This is a guest post by Glen Allsopp. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
Despite having already quit my job, I recently attended a “escape the rat-race” type workshop for people who were looking to start their own businesses. My main reason for going was to see the process that people teach in order to help others successfully transition out of the cubicle and into their own company.
After all, I had completely stumbled onto my current path so didn’t have a solid blueprint for the process. One thing that really struck me throughout the discussions was that every single person agreed with this: you must make your business feel like home to someone. It doesn’t have to be everyone, but it should be someone.
I started to think of this analogy in terms of blogging and within a few minutes, I was already flooded with ideas on how to make your blog feel more homely to your audience. Now, I’m going to share them with you.
Pick a Focused Topic (The Right Address)
If you pick a focused topic on your blog, the vast majority of your blog posts will apply to everybody. In other words, every time they read new content of yours, visitors will be thinking “Yep, I have the right address.” They’ll know they’re in the right place because that’s exactly what they want to read.
A few blogs do break this mould with one of the most notable being Steve Pavlina. He blogs on the topic of Personal Development but covers so many different aspects of that niche. One week he might write about dating products and the next he’ll cover religion. I can’t help but think only a tiny percentage of his readers get to read what directly interests them on a regular basis.
The more you can give your readers exactly what they’re looking for, the better the chance they’ll feel like they’re in the right place.
Keep a Consistent Post Schedule (Familiarity)
One thing I admittedly struggle with is keeping a regular posting schedule. Some weeks I might post four times and others I might not post at all. My blogging very much operates around my personal life and I know that’s not good. In fact, the only thing constant about my post schedule right now is inconsistency.
However, I’m working to change that because I know how important the aspect of familiarity can be for your blog. I know that Darren has said a few times how if he does not post on a day (which he usually always does) then he will get floods of emails asking if he is OK or anything has happened to him. His readers are often waiting for new content to be posted because they generally know when that happens.
Remember that a (surprisingly) large portion of your readers will not use RSS or Twitter to get your articles. Instead, they’ll go the ‘old fashioned’ route and regularly return to your site manually to see if you have updated. This is especially true in the non-technical niche’s out there, so try to keep to a regular schedule.
Be Authentic (Comfort)
Authenticity online can be described in many ways, but I simply like to think of it as bringing as many natural human components you would use offline, into the online world. To me, that’s what all the advice boils down to. Authenticity brings comfort to your readers because trying to be (or act like) someone else is not only difficult an act for you to keep up but difficult for your readers to relate to.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who is trying really hard to impress you? Within a few minutes you instantly know how much money they have or how attractive their partner is? If you haven’t, then I have. And when it happens, it just feels…yuck. That’s the only way I can describe it, it just feels unnatural.
I have found the best results blogging when I talk to my readers like they are real people and I don’t try to bring an enhanced version of my offline self, online. If I’m comfortable sharing my failures and mistakes in life and lessons that I’ve learned, I find that people can really relate to what I’m saying and connect with the words. The more you can engage your readers, the more comfortable they will be around your site.
Interact in the Comments (Community)
I honestly feel like one of the few bloggers who tries to respond to as many of the blog comments I receive as possible. I do this not only to thank people for taking the time to check out my website, but I know that whenever I leave a comment on other websites, I really appreciate it when the author takes time out to respond to me.
I actually have to hand it to Daniel here because he is one of the few big bloggers I see regularly responding to reader questions, either as blog posts or comment replies. You may want to install a email subscription plugin so that blog commenters can also be notified when you reply to them directly. This step is so simple, and while it might take up 30 minutes of your time each day, I believe it is totally worth it.
Over to you: what tips do you have to make a blog feel like home?
Glen Allsopp blogs on the topic of Viral Marketing at ViperChill. He helps people make a living online by building remarkable websites.