A guest post by Ryan Chester.
I’m sure by now you’ve noticed the great job this blog does connecting with you. It almost feels like at times you know the Alice personally!
Well this wasn’t by accident, but by design. The same is true for any successful blog, because the goal is to create a personal connection. A successful blog wants you to know we are listening to you and addressing your concerns. The reason is in essence we’ve built a “virtual friendship.” We help each other grow and excel!
I can’t even count the times I have been asked how we create this growth and engagement so consistently to attract new customers and readers, and do the same for our customers as well. The strategy is very simple and requires a few easy steps:
Step #1: Become human
When you begin reading a blog the person behind the blog is usually a foreigner to you, right?
That’s why it helps to have a short bio available on the side, a more lengthy about you page, and even a picture!
Don’t be reclusive. Open up! Make it easy for your readers to get to know you. Just go make a short bio or better yet right a few paragraphs about yourself.
As a large blog with many contributors or a business blog, you need to create an “About Us” page that has a bio for each of your authors.
Just to give you some guidance on the about page, try some of these pointers:
- Give your Life Story! – Write a brief description of your life: Where were you born? Where do you live now? Include exciting or inspiring events that led you from hardship to success.
- Don’t hold back – People relate to underdogs, don’t hide your past mistakes or failures. Give examples of how you overcame obstacles to become who you are today.
- Show yourself – Humans are visual creatures, we like to “put a face to a name”. Use a photograph of yourself or an avatar (a cartoon version of yourself). A video might be even more enticing to readers, even though I know some people might hesitate to include one.
- What drives you – In the same way you help your clients with their content, your readers can help you as well. Use your About page as a forum to talk about your goals and future plans. For example, I discuss my desire to create a non-profit organization to help the less fortunate.
Step #2: Show how you care
Just like you, your readers are human. Build loyalty by going above and beyond their expectations. We all encounter hardship and if you aren’t willing to help them out when they need it, how will they see how special you are?
Respond to their comments personally and engage them. When a reader asks you a question, make sure you take the time to answer it and even ask one back.
And don’t stop with prompt responses on your own page. Grow your web presence by commenting on and responding to questions on Twitter, Yahoo Answers, or Quora. Make sure to include a link back to your blog, so the readers that you help will become your readers and may spread your content on the internet through comments of their own and sharing your links.
Your relationship with your readers doesn’t have to begin and end with the comments section. If one of your followers has a problem in their personal life that you are in a position to offer your advice or assistance with, you should do your best to help them out. Keep your email open to them as well, of course not your personal (to avoid spam), but blog email.
We had a young reader who had a program issue that he could not overcome for his first client. The reader didn’t directly ask us to help, only if we had ideas for to tackle the problem, but we still provided him some of our internal programming scripts at no cost. Sometimes you have to recognise when you can help, and when you can help someone with a big achievement that will leave them forever thanking you and your company. Talk about brand love!
We have many stories like these two we have shared with you today. Our point is that we relate to our readers as if they’re family. No, we are not here to solve all of your problems. But we believe in paying it forward, so if we are in a position to offer more than just advice.
Step #3: Open communication builds bridges
A lot of blogs are missing a key element: a contact page.
This is because many bloggers don’t want to be bothered.
We take a different approach. In our opinion, if you don’t make yourself available to your readers through open lines of communication, you will limit them in terms of getting to know you – which we have already established as being critically important in maintaining and building your readership.
We have a contact page, and make it apparent on our blog to reach out to us whenever. We have listed our contact information along with direct emails to us. We let people know where and when they can contact us. Although, it is also alright to say what not to contact you about.
If we are going to be unavailable for any period of time, we let our readers know this via our Contact page. We offer them an alternative way to communicate with us, such as directing their questions to our assistant and providing them with her contact details.
The bottom line is – if you don’t want to interact with your audience than why are you blogging? Build a relationship with each of your readers, and you will see your traffic go through the ROOF! This is opposed to tossing information out there and sitting back hoping someone buys something.
Step #4: Realistic approaches
Even if we didn’t make money from blogging, we would still do it! Why?
We don’t blog for profit, instead we blog because we enjoy connecting. We enjoy sharing knowledge! At the end of the day, a candle doesn’t lose anything by lighting another candle.
Nothing makes us happier than hearing how our article helped someone.
There is money to be made in the blogosphere, but if that is your main goal, chances are you will find yourself overworked and unhappy. The most popular blogs in this space, such as TechCrunch, Mashable, or Copyblogger, were started because their founders saw a void in the marketplace and wanted to help others.
Follow the steps above, and you won’t just build an audience. You will build a family of followers, a real “social network”.
Don’t be discouraged if your audience doesn’t spend money right away – that’s OK. If you can’t turn your followers into friends, your traffic is going to decrease – affecting any cash flow you do have. Maintain your reader relationships and your business will prosper.
Don’t start a blog just to increase your traffic.
Start a blog to increase your connections.
About the author:
Ryan Chester is a digital marketing connoisseur. Having helped AnnexCore.com’s Fortune 500 ranging from General Electric, Accenture, Twitter, and many more companies across the globe access create success with search engine optimisation, email marketing, pay-per-click campaigns and countless other improvements.