Why Building Relationships Is THE Most Important Thing In Blogging
I’ve been involved in various businesses since 2002. In that time, I’ve learnt a huge amount; everything from editing HTML, filling out a tax return, providing excellent customer service – and everything in between.
But without doubt, the most important thing I’ve learnt is something that I have only learnt in the past couple of years.
Successful businesses are based on successful relationships.
Relationships are important in ANY business. The type of relationship, and who the relationship is with may vary depending on the type of business, but one thing is for sure; without them, you aren’t going to get far.
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS IN BLOGGING
For many of us, our blogs are also our business. And I can think of no other business that relies so heavily on relationship building than blogging does.
Building relationships in blogging is a two tier thing. As bloggers, we need to build a relationship with two sets of people:
1. Our audience.
2. Fellow bloggers.
Of course, our audience are our most important asset. Without them, we would just be blogging for our moms. Building a relationship with our audience is important on so many levels; it harnesses trust, turns a visitor into a subscriber and turns a one time visitor into a repeat visitor – amongst many other advantages.
Equally important in my eyes, is your fellow bloggers. Connecting with them, building relationships and even becoming friends can have huge reciprocal advantages – just like in any business.
I build relationships by doing two things:
1. Being myself.
2. Trying to create meaningful engagement.
Being yourself is SO important in blogging. Being yourself is a Unique Selling Point all in itself.
People are not drawn to blog content in isolation. It’s my belief that they are drawn to the blogger just as much as they are drawn to the content.
The blogs I follow are not just about great content – they are also about great people.
I’m sure you agree with me.
And it’s no coincidence that these bloggers fully understand the importance of building relationships and creating purposeful engagement. Yes, they respond to comments, they reach out and thank me if I retweet/G+/FB/LinkedIn their posts, and they engage in a meaningful manner.
They are all very unique people who I find engaging and interesting. And I feel personally connected to not only what they have to say, but to who they are as individuals.
And again, it’s no coincidence that these people have very, very successful blogs.
If you take away just one small thing from this post, it’s this:
Make no mistake about the above sub heading; the most important word is MEANINGFUL.
There’s engagement, and there’s meaningful engagement. How many times have you logged into your WordPress dashboard to see a bunch of comments, only to disappointingly find that the majority of those comments are three word comments such as ‘great post, thanks’?
The biggest disappointment is finding that the commenter has no interest in you, or whatever content you have put out there; rather, their only interest is leaving their website URL on your post.
All take, take, take, giving little value back.
Sure, leaving any blog comment, no matter how short, is engagement. But it’s not meaningful engagement.
And it’s not how relationships are built.
For me, meaningful engagement is also about adding value. The bloggers I mention above were all found on other people’s blogs.
That’s right. I found these people because they had left a comment on someone else’s blog. Not a ‘thanks, great post’ comment, but a comment that was meaningful. A comment that added value.
A Pillar Comment.
You’ve heard of ‘Pillar Articles’/’Pillar Posts’/’Pillar Content’.
Now you’ve heard of ‘Pillar Comments’.
The best bloggers on this planet go one step further – they create pillar comments. They go out of their way to engage in a meaningful manner and they go out of their way to add value.
Now here’s your challenge. Next time you visit your favourite blog, leave a pillar comment. Forget going to 20 different blogs and leaving a one liner, just go to your very favourites – and leave a comment that engages and adds value.
And the next time a visitor takes the time to do this on your blog, thank them, and leave an equally engaging reply back.
AN EXAMPLE OF HOW NOT TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS
Once upon a time, there was a guy who I looked up to. The more I got to know him (through his podcast and blog), the more I liked him as a person and as an authority in some areas of the internet marketing niche.
Whilst I will stop short of naming him, what I will say that I no longer look up to him, no longer listen to his podcasts, and no longer have his blog listed in my bookmarks.
And here’s why.
Because I liked him, his podcast and his blog, I took the time to engage with him. I have left several comments on his blog, and tweeted some of his posts. And when I say I have left comments on his blog, I mean comments that I would consider purposeful, relevant and adding something to the blog post. Not a 30 second quick reply, but a 10 minute, 15 minute, 300-500 word reply.
For every one of these comments I have left on his blog (about 7-8 now), how many times do you think he has personally responded?
You guessed it.
A big fat zero.
Now, for some reading those last few sentences, you might be thinking ‘Who the hell does Richard think he is?’ or ‘This person may be so big and get so many comments that he may not have the time or resources to reply to every one of his comments’.
And I forgive you on the spot for having such thoughts.
But the fact is, the person I am talking about actually receives very few comments on his blog. In fact, the last comment I left on a blog post remains the only comment on that post.
What’s that done to me, and any perceived relationship I thought I had with him?
Well, all I can say is that I no longer bother listening to his podcast, I no longer read his blog – and I no longer comment on his posts.
It may sound like a classic case of throwing the toys out of the pram; but I can assure you that it’s not.
I no longer engage with this individual or his online endeavours simply because he has not reciprocated a relationship that I tried to build with him. For me, it feels like it has been all give, give, give. And I have received nothing back.
Hell, even a courtesy ‘Hey Richard, thanks for your comments’ would have gone a long way. But the fact that he has not even acknowledged that I have visited his blog and took the time to write a purposeful reply to the published content means that he has just unbuilt the very work he has done naturally to get me there in the first place.
Fancy that. Building quality content through blogging and podcasting, and then losing me simply because he has not engaged with me.
This, my friends, is true example of how NOT to build a relationship with your audience.
PEERS NOT COMPETITORS
One of the key elements that you need to get your head around is how you see other people in your industry.
Do you see other bloggers as competitors, or peers?
Once over, I used to see them as competitors.
Now, I see them as peers. Acquaintances. Friends.
Hit me on the comments below – do you see other bloggers as a competitor?
WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS?
In the income reports for the first half of 2014, I lament the fact that my traffic stats had stagnated and actually decreased over time.
I can see now that there were 2 main reasons for this. I was not being proactive enough in sharing my content.
And I wasn’t building relationships.
And it’s no coincidence that as I have been more proactive in trying to change these two things over the course of the last couple of months, I have seen an increase in visitors, an increase in the number of comments I receive and an increase in the number of emails from people wishing to reach out to me.
What are you doing to build successful relationships in your blog or business? Drop me a comment below!
All the best,