In this post regular contributer Skellie from Skelliewag.org explains how you can turn readers into fans.
The notion of ‘raving fans’ brings to mind a screaming crowd at a Beatles concert. For bloggers, a more accurate version of a ‘raving fan’ is someone who raves about you — recommending your stuff to anyone who will listen.
In this post I want to explain how you can use your content to create a kind of friendship between you and your readers. As much as they might love your blog, it’s almost impossible to form a meaningful connection with information and writing alone.
As humans, we connect easily and naturally with other people. Put yourself into what you write and readers will connect with you.
Why having fans of your own is important
- Readers with a personal affection for you will consistently treat you with respect.
- Readers who like you will stick by you when times are tough.
- They’re more likely to speak highly of you to others.
- They’ll be more accepting of your faults.
- They’ll come with you when you move on to new things.
- They’re more likely to trust your recommendations or buy from you. This can help you make money blogging.
How to help readers become fans
A useful starting point for us is to look at how we form relationships with new people in face-to-face situations. One thing you might have noticed is that we tend to like or dislike others based on how they make us feel about ourselves.
We can spend a lot of time with someone but feel very little closeness to them if they make us feel a bit stupid, or boring, or as if our views aren’t important. On the other hand, we can feel quite close to someone very quickly if they give us their undivided attention, entertain us and seem to enjoy what we have to say.
Another key in building relationships of any kind is sharing our experiences and personality: probably because both these things are completely unique to us.
These face-to-face guidelines can easily be translated to blogging.
Sign each post with your signature
Some bloggers do this literally, but I’m referring to other things that, like a signature, are unique to you: your experiences and your personality. You can inject these things into anything you write.
Some simple tips to help you do this:
- Ask yourself: how does what I’m writing about fit in with my own experiences?
- If you’re sharing advice, how has what you’re recommending benefited you?
- If you’re sharing news, how does the news influence you or people you know?
If you do this consistently it won’t be long before your readers start to get a sense of who you are.
Write with humanity
Don’t let your readers forget the content on your blog is produced by a person not so different to them. You have friends, family, hobbies, work, loves and hates. You’ve made mistakes and achieved successes. You occupy a specific place in the world. You’re not just a mind plugged into a keyboard.
Let readers know about the unplugged you — who you are when you’re not online. You can maintain your privacy by using pseudonyms for friends and family and by not getting too specific.
People are good at forming relationships with people. Emphasize that you’re no different to your readers and it will be much easier for them to warm to you.
Some tips to help you do this:
- Share how your offline life has shaped what you’re writing about.
- Share how your family and friends have influenced what you’re writing.
Create selfless content
If it’s true that people like you based on how you make them feel about themselves, it follows that your content should always be focused on the reader. The content you produce must answer ‘yes’ to at least one of these questions.
- Does it inform?
- Does it entertain?
- Does it help?
- Does it teach?
- Is it useful?
Use content to showcase your readers
If a reader’s comment sparks an idea for your next post, why not quote them at the beginning of the article?
If one of your readers writes a great article on their own blog, why not link to it?
If a reader shares a good tip, why not mention it in the next post you write on the topic?
These are a few simple things you can do to acknowledge and draw attention to your readers, which will make them feel good about themselves and you.
Give more than you take
Pure generosity is rare. Bloggers rarely give without expecting something in return, whether it be payment, or a link, or a review. In my experience, bucking that trend can create incredible goodwill among readers. Here are some things you can do to make a fantastic impression:
- Hold a competition and allow readers to enter by leaving a comment, rather than blogging about it or performing some other task.
- Offer to perform a service for your readers and expect nothing in return. I’ve done this on two occasions and both times it allowed me to connect with many readers in a very positive way.
- Give away a free eBook or report.
- Write a post showcasing your favorite reader comments of the month.
Points to review
The key to helping readers form an attachment to you is by emphasizing the ways you are similar to them and making them feel good about themselves, often by entertaining, informing or helping.
You can also use your posts as a platform to acknowledge and appreciate your readers. This will help communicate your respect for them and, in doing so, increase their respect for you.
There are a number of direct and indirect benefits to transforming readers into personal fans and friends: more links, more comments, more positive recommendations, more trust and an incredibly rewarding blogging experience.
Give it a try: use your next post to implement a few of these strategies and start building your fan-base.
Skellie is a regular writer for ProBlogger. You’ll find more practical blogging advice at her own blog, Skelliewag.
Another good article – I can see how you got this ProBlogger slot! I liked the idea about doing a post on your favourite comments in the month – I’ve not thought of that or read about it as a suggestion before. Sadly my blog doesn’t get many comments to warrant that at the moment!
There have been a few posts recently about branding and I think this is part of the whole ethos of you blog. If you have a cold brand, never respond to comments and never divulge your real thoughts/experiences it is unlikely you’ll get raving fans.
This is a really insightful article—it goes beyond the standard mantra of “provide something of value” and actually discusses what makes people enjoy what they’re reading.
These philosophies have been discussed a lot when it comes to real world, but this is one of the first times I’ve seen them translated into blogging. I’m going to make a concerted effort to write with more personality and make my readers feel good.
Now, for the real challenge, we all need to take these ideas and combine them with good copywriting, a good blog design, good promotional tactics, and perhaps just a touch of link baiting. In the end, how everything comes together is what really matters the most.
Thanks for a great post Skellie,
Nice tips by @Skellie !
I like my fans of the blog as well. What I also do is I personalize my comments to them in the art where I place bold @NickName and then I give them my respond to their comment.
My comments are always positive and or written in humor way :)
@Skellie if you get a time visit my blog as well I would like you to comment I am sure you will find any of my posts related to your interest.
What Mason Hipp commented, “These philosophies have been discussed a lot when it comes to real world”
is also applied to me, because I’m not also unfamiliar with humanity related discussion. Heard and read a lot on it.
And when it comes to blogging, it’s not also out of humanity, because blog has been invented by human being and having its presence with the help of us.
It’s our duty to keep blog as good as it deserve.
Blogging means keeping an eye on your traffic, stats and the number of subscribed readers to your blog. We all want more.
Personally, I often wonder how to increase the number of readers who enjoy my blog. I try to do my best, be real, and stay informative on some level. The challenge is clear – meeting that challenge face on isn’t always easy. Sometimes my brain just hurts; sometimes I’m discouraged. Sometimes, everything is great. I wish it was like that every day.
I think your post hits the nail on the head. You’ve summed up exactly what I strive for each and every time I get ready to write. I think I’ll print this out and tack it to my wall as a reminder.
Yeah I’m one of your Raving Fans :D I think another good example is JohnChow. He has loads of fans which always tell him ‘I love you JohnChow’ OR you are the greatest! OR You are the most evil blogger!
It’s like a rockstar, just that you are a blogging star..
Certainly turning your readers and visitors into fans is a positive thing…in addition to your points, it also has to do with…
1. Picking a clear topic and market as a focus
2. Blogging consistently – daily or at least once every two days
3. Writing practically and clearly instead of theoretically
4. Having a professional looking blog design, using graphics to enhance your posts
5. Doing a good job of directing visitors to your site in the first place
Then…once you have a good swarm of visitors coming to your site and they are your fan – isn’t it critical to become good at turning them into participants and not just fans?
This is something I’m focusing on now. I have found over the last year that I have many fans, but I wasn’t structuring my posts to attract comments – participation which is where the fan becomes a member of your club.
You forget “Write a guest post for your reader” under Give more than you take.
I think Darren start out as your reader before turning into your raving fan when you started guest blogging for him.
Be honest and provide clear insight into your topic. Match the content with the person and you will gain fans.
There must be readers first before there can be raving fans and getting these readers takes a lot of effort. These tips are very helpful in that they are not that difficult to implement. In fact, I recently started to plan on doing one of the tips you mentioned so hopefully I am on the right track.
The future will tell if the readers will not only come, but come back again. I am mostly seeking a good amount of regular readers at this time, but if they come and turn into raving fans….the more the merrier! It will be a bonus.
Awesome piece of advice Skellie!
I ‘ll agree with bmunch on the guest posting effect.
I always write as if I’m writing to one or more of a bunch of people I already get on well with, online and off (not the really close friends that I’d cheerfully spill all my secrets to without the aid of alcohol though!). The result always seems more natural if it’s aimed at ‘known’ personalities rather than an imagined readership. In time, many of the ‘imagined’ ones have stepped out of the shadows to become known friends too.
A great post, Skellie. I think a big problem that other bloggers and I have is staying on topic. A lot of times people will come to a blog to read about something, but they won’t find what they expect.
Also, with the giving more than you take, that could be very difficult for a beginner blogger. However, I’ve progressed a bit past that I think, and it is a good thing to do.
I am implementing few of them in my next post..
Linking does help a lot. Whenever I link to a blogger I do get a link back where they talk about myself in there posts commenting on my views. Something which brings in good traffic…
As far as signature is concerned one really needs to work on that. You need to be consistent on that so that people start getting the feeling about your styles..
I am planning one similar thing where I will be opening a spot in the sidebar where I will feature posts of other bloggers and ofcourse link to there posts all for free. That place in the sidebar will be made available for this purpose only..
Your advice is great for bloggers, but you offer suggestions that businesses can implement, as well. I had an experience recently where I became a raving fan of a t-shirt company called CustomInk.com. The company offers a great product (selfless content), posts images of everyone who submits a photo wearing the CustomInk.com gear (uses content to showcase their readers), and makes unsolicited donations to charity causes (gives more than they take).
Because this company so far exceeded my expectations, I can’t stop raving about them. So much so, that I am posting about them again here. – Melissa
I’m your raving fan! Thanks for this very helpful post :) . It helps alot for a beginner pro-blogger like me.
I think this advice is spot on. I am beginning to notice that the more I let people know about me, the higher my readership has been. I left the world of anonymous and it has really impacted my site traffic.
I think you’re spot on with the content of advice Skellie but I have to say “Write with humanity” is one of the most painfully self indulgent headings I’ve read in a long time.
I think that’s what Bono would do if he were a blogger.
Maybe “Write with personality” would have been closer the mark?
Great “mind thinking” post. I like getting your readers involved somehow to make it “their blog” as well as your own.
Some great suggestions here Skellie. I think it comes down to having (genuine, heartfelt) respect for your readers.
I find it helps to spend a bit of time visiting the sites that my readers run – it’s a way of getting to know them, what makes them tick, as well as finding the material for the ‘showcasing’ posts that you mention.
Oh and by leaving your bloglog ‘face’, and maybe a comment or two, you’re also showing that you’ve visited, are interested, curious in and connected to what they’re doing.
I love the idea of being completely altruistic. I made my new eBook available as a free download and haven’t regretted it one bit. The site’s been getting hits ever since!
Very good article Skellie. I especially agree with putting the personal touch ‘a bit of you’ in your posts. I’ve always blogged in a very personal way, I find it difficult to do it in any other way – and that’s probably the main reason I don’t do guest posts heh.
But anyway, people do seem to be responding well to both the personal type posts and the education style ones.
I manage a group of pro-bloggers, and contribute to several collaborative blogs. I’ve sent this link out to my colleagues as Required Reading. Thank you for writing such a clear outline for a concept I’ve had some difficulty articulating myself.
I’ve been doing this one: “Use content to showcase your readers” And I can vouch that people love it. It makes them feel important and appreciated and loyal.
It sounds like my mum was right – I should just be myself and the people worth knowing will like me anyway.
I’m really attached to all the readers that I’ve interacted with, and I hope that comes across in my blog.
This is a great post with a lot of valuable ideas with a real way to implement them in your blog! I personally like the idea of giving more than you take and I’m kinda surprised by this for any blogger. Aren’t bloggers generally giving a lot of time and value away without much expected in return? To me, that is the whole point of blogging (maybe not the case for a pro-blogger though? I know, separate discussion)
Every post that follows this advice will certainly earn a lot of respect and continue to grow your readership. I also think there are a number of things to AVOID doing to transform your readers into fans. Often people post news articles, controversial ideas, or posts just to spark arguments and emotional responses while these can attract a lot of attention sometimes, its not all good attention and can send some readers elsewhere if the items are off topic and not delivered in an objective way. So not delivering annoying, bad or inaccurate content is just as important when to convert fans to readers.
I look forward to actually following this and other good pieces of advice this time around. I think a good way to make readers feel important is to remind them that they are probably smarter than you – that’s my plan.
Fantastic article. We all need to work harder at turning our readers into fans. Hope you don’t mind, but I submitted it to BloggingZoom.com.
Wonderful post. We need to attrack more readers to become our fans in order to be successful.
Thanks for the feedback, everyone — I’ve read all the comments so far.
@ Silky: I’m sorry the headline jarred with you, but it reflects what I was trying to say more accurately than ‘write with personality’. It’s about situating yourself as a fellow human being first — letting your readers know that you’re not just a mind plugged into a keyboard. You have a life, a family, experiences, you’ve made mistakes, you’ve achieved successes. ‘Writing with personality’ is just one small part of it.
@ Mike King: On the surface, it seems that the very act of blogging is giving without hoping to receive, but we do hope to receive: we want our blog to be popular, to get links, to get subscribers, maybe even to make money. I think true giving is about not viewing readers and visitors as a means to an end :-).
Nice post. Coming up on my 3 month blog birthday, I’m seriously looking at how to personalize and make my content unique, in the sea of blogs. You’ve given me food for thought. Thanks.
Thank you for this informative post. I just started blogging about photography. I have spent a lot of time working on the posts but I have very few comments on my blog. This article gets to me think what I should be thinking when writing my blogs.
Skellie, another great article. Finding a balance between writing “unplugged” and professionally has always been a challenge. I used to work as an editor and news always had to be factual and without bias. Now that I’m blogging which is a very personal publishing medium, it is difficult to transit mentally from a “news writer” to a “humane writer”.
I have to admit though, that the blogs that have made me smile are the ones when the writers have been truly authentic.
Great points there proman!!!
This entry really help me a lot especially I am a new blogger
I think Darren start out as your reader before turning into your raving fan when you started guest blogging for him.
Cheers for the response, Skellie.
I think we’re calling the two faces of the same coin a different name, if you know what I mean.
Okay, I’m a raving fan – this is the second of your articles that I’ve read and I’m really applying your advice as a new blogger. The suggestion that jumps off the page to me in this one is using a signature. I haven’t done this, but will now. Thanks, from Kelly!
This is such great advise
I’m gonna go try and get some raving fans!!
As I catch up on all my ProBlogger reading…awesome post! The steps you lay out here will aid bloggers in creating an close-knit online community (in addition to the raving fans). Connecting with readers — being able to say something they can connect with on a personal level — is one of the main reasons I write, both online and off.
I also want to give a shout-out to Jeff’s excellent comment: “Isn’t it critical to become good at turning them into participants and not just fans?”
Sounds like community-building to me!
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I’m new to blogging. Thank you for the valuable tips. I just discovered problogger.net and have been educating myself quite a bit. Thanks!
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