It's a new year — time for a fresh start. Welcome to our 15-day series on how to fall (back) in love with your blog. The series is all about stepping back, re-evaluating things and making sure you're still connecting with your blog. Here's what you won't find in this series: articles on analytics, plug-ins, sponsored content, ad networks and the like. What you will find is tips and strategies to stay inspired, motivated and pushing your own boundaries, all while loving what you do.

Fall In Love With Your Blog Day 9: Talk With Your Audience | Food Bloggers of Canada

Do you remember the first comment left on your blog that wasn't your mom or your best friend?

It was probably a pretty pivotal moment in your blogging life. Somebody was reading! And they were engaged enough to let you know! Come on ... be honest ... did you do a little happy dance?

However you celebrated, we bet the feeling was probably pretty gratifying, not to mention motivating.

One of the most satisfying things about blogging is creating a community of engaged readers who interact with you. But, it's no secret that blog commenting has decreased over the last two years and with it comes that feeling that maybe nobody is listening. So why bother writing if nobody's out there?  Oh sure ... you know people are visiting. They do a click and dash from Pinterest or Google, grab a recipe and then never return. But is anyone actually listening to what you say?

You can change that, you know.

Are You Shouting?

Ask yourself a tough question. How much of your own content do you drop on social media in a day? Look at all your platforms: Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube.

Now there's nothing wrong with getting your content out there. You want people to be intrigued and come visit. For that to happen, they have to know about it.

But how often do you just drop your links and run? If you're scheduling content, it probably happens a lot.  Even if you're not scheduling, it probably happens a lot. And really, that's just shouting, "Look at me, look at me, look at meeeee!" You aren't really giving your audience anything they can interact with. It's just a link to click on. Their feeds are already overrun with links to click on from other people who are shouting. You're just one more.

The secret isn't talking to your audience, it's talking with your audience. Here's some ideas.

Initiate a Conversation on Social Media

It's all very well to say that nobody's interacting with you on social media but ... are you interacting with them? Be the first one to make a move.

Ask a question of your audience. When they respond, respond back — get a conversation going!

Scroll through your feeds and comment on people's posts. This is a great way to see how many people are shouting and how difficult it can be to respond to a tweet or Facebook post that's just a link — take a lesson from that! Actually read their stuff.

Do You Respond to Comments On Your Blog?

This is Blogging 101. And yet so many people don't do this. If somebody leaves a comment on your blog, respond to it!! If they can take the time to let you know they enjoyed your post or have a question, the very least you can do is acknowledge them.

RELATED:  15 Days To Love Your Blog | Day 3: Working Through Fear

Install a comment reply notification plug-in so that a reader knows when you've replied and they can continue the conversation with you.

Give Them Something To Engage With

If your post contains nothing more than a recipe, then you really aren't giving anyone anything to engage with. Unless they make the recipe and remember to come back and tell you their experience, there's no meat for them to grab onto. A comment of "sounds yummy" does nothing to spark conversation.

So give them something to comment about! Tell a story, ask for advice or a tip (people love giving advice), ask them their favourite take on a dish or a cooking technique, or even ask them to tell you a story!

The same goes with social media, as we already mentioned. Give them something that encourages a response!

Send a Personal Email

Have you ever sent a reader an "out of the blue" personal email? Just to thank them for stopping by and supporting you? Email still goes a long way these days. Anyone who has ever left a comment on your blog has had to leave an email address. Drop them a personal, heartfelt note and thank them.

If you use a subscriber service like MailChimp then you can even see which of your email subscribers open your emails regularly. Send them a personal non-MailChimp email and say hi and thanks.

Involve your readers in your blog. Nurture those relationships. You will have a reader for life!

Stop Mourning The Lack of Commenting

Readers have so many options on how to consume content these days. Commenting isn't always easy to do. But that doesn't mean they can't and won't engage. Start talking to them where they consume. If it's Facebook, start a conversation over there. Do the same on Instagram. Blog traffic isn't the only measure of reach, engagement or success. Now it's the whole package. So don't fret about where they talk to you! Just join in wherever they are. A conversation is a conversation, regardless of where it happens!

A thousand raving fans will always be better than 100,000 click and runs. So foster and grow your reader relationships. It's like a little garden with baby seedlings. Talk to them, water them, look after them, coax them out of their shells and let them grow into your community. It takes time and effort.

It's so rewarding to have a community that you can have conversations with. Not only will it engage them, it will engage you. It will bring back so much joy to your blogging!

More Reading

15 days to fall (back) in love with your blog!

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