Monday, March 9, 2015

GUEST POST: Three Ways to Attract Recurring Readers, with Alyssa Carlier

Guess. What. The fantabulous Alyssa agreed to share a few of her thoughts for #FanMonth—and, as always, she will entertain and educate you, today on recurring readers. So, without further ado, Ms. Alyssa. Enjoy!

Hi, I'm Alyssa from The Devil Orders Takeout, and I'm thrilled to deliver my take(out) on recurring readers here on Heather's blog!

The other day, I posted about #Followception, in which you follow like-minded people in hopes of building relationships with them. But this method would be very time-consuming in the long run; imagine spending one hour, two hours a day following people, RTing them, congratulating them, etc., but not putting out any content.

So why not merge the two? Produce content that engages others. And if you do this on a consistent basis, not only will people be paying attention to your pretty profile picture, they'll also look forward to reading your blog posts. And those, ladies and gentlemen and otherwise, are recurring readers.

But why are recurring readers important? If you're bent on world domination, you need mooks and minions to carry out your bidding and cheer you on. For less ambitious types, a fan community can still cheer you on. Imagine if you wrote an awesome blog post and twenty people commented on it. But then you wrote a less-awesome blog post, and none of them returned. So you have to write equally awesome blog posts every single time.

From whatshouldtheatrecallme.tumblr.com

Recurring readers are like recurring revenue, a term in marketing which means "earning money while not doing stuff." Not kidding. If you can bribe your minions well enough, they'll subscribe to your blog and read all your posts, awesome or not. And now, let's resort to Heather's favourite: LISTS.

1. Reply to your comments, and comment back if possible.

From readerswonderland.com
I'm sure that nearly every blogger has gone through that phase when all their posts felt like shouting into the void. Let's say that phase is over, you're getting comments, you read them ... and you don't do anything. You have just subjected your readers to the shouting-into-void treatment. If you validate your readers' efforts to validate yours (#validateception?), they'll be more willing to do so again.

Commenting back is another way of showing your gratitude to your readers. This can get overwhelming, but it guarantees that the other person knows you appreciated their comment. And because you're a nice person commenting back with no agenda whatsoever, they're more likely to follow you. Because we are nice people. *nods*

2. Cater to their interests. Don't waste those comments.

All right, you reply to comments and you comment back. You actually feel like people are listening to you. But what are you going to say?

Chances are, those very comments will show who's in your demographic. If a lot of book bloggers are reading your blog, then probably they're interested in readerly content. Write a post about a book haul and gauge their reaction. Maybe they like cheesecake more than chocolate, for some strange reason.

Sometimes, your readers might actually ask for more or a specific post on a related topic. Those are golden opportunities. Write that post. Link to them. Tell them you've written it. Not only do you seem much nicer (one closer step to PR and world domination!), you automatically gain one reader's respect and gratitude. It's happened before: I asked Topaz about marketing, which prompted #Followception, which prompted this post.

3. Actively blog hunt.

None of the above methods will work effectively if you just sit at your desk, post random things, and stare at your blog stats. You need to write interesting content, and you need to learn how to reply to comments, and you need to know who might become your recurring readers. This is the most time-consuming part, but also the easiest. Just find a few bloggers you really admire—I'm not going to lie, Heather was one for me—and read their posts. Observe how they interact with their readers. You'll learn something from them: something good, something bad, or even a bit of both.

After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I will remember that when you try to steal my throne.

Takeout: be valuable, and others will value you.

Recurring readers aren't just a statistic. You can't point at a pageview or a subscriber and say: That's it, that one's a recurring reader. But when you smile at a commenter's name, or you predict what they will say, and somehow, they're more than words on your computer: that's a recurring reader.

alyssa carlier
Alyssa Carlier (@AlyssaC_HK) is a high school student in Hong Kong. She doesn't have a day job, but at night she breathes ink and paper and Kindle. In between bouts of writing, she dabbles with laboratory bacteria and blogs at RandomMorbidInsanity.blogspot.com. She sends exclusive content to her newsletter subscribers, because who doesn't like bonus takeout?

24 comments :

  1. This was very helpful to me. And I can vouch for the fact that commenting is as huge relationship builder. When I write (what I think is) a long thoughtful comment but never receive a reply I sometimes end up feeling like the blogger didn't want my input or didn't like what I said or just doesn't care about me (WHERE DID I GO WRONG? DID I COMPLETELY EMBARRASS MYSELF? ). I love comment conversations.

    I will be using this for myself and emailing it to my best friend who is just about to join the blogosphere!

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    1. I'm glad the post is useful, Susanna! Definitely, commenting back and forth is an amazing tool for building a community in your blogosphere niche. That's one of the failings of Blogger, in my opinion, because Wordpress has plug-ins to email the commenter back that the blog owner has replied. And it definitely feels like you're getting the cold shoulder when your comments aren't replied to -- it feels much more like a two-way conversation with a human than a one-way speech from a computer when you actually get a response.

      Thank you so much for sharing it, Susanna, and hope to see your friend around soon!

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    2. Commenting back is definitely great—I think that's why Disqus is so successful as a blogging tool: it makes it simple to see where you've commented and involved yourself in more discussions. I'm not its biggest fan, but it does help me keep track of where I've been!

      You can't go wrong with comments, though. We swears, on the precious.

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  2. Great tips! Commenting is actually one of my favorite parts of blogging now, but it wasn't when I started out. It obviously makes a big difference in blog stats, but it's great to interact with people and know that they read--and enjoyed--your post.

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    1. I agree—I used to not comment at all (on an unrelated note, I didn't get any comments back, either) and being able to show your appreciation for others is meaningful. I'm glad you enjoyed Alyssa's post! :D

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    2. Thanks, Alex! When I started out, I thought all I had to do was keep posting content and people would find me automatically. Um, no. And once I found the community, not only did I get more comments, I learned to enjoy reading others' blog posts!

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  3. Great tips, Alyssa. I'm a recurring reader/commenter to many blogs, and I have quite a few on my blog. It's one of the best things about blogging because it creates such a wonderful sense of community. Comments are definitely my most valuable asset when it comes to recurring readers. I reply back to all of my comments (unless the comments come like two weeks after I post something), and I try to comment back as well, because I love when other bloggers do the same for me. It only helps to strengthen the community.

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    1. I think I've said this before, but commenting is such a reciprocal process that you're right on par with everything you said. As a blogger, it's awesome because you feel noticed and appreciated, but as a commenter it's also awesome because you have the potentiality of making a friend and expanding the community around you. :)

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    2. Thanks, Ana! Yeah, commenting is a crucial part building a community. I tend to reply to comments no matter when they come in, because I think evergreen content is extremely important and I can stay on top of the comments no problem. Commenting back is something I'm new to, but love immensely -- giving back to the community is a great experience.

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  4. Nice advice. I've actually been actively hunting out new blogs recently. I've found so many people to admire and read who I'd never heard of before. If you're not willing to try and find these people, then you miss out on so much:)

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    1. Thank you, Kat. Taking the initiative to hunt new blogs is definitely more important than sitting around and waiting for people to discover you, and being a recurring reader is a natural step to getting them yourself.

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    2. You're exactly right, Kat. Unlike Baloo's philosophy, the bare necessities of life don't always come to you—you have to hunt out the things you need yourself! Carpe diem! :D

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  5. Arg, gathering minions for world domination is harder than it sounds. So far I have 3, and they seem rather unwilling.

    I never used to reply to comments, and it makes me cringe to think of it now- I've made some great blogging friends through comments. Seeking new blogs to read is something I've been trying to do a lot.

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    1. I wouldn't know, but best of luck to you on gathering minions. Loyalties are a hard thing to buy, and I'm afraid I won't help you in that department. :)

      Yes! Change is good! And, finding new blogs is great—I hope you're finding some great ones!

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    2. *chokes and dies* Yes, yes, of course. *aside* I hadn't known there were that many budding world dominators trying to gather minions.

      No need to cringe, I didn't even read other blogs or get any comments. Stepping out of my comfort zone was crucial to getting my blog off the ground.

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  6. I absolutely love how far my original post on marketing is spreading. IT'S SO WONDERFUL. *claps hands delightedly*

    Some awesome tips here, Alyssa - actively blog hunting has led me to some of my favourite bloggers out there, even though it can be slightly time-consuming. And of course, nobody likes to shout into the void - replying to comments and commenting back when possible is such a great way to make sure that never happens. :D

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    1. Hooray! Delight! Joy! But yes, seeing your words spread everywhere is awesome. And also, it was a good post, so there you go. :)

      You're right when you say it's time consuming. :P But, the rewards are great, as you said. Void-blogging is not a happy-making prospect for me and Alyssa has some great ideas for avoiding that, as you said.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. That's because your post was awesome, Topaz. *nods* Blog-hunting is the most difficult part, I think, because you need to find a blog interesting enough to comment on and bloggers you can form connections with. Void-blogging is all the more worse because you don't really get it until you're out of the void and look back. *shiver*

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  7. These are some great tips. I'm always on the lookout for new blogs to follow, and while I love reading their posts, formulating a coherent comment usually takes a lot of time. But I'm trying to get better at that. :)

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    1. They are, aren't they? Commenting can be tricky, especially when you don't know if you want to say what you have to say, but I've definitely seen you around more, so thanks for keeping to work at it! :D

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    2. Thanks, Precious, I'm glad you find these tips useful! I didn't get into the habit of commenting until I established the commenting back policy on my blog, then it got too fun to stop. Keep at it!

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  8. "Because we are nice people," YES! The book blogging community is a wonderful bunch and Book People, in general, are The Best. Thoughtful post, Alyssa!

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    1. Ha, that was actually sarcastic -- I swear, eight out of ten book bloggers have world domination plans. (And all writers do, but that's another topic.) But obviously we are nice to each other in case our plans fail and theirs succeed, and building a community is a good backup plan XD

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    2. Alyssa's right about that! But I have to agree—I find the blogging community in general to be an awesome, fun place to be! Thanks for stopping by! :)

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Check it out, comments and stuff. I love to hear from readers, and I always respond to commenters! Here's the fun part—if you leave a link to your blog I'll show up and comment back. I have just one rule down here: Don't Be a Problem. This spans the entire umbrella of rudeness and crudeness, so I reiterate: Don't Be a Problem. Thanks for stopping by!