This is Day 25 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, a group project 60+ of us bloggers are doing together in an effort to help each other become better bloggers.
When I write online, I am always talking to somebody, anybody who may be passing through looking for answers. That’s because when I’m surfing the ‘net, I’m usually searching for information. I am constantly convinced I’m in Stage Five something, and Dr. Internet has both the diagnosis and the cure. With my own habits as the driver, my blog answers the unasked question in every post.
As Darren Rowse says in the book we’re following during this series: questions increase your blog’s stickiness. If you make the questions simple yet interesting enough, readers will stay to answer them, then return to check for questions and answers from other readers. Not only will this increase your blog traffic, you will create a sustainable community for the exchange of ideas, encouragement and genuine support.
Those of you with smaller blogs will go unanswered for a while. Keep asking. My father’s church began in our living room when I was three years old. My fuzzy memory puts the attendance somewhere around five people. The best part of the service was the Welch’s communion wine and listening to my dad speak to those five people as though he were teaching 500 or 5,000. Treating those first parishioners as if they were filling a concert hall grew my dad’s church much faster than if he’d held back waiting for a larger audience. I can’t remember who played the piano, but I was rocking the head usher position from the entrance foyer.
Don’t let the Q & A process overwhelm you. Ask one question at a time. Write freely, write naturally, write what you know, then ask for your readers’ thoughts. There will be days you honestly won’t care what anybody thinks about what you just wrote. Ask anyway. Your readers will surprise you. They will tell you something new. They will lift your spirits. They will keep you going.
Do you know why? Because you made them feel needed and wanted and valuable. There are more than 50 million blogs on the Internet, and yours is the one that has their attention in the moment. How awesome is that?
A few tips to get you started:
- Ask for comments at the end of each post. Say something simple like: comments are open. Think of it as your post’s altar call.
- Ask a question for the universe. Something you’ve been wondering. Like how come Chase Utley and Mark Texeira were such hot properties until they landed on my fantasy baseball team? They are a combined 0-1000 on the season with exactly one stolen base. What is up with that?
- Got something you’ve been dying to share? Write it up as a question post. Example: if your daughter’s special needs baseball team were invited to play an exhibition game before the 2010 Little League World Series championship game in Williamsport because they are that awesome, would you visit the funnel cake museum or the rail car historium between ESPN interviews?
- Invite readers to ask you questions in the comments then answer them individually in subsequent posts. This was a fun blog exercise back in the blog heyday before microblogs like Facebook and Twitter took over. Formspring is now trying its hand at it. No need to pump the water by hand if there’s a drinking fountain nearby, I guess. Your call.
- Follow up, follow up, follow up. Never ask without answering.
Discussion, uh, questions:
- Can you share with the group your current methods for starting discussions on your blog?
- Do you participate (outside of this series) in discussions on other blogs? What makes you stick around?
- Do you feel this series so far has helped you build a better blog or become a better blogger?
The extra mile…
- Tweet, share, & bookmark this post.
- When other bloggers include a link to a new article they’ve posted today, click, read, and comment on it.
- Please review Larry Westfall’s blog and give him some feedback. (Edit 2 PM EST: Argh Sorry about the bad link to Larry’s blog review. It’s been fixed.)
Blogging daily about nothing in particular at freefringes.com and tweeting about even less as @hmx5, Erica Mullenix is a writer and special needs parent living in Texas with her three extraordinarily normal children and Lab mix pound puppy. Her previous 31DBBB guest post was creating a sneeze page for your blog.