Reader appreciation should be simple. It should be common sense. But some who want to jump on the reader appreciation bandwagon don’t know where to start. Within this post you’ll find ten simple ways to show your readers that you appreciate them.
1. Put a Reader in the Spotlight
If you have comments or a contact form enabled on a blog, your readers may be providing some valuable feedback. Why not write a post based on a reader comment or question? Darren from Problogger is fantastic about putting his readers in the spotlight.
For several of the posts on this blog, I have asked for reader feedback directly and featured many of the readers comments in a follow-up post. A good example of this technique is a post about annoying design decisions, which was primarily inspired by reader comments. I even wrote a follow-up post on Devlounge consolidating all of the annoying design decisions that readers of this blog found annoying.
Of course there are many other ways you can spotlight a reader. For example, you can give the reader a prominent place in the blogroll, or perhaps give the reader a free sponsorship spot for a period of time.
2. Remove a Layer of Bureaucracy
Removing a layer of bureaucracy is so simple, it actually pains me that more bloggers don’t do it. Here are several ways to remove a layer of bureaucracy for your readers:
- Allow your readers to comment without registering.
- Stop auto-subscribing your readers to newsletters, e-mails, and comments.
- Turn on full feeds so readers don’t have to take an extra step to view your content.
- Get rid of the ads that obscure or temporarily cover up the content.
3. Personalize those First-Time Commenter E-mails
A neat little WordPress plugin sends first-time commenters a thank you e-mail. This plugin is called Comment Relish.
However, one of the problems with automated methods of appreciation is that the e-mails seem so impersonal to the first-time commenter. And that’s probably because they are.
Take Alister Cameron’s approach and have those first-time comment e-mails sent to you. Personalize the e-mail, and then send them out to the reader.
4. Invite a Reader to Guest Post
Do you find that you have a very opinionated reader who loves leaving long comments or e-mails? Why not invite the reader to write a guest post that elaborates on their point? You can also invite a reader who has an opposing viewpoint to debate you publicly in a war of the blog posts.
If a reader chooses to write a post on their own blog, you can also take the step of writing a quick post pointing out the elaboration or opposing view. If the reader is too shy to write a guest post, perhaps you can debate yourself if the reader holds an opposing view point.
5. Make an Investment in Your Readers
A lot of website investments are behind the scenes and are transparent to the readers. It’s usually when readers notice that there’s a problem. For example, for a few months I had several readers e-mail me to complain about my personal site being down. Or the reader would e-mail me saying a comment couldn’t be posted. I tried to resolve these issues with my host, but the host simply couldn’t deliver the up-time and performance I needed. I ended up switching hosts and I actually had several readers thank me.
There are several ways to invest in your readers, but keep in mind that a lot of these are behind the scenes investments that readers will appreciate indirectly:
- Upgrade to a new theme or design that better suits readability and usability.
- Take down all or some of your advertisements.
- Provide more images (Stock Photography) as enablers to your content.
- Research your readers’ behavior (through Crazy Egg or other stats packages) to make improvements to a design or theme.
- Change to a faster host.
- Give your readers an easy way to get in contact with you.
Investments in readers come from providing your content via multiple sources such as feeds, email feeds (newsletter replacements), a blog’s design meeting accessibility and web standards so it can be viewed by anything from anywhere by anyone, translation access for international readers, and easy search and navigation features to help them delve deeper into your blog content to find the answers they need to their questions, now and in the future. Read the full comment.
6. Thank Your Readers for Stumbling or Digging a post
One of the nicest things a reader can do for you is submitting a post you have written to a social networking site. It is almost beyond selfless as the reader’s effort can easily go unnoticed.
However, Liz Strauss points out the benefits of thanking that Stumbler or Digger.
I’ve had a few people thank me personally for stumbling or digging their post, and it really meant a lot. It’s a good way to make friends, and it’s a nice way to show the reader that his or her work is much appreciated.
7. Thank Your Readers Instead of Thanking Your Sponsors
“Thank You Sponsor” posts are almost a curse of the blogosphere, but sometimes they are necessary.
How about on top of thanking the sponsors for a month, why not thank a few readers too? After all, aren’t they the ones clicking on the ads?
8. Allow Readers to Fix Their Typos
Readers absolutely love this plugin because they no longer have to cringe when that hanging typo is noticed only after the submit button is pressed.
9. Provide a Full Feed
Darren from Problogger asked his readers if they provide a full or partial feed on their blogs. I suggested that a follow-up poll be conducted to see what the Problogger readers actually preferred from a reader’s perspective and not from a blogger’s.
I imagine the follow-up poll results would be overwhelming if coming from a reader’s perspective. Most readers simply prefer full feeds. In a post I wrote on Devlounge presenting my arguments for using full content feeds, some reader comments stated that they don’t read feeds while connected to the Internet. If a site is only offering a partial feed in that situation, the reader is out of luck.
Providing a full feed is a simple way of placing the reader above advertisements and page views. So please, turn on full content feeds.
10. Give Your Readers a Prize
There are many useful things you can give your readers that are free.
Here are some examples of things you can give away to readers that have little to no monetary cost:
- The groovy badges that everyone seems to have.
- A free download (such as a WordPress plugin or theme).
- Access to an e-book you wrote.
- Your expertise (design, programming, consulting).
- Beta invites.
- Logo design.
- Free hosting (for you resellers out there).
Reader appreciation should be simple. And it is. If you have any of your own tips on how to show reader appreciation, please share in the comments.
This post was written as part of a group project for Daily Blog Tips on the topic of Tips & Tricks