Managing Reader Relationships

The essential component of blogging is the ability to share information and receive feedback from others. In the early stages of a new blog, a few comments on your post can feel like the greatest achievement and you’ll eagerly respond. But, as we grow our blogs, we may tend to shrug off our duties and become less responsive.

Your attention to your blog’s comments engages existing readers and sets the tone people reading your blog for the first time. Said more directly, it retains existing readers and grows new readership. The speed at which you reply and how you respond may impact whether readers continue to follow your blog and whether a new reader will return again.

With the emergence of social networks and other ways to communicate outside of our blogs, we may find ourselves overwhelmed with communicating. Not all of your readers will participate outside of your blog, so it’s important to spend time with your dedicated reader base first.

Three Opportunities to Connect with Readers

  1. Posting comments
    The most obvious place to start is with the comments already being left on your blog. It is best to respond in the post’s comments section with (at minimum) a general comment thanking everyone who left a comment. For comments posing questions or ones which engage you in conversation, write longer and more personal responses. Ideally, each comment should be acknowledged in some way.
  2. Emailing questions
    The larger your blog becomes the more often you’ll receive questions or feedback through email. Consider it an honor that someone felt highly enough of you to ask for your advice. If it’s a question you’re unable to answer, make an effort to respond with an email and direct them to other resources which may hold the answer. If you have a resource section on your blog, this creates a great place to direct such questions. Unless you have a high-traffic blog, I don’t suggest using an automated email response which can come across as impersonal.
  3. Writing about you
    It’s always surprising when you find a reference your blog on another blog or better yet, a news source. The reality is that many blog readers also have their own blogs and may choose to write about you in place of leaving a comment on your posts. And you’d be surprised how many news sources are looking more closely at food blogs for article ideas.

    Google blog search is a wonderful tool for identifying what’s been written about your blog. Monitoring it once a week is a good start. The trick is to run a search for sites linking to your blog – the query is written as ‘link:YourDomain.com’ (ex. link:eatingoutloud.com). From this search, you’ll receive a set of results from sites linking to some form of your URL. Also, this can be a helpful way to find which sites may be stealing your content.

Pay It Forward

Whether you call it good karma or goodwill, it’s important to leave comments on the posts you’re reading. New bloggers are eager to receive comments on posts and it encourages them to keep blogging. More established bloggers enjoy seeing their readership expand and appreciate when comments are left on their posts.

Additionally, leaving comments elsewhere fosters fellowship with other bloggers and also shows you’re an active food blogger to both existing and new readers. People will begin to see your name on a variety of blogs and will learn more about your personality by what you’re writing. It creates a greater sense of knowing who you are which will make your blog that much more intriguing to read.

Although managing relationships with your readers can take time away from other activities, it’s an important step to maintaining and growing your blog. The dividends don’t always immediately appear, but in time you’ll find that it was the key to your success.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Manggy April 13, 2009, 9:09 am

    I gotta confess, this is the part that’s hard to keep up with. I do like replying to everything, but once I had to stop a few times because I was busy, it became much harder to start again, especially when the comment count racks up. Siiiiigh. At least I’m catching up with e-mail. Maybe I ought to devote all of tomorrow to this…

  • Megan May 4, 2009, 11:46 am

    This is great advice. I’ve noticed that now that I’m replying to comments or emailing commenters, I’ve struck up good relationships with other bloggers. We can ask each other questions, give advice, make suggestions, etc.

    It also let’s your readers know they are valuable. I really appreciate it when someone takes the time to email me or thank me for a comment.

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