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Foster a Loyal Readership

how to foster a loyal blog following

Recently, Viv from the V-Spot asked several bloggers an awesome question. How do bloggers foster a loyal following?

First, we have to set an arbitrary number on what a “loyal following” is. For her purposes, Viv put the number at 30%. That is to say a 30% or higher return visitor rate. That means that 70% of your visitors might be people popping over from Pinterest to check out a single tutorial, or people who happened to check their google reader this week… but 30% are people who actively pay attention to what you have to say… and come back for more.

One of the responses was from an amazeballs blogger who asked to remain anonymous. Not because she doesn’t believe everything you’ll read here, but because she does it all so seamlessly and so naturally that if one of her readers saw this, they might think that she was too calculating in her performance. Here is what she said:

WAHOO. Nobody ever asks about this and it’s the only number I really pay much attention to! I’m so glad you asked…I feel so validated. Okay, so, I’m at 35.6 this month. At one point last fall it peaked at 38. I would like to get my average to be around 40 by year end.

1. Every once in a while I will share something personal that has nothing to do with crafts/etc. I started doing it because it was cathartic for me, but I noticed it also builds audience trust and boosts retention. “Share a secret and you will become friends for life” — is an old marketing adage. It works. Of my ten most popular posts last year, five of them had nothing to do with crafts — they were mostly posts like this…personal. Almost confessional.

2. I *always* keep one great/substantive tutorial in the hopper. That way, on occasions when I suddenly see a brief boom of external traffic, I can quickly post something great above the fold. If my new visitors like whatever project lead them in, AND whatever is above the fold, they are far more likely to stick.

3. (Don’t kill me for saying this) — Do NOT respond to every single comment. At least not in public or with some boiler plate copy/paste “thanks!” response. When someone sees that you respond to everyone the same way, they see that they have no chance of feeling special. No connection. What a missed opportunity! Thoughtful comments = thoughtful responses. And if someone has commented a few times, I send them a personal email letting them know how much I appreciate their feedback.

4. Avoid discussing the dynamics of running the blog (unless you want your audience to be exclusive to fellow bloggers). Non-bloggers don’t like hearing how the sausage is made. I am getting ready to post a reader survey soon KNOWING I will take a hit. Sometimes you have to do that though. Speaking of which…

5. This is going to sound crazy to some people: every once in a while, do something that you KNOW some people will not like. Discuss something controversial…or use a curse word…mention religion…whatever. Make it brief and sincere. If there is something you wanted to say but bite your tongue for fear of offending people — THAT might be an opportunity to take a risk and build trust with your audience Separate the wheat from the chaff. This is not for everyone, especially those with a significant amount of ad revenue or sponsors to cater to, but for somebody like me, it’s critical. I know my audience and they know me. That kind of trust allows me a tremendous amount of freedom with my content, which makes blogging more enjoyable and produces an end result I am proud of. That it something I would not trade for anything.

Um… wow. Don’tcha just wish I gave you a link to her blog so that you could give her a bunch of comment love and follow all her on every social media channel ever invented? No wonder she’s got such a loyal following!

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11 Responses to “Foster a Loyal Readership”

  1. I think it’s odd to not want your name attached to this post. These are insightful comments and she should want to take credit for them. Running a successful blog involves quite a bit of strategizing and that’s completely okay. It isn’t being cold and calculating. It’s running your blog like a business. And she should be proud of that.

    • I agree that these are insightful comments, but many of our readers see us as “friends” rather than “business owners”. We can absolutely be both… but not all of our readers can understand that.
      Some people love seeing “behind the scenes”, and for some people seeing how a hamburger is really made is enough to make them go vegetarian. As a blogger making any kind of income off of our blog, it makes sense to respect those who don’t want to know what goes into the creation of a successful blog business.

  2. YES! This fits along the line of thinking that’s been swirling around in my head for quite a bit.

  3. Michelle L says:

    Thanks, anonymously awesome blogger! Those are so thoughtful and REAL. Many I have never ever considered. And thanks to you for posting this, Carolina!

  4. Serena says:

    Tip number one was an eye-opener. I always thought we should stay “on-topic,” so to speak, but then again, a lot of my favorite bloggers periodically do talk about the non-crafting part of their lives. I guess that makes your blog seem like it comes from a real, living, breathing human :0)

    As for tip number 5 – it takes guts to take on something controversial, esp on a non-political blog. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be comfortable bringing up controversy on a craft/creativity blog, though. But to each her own. That’s what makes freedom of speech great :0)

  5. I loved this post……I have a design/craft blog but every once in a while I do these crazy Fess Up Friday posts that admit the dumb things I do throughout the months……sometimes I feel so unprofessional doing that (who likes to admit the daily faux pas you do) but after reading this article I think I should keep it up :-)

    My latest is how my January Workouts are going ;-) Thanks for another great article Carolina!!

    http://www.creativejuicesdecor.com/2013/01/fess-up-friday-my-workout-days.html

  6. These were great tips that the anon blogger shared, Carolina! I actually DO answer every comment with a reply – but – my replies are never just a simple “thank you” and that’s it. Especially when the comment includes something shared or offered, I try and write my replies to be personal about what was shared.

  7. This is a really great post, thanks for the excellent advice. I always struggle with the personal topics, but I need to remember, we are all human!

  8. Krista Davis says:

    Thank you for this insightful article. My mom and I were respondig to every comment on our blog. But it makes sense to hold out for the captivating ones. I also love the idea of posting about personal issues that aren’t exactly relevant to the blog itself. I do try to add personal information into many of my articles, but it would be nice to get into a little more detail.

  9. Hey Carolina! I came across this post on Pinterest and found it very interesting. I’m SO not tech savvy…this is probably a dumb question but how do you track those “loyal” followers? The secret blogger mentions exact numbers that she tracks, where do I find that? Thanks!

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