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!