I’ve done quite a few posts about how to gain readers through sponsorship (see HERE, and also my blogging 101 ebook HERE), but I haven’t really written too much about my strategy for keeping said readers once they have been found. I can’t stress this enough, but doing a zillion sponsorships and giveaways isn’t enough. You may have the most successful month ever, drawing in 100+ new people to your blog/month, but if what you are doing on a daily basis isn’t engaging enough, you WILL lose them.
I’ve heard a lot over the past year or so that a lot of people think that paying for sponsorship is the same as paying for readers. The thought is that by drawing them in through a mega giveaway, you are “bribing” them to come follow you. I don’t agree with this theory, because my goal through sponsorship is similar to advertising. You have to get your name out there, and sometimes you have to pay to do that. The thought behind sponsorship is to draw people to you, or introduce a readership of another blog to come and check you out. What happens after that is entirely up to you. I have done a good amount of these giveaways and always find them successful, yet the huge amount of people I get to follow me does not necessarily reflect who is reading. My thought is that by getting my name out there and gaining followers, if even half of those people that find me through the giveaway stick around and become readers, then I am happy.
Three things I do to engage my readers:
1) The biggest thing ever (which often gets overlooked), is to create quality content. This means different things to different people, but to me it involves creating posts that are useful, and that serve some sort of purpose. The purpose can be as small as giving shopping tips, or something more meaningful in terms of opening myself up and sharing what my thoughts are on a particular subject. I don’t like to create things that make other people feel bad. I hope there isn’t a sense of perfection here, but a sense of realness, and I strive for that. You need to create a reason for people to read what you write and a reason to keep them coming back. What can you provide that is useful and helpful to your readers?
2) I’ve mentioned this before as well, but you need to interact with the readers you have instead of just focusing on gaining new ones. For me that means answering comments, daily, visiting my readers’ blogs, daily, and reading/commenting on blog posts, daily. Creating relationships with those in the blogging community is important, you need to put out an effort and be genuinely interested in the readers you have, as well as the friends you make in the blogging community. I find that by reading other blogs I become invested in the lives of the people I meet online, I want to check back daily to see what they are up to. I also follow my readers via their social media channels, and interact with them throughout the day. In the beginning this seems more forced, but as you get to know people and see what they are up to, it becomes something you want to do.
3) The last thing that I find to be important when it comes to engaging readers is using social media to your advantage. It is really, really, really important to have at least a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account for your blog. Make sure the accounts are the same throughout all of them (mine are all Because of Jackie), as this makes it easy for people to find you. I use social media to show who I am beyond my blog, which is more of a curated spot for my thoughts.
I use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram in different ways, as well. Twitter tends to be where I share my most real self, only because it can be a place to share pretty random and silly stuff. I can post thoughts that pop into my head and get a reaction fairly quick, plus I can interact with those I follow really easily. Instagram is more of a behind the scenes look into my life. I love the nature of Instagram, and I love showing the more graphic nature of my world there. As for Facebook, I didn’t really use it that much until last year, and then I saw how important it was. I have a blog page and a personal page (which I keep private), and I like to post questions and sneak peeks on my blog page there. Twitter and Instagram may be the more popular channels for social media, but more people are connected to Facebook. I dare you to find one person that doesn’t check their Facebook page a zillion times a day, something I needed pointed out to me when I was reluctant to care about my blog’s Facebook page.
Also, don’t forget the importance of Pinterest! I get so many hits from there, via the posts I link daily. We live in a visual world and there is no limit to how far a pin can go if it is engaging enough. I post my photos daily and get a lot of referrals from Pinterest.
Creating quality content isn’t something that can be measured, it just is or it isn’t. This takes time to create a rhythm and purpose to what you posts about and why. I find that the posts I work on that are more thought provoking and personal tend to get shared and commented on the most, whereas a straight up style post where I tell what I’m wearing and why isn’t enough. This took me a long time to find this sweet spot between style and lifestyle, and I continue to look at what I post and why all the time. It’s and ongoing process, but if you love it (like I do!), it’s a fun one.
Tell me, how do you keep your readers engaged and create quality content?