Build a Better Blog: Day 19 & 20: Respond to Comments and Run a Reader Survey

Written by Don P on . Posted in Challenge #1 (2015)

(Reading time: 2 - 4 minutes)
Like Me Yes or No

One of the most basic steps that any blogger should spend time working on week after week, starting from the very early days of the blog is to respond to comments on your blog left by readers. Although this is a very simple act, it is something can has a huge impact on your blog followers.

Unfortunately, this is often something that slips for many bloggers over time, usually as a result of a growing blog or even the busyness of life. For my blog, I need to reevaluate my commenting system to allow more people to comment. Right now only people with Facebook or alternative login can leave a message. Why did I set it up like this? In the beginning I wanted to know who was posting challenge requests and to reduce the amount of Spam. I feel at a point now to expand the opportunity to all readers.

Your task today is to set aside some time to scan through the latest comments on your blog. Answer questions, respond to ideas, leave a welcome message and continue conversations by asking questions of your own. You don't have to respond to EVERY comment, but make sure you hit some high points that will expand the conversation within your readership.

ANOTHER QUICK TIP: Click the links of those who leave comments on your blog. When you do this you’ll find that some of those who leave comments on your blog and have Google Analytics (REMEMBER HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS) will notice your visit and come back to see if their comments have been responded to.

Conduct a Reader Survey About Your Blog

If your readers don't feel comfortable leaving comments on your blog (for whatever reason), you can conduct an anonymous survey to get feedback for a variety of key points, such as:

  • Content (topics covered, article length, types of posts, post frequency, depth of exploration, etc.)
  • Design (navigation, colors, fonts, ease of reading, etc.)
  • Blog Features (RSS feed, blog tools, social sharing, comments, etc.)
  • Community (frequency of revisits, comradery with other readers, how it could be enhanced, etc.)

Why Conduct a Survey?

  1. To Improve Your Blog: This should be obvious considering that's the theme of this entire month's challenge. Find out what readers like and don't like about your site so you can make the necessary improvements.
  2. Renewing Reader Participation: Asking questions will draw readers out of their zombie state to participate directly with you. You'll actually create users who take a little more ownership of your blog because they feel like they are being valued and listened to.

How to Make Your Survey Successful

Here are 5 rules to make sure you're successful in getting the information you need to improve your blog.

  • Determine What You Want to Know: While simply asking "how can I improve" might get you some good responses, having a clear picture of the future direction for your blog can be helpful in forming what questions you ask readers.
  • Ask Specific Questions: Asking specific questions will give readers the framework to give you the type of feedback you are looking for. Ask a mixture of general questions like "tell me what you think about my blog", and very specific ones like "do you like video posts?" or "would you like a forum to enhance interaction?".
  • Set Certain "Rules": Comments like "this site sucks" don’t really help you improve your blog. Make sure you encourage your readers to make suggestions and give constructive criticism.
  • Set Good Expectations: Give readers a sense of what you’ll do with their feedback. Are you gathering data for general purposes or are you truly going to make changes based on their critiques?
  • Be Willing to Hear Critiques: Don’t ask for feedback unless you are willing to hear it; not just the glowing praises — if you need your dick sucked, go to Backpage. The whole point of this exercise is to find areas you can improve upon. As a result you’ll probably have many of your blog’s weaknesses revealed and if you don't have the thick skin for this type of feedback, simply don’t ask for it.

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