The whole point of a blog is that it enables your readers to interact with you. That is the beauty of Web2.0, and sets it apart from static websites that just sit there looking pretty (if you’re lucky) and boring (if you’re complacent).
So to make the experience of visiting your blog exciting for your readers, there are loads of apps and widgets at your disposal to upload and activate, which will keep your visitors really busy!
I don’t expect you to put everything available into your blog, or it will look like a dog’s breakfast and nobody will be able to choose what to do next, and will probably result in them running away! But there are some elements that should be present if you are to maintain the interaction a blog deserves.
One is to encourage some sort of subscription service. There are so many ways of doing this, varying from sophisticated sign up boxes to buttons you press after making a comment. For me it is important to make it very obvious to the reader that you want them to subscribe, and to stage it so they literally fall over the methods for doing so. I have often landed on a really good blog that has interested me, and wanted to keep in touch with the latest posts, only to hunt drastically around the site to look for a method of subscription, even to sign up to a RSS feed.
Of course RSS feeds always don’t fulfill my needs. I hate it when it merely leads to bookmarking the blog from my browser bar – I can’t be bothered to check that every day for new posts. What I am looking for is something that sends the newly-published posts to my in-box or to a reader in my search engine provider. This can be accomplished by creating a RSS URL through Feedburner (or equivalent), or using the various plugins or widgets available from WordPress. Read about one of them here: Don’t leave your WP greet box plugin undone.
Sharing is almost a requisite for blogs, as it has become commonplace to retweet a good post on Twitter or to share it on one of the many social bookmarking sites. This should definitely be encouraged, especially if you want to increase the traffic to your blog or expose it to a larger audience. There are lots of apps available to enable sharing, from individual transactions to collective mechanisms that allow the reader a choice in wherever he wants to promote your post. Even WordPress.com have a simple version: read Sharing is easy on WordPress.com to learn more.
These are just two interactive activities you could place on your blog, and there are many more to choose from which can enhance your blog’s performance and increase its interest factor. Just examine the widgets available for WordPress.com, and check out the myriad of plugins available for WordPress.org, and do a bit of experimenting. If you don’t know what to expect, take a look at other blogs you admire to find out what they have to offer, and then see if you can find a way of emulating the same functions that take your fancy or stimulate you to take action!