Is your blog a lonely place?
Maybe no one is visiting. Or, if they visit, maybe they don’t comment.
Maybe they don’t share your post on social networking sites. Or they don’t subscribe to your email list.
Or maybe you’ve got the big problem — you can’t convert the traffic you do get into buying customers.
Yesterday we talked about creating the kind of content that attracts a loyal audience. But the problem doesn’t always lie with your content. Your content could be truly useful and valuable. But without one critical element, you could find yourself writing to the wind for years.
What is that one element?
And how do you use it to build an engaged and responsive audience?
You have a relationship problem
Let’s face it — you’re not close with your readers.
Maybe readers were excited when they first discovered your blog.
But now, you’ve let the relationship go stale, with the same old types of posts, day after day. Especially if they’re all about you all the time.
It becomes easy for readers to pass on by. To delete your emails. Soon, they’re not in love with your content anymore.
Simply writing a post and sending it out to subscribers isn’t fascinating. Everyone’s doing it.
You need to do something to put the magic back in your relationship, and make your blog irresistible to your readers.
Fortunately, you have some awesome tools to help you out with that. It’s called social media for a reason — there are dozens of incredible tools that are all about building relationships. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
40 ways to build a valuable relationship with your readers
There are a lot of different ways to rekindle that spark of excitement between you and your readers. But they all involve putting a bit more effort into building your bond.
And as with all good relationships, it requires a lot more listening and tuning in to others’ needs rather than focusing on your own desires.
I’m not saying you should do all of these things at once, but here are 40 different ways to build more engagement and find readers for your content:
- Listen for what your readers need. Then, deliver it. Give those readers credit — by name — for inspiring the content you create.
- Respond to their comments. They will feel validated and noticed.
- Email frequent commenters for feedback. These are often big fans, so deepen the relationship beyond the blog.
- Follow your readers on Twitter. It only takes a minute to look them up and click that ‘follow’ button.
- Connect on LinkedIn. This makes readers feel like they’re one of the cool people … and allows you to easily scope out their background and learn more about what they’re doing.
- Say ‘hi’ if you see readers on LinkedIn groups. It just feels oh-so-friendly.
- Comment on their blogs. Most commenters leave a URL when they comment, so it’s not hard to click over there, check out their stuff, and leave a reaction.
- Retweet their posts. While you’re there, hit that little RT button. A retweet is a great compliment.
- Write a post answering questions they’ve asked in the comments. You could build a whole post around one interesting comment, or create a mailbag roundup where you answer many reader questions. Remember to credit readers when you use their questions as sparks for content!
- Answer their emails. Any reader who takes the time to track down your email and send you a message outside your blog comments deserves a response.
- Offer them job leads. Nothing inspires gratitude like getting someone a gig, which is why many popular blogs offer a job board.
- Ask intelligent commenters to guest post on your blog. They’ll feel special and, in my experience, they’ll be retweeting every post you put up for years to come.
- Do a guest post — or two — on their blog. This is one of the fastest routes for going from casual acquaintances to close friends.
- Take a poll. What’s on reader’s minds? You’ll be able to write posts they really love if you find out.
- Hold an essay contest and feature the winners in a post. Let readers show off their writing for a change.
- Skype one of your readers. I try to take a virtual ‘lunch’ with someone new on a regular basis.
- Mastermind with a half-dozen regulars. Sales guru Grant Cardone is masterminding now with fans of his new book — and recording it so others can benefit, too.
- Arrange to meet local readers in person. Grab a cuppa joe at a local coffeeshop and just shoot the breeze.
- Record a free podcast or Webinar for your readers. Hearing your voice or seeing you on a recording makes a more intimate connection with listeners.
- Do a live call where you unmute their phones and answer their questions. The immediacy of the live call-in format makes readers feel you care.
- Send them cookies. Seriously. Find out their physical address and send them a little gift. It will blow people’s minds.
- Ask a question (preferably an open-ended one) at the end of your post. That usually gets them talking.
- Don’t finish your posts. Just provide a few tips, and then let readers add to them in the comments.
- Ask readers to leave a link to what they’re working on. Nothing gets people commenting like an invitation to mention their own project and URL.
- Review their ebook. Or round up several readers’ ebooks and do one post on them all.
- Offer a forum. Take it beyond the comments and let readers have a virtual coffee klatsch. With dedication, these can become amazing communities.
- Create a buddy program. Help your readers help each other by providing a place on your site where they can state their support needs and buddy up.
- Make readers the experts. Ask for their best advice in one post — then, run a compilation of the best responses in another.
- Ask readers to describe their biggest problems. Do we like to complain? Yes, we do. A post like this also tells you exactly what you should be writing about.
- Hold a contest with a valuable prize. AppSumo did a great one recently where you could win a MacBook Air.
- Arrange a meetup at big events such as BlogWorld or SXSW. If you’re not getting out to events in your industry, consider making it there. In-person conversations are rare and wonderful these days — and make people feel they’ve gotten to know you better.
- Email subscribers who never open your email to find out why. You could learn a lot about how to improve your content.
- Discover readers’ skills — then, trade services with them. Doing a little business together will benefit you both and help you get better acquainted.
- Give away a consulting package. Do random acts of kindness and sometimes, just help a reader out.
- Give out a free pass to your next paid class or event. Don’t know about you, but nothing makes me feel special like getting a free ticket to something other people are paying for.
- Create a free ebook for subscribers. Don’t stop at one — keep creating interesting new material, so there’s a steady stream of extras coming.
- Do an autoresponder series with useful information. Copyblogger’s own Internet Marketing for Smart People course is a great example. Free training courses show your blog has more to offer.
- Collaborate on a project. Curate your readers’ guest posts into an ebook, or have a reader co-host a podcast with you.
- Invite readers to affiliate sell your products. You may think that seems crass, but in fact some readers will jump at the chance to make money doing what they’re already doing — talking up your site to their friends.
- Introduce them to people who could help them. Playing matchmaker costs you nothing, and shows you really care about helping readers.
How about you? How do you keep readers hooked on your blog? Leave a comment below and tell me all about it …