I’m not the only one who started every conversation for five years with the whole “What are your love languages?” bit, right? Okay, good. Just checking. I knew you were as awesome as I am.
But for the two of you in the world who didn’t get obsessed with this craze, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, that outlines the different ways people receive, show, and interpret love (touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and gifts). You may be buying your girlfriend all the flowers in the universe, but if gifts don’t mean much to her, she still might not feel loved. With me?
So, over the past few months of reading blog posts, writing, reading your comments, replying, talking with other blog writers and readers via email and social media, etc., I’ve discovered what I believe to be the 5 love languages of blog readers. BUT FIRST:
What makes you feel loved as a blog reader?
Before you check out the five blog reader love languages below, please take two minutes to list three to five things (out loud, right now) that let you know a blogger really cares about you. What makes you feel the author is concerned for you? happy you’re there? ready to serve you?
Studies prove that this post will be 47% more effective if you think of your blog reader love languages before you read the list below because you’ll be stating what naturally comes to you, with no prompting.
Important note: When I say things like “studies prove” or “as history has shown” it means I have completely fabricated everything that follows.
And now, for the 5 love languages of your blog readers:
1. Blog Quality
The overall care and concern you put into each post, into the blog itself, and into your brand, can relax or distress your readers. The way you approach your “responsibilities” to your readers can either help or offend. When you’re trying to build in lots of blog quality, there are a few things to consider:
- The images you include with your post. Are they pretty? Will they be appealing for your readers to look at? Do they entice? Do they make your readers happy? Are your images pretty much just a repeat of another blog?
- The formatting of your blog and posts. Do you do text-on-text-on-text, or do you include bulleted lists, images, lines, numbered lists, dividers, graphics, and more?
- Your use of proper spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. I break the punctuation rules a bit. And I start sentences with “and” or “but” sometimes. But, it’s all about whether your readers connect with your style or not. I don’t know anyone who connects with 17 misspelled words in one paragraph. I just don’t.
Examples of posts with high blog quality built in:
- Check out these two (1 // 2 ) DIY posts by Ciera Holzenthal. She is amazing at including beautiful, relevant pictures and careful instructions. It makes me feel she actually cares whether I’m able to recreate the project or not. I kinda love her.
- Also, my current blog crush, Rachel Gadiel, is a genius with her beautiful layout, simple fonts, nice headings, and elegant bullet lists, for which she uses the “+” sign. Just look (1 // 2). Is she not epic? I feel like I could stay on her blog for days. Days. With cups of tea/wine + chocolate.
Action steps you can take to show your readers you care through blog quality:
- Take a look at your blog and ask yourself if anything needs to change in order to entice people to stay longer. Ask a friend to help you out if you’re having a hard time taking an unbiased look at your online home.
- Think about changes that may need to be made with your main text font, your heading font, your main blog post image, your supplementary images, your header, your blog description, your sidebar, and your blog colors.
- Whenever you think your blog post is done, and ready to be published, check again. <<< This checklist is a guide for you, but feel free to modify it for your brand.
2. Public Displays of Affection (PDA)
No one likes being the hidden girlfriend. This is a free nugget for anyone out there who wants to show a lady she is cared for: CLAIM YOUR WOMAN. We probably all enjoy varying levels of public affection, but most women like to be acknowledged in public. Turns out, some of your wonderful blog readers may feel the same:
Example of a blogger who shows her readers affection publicly: Erika Madden of Olyvia Media, hands down. Not only does she take time to thank people on social media (as is referenced in Marlene’s blog post comment above), but she holds weekly office hours on Facebook to answer questions and be available. Classy lady.
Action steps you can take to show your readers affection, publicly:
- Connect with your readers/commenters on other platforms (start following them on Twitter, commenting on their Instagram photos, and re-pinning their pins).
- Shout out certain readers in a relevant way on your blog. Use them as examples. Your readers can likely learn a lot from each other.
- Do some personal, meaningful #FFs (Follow Fridays on Twitter) where you encourage others to go connect with readers you love.
- Or, don’t even wait for #FF, tell people about other exciting people they can connect with for no other reason than that you love the person, or that they left an encouraging comment for you, or both.
— Regina Anaejionu (@byReginaTV) August 15, 2014
3. Tailored Content
As you most likely have a purpose when you read a blog (to learn, to laugh, to heal, to grow), so do your readers. They also have a certain style, specific personalities, and distinct needs. For whatever your readers’ purposes may be, consider developing content tailored to those desires or problems.
Example of a blogger who tailors her content well: Melyssa Griffin of The Nectar Collective. I mean, she makes free worksheets and stuff. Who does that? I want to know her in real life. Her audience can easily feel like she’s spending time on their needs because they are totally the “I want something pretty and functional to print off and fill out” types.
— Melyssa Griffin (@NectarCollect) September 2, 2014
Action steps you can take to tailor your content:
- Consider whether each blog post is best complemented with images, tutorial instructions, downloadable worksheets, epic pins people can save to their Pinterest boards, checklists, or any other creative items you can think of.
- Make sure your content is friendly for readers who use mobile devices if a significant percentage of your audience accesses your site that way.
- Ask yourself why your audience spends time on your blog. Ask your audience. If they’re there for entertainment, they may just want great stories and the occasional image. If they’re there to learn, your stories might not cut it without some relevant takeaways and supplementary materials.
4. Response Quality
I feel this should be the simplest category, but I think it’s actually the most underutilized. Responding to readers. The quality of your response is determined by:
- your timeliness
- how tailored your reply is to the person responding (translation: don’t be generic)
- the level of thought you put into your response
- the time you spent making sure the response was accurate (did you spell their name correctly and make sure your links worked?)
An example of someone who is an excellent responder: Naomi Hattaway. I love how genuine her responses are on her blog and how authentic she is on Twitter. She also takes time to leave meaningful comments on other people’s blogs.
Action steps you can take to create quality responses to your blog readers:
- Make sure readers are able to subscribe to your replies to their comments. If you’re using WordPress, a plugin such as Subscribe to Comments Reloaded may help. For WordPress and almost any other type of blog platform, also check out Disqus. When readers are able to subscribe, they’ll have a simple way of being notified of your response. Else, they’ll have to keep checking your post over and over again. Let’s be honest: that’s not gonna happen very often.
- Research your commenter before replying. If they’ve left a link to their website, Twitter profile, or other online platform, check it out and learn something about them.
- Read each comment at least twice before crafting a reply. Once to understand it. Then again after you’ve thought about what you might like to receive in reply to a comment like that. After you write your response, read the original comment once more to make sure you’ve answered all questions and addressed each important point.
- Try to post on days where you’ve carved out some time to respond. That way, your blog post won’t just sit there with five unanswered comments for a week.
- Go above + beyond in your helpfulness and level of engagement. Don’t forget to also take the conversation to other social platforms as well. “Dear @SoAndSoReader, I’m still laughing at your comment on my post. Thank you for making my day with that story.”
5. Tailored Tone
One ring to rule them all: SPEAK TO YOUR READER, NOT AT YOUR READER.
Use “you” and “your” and all those real life conversation words we learned as wee babes. Do you feel like I’m speaking directly to you when I use “you” in a sentence? Because I am. When you write like you speak, it feels more like a conversation. Your readers are more likely to want to respond (thus making it a real conversation).
One more ring to rule them all: TAILOR YOUR TONE TO YOUR READERS.
Examples of bloggers with different (but effective + tailored) tones: Melissa Gondek of Small Company Artworks (playful, real, sarcastic in the funny way), Peg Fitzpatrick (delightful, helpful, positive), Aussa Lorens (just. freaking. humorous. I don’t know what else to say about her).
Action steps to tailor your tone more and show your readers you’re talking to them:
- Before you publish each post, read it out loud to make sure it flows naturally.
- Take out any big + fancy words that don’t add value to the post.
- Add in a joke, applicable pop culture reference, or relevant story.
- Don’t feel the pressure to address a huge audience; just talk to one person as you write.
How can you really apply these love languages?
The key is figuring out what your specific audience members respond to most. Since they’re all drawn to you, they’re likely to have a few things in common with you and with your other readers.
Perhaps yours is an educational blog, so tailored content and blog quality will pretty much be the love languages toward the top of all your readers’ lists. But maybe, due to the age and online habits of your audience, PDA is huge as well.
How can you discover your audience’s love languages?
Ask. Create a beautiful, free survey.
Observe. And by observe, I mean stalk. On social media. And by stalk, I mean engage, non-awkwardly.
Imagine. Put yourself in their shoes, like you did at the beginning of this post. What works for you?
Test. Like your very own scientific experiment. Try different blog reader love languages. See what gets the best response. See what makes the biggest difference for others. See what feels right. Focus heavily on each love language for 2 – 4 weeks. Take notes. Be a scientist.
Ask. Observe. Imagine. Test.
#AOIT. It’s like the easiest acronym in the world, y’all. You’re welcome.
Sooo, what makes you feel loved? Please let me know below in the comments. Because I want to make sure I do whatever it is. Provided it’s not really weird. Thanks. You’re the best.
Photo: michela ravasio