Successful Blogging: Reader Engagement
I feel the best measure of a blog’s success is having a lot of reader engagement. How much is a lot will vary blog to blog. I once heard that if you’re getting 2% engagement that you’re doing well. In researching now for this article I can’t find that to verify it but it seems pretty spot-on. So, if you’re getting 100 readers for an article then getting 2 comments would be a good engagement. I don’t factor in social networking however. I’ll explain more after you click that read more button below
Reader engagement really should be the end-all-be-all of any blogger. If your goal in writing an article isn’t to get responses by your readers then you need to reconsider why you’re blogging to begin with. If you’re blogging just to make money then that’s fine but this series isn’t directed at you; no offense.
When I speak about reader engagement I’m speaking about comments. I put little value on social media presence. I don’t discredit it though. Having the right people sharing your articles across social media can lead to more reader engagement for sure. In my experience though, so many people just blindly share stuff and often it’s to the wrong people and you gain nothing for it. While you might have 200 likes on an article you wrote, how many of them actually clicked through to read your article and then took the time to comment? Sadly you will find very few did. While social media can be a very powerful tool when used well, it’s also not going to do all the work for you either.
Of course, to have reader engagement you need to have a way for people to comment. There’s no shortage of ways to have comments on your articles, whether it’s a native commenting system like Blogger or WordPress have, or a third party platform like Disqus. We all have our preference on this but the biggest thing is to have something. The blogs that disable comments are hurting themselves. When the voice of the reader is muted then the reader feels they have no value to the blogger and will often not visit the site again. While I know some blogs do this, disable comments, because they get a lot of negative comments, it’s still not a valid reason. Just because you don’t like what a commenter has to say doesn’t mean their point is invalid. If your articles elicit such negative remarks then you should take a look at why they are saying what they are and work on addressing the problem. Ignoring it isn’t the fix.
How to Engage Your Readers
Let’s dive in. First up, I’m no expert here. What I’m going to share is from my own experience. You can find countless articles on creating reader engagement if you want to go beyond what I say here; and I suggest you do.
Create Engaging Articles
The first rule to creating reader engagement is to create an engaging article. This comes down to how you write your articles. Give readers a reason to comment and engage. If you’re writing an article that explains an army list you’re working on then at the end of the article, or within the article, ask your readers for feedback and suggestions. If you posted some pics of a model you’re working on then solicit constructive criticism. Basically, ask your readers to engage with you. Simple enough, right?
The tone of your article will go a long way to generating engagement as well, plus the type of engagement you see, positive or negative. If you come across as arrogant and self-righteous then expect a lot of confrontational comments, if people bother to comment at all. By contrast, a more conversational article will generate more comments and more positive ones as well.
Along with the tone of the article is creating something the readers can relate to. Make the article personal. When you’re writing refer to yourself and the reader. Simple words like: I, me, you, us, etc.
As an example, take this sentence, “This is how something is done.” The sentence doesn’t engage the reader and comes across as more instructional. Instead, I’d write something like this, “I feel this approach works better for most of us.” Now I’m putting myself into the sentence and addressing the reader. It also has a more conversational tone. There’s a technical term for this, which I forget, but that’s the basis of it.
Comments are King
My last bit of advice is the most significant. It’s a simple thing and also the most valuable. If you want to create reader engagement then engage with your readers in the comments. If you do nothing else then do this one thing. By responding to comments you open a dialog with the commenter and in turn create further responses as they respond to you. Other commenters will read your responses and comment on those or create a new topic of discussion based on them. You want to have a conversation with your readers.
Very few people will take the time to comment. The few who do respond are generally doing so because they are looking for you to respond to them. If you do not respond to the commenters then you will quickly find you have nobody commenting at all. I have been to many blogs like that where the author, for whatever reason, never responds to the comments. If after a few more articles I still get no response then I never visit that blog again. This has happened on some blogs that have some amazing material too. Despite the fact they put out some great information, if I don’t feel valued as a reader then I’m moving on.
I could go on and on about this topic but the core of it is pretty simple and you all don’t need me over explaining things. If there’s one part in this series I’m doing that you should pay special attention to it’s this article. Even if you aren’t the greatest writer, or don’t know how to properly SEO (search engine optimization), your articles to gain more readers, engaging your readers will give you a ton of mileage and ultimately has more value than anything else you do.
Is there anything you all would like to see me cover next? I have SEO on the burner to do but beyond that things are open to cover topics of interest to you.