If you want to make someone feel like a member of a community right from the start then the best thing to do is give them something to do that makes them feel like they’re contributing, like they’re actively participating. Make them feel needed – give them a job. Want to build a bigger community on your blog? Give your readers a job.
Now, that doesn’t mean you need to pass around your log in information and start assigning readers to take over your posting duties, clean up your widgets, design a new header or speed up your load time. We’re not talking about work that helps build your blog. We’re talking about work that helps build your blog community.
How To Encourage Active Participation
In any community, the minute you say, “I need volunteers to take on the following jobs” you’re going to have a few key members step up, but you’ll also have quite a few more key members rubbing their rings and clicking their heels together, trying to become invisible. So the key is: Don’t let your readers know you’re giving them a job. Nobody needs to know that but you. Instead, ask your readers for help.
Invite readers to email questions and suggestions
They’ll be doing the work of digging up content ideas but they won’t mind because they’ll just think they’re being helpful.
Use polls and surveys
They’ll be doing the work of helping you better define your audience but they won’t mind because they’ll just think they’re being helpful.
Invite readers to submit guest posts
They’ll be providing you with content but they won’t mind because they get their moment in the spotlight.
They’ll be providing you with future post ideas and helping to engage more readers, and they won’t even realize it.
Run blogging “projects” and let readers contribute. Projects can include:
- Send me your list of 10 Reasons Why…
- Send me a link to your favorite post about XYZ
- Publish a post on your own blog on XYZ topic and send me a link for publication
- Follow my How-To post and send in your results
Blogging projects not only encourage reader participation but they also provide fodder for future blog posts. Mention the names of readers in those posts and you’ll get even greater participation on the next project because everyone loves seeing their name in print.
Each of these little “jobs” does something to benefit your blog – it may provide content ideas or help get into your readers’ minds. In the end, though, they all encourage participation and make readers feel a sense of ownership. Jobs make your readers feel like they’re contributing members of the community.