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The Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge Method, Or, Blogging Is Flirting

Posted By Darren Rowse 20th of July 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Oh blogger, are you a flirt? You should be. Sara Ost from EcoSalon explains more.

Successful blogging takes epic diligence. As a blog grows and brings in new readers, we all want to maintain what we’ve already built. No easy task! This sort of strategy calls for an effective tactic. And that tactic, my friends, is flirting. Though we can call it anything, My Super Official Blog Maintenance & Growth Tactic is pretty lame, so I prefer the operation name Wink Wink, Nudge Nudge.

The premise here is simple: flirt.


To grow your blog and maintain that growth, wink at your loyal readers, nudge the new ones. It’s akin to keeping the romance alive with a steady love and coming on a bit stronger with a potential new flame (hint: send a glass of wine, not a Chupa Cabre). Blogging is just people, flirting is just attention, and no person anywhere dislikes attention. I’m not talking about asking your reader out on a date. I’m talking about rewarding them for engaging with your words – with you. The trick with blogging, of course, is that you’ve got to flirt with everyone at once, the old and the new, without being insincere. No one likes a player…but everyone loves a flirt.

Wink, Wink

1. Wink with a link to a previous relevant post

Link up with a brief explanation and a bit of a tease that will help loyal readers anticipate what you’re talking about before they’ve even finished the sentence. I admit, this is the tactic I use most because it’s the easiest (“you regular readers will remember that I blogged about this last month in such and such post. I just know you remember.”) And flirting with your older readers by showing you trust they’ve kept up their end of the repartee just proves to your new readers that they’re on to something good. No reader is going to invest herself in a blog long term (visit more than once) if she doesn’t feel she is in for some appreciation. She’s flirting with you, with your blog, for only a moment – show her you’re attentive down the road.

2. Wink with a reference to a reader in a post

Readers love seeing their name in hypertext (who doesn’t?). Mentioning and discussing a comment from Susan is great, but if you can use a tip from her, all the better. Your readers will begin working hard to find good information for you to post about, saving you work. And all you had to do was wink! Remember to say “Reader Susan”, not just “a reader” or “this chick”.

3. Reference a past poll

“Hey, guys, remember that awful design we all voted against? Today’s new product is even stranger.” If you haven’t started using micropolls yet, do it. (Here’s one at Treehugger, and here’s an example from my own site, EcoSalon). Both micropoll.com and polldaddy.com are free and easy to use. Polling is also a great way to get new readers involved when they’re too shy to de-lurk and leave a comment.

4. Link love again and again…and again.

Good bloggers do it more than once.

You’re winking with reckless abandon – good for you. You’re clearly into meaningful community as opposed to grabbing few quick pageviews before moving on to other projects (people). This brings me to ye olde linky link. Doing it more than once shows you’re not just in it for the one-time Google boost. Create a genuine relationship by linking to a generous blogger again in the future – and when you do, reference the post with the original link and, if pertinent, explain the history to your readers. (Loyal readers who have already seen a previous link will feel smarter from the familiarity – people are encouraged by repetition, not put off by it.) Don’t link ‘em and leave ‘em.

Nudge, Nudge

1. Ask Them to Subscribe

Oh, the new reader. You get hundreds – or, if you’re lucky, thousands – every day. How many return? How many think you’re worth it?

Asking for something from a new reader is one of the best ways to get them to come back. Whatever we invest it becomes more valuable. But the challenge is creating a request that is compelling. A lot of bloggers make the mistake of only ever asking for comments. I don’t think this is necessarily the best tactic. Many will be shy until they’ve been reading you for a while – the infamous “lurkers”. So get them to read you for a while. Don’t write a bland post and add a worthless comment call to action; focus on quality content and go ahead and ask them to subscribe. (On WordPress? You might try out the nudge par excellence Seth Godin plugin). I am inclined to think many new readers are more likely to subscribe than they are to comment because they can maintain their anonymity until they’re a bit more comfortable. A subscription is ultimately far more valuable than a single comment, so ask them to subscribe. After all, a good flirt is bold but never fails to put the subject of affection at ease.

2. Ask Them to Comment

Maybe you should ask for a comment after all. This works well if the content is really inspiring, or if your blog is in a niche where the posts are typically considered starting points for content creation (read: politics, blogging, eye candy of the living or inanimate sort). As for me, I’m shameless, so I ask for everything: RSS subscription, newsletter, comment, sharing, firstborn – you know, the usual. This is technically more of a hug than a nudge, so if that’s not your personality, don’t do it. ;)

3. Ask Them to Share It!

If a post is good and there’s a big, easy social media button to push, I push it. (I can’t help it!) This is something I haven’t tried out much with my own readers, but I’m curious to know how well it works for you. Do you prefer to carefully prepare one special post, and make a special request of your best readers to Digg or Stumble or Reddit, or do you throw it all out there at everyone and wait to see what sticks? In other words, do you lavish your skillz on special, or do you flirt with everyone? Whatever you do, do something. Flirtation does not favor the wallflower.

4. Poll

I won’t belabor this point as it’s been covered. But bear in mind that if people are reading your blog, they want to spill their opinions. And they like to see the fruits of their efforts. But new readers need a little extra nudge to overcome the initial shyness hurdle, and leaving a comment can be intimidating for some newbies. There’s nothing like a good, juicy, or polarizing survey to get them to test the waters (or, in keeping with our theme, to take a sip of what you’re sending).

Once a Flirt, Always a Flirt

Don’t be afraid to repeat, repeat, repeat. Then go do it again. Be generous with your winks (references), and those new reader nudges (calls to action) won’t seem so annoying (utterly shameless).

Though I’ve outlined some specific ways to “wink” and “nudge”, what this is really all about is pretty basic and intuitive: it’s simply about responding, acknowledging, and inviting. No one wants to be ignored, most enjoy helping, everyone likes to feel smart, and people love attention. You can’t become a BFF with everyone, nor can you answer every email, but a wink and nudge are no trouble at all. In the blogitat, it just helps to be a flirt. ;)

This is a guest post from Sara Ost. Her new blog is EcoSalon.

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 and LinkedIn.
  1. Once again your advice is brilliant! We all love attention and acknowledgment.

  2. if you want it you ought to ask it
    if you want them to subscribe to your feed ask them
    if you want them to comment keep some room so other can start the conversation

    i have tried this on my blog and i have seen some reasonable growth in my blog comments and subscriber

  3. I like the flirty advice :P Some great tips. I do some of the above. Will try to improve.

  4. Great post. Really something that all bloggers should learn about.

  5. Haha. This is surely an interesting tip from ya blog. Lol.

  6. Rightly said, If you need attention you need to learn to give attention..

  7. Cute and useful analogy. Well done!

  8. thankyou for a great article i love this blog and its friends

  9. The suggestion that we ought to flirt with our readers had this Certified Old Guy red-faced with embarrassment for a minute until it sank in: Yes, developing a relationship with your readers is flirting!

    And when you are nice to your readers, they will be nice to you by responding positively to your requests to subscribe, comment and share! Advice that I will be putting to use right away.

    Great article! It really put reader relationships into a new light for me.

  10. Absolutely fabulous. You have just taken the basics of human behaviour and applied it to how they would react to the blogging world. The best part that I liked was how you advise to refer readers to a previous post. This is a technique that is new to me and could produce some good results I think. Thank you.

  11. This point says it all:

    “No one wants to be ignored, most enjoy helping, everyone likes to feel smart, and people love attention.”

    Welcoming people and making them feel at home can do wonders for a blog’s popularity.

    Enjoy, Barbara

  12. Love. it. I’ve never thought about flirting so much as something bloggers can (and should) do, but it completely makes sense. Great post!

    Oh, and FYI…Cool Broads definitely know how to flirt!


  13. Great post, Sara, you hit the point, flirting, I was looking for a word to describe the blogging relationships, and you found it.

    Very refreshing and informative, I like it very much

    Free Internet Home Business Ideas

  14. Hi, thanks all for the feedback! Glad you enjoyed the flirting device. ;) Would be interested in hearing what works for you in terms of engaging readers, too. :)

  15. Great post!

    We are in the reality tv generation and everyone wants to be micro famous. It’s like we are all feeding each others ego, or how my friends say; everyone is stroking each other and making them feel good.

    In business meetings this can be looked at as a waste of time, in blogging though it is a great way to get readership and loyalty. I mean, all you are asking for is a comment here and there, rss subscription if you’re lucky.

  16. I like the idea behind this method as you can link to and acknowledge the fact that they have inspired you to write a new post or have provided a really useful vibe of a comment that inspires you further.

    Great guest posters you acquire Darren!

    Throw some my way! hint hint!

    Cheers Sara!

  17. “…no person anywhere dislikes attention”

    Although I found your blog post interesting, I have to disagree with this statement. Plenty of people dislike the spotlight or the ordeal of flirting. We are called introverts or shy and hate playing these kind of interpersonal games. We are direct rather than sly and prefer honesty instead of teasing. It’s just the way we approach life and relationships.

    Plenty of bloggers dislike personal attention…that might be why they blog rather than leaving their computers and going out into world to interact with other people. It’s not because we are anti-social and unfriendly, we just don’t like to be judged or sized up by other people.

    I did think your post was funny although it is unlikely that I will ever utilize your tips. Just don’t assume that what comes easily to you is universally true.

  18. Sid Burgess says: 07/20/2008 at 9:27 am

    Great advice Sara. I especially enjoyed the part about engaging your audience and asking them to participate in your blog.

    I would like to add a couple subcategories to follow your well done post.

    Relate with your readers: Readers enjoy a good post, especially if they feel like they can relate to it or has a fair amount of application. Successful blogs stay ‘on topic’ but can also engage their readers on a level that helps their readers grasp the concept better. An example of this would be to do simple reader analysis (demo, age, background, interests) and then edit a post to “fit” that demographic. The polling that you mentioned is a great way to accomplish this.

    Get personal with extroverts: Like LP mentioned, some people don’t enjoy the lime light, but many do. Communicating with them on a very personal level will bring them back time and time again. Emailing, SMS, Tweeting, and socNets, are just a few ‘external’ ways you can engage your ‘needy’ readers beyond comments and cause them to become disciples of your readership. If you are really handy, you can even integrate these tools directly into your site to give you more functionality (i.e. more reasons to stay/come back) for your community.

    Again, I love the post. Keep it up!


  19. @LP

    I think all but the most extreme introverts like some attention. We’re not talking about putting people on a stage a casting a spot light on them here. Introverts like to get their attention in a way that is non threatening and comfortable for them – a blogger saying “as you’ll remember from last weeks post” shouldn’t be threatening … or maybe I’m just not being understanding.

    You say “plenty of bloggers dislike personal attention”, if you didn’t want people to pay attention to you why would you be a blogger?

    An introvert that dislikes all attention certainly wouldn’t be very likely to leave a pointed comment on a popular blog.

    @ Sarah

    Love the post especially the line “Blogging is just people, flirting is just attention, and no person anywhere dislikes attention”.

  20. Is there going to be a follow-up post about how to ask a reader out? That might come in handy one day. ;-)

  21. I get your point but I’m about as shy as they come so just writing a blog is a serious step forward for me. Leaving comments is real progress. To ask me to flirt is way beyond my capacity at this point. Now if I had tons of readers, that would probably give me the confidence to at least try flirting. Baby steps. But I don’t use my blog to avoid people but rather, I find that I am actually developing better communication skills by blogging. I’m thinking a bit faster on my feet than before. But I have to admit that it would be nice to able to edit some of my past conversations.

  22. great post, i wish i could say something good on it but i cant

  23. This post is fantastic! As a new blogger, I have found quite a few or your posts to be very helpful. Thank you for taking the time and for being a quality researcher/writer!


  24. @ Laura

    I definitely agree blogging is a great way to improve communication skills. I also find that I’m better able to share my thoughts with strangers in person because I’ve gotten used to it while blogging.

  25. After reading the post, I have decided to give flirting a serious try..I think offering Prizes/gifts to readers (like by having a special contest), can be on the list too…

  26. I’d say one way that works well for me in engaging readers is asking them a question at the end of my post. I don’t make it a generic question, like “What do you think about this?”, I make it specific and direct, like, “Have you ever created a menu plan for a whole month? Did it work? What would be better for you – a weekly plan or a monthly plan?” Things like that.

    Also, I interact in the comments section.

  27. fun post – but the points have already been made by Darren before in other posts…leaving comments, asking your readers to subsribe and to leave comments. Guess he’s just trying to drum it into our heads.

    By the way what’s a chupa cabre?


  28. Very cute! A great insight into the psychology of blogging and media in general. The art of seduction is all over the place, and this is just another application.

  29. This story reminds me of a comment I once heard about a local newspaperman . He reportedly said that he’d print the local phone book every week, if he could get away with it. People love to see their name in the paper so much, he goes out of his way to find any story that can highlight a local citizen. It certainly makes sense to give your readers a little love.

  30. that is so…………seductive

  31. Hehe I do love flirting. So the link between bloggin and flirting is a fantastic link for me. Great post and well worth the effort. I love the way you have come at blogging from a completely new angle.
    It makes so much sense

  32. Nice post. It’s an interesting way of looking at it.

  33. Thanks for the inspiring post.Overcoming shyness is not that tough. If you think that it’s time to let go of the “shy side” , seek help from http://www.whatcausespanicattacks.com It has interesting guides. Thought that I might share with you.

  34. Hey!
    Impressive post indeed! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now. Thanks for guiding us :)

  35. Somebody said flirting was bad especially when you are married, these are wonderful tips to follow thanks ;)

  36. I really enjoyed reading all your comments, everyone. :) And, by the way, a chupa cabre’s exact ingredients are a mystery to me, but a guy friend in college would always order them. They looked and smelled like death – something like jager with a shot of tequila dropped in the glass. BTW, Toblerone, I like your idea to be specific with your question. And Kelvin, I’ll see how much Darren will let me get away with. ;)

  37. This post has a rather unique angle.

    It never ceases to amaze me the various yet individual posts that are found on this blog.

  38. Great! love it!These are another helpful tips for your readers.

    I learned a lot since I started reading your blog.. Thanks a lot!

  39. This is some great information. Unfortunately, I suck at flirting in general… we’ll see if I am better at it online!

  40. I believe that “flirting” is important in almost all aspects of life. Not the actual flirting itself but the tools and techniques one employs in flirting to get a desired result are traits that are transferable to all communication both verbal and non verbal. If you know how to use these skills with flirting with women you will most surely be successfully in other types of personal communication. To up your flirting IQ check out PublicFlirt.com

    For more check out —-> http://publicflirt.com

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