If you're a blogger, you should make an effort to get to know your readers better. After all, they are the life-blood of your blog's existence.
Your readers are the life and soul of the party – the last thing you should do is neglect them. They need to feel welcome, special, needed, part of your blog's community. They need to know how valuable they are to you and your blog.
The best way to build a rapport with your readers is via commenting. Not necessarily getting them to comment on your blog, but you going out and commenting on theirs!
This infographic explains a bit more...
And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
First of all you really ought to know who your readers are. This will not only help you to recognise them, but to write appropriate content for them. And if you are successful in getting them to comment, at least you'll have a link back to their blogs so you can find out more about them.
If you are still at the stage of building up your readership, it's still important to know your readers by working out their avatar. Once you've mastered their personalities, tastes and lifestyles, you'll be able to find blogs that already have these people in their readership.
I'm afraid to succeed in getting to know your readers, you will be required to do some actual commenting. Remember you need to give before you can receive. So it's time to pull your finger out and get reading and writing.
Develop communication skills
Communication comes in many forms. Usually the main method is blogger to reader via writing posts. Of course writing skills play an important part, and a conversational style remains the best technique to use.
However, the blogger also can talk to readers via commenting. The most obvious way would be to reply to any comments received. But have you considered reaching out to your readers' blogs or places where they congregate and commenting there?
And communication doesn't stop at providing output, but receiving input too. Social listening, such as proper reading and understanding content before responding, can be a major factor towards getting to know your readers.
Give constructive feedback
Anyone, who is happy within himself, will welcome constructive feedback. This needs to be valuable, totally relevant and above all, actionable. The last point is often missed out, thus rendering the feedback useless.
If you are reaching out to your readers, offering feedback in your comments is one method to consider. Do you have any information that could be useful to them? Could you fill in a gap in their knowledge base? Doing this will draw attention to you for the right reasons, and enable them to remember who you are.
This feedback should focus on helping others to tap into their full potential. A third-party viewpoint provides an insight that is otherwise invisible. Creating a good impression like this will soon help you to get to know your readers.
Show relatable empathy
Part of relationship building, as that is what you're doing with your readers, is to have an empathy with them. They need to be able to relate to you and what you say. Therefore this needs to resonate with their daily lives and aspirations.
Finding a common connection within a relatable subject is a great place to start from in your comments. This allows your readers to latch onto what you write about and find an affinity they can associate themselves with.
Because this can happen outside of your blog, you need to be aware of where you are commenting. Your vocabulary needs to be similar to other comments, so not to aggravate or alienate yourself before you've even begun!
Pay attention to your readers
If your readers receive sufficient attention from you, both on your blog and elsewhere, they will soon realise your good intentions towards them. This is a great way of getting to know your readers, and they getting to know you in return.
The idea is to make them feel a connection with you. They need to feel safe and secure when communicating with you. This will help to loosen their reserve and feel comfortable enough to reply to your posts or comments.
Many comments are short and unexciting because of a lack of relationship between blogger and reader. If these barriers were more relaxed, their fingers will become freer and more able to produce conversational and therefore better quality comments.
Show appreciation where it's due
It doesn't take much to be nice to people. OK, this can go overboard in the hands of spammers, as usually their style is usually too ingratiating to make you feel comfortable. But true appreciation, delivered for the right reasons, can make a very good impression towards getting to know your readers.
People like positive feedback (see the second point above). They also like to know they're on the right track. They also appreciate if the bearer of this good news contains consistent praise to help boost their self esteem.
It is the process of regularly 'showing up' that helps people to get to know you. A constant presence they can learn to rely on for help and support will often be graciously received, whenever and however it happens.
Offer help to solve a problem
Altruism is a great characteristic to have. However, it becomes very useful towards getting to know your readers better if you put this into practice. And the best way is to offer your expertise and knowledge to make a difference to other people's lives in your comments.
If you are successful at this, you will soon start to build up a rapport with those who benefit from what you've offered. They will learn to look to you for guidance, recommend you to their friends and colleagues, and generally advocate your qualities to anyone they think fit.
This is another factor towards people getting to know, like and trust you. Without these three attributes, your altruism will not have as much impact as you would like, however often you perform it.
Build up the trust factor
A by-product of getting to know your readers better is to build up a community within your blog. Especially from those who become regular readers and commenters.
The more you can communicate with your readers in this way, they will start to get to know you and therefore trust you better. And trust is a major factor towards feeling comfortable and safe enough to write better, conversational comments. The idea is these could eventually develop into lively discussions everyone can enjoy.
Trust also allows you to overcome obstacles and barriers with your readers. They may feel able to help police comments against trolls and spammers, which is particularly useful in social media where there is no moderation.
Be open, honest and transparent
Part of gaining trust from your readers is to show you're just like them. Reveal your humility by talking about your foibles, failures and embarrassing situations. Encourage your readers to share their similar experiences. This contributes towards the 'big happy family' of a community.
Be totally open with your readers. There should be nothing to hide from them. Your readers will appreciate you, and get to know you better too, if they can see you warts and all. This takes away the scariness and aloofness that prevents many readers from wanting to comment.
Let your readers see you as imperfect and human. This is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. If they feel they can relate to you and your personality, they will open up themselves and your relationship with them will continue to blossom.
How did you get to know your readers?
Let me know if you have managed to create a great relationship with your readers. Does this result in great comments from them? Do you regularly go outside of your blog to comment where where your readers are? Are you continuing your connection with them in different environments?
It is so important to get to know your readers properly. They should not be faceless or an invisible and unattainable presence who occasionally flit onto your blog and fly away again. Make the effort to bring them into the open and find out more about them.
And let me know your techniques, especially if they are different to what I have said in this blog, in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!