Monday, November 17, 2008

Guest Post: What Do You Want?

This guest post is from the lovely and multi-talented Kelly at Almost Frugal.

Have you thought about what you want people to do on your blog? I mean, besides reading your high quality content, of course. This is an important question, and it has many potential answers, none of them wrong. This question is important because the answer that you give influences how you should design and market your blog.

I want people to visit my site daily, or several times a week. If you want people to return to your blog daily or several times a week, than you want your content to be 'sticky' or compelling enough to entice a first time visitor to return. You might want to try injecting your personality into the blog- talk about yourself enough so that a visitor feels a connection with your work but more importantly, with you. Unconventional Origins' Lucie compellingly writes about her experiences as a mom, a student and a member of an unconventional family; this gets readers to return time and time again.

I want people to read my content, but it doesn't matter to me if it's on my site or on my feed- as long as they read it. If you want people to read your content, but it doesn't matter to you if it's on your site or via your feed than you need to do two things. The first is, obviously, to have a way for people to subscribe. Your button needs to be placed prominently enough so that people see it right away: above the fold in the right hand sidebar, or in the navigation bar are popular places. Lynnae from Being Frugal has an invitation to subscribe above every post.

Another good way to get people to subscribe is to offer them something that they can only get through subscribing, like a giveaway or an eBook. Squawkfox does this; she offers free access to her eBook with every subscription. When you have a high number of subscribers, post the number somewhere visible as that in itself will attract more subscribers.

I want people to leave lots of comments. If you want people to leave comments, then you need to ask them questions they can answer. At the end of each post, open the subject up to others: "What do you think?" or "Have you tried this? Did it work for you?". Ask about a small detail related to something quirky in your post. I once had a lot of answers to the question "Where is your calendar hanging?" after I revealed that one of our calendars is hanging opposite the toilet. Simple Mom is a great example of the right kind of question-asking; her posts regularly receive 60 or more comments. She also proves the other point of comment leaving, that you have to interact with your readers in the comments section as well. If a reader doesn't feel that his or her comment is being heard, then the likelihood of their leaving another comment is pretty slim.

I want people to link to me. If you want people to link to you, especially other bloggers from higher-ranked or bigger sites than yours, then you need to develop relationships with these people. Identify two or three bloggers in your niche that have blogs a bit bigger than you. Read them regularly, and leave thoughtful comments that show your interest. Include them in your round-ups and refer to them in your posts- they probably have tracking plug-ins that will allow them to pick up on those links. They will most likely come back to say thank you, and gradually a relationship will be built.

But beyond these basics- be cheeky! Offer to write guest posts for them- they just might accept- or send them a personal email from through their contact form offering advice or assistance. Invite them to participate in a group project. The worse they can do is say no, and they probably won't. I followed these tactics with Frugal Babe and Paid Twice, and developed relationships with both of them.

There are many more answers to the question "What do you want people to do on your blog" and as I said before, none of the answers are incorrect, if you answer truthfully. The important thing is to know what is important to you in terms of your blogging, and that is a question only you can answer.

Kelly is American and lives in France with her three children and handsome French frog of a husband. She blogs about frugality for the rest of us at Almost Frugal, frugal food at Almost Frugal Food, and blogging at Pretty Your Blog. She is a full-time graduate student in marketing and, in her spare time and fueled by strong coffee, she sews baby blankets for her Etsy shop.

Readers: What do
you want readers to do?

photo by Poagao via Flickr