This Thanksgiving, take some time to recognize the ways in which your readers make your blog thrive. After the earliest days, when every page view and comment was a thing to be celebrated, too many bloggers start to take their readers for granted or start to think of them as metrics to be tracked rather than people whose needs should be understood and met. Here are three ways give back to your audience—and increase your blog traffic and reader engagement while you’re at it.
Provide Valuable Content
Remember, even if your primary goal is to convert readers into customers, the foundation of content marketing is still, well, content. As Heidi Cohen points out, the world is full of ideas—and one of the best ways to find them is to listen to others. That means not only paying attention to news, other blogs (both those in your network and your competitors), and the world around you, but by really listening to what your readers want.
The important thing is to provide value to keep your readers coming back. Regular readers are more likely to convert into customers or clients, and also more likely to spread the word about this awesome site they found. Social media sharing is more important than ever, and frankly, no one is going to share a self-serving post about how awesome your product or service is. Funny can be good—consider how much play Buzzfeed gets—but so can informative, topical, or heartfelt content. Always keep in mind how each post will benefit your audience, rather than how they might benefit you.
Engage with Your Community
Of course, the best way to understand what type of content your readers want is to listen to them. Certain posts strike a chord with readers, and sometimes it’s hard to understand why. You might feel that your best work is a little-viewed piece in which you indulged a pet interest, but it doesn’t connect with your readers, then you haven’t succeeded. This might simply be because you failed to invite your readers to the conversation. According to this post on echoditto.com, “If the first few paragraphs of a post are the open door inviting readers into the post, the last couple of paragraphs are the open door inviting them into the conversation.”
Brian Gardner recommends using the comments to build relationships with your readers. First, make sure that you always include a call to action encouraging the discussion. Next, make it easy for them comment and share. Finally, he advises responding to every comment: “While you can reply with a simple “thank you,” it’s nice to add a personal touch to every reply. This lets the reader know that not only do you appreciate them taking the time to comment, but that you read their thoughts and responded in kind.”
Always Write Your Very Best
Too often, bloggers focus on the message and not the delivery. Beyond establishing a predictable posting schedule, it’s vital that your writing is free of careless errors. These types of errors telegraph to your readers that you don’t care about details or the quality of the product you deliver—which is pretty much the opposite of what you want to achieve with your blog. Always, always proofread your work before posting. It’s best if you can get allow a little time between writing and posting so that you can proofread it with fresh eyes. If grammar and spelling aren’t your strengths, Grammarly’s super-powered spell- and grammar-checker is better at catching errors than the built-in features in Word or blogging platforms.
How do you plan to give back to your readers this Thanksgiving? Let us know in the comments!
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