Blogging is the art of the slow seduction.
You don’t win the loyalty of your readers in one article.
The article is the introduction. It is the drink you buy her at the bar. It is the coy glance you give him across the room.
It creates the opportunity for something to develop.
But your reader is no cheap date. They want to know you’re in it for the long haul.
They want to know that they can trust you.
If you really want to win the heart of your reader, you need to be on your game.
Here are seven simple ways to boost your blogging swagger.
1. Honor Their Presence
Simply put: don’t take your readers for granted.
I don’t care how large or small your audience becomes. Every person that visits your site is an individual that chooses to be there. Honor that.
In fact, stop viewing your readers as an audience. Start thinking of them as your community. This what Seth Godin refers to as your tribe, and I love the way he puts this:
“…it’s frightening to realize that each of us has the ability to find and lead like-minded people to make real and powerful change that matters. Lead, not manage. Like-minded, as opposed to converting those who have no connection to us, to each other or to our goals.”
That is a fundamental shift in the way we think about our community. We are in this together.
2. Respond To Their Comments
Do you remember that incredibly awkward date where attempting conversation was a painful exercise in futility?
Don’t be that date.
If people take the opportunity to comment in any substantive way on your blog, don’t let that sit in a vacuum. They have just opened the door to a deeper relationship with you, and letting that hang is akin to dismissing them entirely.
Blogging is not a street corner pulpit. It is a coffee-shop conversation.
So sit down with your tribal buddies and chat a while. Get to know each other.
Get the relationship moving.
3. Listen To Their Needs
The most important skill in blogging is not your capacity as a writer, it is your ability to genuinely love and care about people.
If you don’t care about people and the ways that you can help them, stop blogging. Now. You will only hurt your business in the long run, and you will still walk away frustrated.
On the other hand, if you genuinely care about people, take the time to pay attention to them. Listen to what they are struggling with. Use your expertise to help them overcome the challenges they are facing.
The fastest way to earn a person’s trust is to be there when they need you.
4. Go Even Further
Don’t just listen. Don’t just be helpful.
Be overwhelmingly helpful.
Surprise them. If they have a question, take the time to offer them a detailed response. Outline some principles for how they can solve their dilemma. Give bullet points. Offer details.
This does two things:
- It makes you approachable. If you take the time to genuinely answer questions, people begin to realize that you honestly care about their success.
- It creates brand evangelists. If you go out of your way to help someone, they are far more likely to direct others your way. You become an industry resource and your visibility increases dramatically.
There is also a bonus benefit if you do it right. If you take the time to outline a response to someone’s struggle, you have just outlined your next blog article.
Copy that baby and paste it into your Evernote folder.
Then, do some research on it. Flesh it out. Publish it.
In one move, you’ve cultivated loyalty and built your next article which addresses a real need amidst your target audience.
5. Emphasize Their Achievements
Chris Brogan often speaks about making your customer the hero.
There are serious reasons for this. When you emphasize the accomplishments of those in your blog community:
- You show them that you are paying attention to them.
- You encourage and elevate them.
- You demonstrate the way you value your readers.
- You provoke those who are not in your community to join.
By way of example, consider this recent article by Ana Hoffman.
In it, Ana identifies 10 ways to get the attention of an influencer in your niche. Rather than interview other influencers and get their opinions on this, she chose to highlight examples that she had personally witnessed from within her own community of followers.
The results were astounding. Her articles typically reach several hundred shares on Google+ and several hundred more on Twitter… but at the time of this writing, that particular article has exceeded 1200 Google+ shares and nearly 1500 tweets.
People like to root for the underdog. Make your readers the hero.
6. Be Transparent
I’ve learned a great deal during my time as a blogger. Much of that was from my mistakes.
For some reason, there is a perception that to be considered a leader you have to hide your mistakes. This is false.
In fact, it is in our shared vulnerability that we cultivate trust. According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Social Psychology, the willingness to disclose vulnerable information between two parties would result in a greater perception of trust, closeness, and likability. In other words, people like you more when you are genuine.
It has been interesting to note the tonal shift in many of my conversations since I shared how I accidentally killed off my first blog. The discussions moved from heavily analytical to emotive.
Even more, people felt safe to share their own mistakes in comments both on-site and on social media.
Transparency brings communities together.
7. Encourage Often
Here is the hidden truth about blogging: you’re going to get frustrated.
It will happen sooner or later. When it does, having that person to pick you up and encourage you is crucial.
Be that person.
If you want to be successful, help others be successful. Successful people have a tendency to remember who aided them along the way.
If you push enough people to the top, you’ll find plenty of hands eager to pull you up with them.
Now Get Your Swag On
Ok, Don Juan. You’ve got the tools. What are you going to do with them?
Blogging is more than an information channel, it is a digital medium for cultivating genuine relationships.
So get out there. Meet. Mingle. Socialize.
Get to know your community. Get your swag on.
And win the hearts of your readers.
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