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Starting a blog is the easy part; actually building that blog into a thriving community that avidly read your content, leave comments and feel like part of an active, passionate community is far more challenging.

Fortunately there are things that you can do to help build your readership from passive observers to engaged community members and in this article we’re going to examine six of the most powerful strategies I have used on my blogs over the last few years.

Follow along and apply as many as you can – and you’ll soon find that the feeling of “community” really starts to grow in your little patch of the internet…

Be Personable

First and foremost, your blog readers want to connect with other people, not with a company or a brand. So choose one or two “faces” of the company (if you’re a private blogger that means you!) and let your readers know who you are and what your personality is.

For example consider creating a powerful, detailed “about me” page that tells your readers who you are. Consider including your name in posts that you write and add photos and videos so your readers can visualize you “in the flesh” so-to-speak.

Also, if you have the time to spend, consider building your social media following, where you can have more open chats and discussions with your readers than might otherwise be appropriate on a more formal and structured blog.

But the key take-home point is this; let your unique personality shine through. In this way people will instantly be able to “connect” with you, and those people who like what you have to say will start to see you as a trusted authority and someone they want to engage with on a regular basis.

Ask Questions In Your Posts

A great way to get more blog comments – and results from your social media activities – is to actively ask your readers questions. Try to end every one of your posts from now on with a meaty, juicy question and then encourage your readers to leave their own thoughts and opinions in the comments section.

You’d be surprised how actually giving people something to talk about can be a powerful tool is getting people talking. Additionally of course, the more people already commenting on your blog the easier it is to get other readers involved in the future as they discover your site.

Better Blog Commenting System

The stand-alone WordPress commenting system works well for what it does – but you can encourage even more engagement with the right WordPress comments plugin. For example plugins like LiveFyre and IntenseDebate will actually add comments that have been made on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to your blog. All these little changes can add up and lead to far more interaction between readers.

Add A “Top Commenters” Area

Do you love your commenters? If so, consider giving them some love, either by using a plugin like Commentluv to offer do-follow links to your community or by adding a “top commenters” plugin that clearly displays in your blog’s sidebar the names and photos of your top community members based on their engagement levels.

These simple charts, which can be done with a range of free plugins, not only reward your community members but also fosters a degree of competition from readers wanting to see their names featured there, and thus leading to additional interaction.

Do A Regular “Reader Spotlight”

One element I’ve been testing out this year with great success is with a “reader spotlight” section. Every few weeks I feature another reader and “interview” them via email about the topic of my various niche blogs.

In this way my readers are able to connect instantly with other people that are interested in the same topics as them and view me as the authority as I interview them.

By including a small link in each interview, which leads to a page requesting more contributions, I find I have a constant stream of possible interviws/content which not only helps to buil engagement but also makes content creation far simpler.

Answer Questions

The final point worthy of mention is that blog comments and social media comments should be regarded as a two-way conversation. Too often people take the time to leave a comment only for it to sit there unloved for ever more. Don’t be that person.

Instead, try to maintain a policy whereby you respond to all comments in a timely manner. Doing so not only builds engagement but also encourages further conversation and shows your readers that you’re really interested in what they have to say.