One of the key issues with any upcoming blog is the low level of participation from the readers. A few posts ago I had talked about some of the possible reasons why your readers are passive. In this post I shall put together a few tips that could be of help for some of you to improve the reader participation and prolong his stay.
Possible positive actions from a blog reader
The following are some of the actions that your readers could take during his visit to your blog. Please note that I am listing here only those positive actions that result in mutual benefit for the blogger as well as the reader.
- Comment on the posts or pages
- Subscribe to your syndicated content (RSS etc), eBook or newsletters
- Bookmark your content or spread the word (send the link to a friend etc.)
- Link back from his blog or website
- Visit again
- Click on your ads
- Become an affiliate under your ad/affiliate account
- Advertise on your blog
- Donate to the cause
Tips and actions that motivate the reader do something
#1 Request or ask for action: Many blog posts in this world are monologues; especially when it comes to those blogs with technical content. If a post has some questions directed to the readers or asked for expert opinion or to share their experiences, chances are a few of them respond to your queries. You could also request them to participate in your latest short survey or click on voting buttons. An implicit way of calling for action is via making the next possible links very visible and immediately accessible (e.g. Most popular posts, related posts linking, Your recent posts on highly visible area etc.)
#2 Explain how stuff works and educate: Sometimes, people do not subscribe to your feeds because they don’t even understand what is RSS? Similarly, many would have wondered what are those tiny little icons at the end of each posts. I must tell you, I was very much puzzled when I saw them for the first time! Unless you explain to them what are social bookmarks and how that can be of help nobody might even go click there. Unfortunately, blogs these days are made and designed for tech-savvy readers!
#3 Participate yourself and follow up: According to me a blog’s health index is high only if the energy levels of the blogger itself is high. The blogger has to listen, feel and respond to any action taken by the readers. Many times, the readers stop commenting because of lack of action from the blogger himself. If you tend to delay in tracking and moderating the comments, please go for a point-to-point reply as and when comments come in. Otherwise, keep a scheduled task for yourself to follow-up. If you can’t still remember it, try the subscribe to comments plugin for the benefit of you as well as your readers. Alternate means (email, IM, social networks…) of interacting and communicating with your readers and their communities also increase the chances of your readers being positive to you.
#4 Tell what is in it for him: If you want to increase your affiliate sign-ups, you need to show the real benefits of signing up with facts and detailed review. People may be interested in signing up only if you relate to your own experiences. Also request them politely to sign up!
#5 Offer incentives: Incentives don’t mean that you have to pay-per-comment however it is something more than verbal appreciation. I have seen blogs that pick the top commentators or contributors of the month and give them small cash incentives, free ad spaces, entrecard credits, reviews etc. This can certainly motivate them to respond to the call-for-action.
#6 Barter the favors received: It is always a good idea to recognize the favors received from the readers by giving them back similar things. For example, if somebody has subscribed, added you to their blogroll or even backlinked to your post, you might want to return that favor in a fitting manner. This will encourage the readers to be even more positive in the future. Once in a while you may also surprise the readers by initiating link loves (do not overdo the same!), appreciating them in other blogs’ comments etc.
#7 Entice them to do something: Small short term benefits like commentluv enabled blogs or top commentator plugin can lure the readers to comment and participate more as long as things are explained well to them and soft sold. For example, many times only experienced bloggers understand commentluv and not layman (and hence remember tip #2). Again, you don’t need to over-sell yourself in this aspect and it should not sound like a cheap marketing gimmick!
#8 Explain the rules and increase your credibility: Whether you are running contests or selling your ad spaces explain the rules of the game as well as service details clearly. And once you set the rules you should stick to them and respect them. This will increase the clarity and credibility and hence more positive conduct from the readers. You could enforce your rules in a nice manner but don’t force the users to do sign up. Talking about signing up, I have seen blogs where you have to sign up before you comment. Such closed blogs will keep valuable readers away!
#9 Offer free services: If you provide free services – such as free plugins, themes, code snippets, directory services, free reviews, small-scale consultancy – to your readers the chances of getting back positive favors is very high.
#10 Accept donations gracefully but not beg: If you provide services as mentioned in the last tip, sometimes the readers and beneficiaries would want to acknowledge the same by making donations. There’s nothing wrong in putting a PayPal donate link on your blog if there are no other income generators for you. An even better way of doing the same is via something like the Buy me a beer plugin.
That’s all for now! If you found this post helpful, please feel free to bookmark and share. And please share your views on how your positive actions and make your readers even more positive!