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The Secret to Building a Wildly Loyal Blog Audience

Carol Tice

Your blog readers can be loyal as dogsIf you’ve got a blog — even a brand-new one — you’re probably wondering how you can get subscribers.

But the most important issue isn’t how to get them signed up — it’s how to keep them excited to get and open your emails.

So excited that when you want to sell them something, they’d love to buy it. Because they’re not just a reader — they’re a huge, huge fan.

A brief breakfast chat I had with one of my mentors at World Domination Summit last summer changed my outlook on how to build reader loyalty and gave me a powerful new tool for keeping readers excited about my blog.

That mentor is Danny Iny, the super-sharp marketing maven at Firepole Marketing.

When I mentioned to Danny that I was unhappy with my unsubscribe rates, he asked me one question that changed my whole approach to blogging.

“When they subscribe,” he said, “do you ask them to email you and tell you their biggest problem?”

I had to admit I wasn’t doing that.

“Try it,” Danny said.

At the time, my email signup confirmation said something basic like “Your subscription has been confirmed. Watch for the first installment of Marketing 101 to land in your email inbox in the next 48 hours.”

Using Danny’s advice, I changed it to this:

Your subscription to our list has been confirmed.

You should receive your first installment of your free 20-week e-course, Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers, in your email inbox tomorrow.

If it doesn’t arrive within 48 hours, let me know by replying to this email and I’ll give the system a kick and get it coming to you.

In the meanwhile, I’d love it if you’d do one thing for me: Reply to this email and tell me what you need to learn about freelance writing!

What’s the top issue you’re struggling with as a writer today? I’d love to hear from you.

Since then, subscriber retention rates have soared. I’m expecting to crack 10,000 subscribers in the next month or so! A year ago, I had about half that.

Now, not every subscriber takes the time to respond and tell me about their freelance writing challenges. But many do, usually several every day. I try to respond to every new subscriber who takes me up on this offer.

And it’s been a game-changer for my blog.

Here are the three great benefits I’ve gotten from implementing this one small change to my blog signup process:

You learn.

Some subscribers send me pages and pages about their situation, their struggles, and their lives. It helps me discover great ideas for future blog posts, as well as for classes and Freelance Writers Den meetings and bootcamps.

You bond.

I gather that increasingly few bloggers respond to their readers on email. I know that how? Because many readers I respond to are blown away to receive a response from me.

A typical response:

“Wow, I can’t believe you answered my email! I’m going to check out those resources right away.”

To these readers, Make a Living Writing has gone from just another blog they read to their favorite blog. This is the blog where they are heard.

They feel important and valuable. Someone cares about their struggles.

How many blogs are there where you feel the author cares that way about you?

It. Is. Huge.

Some of those readers who email me become friends, connections in social media, guest posters on the blog. Often, it starts a relationship.

When you have relationships with your readers, they never leave.

You sell.

Some of the resources I recommend in my responses to new subscribers are free blog posts here on Make a Living Writing. But often, I also see a paid class, program, or ebook that would be a perfect fit, based on what that subscriber said their big obstacle is to achieving freelance writing success.

Perhaps they they need help learning how to create a portfolio from scratch, get their website up, or find better clients — and I’ve got a Den bootcamp I can recommend for each of those. Might be a thing I created or affiliate sell, or something I just know about that would help them.

You’ve probably heard how important it is to impress upon your readers from the start that your website sells stuff, so that they’re not freaked out when it happens. This is the solution — offer them a paid product or two the minute they subscribe.

Then, they’ll never be shocked-shocked later on to discover you occasionally sell products and services. You’ve introduced the concept at minute one.

If you’re wondering, I have never had a new subscriber give me negative feedback about being presented with paid products in this interchange. That’s because what I’m suggesting is exactly what they need.

I took the time to find out what would help them most and direct them to it. Nobody is offended by that. And often, I’ll see that new reader just up and buy the ebook or course I suggested or sign up on the Den waiting list, right away.

A lot of blogging gurus will tell you readers need time to get to know you before they buy. But I’ve discovered some don’t need 5 minutes — they are itching to grab shortcuts, learn, and move forward quickly and they will pay you for that info now.

It’s work.

If you’re wondering, yes, committing to answering new subscribers’ questions takes time. But in my view, it’s time well-spent.

You tend to get the same few questions over and over, so you can develop some stock language you can cut and paste. Then I customize a bit from there.

If your dream is to create a money-earning blog that runs on autopilot, this technique isn’t for you. But it’s built a wonderful audience for me, with just a few minutes of work a day.

Do you respond to your blog readers’ emails? Leave a comment and let us know your approach.

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