A hit on digg, reddit, or any of the vote-em-up sites, will bring traffic, but that traffic is worse than fickle. Most such visitors click in and out faster than we can measure. They don’t stop to read. They don’t look around. Some don’t stop even to glimpse or gander.
A great blog builds traffic from loyal readers who keep coming back. Those returning readers help to form the blog’s identity and give it a sense of place that is more than just a page of content. Get to know those readers and they become your core fans, and even better than that — they tell their friends that they have found the blog of blogs.
Blogs where readers take the time to what we write have one important trait in common — they make readers the center of the blog. The blog is designed and configured to support the readers’ experience. Readers aren’t asked to adjust for the blog. Instead they find a place they like and without thinking they begin to hang out there.
Core fans are those who travel hundreds of miles to see a rock group. Folks who hang out at our blogs are our core readers. They are the leaders and influencers. They build the community for the folks who visit next. Here are six ways to build that same core loyalty in the readers of your blog.
- Know your brand and your vision. Blog with a passion for your vision, and make sure that it has room for readers. Folks will take notice of your passion, and some who share it will become your greatest evangelists. Plan a role in your blog’s vision for your readers to have a part. Share your vision and ssk for their feedback –- get their ideas not their votes. No blog needs to be a popularity contest. Yet, it silly not to tap the information that our readers know about our blogs that we don’t.
- Promote your readers. Talk about them and what they do. Link out often to them, showing that you support their work too.
- Blog your best ideas. Being free with information and generous with the time you spend helping readers solve problems. A generous resource that has their interests in mind is a place where folks feel at home, even when they don’t have problems.
- Empower the leaders and influencers among your core fans. Offer natural leaders opportunities to help you plan. Collaborate with them on projects that involve their blogs and yours. Participate in ideas they suggest and offer ways to get their participation more deeply in workings of your blog. You might invite them to start a regular posting on a topic of their expertise or interview them in ways that show off their best skills. People who feel like they belong talk about the places that make them feel that way.
- Blog generously –- link love is for sharing. Link out on every post. Link for relationships, not just for traffic, and link to draw your blog closer to blogs like your own. Be generous. A link is really just a bit of code. Link blogs who will grow with you. You’ll get your Google juice soon enough.
- Prove that you are their greatest fan. Talk to your readers in the comments. Listen to what they have to say. People remember how you make them feel. Let them know that you’ll always choose for them before Google and before an easier way.
Put out the backstage pass and invite readers to hang out for a while. Smile at the folks who click and go, but concentrate on those core fans who’d drive 200 miles to see you play.