Today we continue to look at ways that blogs which have got past the launch phase can take their blogs to the next level.
In this post we look at something that I touched upon two posts back when we looked at building community on your blog – expanding the connecting points that readers can make with your blog.
As a blog grows you will begin to notice that you’ll be connecting with a wider and wider range of people. Some will begin to feed back to you that there are things about your site that they don’t understand or features that they want.
For example – I found I went through a stage on DPS where I got a lot of emails from people asking ‘what is RSS?’ and sharing that despite my best explanations of it that they didn’t ‘get it’ (or didn’t want to get it). I also had people asking for a ‘forum’ area.
What was happening here is that people were expressing to me that they wanted to connect (with the blog, me and each other) in more familiar ways to them. At this point I began to offer RSS to email, developed a forum area as well as starting to produce a weekly email newsletter.
While adding a forum and newsletter meant a lot more work for me and my team (my Aweber newsletter takes a couple of hours a week to write and the forum area has a team of 10 or so moderators working hard on it) the benefits have far outweighed the costs and have enabled me to make ongoing connections with a wider range of people than if I’d just remained as a blog with an RSS feed.
By offering different ways to connect it has made DPS more accessible to people of different levels of tech savviness, personalities, demographics and learning styles.
I’m not arguing that every blog needs a forum and newsletters – however in most blogs there comes a time where your readers will begin to ask for more and want to connect in different ways. Different topics and audience demographics will lend themselves to different tools to use.
For some it might mean starting a Twitter account, for others it’ll mean a group on Facebook, for others it will mean a forum, a chat room, your own in-house social network (using something like Ning) or a newsletter etc.
How have you expanded the ways that readers can connect with your blog?
This is great! When ever I have thought about starting a forum I have feared that I would have to spend forever moderating it. I love your idea of allowing certain readers to be moderators! I think that you mentioned it last week too.
Not every blogger can afford a team of 10, but RSS, email subcription and facebook group (or othere SNSs) are always the easiest options.
Recently I realized email subscription is pretty important. There are a great amount of people online who don’t use RSS. But almost everyone online should have an email account.
I recently started using twitter, and noticed you somehow found me and started following me, so thanks for that Darren!
Most of your recent content has greatly helped me with improving my blog (Just My Two Copper) as I move from internet nobody to a major contributer for the wow community.
Keep up the great ‘starting out’ posts, they have been wonderfully inciteful!
My blog has been running now for a little while, but I’ve been having trouble getting a community to develop and grow on my blog. I’ve got a lot of followers on Twitter, hundreds of friends on Facebook, even more on LinkedIn, MyBlogLog, FriendFeed, etc., but I’ve still had trouble building that community on my blog itself.
Until a few days ago when I started a Building A More Successful Blog in 30 Days series.
We’re now in Day 3, and I’ve already seen a big improvement in community.
It may take time to build your own community around you blog, but if you keep trying and don’t give up, it’ll eventually happen, and you won’t even be expecting it.
One idea I have to help build the community on my blog is to offer guest blog posts to members of my community. Travelin’ Local is the theme of the blog, and everyone walks, bikes, or drives to places they live, so it’s a common thread for everyone.
Finding a common thread among readers is a great way to keep them coming back, plus, I get to read about their homes, too. It’s a win/win situation.
At the moment, I’m still at the RSS only stage but I can see already that it’s not going to be enough to connect with every visitor.
I think you can over do it though, offering every option available would be a nightmare to manage for one person!
I’ve been kicking around the idea of podcasting and adding a little video here and there.
I’m actually excited to do so, I think it will add a bit more personal touch to my blog. Although I may have to get a stand in for my videos, I want to attract folks to the blog, not scare them away. ;-)
I am connecting with my readers IN PERSON. I am home after a round the world trip before taking off again and am connecting at a nice lounge with folks after work who have been following me. The response has been fantastic and I am excited to meet all these wonderful people.
While we are all virtual, don’t forget face to face contact will bring people closer to you and the mission/vision of your blog. You’ll have more evangelists who can spread your vision when they can see, hear and touch you in person.
Keep writing about this subject with any suggestions you think of. I keep plugging away at my blog, and get few comments. I want to engage readers, am new at this, and still stay excited every day. I don’t have enough readers to have a forum, or am I thinking about that wrongly — do i need to have a forum to get readers?
See — noobie questions.
Newsletters can indeed be a very good way to keep readers connected with your blog. For the small amount of time it takes to write a newsletter each week, this strategy provides great returns in terms of reader loyalty.
Building your own social network certainly helps, too. I’ve found it increases reader interest by giving them a more direct means to interact than simply leaving comments.
I’ve also used Facebook groups… but at least as far as the internet marketing groups go, it’s a challenge to attract people who aren’t just their to push their own sites/opportunities/blogs/whatever.
wow. It’s amazing. Just a week back I started a ‘reader’s corner’ in my blog so that readers could connect with my blog better.
I always like to work in groups and having a forum made me feel as if someone else would chip in anytime and we could work better.
As rightly said, social networking sites could always help in finding like minded people who could love your content and connect with you and your blog better.
Earlier, I used to offer only RSS & Email subscription options for the readers. But, now I am offering twitter, mybloglog & google friend connect options for the readers to connect with my site. I feel its imperative to offer new services for the readers to connect as new technologies keep emerging.
I did go the Twitter route, even adding a program that will automatically push notification of my posts to Twitter. And I decided not to use the letters ‘RSS’ when I put up the subscription options to my blog, so as not to confuse people, although I did write one post where I put a video up of what RSS was.
Twitter and Blogcatalog are both extremely amazing to build traffic to your blog. Everyone should have atleast Twitter because it is very easy to connect with others. Forums and newsletter can be postponed till you have a lot of repeat visitors. No matter what, pay attention to people’s comments and suggestions on your blog.
I just want to ask if how many months or years (since you started DPS) passed before you setup a forum.
I do email, RSS (through feedreader) and Twitter. I’m on facebook, but I don’t use it much.
Guest posting is also a good way to build community. When I posted here (“5 Universal Writing Rules), I saw a jump in traffic and subscriptions.
Right now comments is the only way by which I connect to the people. I do have an account in Twitter and my blog normally deals with Technological advancements in the field of web services. T
Lately I’ve been working on connecting with readers by being as authentic and personable as I can. I’ve owned a “successful” blog before which rated in the 30,000s with Alexis and had PR4 after a few months, but despite all the comments I never really felt connected to the readers. To a large extent that was because the blog topic (SEO) didn’t resonate with me or ignite a passion.
Now I’m using what I’ve called “The Baskin-Robbins Method of Niche Blogging” and it allows my “real voice” to come through. That’s what is really connecting with readers, and although it’s basically a new blog with a bunch of old posts in the background, it’s working and people are starting to come back.
I run a popular parenting and educational website, and we have over 30 writers who contribute articles. We created this fun “connect with us” page as a way for our readers to get in touch with, and learn more about each writer. Our readers love this feature!
At this point that i’m still new, this suggestion would still be premature. but surely i’d entertain this once i reach that point! Thanks still for a great input!
I would definitely like to get a forum going where artists can come in and discuss their artwork and various related topics. Eventually this will be added to my site!
What a great way to respond to answering the same question again and again (‘what is rss’) instead of just answering it, to actually respond to the deeper question (‘can you offer something I’m familiar with?’). I think sometimes when people ask the same question again and again it’s easy to get wrapped up in the question itself instead of considering the deeper implications of what you could offer that would better support the audience–thank you for this important reminder!
Great article – sometimes I forget about engaging in direct conversation with my readers, and mostly asking them what they want from the blog. I’m still relatively new but working on my voice and interaction.
I think we can offer subscribe via mobile. This should be one of the coolest thing in the future.
I only interact via commenting on my blog. I have been wanting to start a forum, but I have no ideas if I even have enough followers to start one. I do have a twitter account.
This is having different ways of information attracts more readers. I myself rather get information sent to me by email, due to me having my email linked with my phone. I barely have time to use an RSS reader.
I was just noticing today that a post i did on making grocery shopping lists has more views than anything on my blog. Maybe a weekly newsletter with a menu plan and corresponding shopping list would be a good idea! thanks again for a treasure trove of ideas!
I totally agree with this. I think niche websites would be better aiming at the forum and newsletter side of things where as larger niches would be better at looking at newsletters, social sites, twitter accounts e.t.c
Eventually, I would like to add a forum to my site. The traffic doesn’t warrant one yet. There is nothing sadder than an empty forum.
I don’t think a forum is needed and am not a big fan of them. The comments section should be sufficient enough for multiple people to post opinions such as the 30 comments so far on this topic. Forums are too much work. Having to babysit people, delete spam, multiple thread on the same topic etc. etc..
In the end it just becomes a big flame war with personal attacks.
I blog about racial issues so the attacks would really get out of hand.
And I definitely agree with Robin. There’s nothing sadder than en empty forum where the administrators are talking to themselves.
Connecting with your readers is important. You should opt different methods. Creating forum is a good idea. Providing feedback form to reader is also a way to connect which I did today on my blog.
The Feedback system was quite helpful. Got my first compliment through it.
Forum is a great way to build a community but I think you kind of need a community first and then the forum is to round up and protect your already royal readers. It’s like a chicken and eggs problems. Either way, it take a lot of time and effort to build such a community. I can not imagine myself accomplished that. Nonetheless, I still enjoy reading new ideas about blogging.
These are very good ideas for established sites. Taking on a forum is a big job and should only be done once you have the rest of your blog really running.
The better forums I have been on have a focus. My time is valuable so I like my forums to ad value to what I am interested in and not be a social thing.
Being able to moderate your forum or have other moderators is a must. I have been on forums that were left for the members to run and they fizzled out fast.
what is the best way to drive newsletter subscriptions on your blog?
i have a link on my blog through which people can access my newsletter archives and sign up if they’re interested in subscribing, but it doesn’t get a lot of clicks — help! thanks much.
I actually used forum posts and social bookmarking to connect my blog posts with my friends. Twitter is now my main channel
Well the idea is great that we should offer a number of ways to our reader to connect to our blog. I allowing the readers to moderate the blog will be a good idea.
Great post Darren. Giving options on your blog is the way to keep it going. Thanks for the tips.
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One of my favorite ways of connecting to my readers is to participate in writing website communities such as eHow and Bukisa. These are also great sites for beginners to learn about SEO and what it takes to have a successful website. If you’re just thinking about getting into this business, sites like this are awesome for test driving the job and your willingness to do everything it’s going to take to do the job.
Starting a forum is easy nowadays. You can experiment with a plugin which lets you add a forum for free and then you can go ahead and buy vbulletin if you think its worth it.
Great post Darren and I believe that connecting with your readers is really important to get passive traffic. If you connect with your readers and email them or reply to them then the readers develop your trust in you. It is a great thing to connect to your users and make your blog as user friendly as possible.
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Haven’t read all the comments, but did read several. I have a photography blog and it is VERY quiet. I also ‘do’ twitter and Facebook, but they haven’t helped much. Perhaps my content just isn’t compelling enough? So far, I have not read anything about the importance of content!! Doesn’t that count? Or is it all about community?