Building an Online Community, Going Deep

By guest contributor Disney.

Building a deep community with your readers is essential to growing a successful blog. Here are a few useful tips that I've put into practice over the years.

Getting to Know Your Readers
Nobody likes to be around someone who talks about him- or herself all the time. Blog readers are no exception. In order to build community with readers, you need to both share your life with them, and get to know them a little as well.

Comments
Comments are a great way to get feedback from readers. But what if no one leaves a comment? When you first start blogging, having fewer comments will be perfectly normal. If you’ve been around for a while, and have started to gain a following, lacking comments could be a sign that your readers don’t feel connected with you. If that happens, then start asking questions. Ask what they think of your post; how they would solve a decorating problem; which version of a project they like better, and so forth. When you do get comments, be sure to reply now and then, especially if a question is asked.

Polls
A fun way to get to know the opinions of your readers is using polls on your sidebar. Try to keep the poll subject related to your blog content, or something fun and lighthearted. (Don’t ask whom they are voting for president.). Check your blog hosting website for poll widgets, or try free poll building sites like blogpoll.com.

Link to readers
If you see that a reader has a blog or website, check it out! I’ve found some really neat shops and blogs from following a reader’s profile link. When you do find a gem, share the love. Write a quick post about a cute new blog you found, or link to a reader’s shop when you’re posting about similar content. It will make their day to get the extra traffic, and it’s a great way to show that you think of others and not just your own success.

Reply to emails
When you email a blogger you admire, and they never respond, it feels awful. Unfortunately, I can confess that I have failed to respond to many emails. I feel the guilt of it almost daily! Readers really need to know that you appreciate them, and a simple email response is the least you can do to assure them of that fact. So practice replying to an email right away, so that you don't lose track of it.

Comment

Eden Hensley

Marketing creative, community engagement specialist, technophile, photographer, food and wine enthusiast, and the founder and editor-in-chief of The Road to The Good Life, a lifestyle blog about appreciating and enhancing your life by being grateful for the "haves" instead of lingering on the "wants." There you will find personal stories about my life and family weaved in with real-life, achievable entertaining tips, recipes for hearty home cooked meals, and DIY projects for capturing and sharing memories. I believe the best place to swap stories is over a shared meal, preferably a Thai-meal served family style, and teach an online introduction class to Thai Flavors and host the Family Dinners at The Station supper club in San Francisco.