In a previous article, I discussed why it’s important to develop a community and suggested a few ideas to help you get started. One of those ideas was to give your readers homework and have them report back when they’ve completed the assignment. Sound a little too much like school? Not really. Here’s how it works…
Your readers come to your blog because they want to
I’ve been an avid reader all my life but I always hated doing book reports in school because they were never on books I wanted to read, and I’m sure a lot of school kids agree with me. If students could read and report on any book they wanted they’d be happier with that homework and they’d probably follow that teacher to the ends of the Earth.
Which is why giving your blog readers homework turns them into loyal community members. First, your readers come to your blog because they want to, not because they’re required to. They enjoy your blog and they’re getting value from the information you provide. In other words – they’re having fun learning from you. And when you’re having fun, you don’t think of an assignment as “work.”
Readers who learn something turn into loyal followers
When I was in high school I had a geometry teacher who was known for piling on the homework, but he made learning fun. He used roller coasters for examples and he gave us little projects to design 3D geometrical shapes and he just had a lot of neat little teaching techniques that kept me interested in learning. Every single night we had homework but it never seemed like “work.”
The next year, I had the option of taking his Calculus class or another foreign language. Even though I knew Calculus would be a difficult class, one I really didn’t need that would require lots of homework, I chose his class because I knew he’d make it interesting and he’d teach it in such a way that even I would be able to learn it. In short, I chose to continue following this teacher because his unique homework assignments held my interest and helped me learn, even though it was something I’d never really “need.”
Over the years I’ve read several blogs that tell you how to draw. But a few years ago I stumbled across a site that actually teaches you how to draw anime characters. And of course, you have to draw them at home. Do I need this knowledge? No. But I enjoy having it, and I enjoy the learning process. So I’ve become a loyal community member on this blog.
When your readers learn something from your blog then it becomes more valuable to them, and the best way to learn is by doing. Next, the best way to build a blog community is to encourage your readers to share what they learned, and the best way to do that is to give them a homework assignment and have them “turn it in” to your blog.
How To Build A Blog Community By Setting Homework For Your Readers
Write a How-To post: No matter what niche you’re blogging in you can always find a topic for a How-To post.
Tie it to a Homework Assignment: Now, come up with a creative homework assignment that uses the How-To technique you already posted and link to your How-To for easy reference.
Have Readers “Turn In” Homework: Have your readers send pictures you can publish on your blog or post pictures on their Flickr or Pinterest accounts, or provide a link that you’ll publish in a compilation post – anything that encourages participation.
Homework assignments encourage readers to take your concepts and put them into actual practice and then share their results with the community. Which means all those first-time visitors who land on your homework assignment will have more chance of becoming loyal members of your community when they turn in their homework.