Weekly Challenge: How to Engage your Audience

After asking what you would like to focus on the most common request was how we encourage our passive viewing audience to become regular active participants on our blogs. Many of you wanted to look in more detail about how you create a readership that not only visit your posts but comment on them, so this is what we are talking about this week.

First of all, before we begin, I want to say outright that I am not an expert in the field. I am simply going to present some points for discussion and things that have really been helping me in engaging the people that happen upon my blog and some of them might work for you guys too.

So here goes:

1. Make sure your content is “comment worthy”

This may seem obivous but its a truth we all need to keep in mind whenever we publish a post – is it any good? Would you comment on it if it popped up in your Reader explorations? If the answer is no, why are you expecting others to comment?Whatever you blog about, be it travel, beauty, fiction writing (there is an argument about experimentation in this case which is fair enough), business or UFOs make it good quality. Draft, redraft and proof read. Make it something you yourself would want to read and engage with.

Why not ask a fellow blogger to proofread a post you have in the works before publishing it this week and see what their feedback is. Offer to do the same for someone else.

2. If you want them to comment, ask them to!

This is something I am definitely guilty of neglecting! So, I’m a bit of a bookworm and I like to do a lot of research whenever I take on a project for business or fun and so I’ve read my fair share of blogging books (some better than others). One that particularly stuck with me is Nikki Pilkington’s 299 Steps to Blogging Heaven. Not all 299 steps were mind blowing but there certainly were some gems in there. One of which is what Nikki dubs a “call to action”:

“when your reader has read your blog, what do you want them to do? Pick up the phone? Email You? Leave a comment? Something else? TELL them!”

Its not a silly thing to do and its not aggressive if you phrase it in the right way. Say you’ve written a post about visiting a museum, at the end of the post ask your readership if they have ever been and what they thought, or if not what their favourite museum is. Give them a reason to comment, ask them a question and engage them in a discussion.

Add a Call to Action in your next post.

3. Tagging

Tagging is very important, I mean really important. This is WordPress version of a hash tag. It enables your blog to be found by those searching the tags you attribute to it. It categorises your post into the right sections of the WordPress library and therefore using the correctly helps those readers that are interested in you topic, and therefore most likely to engage with it, to find you.

This does not mean you should include 20 tags on every post for things that aren’t all that relevant in an attempt to gain maximum exposure – that won’t help you find a valuable readership. It is worth however taking a look at the Reader Tag Cloud. This will give you an indication of the most popular tags used WordPress wide and how you fit into the wider world of blogging.

Find your niche and aim to include 5 specific and relevant tags on your next post.

4. Find the right people to comment.

This has happened organically for me since I’ve been on the look out for blogs to follow that I have things in common with. As I go on my wanderings through the wonderful world of the WordPress Reader, other blogging groups on Facebook and Google+ etc, I find myself drawn to posts on topics I myself write about (makes sense seen as that’s clearly what I’m interested in!)

Whenever I visit a blog, I always try to leave a comment and when I copy a link to my blog I use a link to a specific article that has some relation to that person’s own work. This has multiple benefits:

  • you find awesome new bloggers that you have things in common with
  • You don’t spam other blogs with unrelated links to your site
  • You have taken time to really engage those bloggers and offer them something that will be interesting to them, they are likely to repay the favour
  • If you’re offering something in a similar genre or on a similar topic that blog’s readership will be more likely to also visit your site

The bloggers I have approached in this way are now for me the ones that read, like and are most likely to comment on every post I publish.

Explore the Reader and find 5 new blogs that you admire and have things in common with your own. Leave them a comment and a link to a post you think they will enjoy.

 

Those are my top four tips on how to gain a more active readership. I hope you found it useful.

Now it is your turn! Give these tips a go and let me know how you get on (cheeky call to action anyone?) but I want your tips as well, what works for you in encouraging your readers to engage?