How to Develop an Engaged Blog Audience

In today’s episode I want to talk about building engagement on your blog, and building a sense of community around it and your online business.

Building engagement is so important for your blog. It helps word-of-mouth growth, gives you energy, builds social proof on your site, and leads to more effective monetization. When people see engagement, they want to stick around and spend money.

Three ways to build engagement with your audience

  • Show up predictably – You need to show up regularly.
  • Show up mentally – Be prepared and ready to engage.
  • Show up randomly – Adding an element of surprise can make a massive difference to people.

Links and Resources for Principles of Building an Engaged Blog Audience:

Further Listening About Why You Should Build Community on Your Blog

Courses

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hi there and welcome to episode 239 of the ProBlogger podcast. I can’t believe I got to 239, to be honest. My name is Darren Rowse and I’m the blogger behind problogger.com, a blog, podcast, event, job board, series of ebooks, and courses designed to help you as a blogger to grow your blog, to create great content, to build engagement around your blog which is what we’re talking about today, and to build profit around that blog as well. You can learn more about what we do at ProBlogger at problogger.com.

Today’s podcast is brought to you by our brand new course, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog which launches this week to some of you. This is a course that’s built upon our bestselling ebook by the same name. It’s been completely updated for today and contains 31 days of teaching, more importantly, 31 activities that you can do to improve your blog.

You can head over to problogger.com/31days to register your interest in the course. If you’re lucky, you might just see the page is live now. We’re going to open it up to 50 users at a time to beta test it and we’re going to do that with a bit of a discount.

To be involved in that beta test, head over to problogger.com/31days. We will invite 50 at a time and gradually over time we will get more and more people in there as we get people’s feedback. Hopefully, over the next couple of weeks it’ll be live for everyone. 31 Days to Build a Better Blog launching in the next week or so, depending on how early you get on that list.

In today’s episode, I want to talk about building engagement on your blog, building a sense of community around your blog and your online business. If that is something that is a goal for you, tune in for the next 5 or 10 minutes. It’s a relatively short one today. You can also check out the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/239.

Building engagement is such an important part of building a profitable blog. If you’ve been listening to ProBlogger for a while now, you do know that it’s one of the pillars of ProBlogging that I talk about. Those four pillars, creating great content is the first one. Number two is driving traffic to your blog which is something you need to actually participate in. It doesn’t just happen. You need to be proactive about it. Number three is to build engagement, to build community so that the traffic that comes actually feels engaged. Then, the fourth pillar is monetization.

These idea of building community or building engagement with your readers is so important. For me, it really brings everything alive. As bloggers, we often focus upon getting more readers to our blog. We want more traffic, we want more eyeballs. That’s important because we do need to build awareness with people but if we want to turn that traffic into customers, the vast majority of them do need to feel some kind of engagement.

Most people don’t just buy when they first land on a blog. It does happen but most people need to be warmed up. They need to feel like they know you, like you, and trust you; that’s the idea that Bob Berg came out with this. People do business with those they know, like, and trust. For me, I think most people are much more likely to know, like, and trust someone if I feel like they actually know, like, and trust me if they are engaging with me.

Engagement is so important. It helps your blog to grow. Engagement helps word of mouth to kick in. It gives you as a blogger energy as well when you’re getting comments, when you’re getting feedback, and when you’re getting that interaction. It helps to build social proof on your site. When people come to your site for the first time and they see engagement happening, they see you actually answering questions, and taking care of your readers, that makes them want to stick around longer. It helps to get more page views on your site which is important for those of you who are monetizing with advertising. It unearths ideas for user generated content. Every time I do any kind of engagement on the site, I get ideas for new blog posts or new podcast that I could do. It also leads to more effective monetization.

No matter what kind of model you’re using with your blog, whether you are monetizing with advertising, whether you’re monetizing in selling your own products, whether you’re monetizing through affiliate promotions, or monetizing through masterminds, events, memberships, or any of these models for monetizing a blog will be monetized much better when you’ve got people actually engaging with you. They trust you, they’re more likely to respond to your calls to action and engage with you by getting their wallets out as well.

Engagement is so important in the scheme of building a profitable blog. There’s any number of ways that you can build that engagement. What I want to do at the end of this podcast and in the show notes is to link to a few other podcast that you can listen to that help on a tactical level for building engagement.

Today, I want to give you three things that I think are really important if you want to build that engagement and that all revolve around the idea that I’ve talked before of being engaging yourself. The thing that I have taught many times over is that if you want engagement, you need to be engaging. You need to show up if you want people to shop. You need to engage if you want people to engage with you.

I was listening to a guy called Tom Shefchunas–I think his name is–today. I’m sorry Tom if I mispronounce that. He was on another podcast and I was listening to it, he was actually teaching about how to work with young people. He was doing some teaching, I think it was for youth work, and he talked about three ways that you need to show up when you’re working with young people.

As I was listening to him, I realized that this is three ways that you need to show up on your blog too. If you want to build this engagement, if you want to build a sense of community with your readers, these are three things that I think equally apply into that situation as well. I want to emphasize these three things, three ways that you should show up if you want to build engagement with your audience.

Let me go through them, this won’t take too long. Firstly, he says to show up predictably. This for me is the foundation of it all. You need to be regularly showing up. It’s about regularity, it’s about consistency.

When you show up regularly to your readers, it builds an expectation with your readers, with your audience that you show up. When they see the accumulation of you showing up every week, or every day, or even every month on a regularly basis; consistently showing up and engaging they begin, to expect that and this builds trust, this builds credibility. This is the foundation for the relationship between you and your audience. It sets the tone for what you’re on about.

Showing up once is powerful but when you show up consistently, predictably, regularly, over time, people begin to see that you have a history of showing up and they begin to think that you will show up into the future as well. This builds anticipation, this builds expectation, this builds momentum for your blog, and this is very, very powerful. When people begin to expect that you will be there every week at the same time, or every day at the same time, or every month at the same time, you become a part of their lives. This is where this relationship forms and this by itself is really powerful if you make that commitment to do that.

The actual distance between the times that you show up is really up to you. On ProBlogger, I show up every Tuesday morning for our Facebook Live and I’m trying to build that into my week. Sometimes, I miss one if I’m travelling. Sometimes, I’m 20 minutes late if I’m a little bit late getting back from the gym but I show up regularly and predictably on those weeks.

What I’ve noticed over the last six or so months of doing that is that now my readers are beginning to show up at those times. I try to get a podcast out every Monday night Australian time. By me showing up at the same time every week, I notice that my readers now begin to show up, my listeners begin to show up as well. We missed one last week because I was travelling and I got emails from people saying, “Where is this week’s podcast?”

Building that expectation is a powerful thing. People begin to know, like, and trust you because you show up predictably. This is why it’s so important to come up with an editorial calendar. I don’t really like the word editorial calendar because it’s not just about the editorial, it’s not just about the content; it’s actually an engagement calendar as well. More broadly, it’s a calendar for all of your activities. By actually thinking and being proactive about setting up those intervals of when you’re going to show up and setting that out, diarizing it, calendarizing it, that’s a very powerful thing. Show up predictably is the first thing.

The second thing is just so important and this is something that I’ve fallen into the trap of not doing at different times over the years. That is to show up mentally. Don’t just appear, care. Show up mentally. You want to not just be seen on a regular basis but you want to actually make a connection. This means showing up prepared. This means showing up present and able to engage.

If you’re doing Facebook Live, it’s so easy to just show up and present what you’ve got to present and then you just go away and not actually engage with anyone. It’s easy to show up on a regular basis but to actually show up present, prepared, and engaging with people takes it to a next level. This means showing up and remembering people who’ve shown up before, actually engaging with people that you’ve engaged with before, acknowledging that you’ve got that previous relationship, ready to invest with those who come and actually caring as well. Don’t just appear, don’t just be seen, actually care for people and this means actually going to the effort of engaging with people.

This is something I’ve noticed, it’s easy to not do. It’s easy to set up your Twitter feed so that you just put out broadcasts. It’s easy to set up your Facebook page so that you just share your content and maybe occasionally schedule in a question but you don’t actually show up yourself to engage in that. It looks like you’re there but you’re not really there. This is something that is so easy to do, it’s so tempting to do. We’ve got all these amazing tools at our fingertips now but to actually show up, to be present, to be mentally there, and to actually be engaging with people takes things to the next level. Go beyond the automations and actually get into relationships. Go into real time interactions.

This is why I love Facebook Live because you can’t fake Facebook Live, particularly, when you’re doing Q&As, when you’re actually responding to people’s questions, that’s a very powerful thing as well. It shows people that you are there, that they have your focus, that you’re calling out their name, that you actually see them, and you’re responding to them.

Show up predictably, show up mentally, and then show up randomly. This one was a bit of a surprise when Tom talked about it but I see the power in this. For me, this is really what takes things to the whole new level. Showing up predictably is great but what takes it to the next level is when you add a little unpredictability to your engagement. When you add in the element of surprise, it can make a massive difference to people. Going beyond what is expected, this makes an impression, this creates memories for your audience and this deepens the relationship incredibly.

There’s so many different ways you can do this. For example, replying to comments with in-depth thoughts. Sending someone a private message instead of just sending them a really quick reply can be something that stands out to people.

I’ll give you a really quick example of this. On Twitter earlier today, I had someone reply to one of my tweets announcing a new post. I had this tweet go out, it was an automated tweet, me announcing this new post. As a reply to that, someone asked a really quick question. I have actually answer that question with another post that I’ve already written and I could quite easily have just replied with a link, read this, but I decided to take a little more time and to reply in a direct message with a slightly more personal response.

Actually using their name, actually showing that I’d heard their question, and adding a little bit of my own thoughts. It took me three minutes to write this DM. It was probably a paragraph and a half long and then I did have the link at the end of it through the further reading. But the read this was in the context of me having heard them. It took me three minutes to do this. The reply that came back for my DM was amazing. The person was wowed. The person wasn’t expecting that level of reply.

Remember, it only took me three minutes but it made an impression upon that person. It showed them that I care enough to take a few minutes out of my day to reply. There’s so many ways that you can do this. Did you know that you can reply to tweets by a video? You can actually reply with a video using the Twitter app on your phone. You can do the same thing on Facebook. If someone on your Facebook page responds to you, why not send them a video? They can actually hear your voice, see your face, and know that you have created a reply specifically for them because you use their name.

This type of little simple things. It takes you almost as long as it does to type a reply but to actually personalize it in some way stands out, it surprises them. It shines in their mind a little bit. It’s these little random surprising interactions that last in people’s memories and it makes a massive difference. This is what builds a brand and this is what has huge impact upon your readers.

It doesn’t just have a big impact upon the reader that you’re responding to. If you reply to a tweet with a video, if you reply on your Facebook page with a video, other people in your community see that as well and they notice that you are being more engaging as well.

I hope this helps you. Show up predictably, actually create an engagement calendar. Show up mentally, don’t just automate engagement, actually do it in real life. It doesn’t need to take your whole week to do it. Showing up for an hour a week and engaging, being present for that hour can have a massive impact.

Then, throw in a few random show ups as well. This might be unscheduled Facebook Lives, this might be replying to people individually, this might be showing off your readers’ stuff, resharing what they’re sharing, retweeting their stuff, actually using their responses in your blog post as quotes, actually giving your readers a chance to shine as well, actually giving them those more specific, surprising engagements can go a long way.

Show up predictably, show up mentally, and show up randomly. I hope that helps. Stay tuned in the next moment or two and I will share a few other podcasts that you can listen to with a few more tactics on building engagement for your blog.

If you’re looking for something else to listen to, I do recommend that you head to episode 60 of the ProBlogger podcast where I talked about why you should build community on your blog and why you should build that engagement. Dig a little bit more into some of those reasons I give you earlier in this podcast.

Follow up to that was episode 61 where I talked about how to build a culture of community, a culture of engagement on your blog, and I give you seven practical things that you can do to really take this to the next level. Seven things that you can do that will build an interaction with your readers that will make them feel like they belong to what you’re doing rather than just passive observers of what you do.

I hope you enjoy those. That’s episode 60 and 61. They’re both on iTunes and also over on our show notes as well. Just go to problogger.com/podcast, and then put in the number 60 or 61. Thanks for listening. I’ll be back next week where I’m going to talk about seven trends in social media that I picked up at a recent conference. Tune in for that one.

Thank you so much for listening and if you got a moment, I would love it if you head over to iTunes or your favourite podcast app to leave us a review.  It’s been a few weeks since I got a review in. I do get an email every time they come in and so I’d love to see some new ones. It helps me to get a feel to how you are receiving the show, what you like about it, what you don’t like about it, and it also helps us to be seen a little bit more in iTunes as well. If you’ve got a moment to do that, even just for a few minutes it would help us a lot. That’s over on iTunes or your favourite podcast listening app. Leave us a star rating and a review. Thanks for listening. Chat with you next week.

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