Last night on Twitter, I was part of the #sbt10 chat, part of the Start Blogging Today project (disclosure – I’m a partner in the project). As usual, there were a ton of great topics discussed on how to make your blog work better for you.

One of the conversations that arose was how to reward loyalty – i.e., how to make sure that your blog community knows you appreciate them.

Michael Schechter asked how you’d go about that, and I suggested exclusive content as one option (similar to what I did with my free Facebook marketing ebook).

Of course, that approach on a blog would mean that to really benefit from exclusive content, your readers/community would have to be subscribed to a newsletter or email subscription. Which would then negate the rest of your readers that don’t subscribe this way, but still show loyalty by coming back time and again.

So what ways could you reward on your blog, for both subscribers and everyday visitors/readers?

Loving Your Blog Community

Face it, without a community a blog is nothing more than a broadcast platform. Your community nurtures the growth of your blog; it helps share with others; it defends if needed; and it keeps you growing as a blogger by sharing great insights in the comments.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a personal blog or more business-oriented – community is the real king (sorry, content lovers). For business blogs, community is the relationship to the sale – look after it and look after your business.

So what are some of the ways to reward a loyal blog community?

Exclusive Content

As I mentioned earlier in the post, this would normally be via a newsletter or email subscription, so may negate some of your readers (although it’s a great way to build an even more loyal community on subscription too). Some of the things you could offer could be:

  • A free ebook;
  • White papers;
  • Solid business advice not normally seen on your blog;
  • Discounted offers on affiliate programs.

There’s a lot you can make exclusive to really say “thanks for being part of my community”. You’ll have a better idea of what would appeal to yours – all you need to do is put that into action.

The Freemium Model

Because exclusive content needs an exclusive outlet to really make it work, you run the risk of excluding the readers that visit every day, comment and are as just as important a part of your community as subscribers.

7/365
So how do you make sure that you’re not ignoring them and focusing on your exclusive content?

  • Episodic content. This can work in two ways. You can either write a series of educational posts on topics your readers would find useful, or you can offer the first chapter of any ebooks that exclusive content subscribers receive. That way, “normal readers” still receive value and can decide whether to expand into the subscription option.
  • Actionable content. Want to be seen as a thought leader or serious blogger in your space? Then offer action points that anyone visiting your blog can take away and make work for them. John Haydon does this all the time for Facebook strategies, while CopyBlogger offers solid tips on writing for search engines. Help others; help you.
  • Highlight your community. Another way to reward your community is to give them some reader love. By coming to your blog every day and commenting or sharing you, your community is helping you grow awareness of you. So do the same for them. Have them guest post on your blog, or post about someone from your community frequently. We all like to feel appreciated; make sure your blog community knows you appreciate them.

Protecting Your Community

Growing your blog community is the first part; but it doesn’t stop there. Just as your community nurtures you and helps you, so you need to do the same in return, but take it to an extra level – by protecting them.

Think about it – if someone’s taking the time out of their life and schedule to read and share their thoughts on your blog, the very least you should be doing is making sure it’s somewhere that they want to hang out, and feel comfortable doing so.

  • Make it clear you won’t tolerate abuse to your community. One of the best things about any blog is the comments section – so many great thoughts and ideas can come from here, and new friendships can be made. So making it a safe haven is paramount – protect your commenters, protect your blog.
  • Have a comment policy. Currently I don’t have one, purely because I’ve been really fortunate in having commenters who pretty much respect each other’s point of view. But it’s an idea I’m thinking of, and it can help you set both guidelines for new visitors, as well as assure your current community you have their best interests at heart. Ari Herzog has an excellent example of how a blog comment policy could look.

These are just some examples of how you can use your blog to reward the people that make it what it is. There are a ton of other things you could do (and we discuss a bunch of them over in the Start Blogging Today forums).

You could use some of them; you could use all of them – the main thing is you’re at least doing something to reward your blog community.

After all, they reward you just by stopping by each time – thanking and looking after them is the least you can do, no?

Creative Commons License photo credit: jammcm
Creative Commons License photo credit: Kelly Schott

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10 comments
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Ash Mashhadi
Ash Mashhadi

A fascinating post, Danny. I applaud the way that you're highlighting the importance of thanking your community. Too often, you see blogs that claim to be about conversation but are really more focused on broadcast. Our community is, after all, usually the whole purpose behind what we say. Keep up the good work.

Frank Dickinson
Frank Dickinson like.author.displayName 1 Like

Great stuff here Danny.

As someone who has preached the Content is King line, I definitely see your point and purpose in Community is King.

I think it came when I finally made the realization that the most important part of my blog was the Comments. The interactions there are often more important than the post. I'm constantly amazed at how much I learn from reading my readers responses.

Building a community takes time. But it is time well invested. I've seen that here on your blog, on John's and I'm beginning to see it at mine.

Thanks for all you do my friend.

Danny
Danny

If I looked back at my blog over the last 18 months or so, I'm pretty sure about 20% of my posts would have been inspired by ideas in the comments.

Best resource ever, and best collection of smart people ever too. :)

David Wang
David Wang

Here's another idea I want to toss in the pile. Chris Brogan has a section called 'Doing It Right' in his newsletter. In it, he highlights people who are doing a good job in social media. Very cool idea, and even cooler if you're featured :)

Danny
Danny

Definitely a way to reward. It'll be interesting to see what Chris does with his new newsletter, now that he's stopped the one that had that feature.

Michael Schechter
Michael Schechter like.author.displayName 1 Like

Wow, ask a question get a blog post back in return! Way to prove by doing (read: highlighting one of your community members in a post). I appreciate you taking the time to go beyond 140 on something like this. While most of our commenting and interaction for our business goes on in FB vs. the blog, we always try to figure out how to give them that extra special value.

While it is always easier to do behind the wall of an email subscription, we want to bring this front and center. I really appreciate the idea of putting the focus more on our customers on the actual blog. Something we need to a bit more of over at Honora.

I also found Ari's commenting policy really useful way back when we got started with blogging and adapted it for Honora (with his permission of course). It was a very useful tool. And John has been an invaluable voice, especially when I was figuring out Headway! Looking forward to following along with Start Blogging Today and appreciate the chat last night.

BTW, I think it is something I may have heard you say before, but love the idea of Community is King vs. Content is King.

Danny
Danny

I don't think it's as much not moderated as it is self-moderated, Ari.

As I mention in the post, I've been really fortunate in that the community here has been pretty awesome when it comes to respecting each other, and actually defending each other too if someone steps out of line in the comments. And the blog owner always has the power of Delete... ;-)

Ari Herzog
Ari Herzog

Thanks for the love, Michael. Blogs without comment policies (and/or other disclosure lines) cause me to blink. Is commenting not moderated, then, and abusive and profane content allowed?

Danny and others: You may enjoy reading the blog post I wrote when creating the comment policy to understand my inspiration and motivation.

Michael Schechter
Michael Schechter

As someone whose job it is to foster both, I am starting to wonder if there is a difference between those two things at all... The only difference really between those groups is active vs. passive advocates of what you are doing.

Danny
Danny

Hey there fella,

I can but try. :) It was actually great timing, as I'm looking at ways to mix brand loyalty with community loyalty, and seeing if there's any crossover. I'm sure there is, so this was part of that initial step. :)

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