When growing your blog, it's important to interact with the people who are helping you grow your blog... your readers! If you're quiet like me, you may not relish the idea of being social, even online, but I promise it doesn't have to be painful, and it can go a long way towards making you seem open and approachable. This in turn will make people happy when they visit your blog and that much more likely to stick around!
Step 1: Reply to CommentsTaking the time to reply to your reader's comments goes a long way to making them feel at home. I can't tell you how many times I've asked a question on a blog and not received an answer. While I understand that bloggers are busy people, it really makes you seem antisocial (and/or rude) if you hole up and never respond to people.
Remember that you're not committing to marry this person, you simply want to acknowledge that they exist and that you honor and respect the fact that they took the time to comment on your blog. As your blog gets larger, you can be more selective in choosing who you respond to, but especially when someone writes more than the obligatory, "Nice post!", please take a moment to write them back. People really like knowing that their favorite blogger is a real person, and nothing says "real" like an actual email conversation!
Make sure you actually email the reader back, too. Don't just leave a comment on your blog below their comment; 99.9% of readers won't actually come back to see what you've responded, and they'll still end up feeling like you've ignored them.
Step 2: @Reply Them on TwitterYou don't need to Twitter-stalk people, but if you genuinely have a remark or comment to say about something they've tweeted, jump right in! Worse thing that'll happen is that they'll block you and think you're weird (and if they already read your blog, chances are good that that won't happen). Best thing that'll happen is that you'll have made a new friend!
Remember that when Twittering, make sure to intersperse your @replies with genuine random Tweets about what you're thinking and doing. People are more like to want to follow you &/or interact with you if you're actually interesting. Don't worry about being overly clever or brilliant - I find that sometimes the most interesting people to follow on Twitter are simply posting about their day!
Step 3: Ask & Receive QuestionsIt always makes me want to comment on a blog post when a blogger asks a question at the end of the post. It lets me know that they genuinely want to know what I think! I've also seen posts where the question to the reader is the entire point of the post; I love those because it makes the blog feel so much more interactive.
If you ever receive a really good question from a reader, consider turning it into a blog post! I've made some of my best tutorial posts all because someone asked me how to do something and I figured the answer might be helpful for everyone. Even if you don't end up turning their question into a blog post, taking the time to write out a mini-tutorial for someone who emails you can really make them feel special!
Step 3: Dealing with Trolls, Bullies, & SpammersI'm sorry to be the one to break this to you, but not everyone is nice and kind and pleasant to deal with. Take a minute and consider how you'll react/respond when someone says mean things about you on your blog or to you on Twitter. How will you deal with spam comments? What do you even consider to be spam?
How you deal with these things will depend quite a bit on how tough your skin is and also on the environment you want to cultivate on your blog. I don't know about other blog platforms, but Blogger has very good spam protection on their comments. If a comment gets through that makes you feel icky, attacked, or intruded upon, go into your Comment Moderation screen and "Mark as Spam". Blogger learns what you consider spam as you go along, so as long as you train it the first couple times, you'll end up getting very little spam on your blog.
On Twitter, remember that you always have the option to either Block or Report a user for spamming. Don't do this every time someone annoys you, but if you feel genuinely threatened by them or feel that they are probably just a spam-bot and not an actual human, please don't hesitate to take action. (And of course, you can always just un-follow them if you don't like reading what they say!).
This concludes week five of the Build Your Blog! series. Next week we'll talk about making friends with other bloggers! If you haven't already, don't forget to subscribe to this blog so you know when the next edition of the blog series is ready!
Questions or comments about this week's topic? Leave them below & I will try to answer them all in a follow-up post later this summer!
Grab a button and spread the word!