4 Ways to Connect with Readers
Guest Blogger: Dana Sitar (@danasitar)
Let’s start with what “connect with readers” does not mean: It does not mean “Get in front of your readers and convince them to buy your book.” It does not mean, “Aim for big numbers on social media or a high subscriber rate to your blog.”
It also does not mean you have to answer every single email, reply to every tweet, return every share in kind, buy someone’s book if they bought yours, or re-tweet them as many times as they do you.
These are all means to an end, the metrics online marketers have found to define your influence, clout, and worthiness as a thought leader. But these measurable stats aren’t the goal. A real connection is intangible and hard to measure.
What “connect with readers” really means is forging a real-life, human bond with the people who love your work.
Contacting and following the work of your readers through email and social media are a great way to forge a connection, but they don’t guarantee it. What you need to ensure a valuable connection is the right state of mind. Remember these tips:
1. Don’t depend on loyal readers for sales.
What will ruin the connection you have with your readers faster than you can see it coming is needing their money. When you forge connections based on sales opportunities, you have already put up a wall between you and a reader who loves you.
Don’t seek connections solely with book buyers who fit your demographic; seek interesting people who can offer fulfilling interactions. Watch how quickly and organically your network will grow in size and strength as these loyal supporters fall in love with your work on their own and eagerly tell others about it.
2. Engage in genuine conversations.
Scheduled and carefully-scripted messages have their place in building your author platform, but if you want to create memorable connections with readers, you have to make time for candid words, too.
Use your planned interaction — like an email newsletter — as a launching point for more personal, one-on-one conversations. Invite your readers to respond, and follow up personally. You won’t believe the kinds of friendships you can forge through a few emails! And, when you take the time to respond personally to reader mail, readers will be eager to reward you for your effort.
3. Consume and understand their message.
Get to know your readers beyond your turf. Reading their comments, @replies, and answers to your surveys are an important gauge for their needs and thoughts, but not the whole picture. Venture out of your bubble, and read their blogs, check out their books, and reply to their tweets even when they don’t mention you.
Be more than a methodical networker, though! Don’t just share blog posts because someone shared yours. Read it, comment on it, and share it with a unique message about why you liked it. Don’t share it if it’s not good — maintaining a dedication to quality will make your praise that much more valuable.
4. Actually care about them.
Do you ever reach out to your readers without a particular goal in mind? Or do you always have some link to share, or question to ask? Try just saying “hello”! Try asking how their day is going — Twitter is a good place to spark these casual conversations. You can also share how your day is going, even when it’s not going very well, to open yourself up to vulnerable conversations with people who care.
Subscriber counts and blog readership are fine numbers to keep an eye on. But if you want to forge lasting relationships doing what you love, the key is simple: Be yourself, and treat everyone else like people, not potential sales.
As a reader or writer, what are your favorite ways to connect with others online?
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Dana Sitar is a freelance blogger, author, and entrepreneur with a mission to guide you in the pursuit of happiness through writing. She shares resources, tips, and tools for writers in search of a path through DIY Writing. Her latest ebook, “A Writer’s Bucket List”, an inspirational guide to the writing life, is free at WritersBucketList.com.
“Connecting with readers” is more than just high subscriber counts. @danasitar explains: (Click to Tweet)
Do you ever reach out to readers just to say “hello”? @danasitar offers a few reasons to consider it: (Click to Tweet)
Forging a lasting connection with readers is one of your most important goals, explains @danasitar: (Click to Tweet)