I know, you got into blogging because you liked the idea of anonymity, hiding behind a monitor and never having to have contact with (Ugh!) people ever again. If your readers want to contact you they can use the comments, right? Wrong. Here are five reasons why your blog’s readers should be able to contact you.
Privacy – Some things are just better said in private. A reader may have a question he’s too embarrassed to ask in a public forum like the comments on your blog. Worse, he may have a criticism that would be pretty embarrassing for you if he aired it in a public forum. Either way, email provides a private means of communication.
Ownership – While it might not seem like a big deal to you, some readers consider it a sign of power to have a direct line to the blogger. To be able to immediately communicate ideas, ask questions, or even just vent gives them a sense of ownership in your blog.
Accountability/Credibility – Providing an easy way for readers to contact you in private means you’re willing to accept responsibility for your content, you’re willing to be held accountable. It gives you more credibility in your reader’s eyes because they can see you’re not hiding behind your blog, you’re willing to step out and step up.
Identify problems – Nobody enjoys getting an email pointing out problems but sometimes readers identify problems you’re not even aware of like server or browser issues or problems with load times.
Opportunities – Every email you receive from a reader is another opportunity to connect on a more personal level. That reader is extending an invitation for a one-on-one conversation and you know you’re going to have his undivided attention.
There are several ways to publish your contact information.
Provide your email address in plain text format. Readers will have to copy and paste your address into their own email server when they want to contact you. On the one hand, this prevents a lot of spam. On the other hand, it also makes it difficult for readers to send you an email.
Hot link your email address. This causes an Outlook email form to pop up when readers click on your link. It’s a little more convenient, but most users don’t have Outlook configured on their computers, so it’s pretty worthless.
Use a contact form. There are quite a few plug-ins around that let you add a contact form to your blog. You don’t have to publish your email address at all and readers can easily send an email directly from your blog. On the downside, spammers can easily use the contact forms, so look for a plug-in that requires human verification.
The easier you make it for your readers to contact you the more likely they are to reach out to you. If this is something you’ve been trying to avoid, don’t panic. You don’t have to answer every email the minute it hits your in-box. Of course, it’s best if you respond to all emails but that’s up to you. The important thing is your readers should be able to contact you whenever they want.