The Timid Blogger’s Guide to Increasing Reader Engagement
Can I ask you something?
Do you routinely hesitate before publishing a blog post?
Do you constantly worry about what people will think, how you’ll come across, and even if you’ll have anything interesting to say in the comments?
Do you wonder if may be there might be something wrong with you?
It took me a while to realize that even though I was a good writer with great ideas, I was a timid blogger. Worse, folks visiting my blog and reading my posts could tell.
I hated taking a stand or talking authoritatively. I didn’t want to go out on a limb and make statements because I was afraid someone might disagree with me. When someone commented on my blog, I agreed with what they said rather than carry the conversation forward.
And that I had the gall to wonder why my blog’s reader engagement was nil.
If any of this sound familiar to you, you’re like me – a timid blogger. Don’t get me wrong. You’re a nice person. You just don’t like being put on the spot and hence don’t do it to other people to.
Unfortunately, timid bloggers never get anywhere. They don’t get popular, they don’t have loyal, die-hard fans, and they certainly don’t have any blog reader engagement to write home about.
Luckily for timid bloggers like us, it’s not all bad news. There are a few things we can do to increase reader engagement.
Don’t worry. I won’t ask you to change yourself. I only ask that you change the way you do things on your blog.
Have Only One Call-to-Action
Yes, having one call-to-action is advice every blogger should follow but timid bloggers need to remember this more because we have a tendency to ramble.
As tempting as it is, don’t do that. Don’t ramble.
When you’re ending a post, have a single call to action. An action you want your reader to take. State in as simple a language as you can. Don’t suggest the action either. State it. Ask for it clearly.
Don’t write “Share your thoughts if you like this post.” Or “Enjoyed the post? Chime in with your two cents!” That’s pussyfooting.
Write “What would you do differently in a similar situation? How would you handle it? Share your thoughts!”
See how much more direct and authoritative that is?
Ask a Specific Question
Some bloggers have a knack for tackling multiple related topics in a single post. Timid blogger’s don’t have that talent. For us, one question per post is what works.
So spend a few minutes to think and compose your question. Let your post focus around that question.
For example, if you’re talking about the lack of popular female business bloggers, simply ask “Why is there a dearth of popular female business bloggers?”
Write Interesting Micro-Copy
So many bloggers focus on the web copy of their blog, they forget that it’s often the micro-copy that catches the reader’s attention.
You can have the most interesting About page, but it won’t do you any good if people don’t read it.
There’s one bit of copy that appears on every post. These are tiny snippets of phrases and words that appear on every page of the blog. For example, the comment count, author bio, sidebar etc.
“Chime in with your two cents!” or “Be the first one to comment!” sounds a lot more interesting than “No Comments”.
“Meet the blogger” sounds a lot more interesting than “About the author” in the author bio.
“Like what you read? Share it with your friends!” or “Share the love!” is a lot more personable than “Share this post”
Use microcopy to instill personality in your blog. It’ll help your readers connect with you even when you’re feeling too timid to go out on a limb.
Use Images and Graphics
A picture’s worth a 1000 words. Need I say more?
Run Fun Contests and Promotions
Want to generate a little buzz without actively promoting your blog? Run a content or promotion. Make sure the prize for the contest or the promotion is good enough to pique reader’s interest.
Every time Melissa Culbertson of Blog Clarity holds a contest, she always asks for comments to qualify for the contest. She gets hundreds of entries without fail – many from people who have never commented before.
People love quizzes. If the popularity of Buzzfeed’s quizzes is anything to go by, people have a deep seated need to find out how good they are.
Quizzes are a great way to encourage reader engagement. Take the time to create an interesting quiz on a topic of your reader’s interest.
For example, a freelance blog can create a quiz titled “Do You Have What It Takes to be a Freelance Writer?”
Make It Personal
Timid bloggers often feel more confident in an intimate setting. If that’s the case with you, try starting an email newsletter.
Once you have a good number of subscribers, all you’ll have to do after you publish a post is tell them you’ve done so. Include a link to the post in the email and your subscribers will click through to read it and leave comments.
Want to increase reader engagement without going out of your way to network? Try gamification.
Gamification is the practice of turning tasks into games.
One great example of gamification is The Creative Copy Challenge by Shane Arthur, David Wright, and Sean Platt.
Twice a week, they’d publish 10 words and ask their readers to use them in a creative short story and post them in the comment. How did they get the competitiveness going in their readers? By claiming they bet their reader couldn’t come up with a interesting story. They knew their readers wouldn’t be able to resist such a challenge.
And their readers didn’t disappoint. They rose to the challenge and every post received hundreds of entries.
Respond to Comments
This is such a common sense advice that I almost didn’t include it. But remembering how many times I’ve let a comment go by without responding simply because I was too shy or didn’t feel like I didn’t have anything to add, convinced me to do so.
No matter what, always respond to a comment. Even if it’s just to acknowledge a comment or agree with them – always reply.
Follow the Trail
Every now and then, you get a comment from a reader who never returns again. That’s okay with the reader – he’s already forgotten you. It’s not good for you.
Instead of letting the commenter forget about your blog, follow him through the link he left in the comment. Find out where he blogs, what his social media accounts are and strike a conversation with him outside the blog.
It’ll help him remember you and entice him to visit your blog again and leave a comment.
It’s About Building a Community
If you’ve ever despaired over increasing reader engagement then I’m here to tell you that it isn’t hard. It’s just hard work.
You can be a timid blogger and have an active readership too.
It’s all about building a community and caring for it. Once you’ve attracted readers to your blog, don’t let them slip away. Keep in touch with them and create a connection they won’t forget.
Once you do that, it’s smooth sailing from there. Not only will your readers not care that you’re a timid and shy blogger but you’ll find yourself becoming a lot more comfortable voicing your opinions.
Are you a timid blogger? Have you managed to grow your blog in spite of being shy online? If yes, tell us how you did it in the comments. If not, share your biggest frustration with increasing reader engagement on your blog.