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Email a Blog Reader [Day 5 – 31DBBB]

Posted By Darren Rowse 10th of April 2009 Blog Promotion 0 Comments

Today’s task in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge is all about building community on your blog and making an impression upon readers by giving them some personal attention.

The task is simply to email a new reader (or more than one).

While the tip sounds simple – too simple – it is actually a technique that I used in the early days of this blog (ProBlogger) and it really helped build up reader engagement.

What I found is that when you pay personal attention to a reader it significantly increases the chances of them not only returning to your blog but also spreading the news of your blog through their network.

So look over the most recent comments left on your blog and identify a reader that you don’t recognise the details of. Shoot them a quick email thanking them for their comment.

Make sure you include a link back to your blog so they know who you are and make the email relevant to their comment (ie answer a question they asked or add to their comment in some way). You might also like to point them in the email to your RSS feed (converting them to a loyal reader). While there are some tools out there that email new comment leavers automatically for you – the more personal you can make it the better.

Two Ways to Take this Further and Make a Bigger Impression

The above technique can really be worth investing time each day into – but here are two ways that you can extend this:

1. To make an even greater impression if the person has left a link to their own blog in their comment click that link and leave a comment on their blog. Again – this is another technique that I used in their early days of my blogging and it was certainly a factor in getting the ball rolling for me in terms of building readership.

2. Another quick thing to do is to respond to the comment ON your blog. Sending the email is great on making an impression on the person themselves but leaving a comment in your own comment section shows other readers that you’re interested in engaging in conversation. It also helps build comment numbers which can build social proof and show your blog is active.

Rinse and Repeat

If you’ve got a few extra minutes today – do this with a handful of new readers – the more the better. I’d also highly recommend adding this task to your daily routine – 10-15 minutes a day on this task could make an impression on thousands of people a year.

This simple tip takes just a moment to do but can create a loyal long time reader. Do it at least once a day (or set yourself a higher target) and you’ll build your blog consistently over time.

Is this Tip Not SPECTACULAR Enough For You?

Last time I shared this tip with a fellow blogger they rolled their eyes at me and told me that they didn’t want to find just one more reader for their blog – they wanted hundreds or thousands.

This blogger failed to realize two things:

  1. Loyal Readers Spread the Word – I’ve found that in many cases a single reader quickly becomes numerous loyal readers because when you make an impression on people it’s likely that they’ll spread the word about you. They do this through their own blogs, word of mouth, Twitter and other social networking sites.
  2. Loyal Readers Build Page Views – One loyal reader can potentially view your blog hundreds (if not thousands) of times. A daily visit from that reader for a year brings an extra 365 page views to your blog. Gain an extra loyal reader every day for a full year and the numbers start to add up.

While there’s nothing wrong with attracting thousands of new readers to your blog quickly – the majority of times they’ll come and go very quickly.

Build loyal readers one by one on a daily basis and can be a lot more fruitful in the long run.

Don’t have any comments on your blog yet?

I know there are a number of very new bloggers doing this challenge that might not yet have people leaving comments on their blogs to email. If this is you – don’t worry, I have another mini task for you to do today.

Spend 10 minutes visiting other blogs on your topic and leaving relevant, helpful and genuine comments on their blogs. The more helpful your comments the better – make an impression with quality comments raises your profile and can potentially drive traffic to a blog.

Related Reading:

Update – Find out how others are doing with this task over at the forum! Day 5 – Email a Reader

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • I think that is a great tip and I’m going to call today reader appreciation day on my blog at http://www.reallifepurpose.com

    I also appreciate you and your great advice
    Greg

  • Darren-

    Nobody should roll their eyes at this advice. With blogging, or anything in life, it is the small things…DONE CONSISTENTLY that produce results.

    I have new readers who have come to my blog (and left comments) from this 31-days project already… thus I will reach out to some of them today!

    thanks

    http://www.thomsinger.blogspot.com

    thom

  • Great Darren, you are really reading my mind :)

    That was just the thing I wanted to do, but I felt like perhaps I am a little to direct. But now you have encouraged me to actually actively spent some time on other blogs, to create a relationship with other fellow writers.

    Thank you again and keep up the great challenge.

  • This tip is at the heart of marketing. You can’t have a crowd of followers until you have one follower. Seth Godin had a great post about this concept today:

    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2009/04/opening-acts-and-rock-stars.html

    You have to build your audience brick by brick, and connecting, starting, and maintaining a conversation with people is a great way. That’s real networking, finding people who you can exchange value with for mutual benefit.

  • Great idea – always try to use the person’s first name in any communication as well – people like to hear their own name.

    It’s a psychology thing!

  • Ten

    I like this one. I write all my readers on my blog and, if they have blogs, I visit it to write too.

    I think we can create a post about our readers too, to appreciate their comments and visits.

    Thanks Darren!!!

  • Really simple thing I realized while reading:

    I always have been torn about emailing the commenter or simply commenting on the blog (if you email, nobody else sees, and if you comment, the original commenter might not ever come back to see it).

    The obvious answer is to do both.

    -Barry

  • I’ve gotten the eye-roll from people when they suddenly realize that it takes work to become an “overnight” success.

    You are absolutely right when you say that consistently and actively building loyal readers over time is what results in success down the line.

    Thanks for another great reminder.

  • Sam

    I’ll have to go to the mini task today :(. I have vistors to my blog, but none comment. I’ve seen that getting comments can be really tough. There are large blog out there that only get a handful of comments (max) for their posts. If anyone here wants to come by my blog and leave a comment I’ll make sure to send you an email (so I can do the original task!).

    Sam
    http://trendycellular.com

  • If I am having an extended conversation about a post I ALWAYS a) thank them for commenting and b) try to let them know about future articles they might be interested in via email. I’ve gotten many loyal readers that way and who knows how many page views.

    Sage advice!

  • Oh Darren, I like this task (: I’m VERY much a people person, and I love helping visitors on my blog get involved & engaged in the conversation!

    ♥Mannie
    http://MannieMandible.webs.com

  • I started doing this just recently and one result was an invitation to be a guest blogger.

    Thanks, Darren, for all your great advice!

  • Hi Darren,

    Thank God this is something I have as part of my every day blogging activities. Every time I receive a comment from a new reader the protocol is:

    – Reply to his comment in my blog
    – Send him an email thanking him for his comment

    About the latter, I already have a template or canned response in Gmail that I customize for every one. I will share it, may be someone finds it usefull (take into account that I’m translating from Spanish)…

    Hi [NAME OF THE COMMENTER],

    Thanks for your comment in our blog!

    [SOME PARTICULAR OPINION FROM ME ABOUT HIS/HER COMMENT].

    Have a great day and we hope to find new comments from yo soon,

    Guillermo
    Blog: http://loszieglerencanada.com
    RSS: http://loszieglerencanada.com/feed/

    Now, my pending task here is to leave a comment in his/her blog if any… I have to admit I’m too lazy for that sometimes!

    Thanks for your hard work!

  • Emailing readers is a great way to get them coming back and interacting with your blog.

    For bloggers (like me) who can’t be bothered to send out lots of personal emails, I think automated systems are great. Unfortunately, plugins which I tried had two problems:

    a) They wouldn’t seem personal enough — ie, they would be quickly dismissed by the reader.

    b) The emails were sent instantly, so users don’t think “oh, maybe I should check to see whether anything new has been posted / any new comments”.

    I created and released my own plugin which overcomes these problems — it addresses readers by name, or referencing their coments, etc, and sends the message after a few days to make it seem more “real”. You can download it from here: http://making-the-web.com/2008/08/27/plugin-thank-me-later/.

    -Brendon.

  • Any time I get a new commenter on my blog, I respond to them in my comment section. Then I try to click over to their blog and find a post I can comment on. I figure, they would appreciate a comment on their blog more than a behind-the-scenes email (or one on MY blog).

  • Maybe because my blog is new, but I can’t help not replying to each comment, with no relation to the marketing side of it. Guess I’m just so damn grateful at this stage :)

  • I was lucky enough to get this advice (all three pieces) from Nettie Hartsock. I’ve been doing it since I started, and is how I’ve built my (small) community.

    The hardest part is when I can’t find anything interesting to say on their blog, so that will be the piece I commit to working from now on. I won’t give up until I find something.

  • This tip works like a charm….and I haven’t experience the eye-rolling but I did get invited to be a guest blogger for several people as a resulted of doing this. thanks darren

  • That’s pretty funny: I just spent the morning commenting on other people’s blogs, even before you told us to do this!

    I’d also add that when you write a blog that ends with a question, people are more apt to comment. It can be a really simple question, like “What do you think?”, but it prompts a response.

    So, for my last buttontapper post, I asked a more rhetorical question about music and the homogenization of media, but received a “response” via someone adding me on Twitter whose blog features a new musical release per day. I added a link to his blog as an update to mine, but of course, any other responses are always welcome!

    http://buttontapper.com/2009/04/musical-selection-or-lack-thereof/

  • I have always replied to the comments on my posts. At the moment I’m engaged in 5 meaningful mail exchanges with participants of 31DBBB, because of one sign of appreciation for participating in your blog.

    I think this is how friendships and partnerships start: Genuine appreciation for each other.

    I created a Facebook 31DBBB group, because I wanted a way to cultivate these relationships. Hopefully more will join the bunch of friends that’s there now to create a wide network of writes and publishers with one thing in common: 31DBBB

  • I already respond to all comments on my blog, though not always as quickly as I would like. I think the tip about connecting with readers is a good one. When I have received emails from people it has always made me more interested in visiting their blog.

  • I’d be perfectly happy with one additional raging fan!

    I always try to e-mail back readers and commenters, espcially in the crucial early stages of my blog. I’ve experienced such great feedback in response this way.

    Give me 10 raging fans over 1000 random readers anyday!

  • Great tip. Considering that my blog is new it will be easier for me to contact the readers that I do have and build relationships with them.

  • I’ll make a try with this simple tips! Do straight forwards to engage readers.

    Honestly, i never thought about this before though i already installed Email This Commentators Plugins.

    Thanks for your ide bro..

  • I love the idea of building 365 annual visits each day. This post really shows how the little details and efforts can make a big difference. Thanks for sharing Darren!

  • Ian, I agree that the dialog via email and through blog comments is important. My post today, which will go up within a hour or so, actually combines several of your techniques. Part V on General Aviation heroes is:
    o The last in a series of articles (I read an older post of yours about doing a series)
    o Is a list of 16 Items
    o And is 100% based on suggestions that readers submitted to me during the series via email, Facebook, Twitter or as a blog comment.
    Feedback has been great and readers are more engaged in the series that just about any prior post. Thanks for the suggestions. Here’s a link to Part IV, and from there you’ll be able to easy reach Part V when it’s posted:
    http://www.maxtrescott.com/max_trescott_on_general_a/2009/04/general-aviation-heroes-part-iv-dale-and-alan-klapmeier-of-cirrus-design.html

  • My blog is very new and doesn’t have many comments. I have been responding to them, though, when I get them. Your related 10 Techniques post, is very helpful and I will start implementing those techniques right away. Thanks!

  • jan

    One of my favorite bloggers emails me his reaction on the comments I leave on his blog. Of course, I feel flattered and important he takes the time to personally write me. What’s good about this technique is that I feel compelled to make a return visit to his blog to keep the conversation going. It’s the polite thing to do. Secondly, I learn a lot from this exchange of ideas.

    You’re spot on how one satisfied reader can spread the good word about you. Be it in his blog, on private talks with other blog authors and colleagues, and even in comments left on other blogs.

    I’m that one little person who keeps the good word about this blogger. I have blogged about him, linked to his useful posts, left good comments about him on other blogs, and recommended people to check his posts to help resolve some problems or questions they have.

    I know I’m just one little voice and perhaps do not carry much influence. But if we think of all the people he has charmed with this technique that will add up to a lot of good will that can only bring benefit on his blog.

    In my blog, I respond to comments quickly. Although I admit it’s tough to personally email new blog commenters. Ten to twenty minutes in a day is not such a big sacrifice though. I will take to doing this with renewed enthusiasm.

    Thanks, Darren.

  • This is a crucial tip and one that people should not be rolling eyes over!

    I made it almost my USP on my other site http://myzerowaste.com that every few days I spend an hour acknowledging ALL the comments I get.

    Personally, unless you are inundated I think it is rude not to answer back – it’s like ignoring someone when they talk to you.

    great post, Darren; I’m going to check I haven’t left anyone hanging on my sites today :)

  • Yay! I love interacting with my readers. The more tasks that I do, the more intuitive these tasks feel.

    Yesterday, I received a comment from a 31DBBB participant who commented on my blog. I emailed back sharing that I’d visited her site and thought her layout was fantastic. Check it out here.:

    http://www.summertomato.com

    I am producing better material, getting more traffic, receiving more comments, and finding new opportunities with this challenge already. Love it!

  • This was one of the first bits of advice I had when I started my first blog – always, ALWAYS respond to comments. Obviously when you have 400 or so (like Problogger), that’s not possible on an individual level, but it’s vital to say something. Otherwise visitors feel like they’re talking to thin air.

    Since I’m in a different time zone to most of my few visitors, it’s easy to post one reply to everyone or a multi-part comment with individual responses. First thing on my list every morning!

    For example, the plagiarism post I’ve been using over the past few tasks: http://www.wordophilia.com/writing-and-plagiarism/

  • I will be doing the alternate task. I do not have many comments on blog and the ones I do I cannot figure out how to e-mail with the blog platform I am using for the blog I am focusing on.

  • Oops, I forgot to post my URL :-P

    http://www.hazardouspaste.com

    I just started a big project too; Music 365
    http://www.hazardouspaste.com/Music-365/

  • Great points Darren! I noticed since being involved in this challenge a few fellow bloggers have reached out and did comment on my blog sourcing 31DBBB as their way to finding me.

    I did thank them in my comments as well as reciprocate on their blog as well.

    I only wish everyone who’s blogs I have commented on would show me the same love, but we can’t always expect it :)

    Thanks again Darren, and thanks fellow 31DBBB folks for taking the time to get to know me and my blog.

    What was once a place for me to just ramble in has very quickly become a blog I take great pride it. It is no more my less loved child.

    Alison
    newlifeasnewwife.blogspot.com
    ahotpinkpetticoat.blogspot.com

  • Normally I didn’t reply to comments but I have come to the realization that readers like it when you do reply to what they have to say. AND they send their friends to your site and they become your readers.

    This is a practice I started back in November of last year and stopped in February this year, just because I ran out of time, and my readership also stopped responding to any of my posts.

    I thought it was weird but this is the reason my readership went down. That and adding RSS feed content to my blog, something I will NEVER do again. Perhaps I did it wrong but it cut my readership in half.

    So what you recommend Darren makes a lot of sense as well as keeping your readers happy. They really want to know that their comments are read and their opinion matters. Otherwise, they’re talking to a brick wall. It’s a good habit to get into. Good lesson today, one I wish I had back in February.

    Sara

  • My blog “community” is pretty small and friendly too so I’m pretty good with this task. However, by coincidence I posted something specifically asking for my readers’ help, so prompted by this task I added my own answer to the dilemma posed and thanked people for commenting.

    http://www.diaryofareluctantblogger.com/2009/04/reader-help-requested-association-blog.html

  • Related the Blogwalking suggestion. Is it ok (will give us a credit) if we leave a comment in other blog which already a huge comments? I mean more than 20 comment.

    I forgot where i ever read about how to comment which gives a value to our blog, stated that more than 20, reader will skip the comments and strike trough the Comment Form. Means, they prefer not to read more than 20 first comment. So, it wont give a credit which flow other readers to our blog.

    In this case, if this research is perfectly correct, we should have an option where we should leave our comment that can have a rank less than 20.

  • Lol. Did this naturally when comments came from the first tasks (on my brand-new blog). It’s not hard to connect to people this way – if they took the effort to leave something, there’s natural curiousity to check them out as well… and hey – they climb too! Or their brand new son’s name is a lot like my (brand new) son’s! :)

  • I’ll have to focus on your mini-task today, Darren, since my blog is so new. I’ll try to reach out to some other bloggers.

    However, since my only commenter on my blog so far is my husband, he’ll be glad to hear that my assignment for the day is to “pay personal attention to a reader”!

    Enjoying the focus that this challenge is giving me. Thanks!

  • The WordPress plugin that automatically sends an email to every new commentator is too obvious, and as you say, too impersonal.

    However, I do use the Contact Commenters plugin by Ajith Prasad Edassery. I can decide who to email, based on when or how much a reader comments, but not automatically. It’s great for general announcements or just thanking those who support you. I make it somewhat personal, but am going to start mailing individuals by hand as well.

  • Thanks for the tip Darren!!
    I just converted my site over to wordpress from another platform and lost all my comments in the porting. Still not sure what happened there… Anyway, for the most part, I am starting over.
    So, I will spend some time today visiting some blogs and leaving comments.
    If anyone wants a good laugh for this Friday check this out and leave me a comment, if you like! http://www.owenwebs.com/index.php/2009/04/10/friday-funny-hillbilly-vasectomy/

  • I took the liberty of visiting and commenting on some of the newer blogs. This way, we can gain some momentum!

  • I do like to respond to reader’s comments with a comment time to time – if I have the time, but should I also answer the question in my comment section or one or the other?

  • Thanks, Darren. Great advice.

    I’ve just joined the community at http://www.dad-blogs.com/

    and have been following the links for “Fatherhood Friday” and commenting. Not only could this bring me new readers for my own stuff (mostly fatherhood related) but I’ve found several great new blogs to add to my RSS subscriptions.

    I’m loving this series so far.

  • Barry is right, as are you, Darren. (I also read Seth Godin’s post.) Each and every blog follower cherishes the idea that they matter and are not just a number somewhere in the Google stats. The personal touch is important.

  • Darren,

    Yea!! I’ve actually done this. I worried it might be a bit pushy so I’ve only done it twice.

    Guess I’ll do it a bit more often.

    thanks!

  • I found this approach not only to be helpful for my blog but I’ve also made some great connections with people. It has also helped inspire ideas for posts.

  • Thanks for this great series, Darren. I always respond to the comments people leave for me, but I have not emailed them about that unless, because I didn’t realised they’d commented, I’ve responded to it several weeks later. But I will definitely try that today!

    One technique I’ve had success with is this: occasionally people email me a comment. Unless it is obviously confidential I will always email them and ask if they would mind posting their comment in the comments section of my article, or give me permission to do so on their behalf. This almost always results in a positive response.

  • Hi Darren, every morning I check my blogs for comments, always respond to the comments with comments, check out the other peoples blogs and leave comments, and have emailed a few of them with thank you’s etc. Very good advice. It is rather a “do unto others”. Thanks!

  • yeah, this really does go FAR for sure….i’m pretty hardcore in that i like to respond to 99% of my comments on my posts. not only does it help them stick around, but they are getting HELPED! which is awesome if your blog revolves around hooking people up with knowledge.

    i’d go as far as to say this is the #1 tip all bloggers should do.