26 May 2009

Blogging Tips : Pay Special Attention to a Reader

Today your task in the 31 Days to Build a Better blog is to Make a Reader Famous.

The Task - Choose one (or more than one) of your current readers and do something out of the blue that acknowledges them, shows them that you see them as valuable and highlights them to your other readers.

Why This is Important

While many blog tips going around focus upon techniques to help make bloggers and their blogs more famous and well known one of the paradoxical keys to blogging success is that many bloggers who build great blogs actually go out of their way to make their readers more famous and well known.

When you create space on your blog to highlight readers in some way the impact can be quite profound (particularly when you do it regularly). Two groups of people tend to be impacted:

1. Those you make famous benefit - the first and most obvious people to benefit from your efforts are those who you highlight. Having someone go out of their way to talk about you on their blog certainly makes an impression on them. It gives them a feeling of being valuable, gives a sense of belonging to and participation in the blog and can help them to achieve their own goals if you send other readers to learn more about them on their own site/blog etc.

2. Other Readers are Impacted - one of the lessons I learned early in blogging is that when you publicly value one reader others often feel valued also. It shows you have an interest in and that you value all of your readers even when you just highlight a few.

How to Make Readers Famous

There are many ways to highlight your readers on your blog. Let me share a few that I’ve done over the years.

  • Promote a comment to a Post - sometimes readers make insightful and wise observations and tips in the comments of your blog. While they will be read by a handful of people in the comment thread - why not pull it out and use it as the basis for one of your post - highlighting the wisdom in it and the person who made the comment.
  • Write a Post about their Blog - visit the blogs of those leaving comments on your blog and pick one that you resonate with to post about. Write an ‘unpaid review’ of the blog - highlighting the best posts and what you like about it.
  • Send Your Readers to Comment on Someone Else’s Blog - write a post that links to someone else’s great blog post and instead of asking your readers what they think about it on your own blog ask them to head over and comment on it on the other person’s blog. Shutting down the comments in your own post and saying that you’ve left a comment on their blog already can help make this more effective.
  • Give Readers an Opportunity to Promote Themselves - run a project or write a post that gives readers an opportunity to promote themselves in some way. For example - one of the things I’ve done on DPS is give readers a chance to show off their photography. One time I did this was asking them ‘do you have a photoblog?‘ where I asked readers to share a link to their photoblog. Hundreds of readers left links to their blogs and many emailed me later to thank me for sending them traffic (another similar example was when i asked readers to share their best ever shot).
  • Reader of the Week - I’ve seen a few blogs do this over the years - they simply choose one reader each week to highlight in a post.
  • Projects/Memes/Competitions - long term readers of ProBlogger will be familiar with the ‘group writing projects’ that I run here every 6 months or so where I invite readers to all write posts on their blogs and then share the link with each other. These projects always generate a lot of traffic to other blogs. Similarly you can run competitions, Blog Carnivals, memes etc which give readers an opportunity to highlight their own online presence/blog/twitter account etc. (another example of this is my social media love-in that I ran last year inviting readers to tell us what social media accounts they had). Hundreds of people participated and those that did got a lot of followers on twitter and new contacts on other networks.
  • Run a Reader Poll and Highlight Answers in a followup post - have a post one weekend where you pose a question to your readers. Then in the week that follows do a followup post where you add some of your own thoughts on the question and pull out some of the best comments left by readers. Alternatively you could survey your twitter followers on a topic relevant to your blog and then highlight their responses as a blog post.
  • Invite Guest Posts - often ‘guest posting’ is talked about solely as a way to get free content for your blog. While this is nice - one of the things I love about it most is that it puts the microphone in the hand of someone else and lets someone who would normally be constrained by the comments section have a little more power and influence on the direction of your community for a moment in time. This can have a real impact upon the person doing the post - but also upon your readership as they see someone like themselves featured on your blog.

Don’t Have Readers to Make Famous?

Of course this exercise is easier for blogs that have been around for a while and that have developed a readership - those just starting out will find it tougher (there is only so many times you can make your mother, wife or best friend famous on your blog without looking a little desperate).

If you’re a new blogger or don’t have readers leaving comments yet to help you know who they are - try making another blogger famous today by writing a post that links up to them and highlights them to your readers.

Make Someone Famous

The blogosphere was built on principles of promoting others, conversation, celebrating diversity, open source knowledge etc. One of the things that first attracted me to blogging was the way that bloggers celebrated their readers and other bloggers - today attempt to recapture some of that ethos by making others famous today on your blog.

Share How You Do it

In the spirit of this post - I invite you to share how you make your readers famous in comments below. Share a link to the place you’re doing it so we can learn from you! Also stop by the forums thread for today to share your progress.

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