It wasn’t long after I jumped into the blogosphere that I realized blogging is very much about the numbers. The number of pageviews, the number of subscribers, the number of blog posts and comments and retweets and inbound and outbound links and the list goes on.
But blogging isn’t just about the numbers—it’s about the people. More than that—it’s about the relationships you build with your readers.
Because your blog stats may measure your readers in numbers, but your readers aren’t numbers, nor do they appreciate being treated like one. Your readers matter — every single one.
And really, when it comes to building your audience, paying attention to your readers is probably one of the best things you can do. Because an audience isn’t built overnight through some enormous explosion of people, it’s built one reader at a time. One relationship at a time.
So how do you build a relationship with your readers?
- Answer comments. Yes, as in every single one. I recommend installing a commenting system that allows you to reply directly to comments rather than @ mentioning people, but either way you really do need to answer all of your comments if you want to build relationships with your readers.
- Visit your readers’ blogs. I’m not suggesting you try to visit every single one of your readers blogs all in one day (although kudos to you if you do), but especially once you start to see people making repeat visits to your blog, take the time to see if they have one as well. You never know, you might just find that you like what they have to say just as much as they do you. (Fun fact: This is how I found Dan’s blog.)
- Talk to your readers through other means. Do your readers have Twitter accounts? Have they liked you on Facebook? Do they have a tumblr or LinkedIn or a Goodreads account? Chances are they do, and taking the extra step to thank them for commenting on your blog via Twitter or whatever other site is a great way to reach out to your readers on sites other than your blog.
- Repeat. You mean you’ve done all three? Great. Do it again.
Building an audience—especially a well-connected one—takes time, but if you make the effort you’ll find that not only do you have a growing audience, but you have a loyal one.
Without a connection to your audience, the numbers are useless. But don’t just take my word for it, think about it yourself. Would you prefer an audience of 1,000 readers who rarely comment on your posts and nearly never share it with others or an audience of 100 readers you visit your blog daily and comment often?
I know which I would choose every time. What about you?