a time scale. I found the more comments I was leaving, the easier it was to think of something engaging to say – it just became something I could naturally do.While I am still an active commenter, I comment on those blogs I love, rather than as a marketing tactic. If I have a spare hour or so, I may visit a few new blogs within my niche and leave a few comments, but it is not something that I do daily.You may have loyal readers that will lap up every word but don’t always comment, so I’ve targeted those blog readers that are active in commenting and brought them over to my blog.

Point of difference: Adding forums for your readers

I wanted to take my community to the next level by giving my readers a place they could all come together and share ideas. I find Twitter too fast paced and comments on blogs restrictive. As I’ve always been a lover of forums – joining my first in 2002 at 14, then being an administrator for another for over ten years – a forum was exactly what I was looking for. Finding none within my niche, I bought a new domain and set up my own.

I spent a couple weeks preparing the site and researching, then on 1st January 2014, I launched them, alongside a Twitter account. It’s early days yet – we are in the process of growing our member base with a view to branch outside of the current niche, adding specific forums as requested to welcome more bloggers to our community. We share our posts, ask questions, share tips and sometimes just have a general natter.

Top 3 benefits to creating the forums:

  1. Great for traffic – people will click my profile and then go to my blog as well as click links I leave on the forum.
  2. Great for post ideas – some of my most popular content has come from ideas from the forum. Members ask me questions all the time which has led me to write posts with useful information and blogging tips on my main site – these are easily my most shared and most engaging blog posts.
  3. Great for finding new blogs – I now read blogs from a variety of niches from our members.
theme week top takeaways

  1. Target bloggers in a similar niche to you.
  2. Leave comments that leaves them wanting to know more, or asks them a question.
  3. Remember, 20 readers that regularly come back and comment are more valuable than 2000 one-time readers.
Are you an active commenter?

Theme Week: How To Find New Readers and Create Community on Your Blog

FINDING READERS

If you’ve been around this year, you will have seen that we are running a themed week each month, focusing on a specific blogging topic. It is our aim that you will get a great deal of useful tips and info that will arm you with all the things you’ll need to stand out in that field.

Our first foray was in creating content, we moved into a week chock-full of info for new bloggers just starting out, and last month Shayne and I delved deep into creating products – an in-depth, step-by-step set of posts that aimed to answer all the questions you have about creating, launching, and selling products and services on your blog.

This week we have reached out to ProBlogger readers from various niches to share their success stories on how they found readers for their blog, and how they encouraged engagement: comments, shares, and a creating a thriving community.

Stay tuned for tips from the fashion, personal, social media, and blogging-about-blogging genres. No doubt there will be some fantastic information you can action that day that will help you on your journey.

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter about this week’s theme.

The posts:

Corinne Talks Commenting, Engagement, and Are Forums Right for Your Blog?

Dustin Outlines the 5 Crucial Elements for Growing Readership

Mrs Woog’s Tips to Create Conversations on Your Blog

From Seed to Sequoia: Growing your Blog one Reader at a Time

In a Blog Slump? Here’s What to Do

Image via Flickr user Toni Birrer

Image via Flickr user Toni Birrer

“Do you ever want to chuck blogging in sometimes?” came the question at the end of an email recently.

“Yep”, I answered. “At least twice, pretty seriously.”

It’s a situation I think many of us find ourselves in at some point in our blogging journey: we’re not quite sure, but we think we might want to throw in the towel. We’ve given it our best shot, but we’re just not feeling it any more. Time to hang up our keyboards and call it a day.

Right?

Maybe. But then again, maybe not.

As I’ve chatted to other bloggers over the years, it’s become apparent that almost everyone goes through a bit of a slump. Some of us bow out quietly, having enjoyed the fun while it lasted. Others leave blogs to stagnate, not knowing what to do so they don’t do anything at all. The rest of us find our groove again somewhere further down the line and are grateful we didn’t quite hit that “delete” button, tempting as it was. You can read how fellow blogger Naomi found herself at a crossroads at the ProBlogger conference last year and how it helped her inspiration again.

There are several reasons I believe bloggers feel like it’s time to move on – do any of these resonate with you?

  • You’ve tried to monetize, but it hasn’t happened as fast as you’d hoped. In fact – you feel like you’re not really getting anywhere with it.
  • You’ve run out of things to write about.
  • You’ve spent a ton of time on other people’s sites, commenting and being involved, and the bloggers have never responded.They don’t come to read your blog either, like you’d hoped.
  • You don’t feel as though you’re a very good writer.
  • You feel as though everyone else is succeeding but you.
  • You can’t fit it in around all the other family, work, and life obligations that you have – especially if you’re not getting paid to blog.
  • Linky parties and participating in memes never really earned you any legitimate readers.
  • You don’t take very good photographs.
  • Brands and PR people don’t seem to be noticing you, or you have found it hard to get on their radar.
  • You don’t really want to have to be everywhere on all social media channels just so people will read your blog.
  • You think anything you could possibly say has already been said by someone else – and they’ve said it better.
  • You’ve spent a lot of time and energy and love on your blog, but you’re just not seeing the traffic you hoped you would after a while.
  • It’s not as much fun as you thought it would be.
  • You’ve realised how much work it actually is.

I don’t know about you, but in my four-plus years of blogging, there have been times when I’ve felt a bit “blah” about it all, and times when I’ve felt I can really make it if I just work hard, be kind to people, and make the most of opportunities as they arise. There was a time after about a year and a half that I genuinely believed I’d enjoyed blogging, but I was done. That I could walk away from all I had created with nary a backward glance.

While I don’t think now I would ever give it up (especially since I now do it full-time), I certainly do still feel those periods of low motivation – where my mojo up and walks out, flies to Mexico and does some tequila shots. I have slumps where I feel like I should be further than where I am, that it shouldn’t be so hard to find advertising, that it takes more effort than I have to give, and that other people are funnier, cuter, and have better blogs than I do. I don’t have the time to be and do all that I need to be and do to be successful. But rather than quit, I coast along knowing that my mojo will eventually return, slightly drunk and suntanned, and I’ll have ideas coming out my ears and words coming out my fingertips again.

And so I say: Go with the flow.

Get in that slump when it arrives. Roll around there for a bit. Recognize you’re not bursting with blogger buzz, and accept that. For what goes down must come up – and you WILL blog again! Especially if you:

Rest. A creative mind craves downtime in order to fully function.

Don’t force it. Breaks are totally necessary to avoid blogger burnout and to ensure you’re in tip-top shape. If you’re worried about a dip in traffic, you might like to have a look at my other post about taking a blog break without losing momentum. But don’t write just to fill space. As Tsh Oxenreider said recently: you’ve got to actually be out there living life in order to write about it.

Read. Read something for fun, read a newspaper, finally have a crack at War and Peace. I guarantee that at some point you will read something that will spark that love of writing again, and wild horses couldn’t hold you back.

Be inspired. Without judgement or vanity, read the blogs you sincerely love as a reader. Not as a blogger. Don’t overthink it, just read and feel the good feelings you have when you consume for no other reason than you enjoy it. Your inspiration for your own creation will return.

Forget about your competition. If the “why aren’t I… ?”s getting you down, then it’s time to turf them. If you’re no longer being motivated by the success of others and instead, you’re starting to feel disappointed and left out, it’s time to turn inwards. Take a break to regroup and come back with an eye on your own prize. Don’t compare yourself to others: aim for your own goals and give yourself a pat on the back when you reach them. But for now, try and let comparison go.

Do what you love. Blogging can get very old very quickly if you’re not writing about the things that light a fire inside you. If you’ve pared back “your” voice in the hopes of being more marketable to brands, then you’re going to sound like a shopping catalogue, not a unique snowflake. And dammit, you are a unique snowflake! People read blogs for the human connection, for the quirky you who writes it. Be yourself and write what you love. It’s hard to be bored with that.

There’s plenty of advice around to whip you out of writer’s block, and what to do when a blog slump hits. You can kick your apathy to the kerb here, and we even have an entire week devoted to the best ways of creating content here. But none of the tips are going to be very useful if you’re not coming at them from the perspective of someone who loves what they do and aren’t afraid to blog their way.

Have you ever been tempted to chuck it all in?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor at ProBlogger.net, and the blogger behind Veggie Mama. Can be found writing, making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

Canvassing ProBlogger Readers: How Have You Built Your Readership?

As you might be aware, each month this year we are running a themed week – delving in deep the topics that are of the most interest to you.

We started with creating content, moved on to resources for newbie bloggers just starting out, and this month we had an epic drilldown into creating products to sell.

Our next themed week is all about building readership and creating community on blogs. We are looking for people with success stories in different niches – have you build a great readership? Or know of someone who has?

If you are interested in sharing your story here on ProBlogger.net, we’d love to hear from you. Please head here and fill out the form – we’ll be in touch.

If you’re interested in how to build your readership base, you might like these posts on ProBlogger.net:

 

Creating Products Week: Your Experiences – What Have You Done?

Theme Week (1)

We hope you’ve enjoyed the mega-week we’ve had here on ProBlogger talking about creating products – everything from what reconnaissance you should do prior to choosing a product, all the way through to your product’s launch phases. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them here.

What we’d like to ask you, however, is about your experience with creating products. What have you made? Did you learn the hard way what works and what doesn’t? Have you dabbled in creating out-of-the box ideas, or have you stuck mostly to the tried-and-true eBook? What have your readers responded to, and what was your favourite thing to create? You are most welcome to share your experiences here with us.

For those of you who haven’t created a product yet and would like to (or for those who are looking for something different to create), our homework challenge for you for this theme week is to take 10 or 15 minutes to brainstorm a couple of products you could create for your blog and your readers. You can either think of five things you can create straight away (printables, eBooks) right through to long-term goals (e-courses and beyond). Spend a bit of time fleshing out what each would contain, who would be the ideal reader, and a tentative timeframe for getting them running. We’d love to hear what you come up with.

The Stephen King Drawer Method for Writing Better Copy

Image by Flickr user Mo Riza

Image by Flickr user Mo Riza

This is a post from ProBlogger.net Managing Editor Stacey Roberts

When I was studying journalism, it was pointed out to us very early on that our first drafts of anything were never going to be printed. They just weren’t. They were to be edited by professionals with no emotional ties to the content, and we were to accept the final product as it passed through their experienced hands.

If we were going to get precious about our words and our bylines, we were in the wrong profession.

As a result, I learned to detach from my writing. To write well, but also to see it from another’s perspective, and to be able to take edits and cuts with no offence. The subs weren’t trying to be cruel, they were doing their job by making my copy better.

When I began blogging, and had no editor or filter to pass through before I published my work, I still would read back over my work with a sharp eye to tidy it up a bit before launching it into cyberspace. What journalism taught me was to write cleanly, boldly, and in the least amount of words possible. I could no longer waffle, and I wasn’t precious about cutting my copy where I thought it might be extraneous.

But what about blogging?

The nature of blogging and journalism means you’re usually in a rush to get your content in the hands of readers while it is still relevant. We’re staying on top of trends and we’re riding the waves while we can. But for more evergreen content, or things that aren’t time-sensitive, then Stephen King’s editing method is one of the most useful things I’ve ever practised: the art of putting time and space between you and your words.

In his book On Writing, King describes the methods by which he creates fiction novels.  A manuscript should take a season to write, he says. Then he will put a physical copy of it in a drawer and forget about it for at least six weeks.

What does that do?

  • It puts just enough time between you and your writing to ensure you’ve become somewhat unfamiliar with the words and can read it with less bias.
  • It ensures you’re looking at the work with fresh eyes, not in the heat of the moment where your brain autocorrects the errors it reads so they fail to register.
  • You disassociate yourself somewhat from what you have written so it doesn’t hurt to cut it.
  • Your brain has had time to percolate on some of the ideas and thus can flesh them out more.
  • You can immediately see simpler and clearer ways to convey your message.
  • You can finally remember those things niggling at you in the back of your mind that you wanted to include but couldn’t quite put your finger on what they were.
  • You might have learned something new you could add.
  • You might decide you hate it all and start over again.
  • It means you have a deeper feel for what works and what might be received better by your readers.
  • You can publish knowing you’ve produced the best work you’re capable of.

Now, obviously there are small differences between a behemoth fiction manuscript and your blog post. You might not want to wait six weeks, and you don’t think it’s necessary to print it out. That’s not important. What is important is that you are distancing yourself from your work in order to come back to it with a more professional attitude.

Your blog might be personal, and your words an extension of yourself. It is ok to feel a bit of emotional attachment to them – this method only ensures you’re editing with a clear head as well as a full heart.

The takeaway:

Save your work and close your laptop. Forget about your writing as fully as you can, and put as much time as possible between you and it. Re-read your copy with an open mind and make quick notes about edits you’d like to make as you go. Then you can go back and change. Don’t be afraid – be bold and decisive. These are words to be molded, sentences to be crafted. Go with your gut and rearrange what you want until you feel it is right. Then hit publish.

Tell me – do you let your posts rest for a bit before going live? Or are you churn-and-publish kind of blogger?

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor at ProBlogger.net, and the blogger behind Veggie Mama. Can be found writing, making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

 

What The Most Unexpected Gold Medal in History Can Teach Us About Successful Blogging

Image by Flickr user jungle_boy

Image by Flickr user jungle_boy

In 2002, Australian speed skater Steven Bradbury was lining up for the 1000m final at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Among his competitors for the gold medal were the some of the best in the world at their sport: multi-medallists and world champions. He, by his own admission, was the oldest and the slowest competitor – and while he was going to give it everything he had, he really didn’t expect to win.

A few minutes later, he found himself casually coasting to victory from 15m behind the pack as every single skater in front of him fell over just metres from the finish line. You can see the short video here.

The result was even more unbelievable given the exact same thing had happened in the semi-final, allowing Bradbury to get to the final he didn’t expect to earn a place in.

And what does this have to do with blogging?

Perseverance.

What do you do when you’re chugging along on your blog, seeing other people achieve success faster than you? You persevere. What do you do when you feel like giving up, like you’ll never win anyway? You persevere. Because you can’t predict the future and you don’t know what is going to happen. And when others are falling away or giving up when it all gets too hard – you are still there, blogging, and giving it your all.

Bradbury had worked his whole life to represent his country at four Olympic Games, he had suffered an horrific injury to his thigh, and even broken his neck in the quest to be the best. And he finally earned gold right at the very end when circumstances nobody could predict meant he finally had his chance.

It’s one of the biggest pieces of advice I give newbie bloggers who ask – persevere. I tell them that blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. Getting readers takes time. Feeling comfortable takes time. Building networks takes time. Gaining respect takes time.

Where others give up, you do not. You adjust your expectations, you adapt to your environment, you find what works for you, and you forge connections with other bloggers and your readers. You might go through phases with your blog where you’re motivated and excited one day, dejected and needing a break the next. You take a break and you regroup, but you do not give up.

You never know when someone before you will pave the way for your success. I’m not saying you should hope your blogging peers all fall over so you can snatch their golden dreams, but, you know, it’s OK to keep your mind open to unexpected possibilities! Blog from your heart, be useful, be there. You might just be the last man standing.

Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net, and the blogger behind Veggie Mama. Can be found making play-dough, reading The Cat in the Hat for the eleventh time, and avoiding the laundry. See evidence on Instagram here, on Facebook here, and twitter @veggie_mama.

The One Thing You Should Be Doing on Your Blog to Create More Engagement

This is a guest contribution from Karl Staib of Domino Connection.

Image via Flickr user realpeopleeatplants

Image via Flickr user realpeopleeatplants

Wouldn’t it be great if you were getting twice as many blog post comments as you do now?

If people would ask you more questions and add comments, it would help build your community. They spur conversation that might even help you to create new content. And as you may know, people who engage with your blog are more likely to become loyal fans who buy from you and share your content with their tribe.

Google also loves a lot of searchable comments. It helps them understand which posts are worth sending people to. Not to mention the social proof that comes along with a post that has a lot of comments.

Finding how to create this powerful engagement is so important to building an audience that cares what you create. So let’s take a look at how we can do this.

Increasing Your Engaged Blog Community

You know how important an engaged community is for your blog. I don’t need to convince you of that.

But what can you do to increase that engagement?

Of course traffic is a big part of how much engagement you generate on your blog, I get that, but we all have to start from one comment to get two, 10 to get 20, and so on.

The one thing you may not be doing is probably the same thing a lot of bloggers make the mistake of not doing.

Let me tell you a little story before we dive deeper.

I have a friend who switched blogging topics. She shut down one site and started another because she wasn’t able to monetize her blog. I was worried she would give up on this new blog too. She was too talented not to help people. I know how hard it is to get people to converse on your blog because I’ve had many blog posts with zero comments.

A funny thing happened though. She got even more comments on the new blog compared to the old blog in less than three months.

Her lighthearted, conversational tone shines through now. She is even more engaging because she enjoys building connections with people in this new topic even more than her old topic.

Small Change, Big Improvement

I noticed a small change she made that I wasn’t sure she was aware that she had made herself. So I asked her, “Why do you think you’re getting more comments?”

“I’m not sure. I think I’m more passionate about the subject I guess. No wait it’s the value. People can’t help reciprocating when something is valuable,” she responded.

Now passion is good and value is even better, but a lot of people are passionate and still don’t get 18 comments per post on a site that doesn’t get a lot of traffic.

So I looked at a few of her old blog posts and I realized the simple change she had made – her older blog posts were passionate, valuable and conversational, but weren’t getting the same engagement. The change she made with this new blog was weaving in open-ended questions and asking for her readers’ ideas throughout her blog. 

When you look at your writing, do you feel it’s open to new ideas?

She is so friendly in her writing that it makes you feel like she is just talking to you. When she asks a question, you pause and take a second or two to think about it. Then when you got to the bottom of the post and the comments section, the seed has already been planted and you don’t have to work hard to think of something unique to say. You already know something that you want to say.

3 Steps to More Engagement

So here’s my “must do” list to create more conversation on your blog:

  • Look at your blog’s tone of voice and if it’s open to new ideas. Do your readers feel like you are talking directly to them? I like to think of writing to just one person in my community. I have a few people I rotate through as I’m writing. Right now I’m thinking of a young man with glasses reading this at the end of his day. That’s why using the word “you” is so important as opposed to “I”, or someone’s name.
  • Are you passionate about your subject? People can feel when you really care about your content. They want to be a part of this passion.
  • Now look at the value that you bring to the table. Can people find this information delivered in this manner on other sites, or is yours special or unique?

Once you’ve got friendliness, passion, and value in your blog post, you just need to ask questions that plant seeds and get your readers’ ideas flowing, then hit them with a final question that they just can’t resist answering when they get to the bottom of your post, and the comment section is just waiting for them to help the community.

What piece of the blog engagement pie do you think is most important? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comment section

Check out Karl Staib of Domino Connection and his value-packed 30 Day Connection Guide and Customer Conversion e-course to Increase Your Leads and Sales. You’ll learn how to find your ideal customers, improve your landing page conversion and what you need to measure so you can convert visitors into buyers.