Each week, one of the things I look forward to most is Friend Friday. I wait with anticipation to learn what the questions will be, and eagerly get to work on my response as soon as I am able.
Until this week.
This week I have been stalling.
It has nothing to do with the quality of the topic at hand. On the contrary, reader connectedness is one of the most important parts of blogging. Scratch that. Reader connectedness is the most important part of blogging. Connecting with others is what this is all about. An individual doesn’t have to start a blog in order to be creative. They can put their thoughts together in a personal journal. They can write a book. They don’t have to channel their creativity out on the internet in a blog. We do that – I did that – because we wanted to form those connections. I wanted to share my experiences. I wanted to form bonds and establish a sense of togetherness. Understanding. Connectedness. I don’t think I even realized it at the time, but that is what compelled me to start Beautifully Invisible.
So why have I been stalling when I know how important reader connectedness really is? Simple.
I am ashamed of myself.
I know I have been lacking in this department recently. I knew it before this topic was chosen this week, but having it brought to the forefront has just made it all the more evident. I haven’t been connecting with my readers as much as I like to as of late, and I am not pleased with myself. So I stalled writing this a bit.
But here I am, taking the bull by the horn, so to speak, and facing the topic head on! Maybe this is exactly what I need to kick myself and get back on track. So, on to the questions…
1. How important do you think reader connectedness is to the success of your blog? As I mentioned above, I think reader connectedness is the most important element when it comes to the success of my blog. Everyone always talks about how new bloggers often become obsessed with their blog statistics. The number of visitors, page views, bounce rate, etc. etc. Although I admit I went through that phase myself, now it’s all about comments. I love reading the comments left by my readers because they are the true measure of how engaging your content truly is.
A very small percentage of blog readers actually comment on posts. This article on DIY Themes refers to this as the 90: 9: 1 principal:
- 90% of readers lurk on your blog quietly while consuming your content
- 9% of readers are editors and comment regularly
- 1% of readers are the fanatical people who leave page-long comments after each post.
That 10% of readers are the ones that truly give you an idea of how well you are engaging your readers. How interesting your content is. How likely someone is to come back and visit again after they stumble onto your blog.
What the old adage – “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
What about this: If a blogger writes and no one reads it, does the blog truly exist? Of course the blog physically exists, that can’t be questioned. But if you aren’t connecting with anyone and if you aren’t making a difference with your writings, don’t you feel a bit like that tree that fell without a sound?
A blog with no readers is truly more of a journal. You are writing for yourself, and yourself alone. And there is nothing wrong with that.
But having a blog with readers that connect with you, and you with them, is what this is really all about. It is what makes blogging worthwhile. I am thankful to each of you – whether you comment or not – for being here, for reading my ramblings, and for connecting. You are the reason I do this.
2. What do you do to draw readers in and create that writer-reader bond? I think this is a question that I would actually love to have my readers answer. I’d love to hear what draws YOU in to the blog. What makes you feel connected?
From my point of view, I break the rules. I run a style blog, but don’t post images of myself. I write long narratives. I write about controversial topics. My blog isn’t designed to catch the interest of the person simply looking for a pretty photo. It will probably be over-looked by someone who typically just skims content. It is meant to draw the attention of people who are passionate about certain topics. People who like to be mentally-engaged.
I try to draw my readers in by focusing on topics that naturally create conversation. Topics that often need to be explored further. I encourage comments and discussion.
I mentioned above how important receiving comments is to a blogger because it is a direct measure of reader engagement. Responding to reader comments is equally important. Each reader who takes the time to comment on your blog is trying to connect with you (unless they are strictly fishing for new readers themselves, which is fairly obvious). They are establishing a relationship with you and your blog. The easiest way to show them that their voice has been heard is to respond to their comments. To visit their blogs. To respond to their posts. That is how you forge those relationships.
Understandably, their are some bloggers out there with huge followings that simply can not find the time to respond to each comment and visit numerous blogs. However, many of them are able to find ways to remain connected with their readers. Tiffany from I am Style-ish, who has a following I can only dream of, posted this in a comment on my blog just the other day:
“I know that reading/commenting is essential to being part of the blogger community but because of my time constraints, it’s something that I only do once in awhile but I do keep an active participation in my other social networks just so I still feel like I’m interacting with my readers and blogger friends.”
That is how you forge those relationships. You find out what works for you and your particular circumstances. You find a way to interact and communicate, be it comments, social networks, or both.
3. What is one way you could improve this connection? I mentioned in my introduction that I was feeling ashamed of myself when it came to this week’s topic. I have definitely dropped the ball on connecting with my readers as of late. It wasn’t intentional – I didn’t wake up one morning and say “you know what, I don’t care about my readers anymore.” Quite the contrary. I care immensely about my readers. I try to show that by responding to each comment I receive on this blog. I *do* respond to each comment on this blog, although at times it may take me a week to find the time to adequately do so.
The place I have been lacking as of late is in commenting on other blogs. I still read all the blogs in my growing blogroll, but I have been commenting less and less. Often I say to myself “I’ll come back later to comment” and then days or even weeks pass by. It has nothing to do with the other bloggers or their content – the blame is solely on me and my inadequate time management. This is why I am ashamed. I know I should be doing this more. I am not a super-blogger. I have the time. I just need to make it. Perhaps that means re-evaluating my blogroll and weeding some things out. Perhaps that means dedicating some time each week solely to commenting.
This is another place where I will reach out to you, my readers – what do you think I could be doing better?
4. Is there a blogger you think does a great job creating that writer- reader bond? Why? I think there are many bloggers that do this, regardless of the size of their readership. I have a few I could name, but instead, let’s go through a simple exercise.
- Think about your blogroll for a second.
- Now, think about the ones that are daily reads. The ones that you check regardless of how busy you are. Regardless of what is going on in your life.
- Are these are the bloggers that you feel the most connected to?
- Are these the blogs that resonate with you most?
My guess is, yes. And it is probably safe to say that they are the ones you would list if you were answering this question.
5. What do you do to cultivate new readers? How do you get them to your site in the first place? There are a multitude of ways to get someone to your site. But how do you get them to stay? To come back? I think content really is the key when it comes to cultivating new readers. Your content might not be a good fit with every person who stumbles across your blog, but it will resonate with some of them. The people who feel a connection with something you wrote are the people that will become your new readers.
How do you get them to your site? There are countless ways:
- Network, network, network.
- Independent Fashion Bloggers is full of great resources and allows you to submit your best link of the week for consideration in their Links à la Mode: The IFB Weekly Roundup.
- Friend Friday is a wonderful group for so many reasons. The questions tackled each week are thought-provoking and the group of bloggers involved continues to grow.
- Check out sites like Bon Bon Rose Girls, Blog Catalog and Indie Style Media and see if they are a fit with your blog.
- If you are a personal style blogger, their are countless forums and websites to engage in. Do some research!
- Use sites like Facebook and Twitter.
- You can use these sites to not only promote your own blog, but also to promote other bloggers. Read a post you particularly enjoyed? Share it. Stumble upon a blog you loved instantly? Promote it.
- Stumble a few of your best posts. Stumble posts by other bloggers. In order for StumbleUpon to work well, you have to Stumble other content, not just your own!
- Support one another. The best way to gain readers is to support other bloggers.
- Share posts via social networking sites, as I mentioned above.
- Comment on other sites.
- Guest post (invite someone to guest post for you, or consider guest posting elsewhere).
- Recognize other bloggers on your own blog, be it through a dedicated post or just a mention.
That being said, and I hope this doesn’t sound awful, but although I do the majority of the things I listed above, I don’t do them with the goal of gaining more readers in mind. I do them because I enjoy doing them. I do them because I feel like I am part of a community, and I like to support the others in it. I do them because they challenge me to output decent content.
I do them because they come naturally. I do them because I am thankful for the support I have.
What about you, how important is reader connectedness to you??
To see what other bloggers are saying about this topic, click here.
For more info on ModlyChic’s Friend Friday series, click here.