Engaging With Your Readers

Hey, SE Readers. Joan with you today. In my last post, I wrote about essentials for your author website. Today, let’s talk about engaging with your readers.

We work hard to build our blog readership, which we hope will lead to people purchasing our books. There are no hard and fast rules, and you’re probably doing most of these things already. However, I hope you’ll find these few tips beneficial.  

  • Always respond to readers. If someone takes their valuable time to comment, recognize them. It doesn’t have to be a long response. Depending on the comment, it could be as simple as saying, “Thank you for visiting today.” Nothing is more discouraging for a reader than to have their words go unnoticed. It also sends a message that you don’t have time for them.
  • If a reader asks a question, provide them with an answer. If you don’t know, tell them. Several months ago, someone asked me a question on Story Empire that I didn’t have an immediate answer for. I explained that I needed to do more research. Because of this question, I ended up with a new blog post and learned something new in the process.
  • Don’t argue with readers. Attempting to make readers see things your way can lead to someone unfollowing your blog. People have opinions that are sometimes contrary to our own. It’s not our job to change their minds. Thank the person for leaving their comment and move on.
  • The last point brings to mind another something else. No politics! Again, we all have our opinions and you aren’t likely to change someone’s mind. Arguing politics (or religion) is a big turnoff for many people. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve snoozed on Facebook because they bombard the news feed with their political opinions. Doesn’t matter which side of the fence they’re on or if I agree with them. Too much is enough and a little is often too much.
  • Offer original content. Most people follow your blog because they want to engage with you. Keep the reblogs to a minimum.
  • I said this in a post several months ago, but it’s worth saying again. Don’t make it difficult for someone to leave a comment. If you feel you must moderate comments, WordPress has an option to moderate for new visitors only. You can also set spam filters to catch when someone includes links in their comment. Spammers often use links. If a legitimate comment ends up in spam, you can easily approve it. Captcha codes? Forget it. They’re annoying and time-consuming. Checkboxes that state, “I’m not a robot” aren’t too bad, but if I see one of those combination letters and numbers things with a squiggly line, I’m out of there. They’re often hard to read, especially if someone has visual problems.
  • Strive, at a minimum, to post new content at least once a week. Twice is better. Three times even more, and so on. (Hiding my head in shame here, because of late I’ve done good to post once a week on my personal blog.) But you get the idea. If you need to take a break (and we all do) post something telling readers when you intend to return. Some blog every day and if that works for you, great. Keep in mind that many like to take weekends off.

That wraps up today’s post. What other suggestions would you have for engaging with readers? Tell us in the comments. (We don’t use Captcha codes.) 😊

55 thoughts on “Engaging With Your Readers

  1. When I first published, many other writers said to get a mailing list. I already had a blog (which I mover to WP recently), but not many readers. I decided that my newsletter would be a weekly update on my writing journey with links to my blog posts, Links to my books and others (cross-promos with other authors, and some of my other writing and musical compositions-keeping them involved in what I am doing and hopefully entertaining them between books. It also keeps my creativity going from week to week.

    I have about a 50% open rate, which is pretty good. My biggest fan? My mom. She says that she looks forward to it every week. I’ll take that!

    Leon

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Engaging With Your Readers — Story Empire – Being Zab

  3. I do struggle with blogs – not writing them, because I don’t have one of my own, but responding to them. I’ve met many incredible people through blogs and genuinely admire the trouble they take to produce them and the excellent advice that I come across on almost a daily basis. I’ve also bought wonderful books that would have sailed well below my radar had I not been introduced to them in this way. The bloggers I follow are generous with their time and support and I feel mean if I can’t respond properly to their posts. Also, there’s an intricate web linking my favourite bloggers which means my circle has expanded over the last couple of years to a point where I feel I’m spread too thinly. I want to repay the kindness shown to me by others but often feel that my comments are inadequate and I should do more. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t express how important these blogs are to me and the advice, humour and kindness that they offer is greatly valued. However, in trying to respond as I should means there are days where my own writing time disappears. How do I balance showing others the support that’s been shown to me and the finite number of hours available to do so? The guilt I feel writing this weighs heavily.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I understand what you’re saying. I’m the same way I trying to balance time between social media, blogging, visiting, writing, and holding a full time job.

      Many writers are in the same boat and they should understand there are times when we have to back away.

      Like

    • Hi Alex, I have this exact same problem and I expect most serious bloggers do. I have a blogging schedule that I follow with strict hours as to when I blog during a day. I generally stick to this and don’t allow it to run over into my time for other things. I would never manage otherwise. I don’t read ever post that everyone I follow shares as that would also be impossible. What I do is try to visit everyone once a week and read a few of the post. Most people don’t blog every day so reading three posts a week from everyone I follow works reasonably well for me. It is the best I can manage.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    A most useful post on Story Empire today by Joan Hall. I have to say, I agree with everything she says about engaging with the folks who follow your blogs. Please do check it out, and see what you think. A couple of her comments really hit home with me. I do hope you’ll remember to share it far and wide, so other people can ponder Joan’s thoughts, too. Thanks, and thank you Joan for pointing out some things I think folks should heed. Great post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A GREAT post, Joan, and I agree with you totally. ESPECIALLY about politics and comments being held for moderation. Political remarks of any kind are bound to cause controversy and sometimes really ugly arguments. Who needs that on their blog? I have quit following several blogs simply because I don’t want to get sucked into that kind of negativity. And I figure if I’ve had a comment held for moderation once, that should do it. I just don’t have time for it to happen over and over.

    I love blogging, and I like to have several original posts each week. Sometimes it’s doable, but right now, it’s gotten a bit tough, as my mornings are my writing time. Blogging has to wait until afternoon for now. Normally, I reblog the Smorgasbord weekly roundup post on Saturdays, because it’s full of so many great links others may have missed. And of course, I reblog Story Empire posts. Beyond that, it’s just when I see something important to share. (THIS month is the exception, because I’ve been sharing Bad Moon Rising posts each day. But that will end in 3 days.) While I enjoy reblogging good stuff, I don’t want to fall into the habit of letting it replace original stuff.

    I’d like to emphasize one small thing. The responding to comments should apply to guests on a blog, too. Promoting a book on someone else’s blog should not be a static thing, like hanging a poster in a store window. Folks who comment on the guest’s post deserve to get a response from the author. Like you, I feel it’s rude to for them to be ignored.

    Super post, Joan. And guess what? I’m gonna reblog it because it’s too good not to pass along. 😀 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good advice, Joan. There are so many blogs that think they have a duty to preach their political beliefs that it becomes very tiring very fast. I have stopped reading and commenting on posts that continue to beat the drum for their side. (Mostly anti-Trump) I guess these people think they can get away with it because so many seem to agree with them. My side or opinion doesn’t matter so why support theirs even if it is the same? The point about moderation is a real pet peeve. I especially find it troublesome when the folks hit the hay with the moderation still in place and people who have been driven there by my efforts are still commenting. I guess there is a reason but I don’t get it. Great post as usual. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. These area all excellent points, Joan. I’m one of those who takes weekends off (and sometimes even Fridays). Each Monday, I used to try to scramble back through all the posts I missed and play catch up. But I frequent so many blogs it’s become impossible. Now I just hit a few of those I missed, and hope the others will understand. I think most people who follow me know I’m offline on weekends. Otherwise, I make an effort to engage with others—not just on my blog in the comments–but on their blogs, too. I normally average two posts a week (reviews on Tuesdays and a guest on Thursday). Sometimes I miss one or two of those, but I try to balance it out with a different post (flash fiction) if I do. I’m happy sticking with 2 posts a week, but will occasionally bump it up to 3.

    I follow very few Blogger blogs because of the hoops I have to jump through to comment. WP makes it so much easier.
    BTW, I got a kick out of your closing line 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great tips, Joan. I try to post a couple of times a week and love having guests who want to share their books or music. One thing that turns me off to a blog faster than anything is having to hunt for a place to leave a comment, so I think it’s super important to make that part easy. Thank you for sharing! Btw, I love your blog site!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great tips, Joan. We just kicked a member off the Kill Zone because he refused to refrain from posting politically charged content. It’s so important to remain neutral these days, or we risk offending part of our core audience. I do moderate comments on my blog, but only for new visitors (a crime blog gets a lot of crazies; I’m also a target of hackers). I think the type of blog determines its frequency. Because I run a resource crime blog, my posts take me a full day to research and write. If I blogged two or three times per week, I’d never get anything else done. Even once per week is too much since I also blog at the Kill Zone. So, I follow the “slow blogging” method. I shoot for twice per month, but sometimes it ends up as once per month. Oddly enough, my stats decrease when I up my frequency and increase when I stick to my usual schedule.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Sue. Good point about content. Better to have quality posts over quantity. I had to cut back on some of my personal posts because some topics took a lot of research. I tried blogging five days a week for a couple of months last year. Managed but it was exhausting and took time from writing fiction. And I can only imagine the number of spammers you have. We gets hundreds a day here at SE.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Enjoyed this post and all of the comments. I have to say, though, that people who blog every day, all the time, are hard for me to keep up with. But on the days I miss, someone else probably enjoys seeing them.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’ve been struggling to find time to blog “at home” lately, but I agree with all you’ve said. I’ll add a few more, though these are super picky and as much personal preference as anything.
    • People who schedule their blogs for later in the day. Many of us hit the blog circuit before work. If they scheduled for 12:00, 1:00, 2:00 am, I don’t think it would hurt them any, but it would help the people in Europe and the people who try to comment before work. Otherwise, we’re all scrambling at our lunch breaks or while making dinner.
    • People who don’t set up their Twitter address in the customization section of the dashboard. Then when you go to tweet their post, you get a wordpress dot com twitter address or none at all.
    • People who don’t use the Customize Message (or whatever it’s called) section of the blog post when they schedule their post so when you go to tweet their post, there’s the URL, maybe the twitter handle, and nothing else. No hashtags, no guest’s twitter handle.

    Like I said, this stuff is SUPER PICKY on my part, but if I feel like the blog host went to the trouble to do all the heavy lifting for me, I feel like they wanted me to visit and appreciate me trying to share their work. I’m more likely to keep doing it. But if I have to think up hashtags on the fly and hunt down their (and worse, their guest’s) twitter handles, they’re getting generic tweets. Or maybe none at all. And this is assuming they posted early enough for me to read their post to begin with.

    Love all your points, Joan. Nicely done.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I went through a lot of this when I did the character interviews. The posts were super popular, but labor intensive. When the author didn’t bother to show up at all, it angered me. This wasn’t a rare occurrence and I put down some rules everyone got in advance. They still didn’t show up. Most people were wonderful, but those outliers stuck in my gizzard. I’ve been slacking on original content, and try to save the good stuff for SE. Once my touring ends (this week) maybe I can bring some stability back to my own site.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great post, Joan, each point is right-on. Your comment about reblogs especially hit home. Because my site is not WordPress, I can’t reblog, but I certainly get plenty.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Excellent advice, especially the replying to comments. The blogs I always respond. From personal experience with other blogs, the ones I enjoy most are those I get a personal response to. Especially if they call me by name. It makes me feel the blogger has a personal relationship with me, even if we’ve never met and are unlikely to.
    A ‘like’ isn’t enough, but many bloggers think it is.
    One more thing. Google looks at numbers of comments and the more you have, the more likely you are to rank in Google searches. The comments you make are counted, so if you respond, that’s double the comments. Likes don’t count, as far as I’m aware.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good point about Google searches. I agree that it’s important to call people by name. It shows courtesy and does make readers feel like you care. Thanks for weighing in today, V.M.

      Like

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