A successful blogger has many skills. Notice, though, that I used the word “successful”, and the title says “long-term success.”
I’m going to eliminate things like coding skills and graphics skills because they’re not necessary for your success. If you need them and you don’t have them you can hire someone who does.
And I’m going to eliminate things like writing skills and creativity because, while they’re helpful, the levels necessary for your success vary from audience to audience, and both can be trumped by your skill at engaging your audience.
So what does that leave? Conversation. The most important skill you can have for long-term blogging success is to be skilled at engaging in conversation. Easy, you say? Not so fast.
You have to know what your readers want to talk about
This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Some blogs have readers who want to hear all the latest news. Other blogs have readers who want more evergreen-type content, facts, ideas and general information. And this variance can occur in an individual niche.
For example, you may blog about Jack Russell terriers and your readers are interested in the latest training techniques for show dogs, while someone else who blogs about Jacks might have readers who are more interested in the care of feeding of these feisty little pups and how to integrate them into their family.
No matter what niche you’re blogging in your readers will probably be interested in just about every aspect, but you need to be able to show them why that information matters to them. If not, they might listen to you, but they’re not going to be interested enough to engage in a conversation about it – with you or anyone else.
You have to know how to nurture a conversation
Years ago, young men and women went to charm school and one of the things they learned was the art of conversation. They learned how to open up a conversation that would appeal to the person (or people) they were talking to and they learned how to keep that conversation going. An uncomfortable pause or a complete end to conversation was considered the sign of a poor host or hostess.
You’ve probably read quite a few blogs where the blogger never asks you for your opinion, never replies to your comments, and never really gives you any reason to join in the conversation. In fact, I’ve read a few where the blogger doesn’t even seen to pause for an online breath where you could, in your mind, jump into the conversation.
There are times when the blogger needs to assume the role of authority figure and control the entire conversation, but are you also including content that asks your reader questions, or gives them something to think about so they can have an internal conversation or, better yet, jump in with a comment, or talk to their Facebook friends?
Your readers need to feel welcome to join the conversation
I’ve seen lots of blogs where the comments are disabled and that’s absolutely fine. Disabled comments don’t discourage conversation, they merely prevent that conversation from occurring on the blog. But, whether your comments are open or not, do your readers feel like you’d welcome a chance to hear from them? Are you inviting them to send you an email? Are you talking to them when you see them on Facebook?
Monitoring comments also helps you readers feel welcome to join the conversation. If the comments after your posts are snarky or rude, some of your readers may feel too uncomfortable to join in the conversation. Let them know they’re welcome by providing a pleasant atmosphere for conversation – just like they taught in those charm schools.