When I go to a new blog, there are a few things I immediately look for. The first thing I look for is an “About” section. The second thing I look for is a way to subscribe. Over the course of reading the blog, there might be a time when I want to comment and even e-mail the author. Sometimes there are roadblocks that get in my way. Sometimes there is no about page. Sometimes the contact information isn’t there.
It is crucial to show your readers that you are available. Within this post, I will go over seven ways to show your readers that you are available to them. These are my personal picks and are not for every blog. If you have your own tips, I would love to read them and add them onto the end of this post.
1. Have an About Page
Having an about page is one of the first steps to showing your readers that you’re available. It allows them to learn more about you and your blog.
A good about page:
- Tells who you are.
- Explains why you have an online presence.
- Provides contact information.
- Explains the benefits of your blog to the reader.
One article that I find highly beneficial for about pages is A List Apart‘s article on choosing your about page robot. Another great article I stumbled upon explains the importance of a good about page.
2. Have Multiple Ways to Contact You
Notice that my heading did not say, “Have a a way for someone to contact you.” I’m assuming that your readers can already contact you. And if your readers don’t have a means of contact, why not?
There are a few reasons why you should have multiple ways for your readers to contact you:
No contact method is fool proof
As evidenced by CopyBlogger and Devlounge, a broken contact form can be devastating. You could miss out on many leads and opportunities. Not to mention, your readers might think you are a snob for never replying. If you have a contact form, make sure you test it out at least once a month.
Multiple methods show you’re making the effort to be available
If you have multiple methods to contact you, it shows your readers that you have an “open door” policy. For an impressive example of giving a reader multiple methods of contact, check out Alister Cameron’s about page.
Readers like options
The last reason to have multiple options is because readers like me love options. Sometimes I want to keep a record of my e-mail I send out. I can’t do that if I send my e-mail via a contact form. I would recommend having a contact form, and also having your e-mail address out there front and center for people to do with as they wish.
There are good reasons why you shouldn’t put your e-mail address out there. One of the reasons is SPAM. However, this handy e-mail encoder will encode your e-mail address so that SPAM bots will have a hard time spamming you.
3. Have Comments Enabled
There are several reasons why some bloggers refuse to enable comments. These reasons include:
- The blogger doesn’t have time to moderate comments.
- The blogger doesn’t want his or her writing influenced by comments.
- There may be legal reasons.
The reasons above are very understandable, but if you can, I encourage you to allow comments. It’s the best way to hear back from your readers. You still have a blog if comments are turned off, but you will have to work extra hard to build conversation and community with your readers if comments are disabled.
4. Respond to Comments
One very good way of showing your readers that you are available is responding to comments. You don’t have to respond to each and every comment, but showing your face every now and then is encouraging to your readers. Readers do not like talking to brick walls.
Shawn Blanc has a very unique approach when responding to comments. If you are a first-time commenter on his site, Shawn will e-mail you personally and thank you for visiting. This isn’t an automated e-mail. Shawn takes the time and effort to write out and personalize each e-mail he sends out. His e-mail was one of the reasons I subscribed to his blog and is one of the reasons I still comment on his site.
Interacting with your readers is the beginning of establishing a conversation with your readers. If you refuse to interact with your commentators, please read the rather blunt observation by Chris Garrett:
Without community your site is still a blog, but it is a blog without a soul.
5. Be Personal
Not all blogs are personal blogs. Even on some of the more serious blogs, there should be a time when you get personal with your readers. Sharing some personal details and adventures with your readers will show your humility and humanity.
6. Have a Picture
If you are comfortable with the idea of having your picture shown on your blog, please do so. A picture is definitely worth a thousand words. It shows the readers who’s behind the words and might encourage some conversation.
Showing a picture also shows your readers that you are transparent. You have laid out yourself for the world to see.
7. Use Your Real Name
If you are comfortable with using your real name on your blog, please do so. As much as I like talking to people that have nicknames online, it is encouraging to know that I am talking to a real person somewhere and not a screenname or pseudonym.
Using your real name shows your reader that you are trusting them and not trying to hide something.
Thank you for reading my seven simple ways to show your readers that you’re available. Not all of my suggestions are feasible for every blog, but they are simple and effective ways to show your readers that you are there and available. If you have your own tips, please share them in the comments and I will update this post with your suggestion (with credit given).