Whether or not your readers stick around and participate will determine the success or failure of your blog. And keeping your readers around means keeping them engaged with what you have to say. But just how do you go about engaging your readers? Good question.
These reader engagement strategies will work for any blogger no matter if you just learned how to setup WordPress or have been at it for years.
Before you start skimming, realize that the one thing you need to know before you start using any of these tips is who your audience is. You need to know who you want your blog to attract, and then cater those people.
Know who your reader is? Perfect. This is how you keep them around and get them to participate.
Stand for Something
If you have a persona, you’ve probably been doing this. You have to have something, some cause, that’s a real passion for you and your readers. You actually have to like the thing you’re standing for, too. A lack of enthusiasm is something readers can sense a mile off.
When you create content that actively promotes something you and your readers believe in they will be much more likely to share it.
Start a Conversation
Communicate with your readers. Find out what they want more of, what their problems are, why they read your blog in the first place. Ask open-ended questions in and at the ends of your posts.
Don’t have any readers yet? Go to forums and other blogs in your niche. The more you participate the more likely people are to see you as an authority and want to engage with you and, by extension, the content you create.
Share & Socialize
Tying into the previous tip, the more you engage with the larger community, the more they’ll want to do the same with you. Once you get a few readers, make sure to take care of them. Answer your comments and emails.
If you find something you think will be valuable to your readers don’t be afraid to link to it. They won’t abandon you but will be grateful that you bring them awesome resources.
Check Your Format
Not everyone reads the same way. In fact, only about 2 out of 5 people will read more than the headlines or subheadings of this articles. Make your headlines and subheadings attractive and informative. Even if all they read are the headlines your readers should learn something.
Comfortable with your article formatting? Consider adding an audio or video alternative to your most powerful (or newest) posts. Some people just prefer to listen to their content. The more they read or listen to, the more likely they are to share or comment on your content. Read some tips on writing for the web and the art of digital storytelling at Poynter.org.
Use a “Reader Magnet”
A term coined by Nick Stephenson describing a strategy for ebook authors to increase their email lists. The technique was around before he named it and can be used by anyone, book or no.
All you need is a file, preferably a pdf, with something of value to your ideal reader. It can be a guide, an expanded popular post or a checklist. It doesn’t have to be long it just has to be valuable to your reader. To get the file they have to subscribe to your email list.
Use Freebies: Real Magnets (and Buttons)
If you want to improve your brand recognition and get your audience to really participate, give them free stuff. People will do a lot for free stuff. There are two main ways to go about giving out freebies:
- Have a Contest
- Reward Loyalty
If you choose this strategy make sure you’re attracting the right kind of attention. That’s a lot easier to do with option 2. Sponsoring a contest can bring in a lot of attention but that doesn’t always last. Rewarding loyalty is a great way to build up a real fanbase, the kind that will stick with you post to post, year to year.
Giving out branded gear is a cheap way to show a little appreciation (and advertise). You could give out custom buttons and magnets with your brand name and logo, compacts for beauty blogs, or anything else that might be small but useful for your audience.
If you know your reader and create content that they find valuable they will stick around. If you give them opportunities to participate and reward them for doing so they will stay loyal. It can take a little time but the more you put into doing the right things, the shorter it will seem.