Know, like, and trust.
You may have heard those words before – you may have heard them from me – and thought, “That’s great… how do I do that?”
Even though we live in a time when we feel highly connected to people we only know from the internet – I have friends I’ve never met in my online due date group – you still have to put effort into forming authentic, human-to-human relationships.
Today I’m sharing 5 practical strategies to connect with your readers:
Nothing turns people off more than a phony. Still a lot of bloggers think they have to be or act a certain way because that’s how “everyone else” is doing it.
Your readers come to you because you’re you! So be yourself in your blogging.
Use conversational language and write the way you speak.
If you’re an English teacher, this may feel a little (or a lot) wrong, but bloggers don’t have to follow all the rules of grammar that you do in formal writing.
Blogging isn’t formal. It’s intimate.
Use the words you would use when having a conversation with a friend. Use punctuation in ways that would make your grammar teacher lose. her. shit.
Swear if you want to! Don’t swear if that’s just not how you roll.
Call your readers “dearies” or “y’all”… if that’s you. Or “peeps” or “home girls”… if that’s you.
To create a relationship your readers need to feel like they know you. And for them to know you, you have to be yourself.
Interact with Your Readers
Have you ever had a one-sided relationship? You know the kind where you’re always the one calling, inviting them places, and making an effort?
It’s like playing tennis against the drapes.
It’s frustrating and leaves you feeling used.
Don’t make your readers feel that way.
If a reader takes the time to leave a comment on your blog, respond.
If they reach out to you on social media, respond.
If they tag you in a post, leave a comment saying thank you and make a little joke, or ask them a question.
A blog post – even the most well-written one in the world – can only go so far in building relationships. So when your readers engage with you, let them feel seen, heard, and appreciated.
Beyond being a great way to strengthen your audience’s bond, this is also an amazing way to get more information on what your audience likes, doesn’t like, is frustrated by, and wants more of.
Go to Them
There’s an old saying, “If Mohammed won’t go to the mountain, the mountain must go to Mohammed.”
Your readers are busy.
As much as they love and value what you’re putting out into the world, you are not at the top of their minds day in and day out.
Sorry. (Not sorry.)
Show your audience some love by going to them, instead of insisting they come to you.
Social media is a fantastic way to do this. It lets you share your thoughts, ideas, insights, missteps, victories… and in lots of different formats.
I love having a Facebook group for the Side Hustle Teacher community because it allows me to get to know my audience, and them to get to know me, in a space that doesn’t have a built-in hierarchy. My blog is my site, I’m the expert, and it’s my platform. The SHT Facebook group is shared by the thousands of members, and is designed for interaction.
Everyone is an expert.
Another way I go to my readers is via email.
If you’re on my list you hear from me regularly because I want to be part of your life. I want to pop up in your inbox and say “Hey! How’s it goin’?”
And I loooooooove it when people email me back! It’s one of my favorite things!
Sharing personal stories is another way to make a genuine connection with your readers, and I highly recommend it.
Of course, you don’t have to share everything – some things should remain personal – but your audience wants to know that there’s a real, flesh-and-blood person behind your site.
Stories about your life, mistakes, flaws – all the things that make you a human – helps your audience relate to you. It lets them see themselves in you, which is what we’re all looking for.
We all just want to know we’re not alone.
I share with my community members about my anxiety, my story of how I got started in blogging – including my first epic fail side hustle – and my over-the-top love of my pets.
I mention my family, but I tend to keep most of our day-to-day life to myself.
The personal things I share with my audience not only help me build a connection with them, and them with me, it also lets me show everyone that not everything is sunshine and roses… Things go wrong, I make mistakes… I even had a mild heart attack when my students found my blog.
All these things make me a person, rather than a highlight reel.
The golden rule of blogging, always give your audience what it wants, needs, and can use. Provide value and everything else will follow.
One of my biggest pet peeves of our current age is the way news outlets rush to publish a story, but don’t have any information… so you basically get everything they know in the title. When you click on the article all there is are a couple of hastily written paragraphs that restate the headline and leave you annoyed.
There are several sites I won’t even click on anymore because I’ve been disappointed too many times.
Don’t be like that.
When your reader clicks to read one of your posts you want them to feel understood. You want them to say, “That’s exactly what I was looking for.” You want them questioning whether or not you have illegal surveillance in their house because you gave them the exact information they needed.
Value builds trust.
Consistent value makes you who they turn to when they have a question. It makes you who they refer their friends to. It makes you their go-to person.
Regardless of how you choose to connect, making the effort to do so is 100% worth it.