I’m pleased when I see questions on Quora asking how to connect with readers on a blog. These, of course, come from sensible new bloggers, who realise readers are far more important than traffic.
There is this fixation with people who have set up new blogging sites to focus on the wrong set of stats. Their aim is to get multiple visitors viewing their blog, as they think this means lots of readers. But actually, in reality these numbers are empty and worthless.
This is because this kind of traffic, also called impressions by blogging geeks, doesn’t guarantee people actually reading your blog. Your posts could be placed in front of them and still get ignored. What you really need are active and engaged readers who you can count on to give you the support you need.
But these readers are hard to come by. Some bloggers write for years and still don’t get any. What they lack is a connection with their readers, the blogging bond between writer and reader which reveals a thriving blog. Readers are the life-blood of a blog and it won’t be able to exist without them.
The first thing you need to do is get some tips on how to connect with your blog readers. This infographic will visually show what I mean:
And here’s some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
Who exactly are your readers?
Every marketer will tell you to create a customer avatar. This is an analysis of your ideal customer to find out their personality, so that you know how to communicate to them.
Well, as a blogger you should do this for your readers. You need to know their wants and needs, the problems they need solved, their preferences and aspirations.
It isn’t just their lifestyle, it’s also finding out the subjects they find interesting, which images attract them, whether they prefer text, video or audio, what kind of experiences they’ve been through, which celebrities or trends they like to follow.
You need to be in tune with your readers, be prepared to come down to their level, appreciate their choices and give them exactly what they want. Even if this isn’t necessarily what you want to write about. You need to decide whether your blog is for your readers or only for you.
How friendly are you with your readers?
Take a look at a popular blog. One which appears to have a lot of readers (usually revealed by the number of comments). Note the way the blogger addresses her readers, the style of affection, familiarisation, the closeness she has with them.
It is as if all her readers are her best friends. In fact, they are! Every blogger should value their readers as if their blog depended upon it. This immensely important friendship needs to be cultivated, enhanced, fed and worshiped. Every reader needs to think they are their best buddy over all the others, and that this blog is written purely for them.
This is exactly how an influencer gains their massive amount of fans. How an actor warms their audience in both the gallery as well as the stalls. They are focusing totally on each person as if they were special, essential and extremely cherished.
If you want to know how to connect with your readers, you need to start writing purely for them. Use what you’ve learned in your analysis to your advantage. Write as if you are talking directly to your readers, as if you were sitting in a coffee bar having a chat while sharing a huge piece of chocolate cake!
What connection do you have with your readers?
Popular bloggers tend to be extremely transparent. They are willing to reveal stuff about themselves, warts and all. They hold nothing back, discussing what’s happened to them that day, the disasters and triumphs, the funny bits and the sad situations. For some stuffy bloggers this seems over the top, but then I suspect they know nothing about their readers.
Being this candid is not as detrimental as you think it is, especially if you want to learn how to connect with your readers. Your followers will want to find out as much as they can about you before they commit themselves. It’s all about the know, like and trust process, which needs to be gone through before they can form a relationship with you.
Freely exposing your personality within your writing is vital towards attracting your readers. They need to have an affinity with you, feel there is a connection with your blog, know they can relate to whatever you say. Nothing should hinder how they perceive the way you communicate with them.
This can be enhanced by finding some common ground, or enemy, associated with you and your readers. What do you both adore, despise, follow, avoid, watch, listen to, discuss the most? Have you been able to learn which subjects resonate with your readers, and find out the best way to talk about them?
Is your writing suitable for your readers?
The best style of writing in a blog is a conversational one. It is as if you are transcribing a conversation with your readers, on a 1:1 basis. I like to imagine talking to my readers in my head, allowing the conversation to follow through my fingers and the keyboard into the post.
Just like a conversation, a certain style of words will be used. Unless you’re a real geek, you probably won’t use jargon, formal business language or even technical vocabulary within this kind of situation. Blogging to your friends should be seen as a casual chat within a text format.
Friendly blogging is nothing like writing an essay or a corporate report. Everything you’ve been taught at school in your English classes needs to be ignored (except the spelling and perhaps a bit of the grammar). Speak-writing requires a different method. Start sentences with and, but, so and or. Repeat important words, even phrases, if this has more impact.
Shorten your sentences and paragraphs. Forget about adjectives as these are only padding which aren’t necessary in speech. Use everyday, even colloquial, language your readers are used to hearing. And if you want to know if you’ve succeeded, try reading your posts out loud. If you stumble or get tongue tied, find an easier way to say what you mean.
Are you writing for your readers or for yourself?
There needs to be a reason, a good incentive, for your readers to visit your blog. Usually this is in the content of your posts. If you want to know how to connect with your readers, it’s worth taking time to analyse what your audience wants to read, and then providing this for them.
It is not only the style of writing, and the friendliness you have towards your readers, which attracts them. The content needs to be suitable: relevant, relatable, interesting, valuable, up-to-date, exciting, entertaining, funny, controversial, shareable, worth commenting on.
Readers will regularly visit if they know there is something worthy to read. Your posts could entertain them about your recent exploits, educate them about something new, reveal the latest social trends, discuss the most popular topics, talk about news events online, even share about products you recommend (if you are an influencer).
Telling stories is a great way of communicating. Hardship ones seem to resonate most, as it makes people feel better about themselves. Sometimes enhancing your own vulnerability by talking about your own struggles seems to hit a spot with your readers. This may not be for everyone (myself included), but certainly a lot of popular bloggers excel in this.
How will your readers benefit from your posts?
Another approach towards attracting readers when considering how to connect with them, is how you can help them. If you have successfully gained their trust and admiration, they will be looking up at you for advice, solutions to their problems, answers to their questions.
Through the analysis you did at the beginning to learn more about your readers, you will understand not only what interests them, but what is lacking in their lives. The answer is to fill in these gaps with knowledge which solves these dilemmas, especially if this is able to make a difference to them in some way.
Turn your blog into a helpful resource, a point of reference your readers can rely on. Make sure they know they can easily communicate with you, to ask for the suggestions, solutions and answers they crave. Your blog should become a community where they feel safe, secure and wanted, a haven where all their needs will be met.
Any tips and tricks you share with your readers ideally should be tangible, useable and instantly transform their situation into something better than it was before. How you connect with your readers is by being helpful, accessible, approachable and, above all, human.
Can you tap into your readers’ emotions?
I’ve just mentioned being human. To some this may be interpreted as showing your vulnerability, personality and empathy. Yes, it is, but it also means tapping into the emotional aspect of your readers, how they think and what they talk about.
There is a technique called social listening. This is when you go onto social media purely to watch, read and listen to what your readers are saying there. This allows you to fully understand their motives, what inspires them and which emotions affect them. Whatever makes them happy, angry, sad, elated, worried, confused, enthusiastic. In other words, the feelings they like to tell their friends about.
Once you have done this for a while, you will be in a much better state to join in their conversations. You will be more in tune with the way they are thinking. What you say will resonate far more with them. Your comments will have more meaning, and therefore will be appreciated and responded to.
A good blogger knows how to connect with their readers because they’ve made the effort to emotionally associate themselves. This allows them to find the right topics and know how their readers think. It allows you to enter into a similar zone and learn how to communicate at the same level.
How often do you respond to your readers?
Whenever a reader comments on your blog, they are trying to make contact with you. You should consider this as a great honour. It shows they want to reciprocate the connection you are trying to make with them, and to create a blogging relationship with you.
Every blogger should reply to comments (as long as they are worthy and not spam or from trolls). Not only is this polite, it gives you the opportunity to further this new connection by showing them how much you appreciate the effort they’ve made. It can also double the amount of comments you have, providing social proof your blog is an active one.
This is the perfect chance for some proper personal interaction. Ask your reader a question to get them to reply, or to find out a bit more about them. Their response could become a conversation, and if others are compelled to join in, developed into a full blown discussion.
The importance of commenting as a method of how to connect with your readers is often disregarded. Whereas it shows bloggers their readers do appreciate their content, it obviously resonates with them and they are intrigued or satisfied enough to have their say. This is definitely a good indicator showing all your efforts are starting to bear fruit.
What other methods do you know how to connect with your readers?
There are plenty of other ways of connecting with your readers other than posting on your blog and replying to their comments. Social media is a massive space where you can get to know your readers on another level. These real-time conversations flow more easily, take on a different character and loosen the barriers of moderation or one-sided dialogue.
Often this alternative to social connecting pays dividends for your blog. You may think that by pasting your posts’ web-address here will expose it to a much wider audience. This is true, but only if you’ve made the effort to draw attention to it and speak to lots of friends about it. You could tag potential readers and ask them to comment on it. Also remember to hang around to answer any engagement which may happen.
Your blog is certainly a valid destination for your readers. But you need to make the effort to connect with them online, get them on your side and show you are really interested in them. Completing the know, like and trust factors will guarantee the steady flow of clicks and engagement you so desire.
Let us know in the comments below your experiences of how you connect with your readers. Do you already do all the things I have mentioned? Have you got any extra suggestions to add to them? What success stories can you share with us how connecting with readers has affected your blog? We would love to hear from you.