Fortunate, blessed, grateful, awed, reverent…. That’s what I feel when I think about readers of Inspiration Bit. What did I do to deserve all those hundreds of subscribers and fans who favourited this blog on Technorati? Sure, there are hundreds of other blogs who have thousands of subscribers. But there’s only a handful of blogs that managed to build a loyal community of readers and friends, not a fanatic following nor the eager crowd to imitate the success of others.

The community of readers plays an essential role in shaping up a blog. It often gives the blog a direction it never had before, it makes the blogger to be responsible for the quality and the content of the articles posted on the site. Many bloggers confess that they draw inspiration from their readers.

So how do you create a community that will inspire you, how do you build lasting relationships with your readers that can evolve into something bigger than a formal blogger-reader connection?

1. Get To Know Your Readers

I was going through the archives on my blog, trying to determine when did I start getting all those insightful comments and regular readers of Inspiration Bit. As soon as I started getting some interaction on my blog (within the first couple weeks of blogging), I immediately wanted to know more about my readers and connect with them. There are many different ways to do so, you don’t have to do them all at once, or with every reader, find the way that you feel comfortable with and go for it:

  • write a post and ask your readers to tell a little bit about themselves
  • Spend more than just a few seconds on your commentor’s website
  • Comment on your new reader’s site after moderating his/her first comment on your blog. You may not become their regular reader, but that first connection, a simple Hello, can be very important.
  • Send an email, with something more than a ‘Thank you’ note. Perhaps, ask some questions about their site or the topics that they cover, or compliment on their site’s layout.
  • No matter what you choose to learn more about your readers, be absolutely sincere with them in your comments, your posts, your emails. Remember, if you can sense a fake tone in your words and actions, they can “smell” it too.

2. Engage Your Readers

You don’t have to do it with every article you write, but from time to time pose questions to your readers, ask their opinion about the topics you write about, engage them into conversations. Sometimes readers are too shy to comment, but you can encourage them to do so with your sincere questions and interest in their opinion.

It should be a common sense by now, that you should try your best to reply to as many comments on your blog, as you can. Don’t you like when other bloggers reply to your comments? It’s that simple: treat your readers the way you want and like to be treated as a reader.

However, don’t just reply to your readers’ comments with a plain Thank you. They’ve already initiated a conversation by expressing their opinion on your post’s subject matter. Carry on with that conversation, interact with them.

3. Accept and even invite a constructive criticism

You can’t expect everyone to agree with you, your likes or dislikes. Sometimes you would get some not-so-flattering comments. You can agree or disagree with your readers, but never insult nor attack them personally. You can argue with what has been said, but not who said it.

4. Be confident, but Be humble

You must be confident in your skills (blogging, writing, designing, coding), be convincing about the topics you write about, but don’t be obnoxious. You might be expert in one field, but fail in others, don’t assume that you know everything there is to know about topics you specialize in. Don’t think that readers owe you their comments or time simply because you spend time writing for them, perhaps teaching them. Don’t preach your readers, but guide them.

Be humble. There’s no need in drilling into your readers how smart or funny you are, they can judge themselves.

5. Show your human side

Don’t be afraid to show your human side. We are all still humans in this limitless blogiverse, not some blogorobots. If you have doubts in anything, feel free to ask your readers for help or advice.

Do not hesitate to show your funny side, but don’t try being funny either. Everyone appreciates a good sense of humour if you have one. Inject a bit of humour not only to your articles but to the comments you leave on other blogs. One of my readers started reading my blogs and later became my friend because he found my comments on his blog amusing, and he emailed me personally to thank for not being afraid to add some humour to my comments.

6. Give back to your readers

Everyone loves contests and competitions. When I participated in the Reader Appreciation Week organized by RA Project I had no idea what a hard work it is to run different contests every day of the week, but how much fun it is for everyone, especially for your readers. Don’t limit your interaction with readers only to contests. Organize competitions, launch group writing projects. Everyone wins in the end, there are no losers when people are getting together to share their experience, compete and take on challenges.

I’m entering this post to Daniel’s group writing project. If I win, I’ll monetize my next group writing project as well, and share the money with you all. However, there is still time left to participate in my group writing project: Time Management. What you’ll get is something that money can’t buy – time management tips from real life gurus.

Talk about your readers in your posts, link to your readers’ sites. Introduce your loyal readers to regular visitors of your site, promote their sites, their projects. Contribute to the discussions on your readers’ blogs. If the Internet is a network of computers, the blogiverse is the network of people. By building your network, you’ll be expanding your blog’s community.

7. Inspire Your Readers

You don’t have to name your blog Inspiration Bit to inspire your readers. Inspire them with your writing, excite them with your topics, motivate them with your conversations, talk about what inspires you and share your excitement with them.

8. Be irresistible

I remember back in school there was this guy in my class who had the most contagious laughter I’ve ever heard in my life. You just couldn’t resist him when he was laughing out loud, he would make you not just smile, but laugh with him.

That’s the secret ingredient in the successful recipe for building a loyal following – be irresistible, find what makes you enticing and different, what is your magnet in luring people to you. Make your readers to want more from you – more stories, more humour, more arguments, more help, more of You.

I’ve probably missed out on some other important pieces in the relationships puzzle, but I’ll let my readers to fill in for me. What do you think are the essential blocks in building lasting relationships with your blog’s readers?

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41 Insightful Bits in response to “How To Build Lasting Relationships With Your Readers”

  1. Hey Vivien,

    I love your group projects and think you are an awesome blogger. Thanks for “giving back” with a link to my site also. You’re definitely inspirational.

  2. I think it is very important to respond to your readers comments. One of the things I like to do is ask them questions about their hobby habits. Sometimes they give me great ideas for posts but mostly they just help build that connection between the two of us.

    Since my blog is about sports card collecting I started a fantasy football league for my readers. I had several join up and a few of them are readers I didn’t know I had because they don’t comment.

    Thanks for the ideas to add to my tool kit.

  3. Vivien, you are the Queen of this topic. You’re one of the most sincere bloggers I’ve encountered, and that’s what keeps me coming back (in addition to the truly inspirational writing, or course). I usually try to take a note from you and get to know as many of my readers as possible. It’s funny — if you really pay attention to the sites in your niche, you’ll see the same people popping up all over the place. Once you find out where the main “herd” travels, you can meet all kinds of new and interesting people.

    I’ve also found that a little link goes a long way. Some people don’t care (or even acknowledge it), but others are ecstatic to get an honorable mention. These are the people you can really connect with, because they want to be part of the relationship. Another interesting point is that most of the bloggers who care are running a smaller or newer site. It seems that once people get to a certain status level, they stop interacting as they did in the old days. I try to do everything I can to keep myself in the “small” blog mentality, but things certainly do get busy when traffic levels increase.

    Great post for Daniel’s project — I was starting to wonder if you were going to enter this one.

  4. Some really great tips here. I must try to remember each of them and apply them to my own webpages. Many thanks

  5. A little kindness and a personal touch goes a long way.

    And I think that is really the mood this site promulgates.

  6. Following your advice, I am commenting:) I’ll see what you’ll do from here….

  7. Vivien

    Wow, guys, thank you all So Much!

    Ronald, I’m glad you like my group writing project. Hopefully, I’ll have more of them in future, and hopefully you’ll participate in each of them as well :-)

    Joey, this is such a neat idea – “fantasy football league” for your readers. How do you play it? What’s the link to read the rules? Perhaps I could come up with something similar (design related) for my blog.

    Brian, it’s so sweet of you to say that about me :-)
    I think you too should write your tips on building lasting relationships with your readers because you rock in that area.
    I too noticed the same thing – the same people meeting together on different blogs. It makes the blogiverse feel much more personal and friendly.
    You’re right about getting big but forgetting the readers. It does get busy, but it’s not a good excuse to act distant with the readers. I’ll do my best not to fall in the same trap (if I ever get the RSS numbers measured in Ks :-)

    Douglas, you’re most welcome. You’ve got an interesting site yourself. What happens after visitors fill out your Relationship Quiz? Do you get back with an advice, or what?

    Chris, thank you. I guess, it’s not fair (my little girl’s new favourite words – Hey, no fair :-)) for me to tell others how to turn readers into your friends, because it comes very natural to me. That’s the kind of person I am in the offline world – it’s easy for me to make friends and I like interacting with people, in fact I really need that interaction, so I’m just simply being me online.

    Ajay, your intriguing comment didn’t stop here, you’ve got the longest, the detailed, the most intimate and captivating About page I’ve ever read – but you already know that, since I just commented there ;-) Bookmarking your site to learn more about you – you certainly did get my attention.

  8. Cool design, – very different. Good post as well.

  9. Vivien,

    We have already started our season. I set the league up with Yahoo. You can play on Yahoo, ESPN, CBSSportsline or Fox Sports just to name a few. I am giving away a trophy that I am designing and a few small prizes along the way.

    For your blog, how about coming up with a virtual game where we develop blogs and earn points for traffic, monetization, links, Serp Position Ect.

    If any of your readers can write the code and develop the site that would be awesome. Wait, maybe we should pitch the idea to Darren or another A Lister. I can see it now someone actually brings it to fruition and makes a mint.

    Boy am I rambling today or what?

  10. One of the reasons why I keep coming back here is because of Vivien’s warmth and passion. Another reason is that most of the posts here affect me and are relevant.

    A lot of the notions in this post are things I’ve tried to carry on in my own blog (which has only been around for two months), just through observing an incredible blogger here!

  11. Vivien

    Thanks, Tejvan. I’m actually in the process of redesigning this blog :-) You’ve got quite a collection of tips on blogging yourself. I’ll be visiting it again soon.

    oh, Natalie, thank you so much for those kind words. Good luck with your blog. So far you’re doing a great job there. I really like your taste in design.

    Joey, your suggestion sounds very exciting, perhaps we should brainstorm more about it. I just don’t want it to become a time drainer for the already busy bloggers. What do you think?

  12. Nice post , i learned a lot reading it

  13. Hey there =) I found my way over here from Daily Blog Tips, and boy am I glad! Your site is something I never expected (in a very good way). I like the honesty of this useful post…look forward to reading more of your words!

  14. Congratulations on being one of the 5 winners of the contest, Vivien!

  15. Vivien

    Thanks, Madhur. I’m really glad to hear that you’ve learned something from this post. All the best in building your own blogging community.

    Hi Joanne. Welcome to InspirationBit and thanks so much for your kind words. Look forward to seeing you here on a regular basis :-)

    Jacob, thanks for the congrats. As promised the prize money will be used for the next Group Writing Project on InspirationBit.

    But first I have to sort through all the recent entries and publish the final list of Time Management strategies on the weekend.

  16. Hi—Vivien:

    I found you through Daily Blog Tips and clicked over because of your blog name, Inspiration Bit. Great name! Will re-read your tips on “getting closer to readers”, i especially like tips number #6 and 7.

    I would love to initiate a group writing project on my blog, will have to look into it further. Sounds fun and just might help with reader intimacy. Thanxs!

  17. Vivien

    Hi Missy. Welcome to Inspiration Bit, glad you liked it here :-)
    Good luck with your future group writing projects. If you need any help/advice with them, just email me, I’ll be happy to assist you with that.

  18. Good article. I think knowing your audience and being humble and respectful is extremely important.

  19. Gives heart to wake up and read a good article.
    This was helpful, I hope it will always be with good luck.
    Thank you.

  20. Wow… how a great article! It really inspired me to build relationship with my readers. thanks.

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach programming, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on