One of the areas I feel most blogs fail at, is the concept of community. I know that’s an odd statement, as blogs are all about conversation, but most blogs seem to entirely miss the point of the “on site” community.
Sure you link to other blogs, and talk to other bloggers in your niche, sure you have comments enabled — in fact, in terms of distributed community blogs work really, really well. In terms of on site community however, they fail miserably for the most part. And it’s largely down to the blogger himself.
There are a few practical things you can do to foster your on site community, and trust me when I say that allthough the people that make up your community are mostly worthless in terms of monetization, they can be a core part of your blogs success. And with them, you can create something that goes way beyond the “one guy talking” approach many blogs take.
10 Ways to Make Your Blog Sticky
Here’s my list of top 10 things you can do to foster a sense of community among your readers.
1. Design for Repeat Visits
Forget all those stupid bells and whistles, useless navigation and other such “novelties”. When you design your blog, bear in mind that you want people to visit your site several times a week, or maybe several times a day. Use lots of white space, easy color schemes, large(ish) text and clear headlines and links.
Hint: Stupid mapping gimmicks are not sticky, they’re annoying.
2. Keep Advertising Minimal for Repeats
I wrote about time sensitive adsense last week. Try and extend the idea to showing less ads for logged in users — these people are NOT the ones that will click your ads, so make life easy for them.
3. Provide a Recent Posts List
And don’t just provide it, promote it! The recent posts list on Performancing is one of the most important links on the site. It allows users to track ongoing conversations much like you would in a forum. This is KEY to getting people to converse on your site. The idea of “comments” is good, but the idea of “conversations” is better, and by facilitating that, a post you publish today, could still be active weeks from now.
Often the value of our blogs is not in the original post, it’s in the conversation.
4. Answer Your Comments!
It’s an astonishing thing to have to say, but man, the amount of times i’ve commented on a blog, only to go back (i tag my off-site conversations as replies) and find that the author hasn’t even bothered to answer me, or aknowledge my comment in any way, is staggering. If you want people to talk to each other on your blog, you need to be part of the conversation.
5. Use the Right Language
It’s a small thing, but an important one I feel. Instead of talking about I, talk about We. Instead of talking about me, and you, talk about US. With me?
You need to give your readers a sense of ownership.
6. Post Frequently
And not just frequently, set a pattern and maintain it. If you plan on posting a few times a day, then post at similar times every day. It helps readers get a sense of momentum from your site, and gives them an indication of how often they should be returning or checking their RSS.
7. Private Message System
Either put in a private message system on your blog, to allow members to communicate amongst themselves, or make a link to a form to email other members without giving away their email addresses.
8. Allow Member Posts
Either on a pre moderated acceptance basis such as we do at Performancing or by inviting members to email you their news — give credit for submissions, and encourage those submissions.
9. Include Members in Decisions
And no, i don’t mean that you need to make site decisions via committee, I often say in these types of posts that i’ll most likely do my own thing anyway, but would appreciate some input on the subject. Including members in decisions about the site again fosters a sense of both community and ownership.
10. Don Neglect the Distributed Community
Dont ignore other blogs in your niche. It’s a mindset thing, but by not viewing similarly themed blogs as competition, but as friends, and linking to them generously, you’ll find it easier to keep your own members happy. Chances are they visit other blogs in your niche anyway, make it easy for them.
Any More Ideas for Making Blogs Sticky?
I’ve only listed 10 things there, there are undoubtably more ways in which we can foster a sense of community amongs our readers. Do tell us your thoughts in general, and specifically, what works for you.
Nickw, like your listing how to improve our blogs. in point 10, I usually make a mistake by limiting the similar link on my blog, they like a competetor for me. When reading your post it was open my eyes how they are help us to grow!
As I started a new blog, this article was very informative. How can I implement #7? Not sure how that would work on WordPress…any help would be appreciated. Thanks.
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Thanks for the tips! These are really helpful!
Nice post. Really interesting and proves that blogging is not only posting and getting read but a “game of strategy” attracting more and more people to our blogs and promoting!
Ya now every blogger is aware of effectiveness of traffic and good content in promotion of the blogs.
Number 4 is a really good tip. I never thought of that probably because no one has ever answered any of the comments I’ve put on various sites. I shall attend to it straight away.
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That’s the key. Most blog names are too long to type or even remember, especially for visitors coming from Digg or similar services. So you want them to think “WOW! I’ve got to come back here”, and bookmark the site. Great content, not too much ad congestion, and consistency in subject matter and style are key, I find.
People come back to a blog because they liked what they saw, the same way people go back to a restaurant because they liked to food, ambiance, etc.
I don’t have a magic formula for this, but one basic trick is to NOT change your theme, layout, or other design elements often, and if you do, include your members (regular readers) in the decision.
This is really a wonderful idea to make our blog sticky…
Nice views. Can’t we sort it with new posts first?
We use a recent posts page on our blog but, as it’s WordPress, it isn’t as fancy as yours, Nick — it doesn’t display the number of comments for each post, let alone letting logged-in users know which ones are new. I wish there was such a plugin or scripting available.
Great post, anyway.
Great list. I believe I follow them all, with the exception of reduced adsense visibility to logged-in users. It’s minimal to begin with, so I leave it.
But one of the features I have I track the crimes on a geo-tagged map of our town, and it’s one of the most re-visited sections of the blog. People are curious to see what is happening in their neighborhood that isn’t reported in the newspapers.
I gather you meant some other kind of map, such as “where are you visiting from” based ip-mapping?