- Be reliable. As with any type of writing, make sure you know what you’re talking about. If you’re blogging about a breaking news story, make sure you’ve got the facts right. Link back to the original story, so that people know you’re not making it up as you go along. On the flip side, don’t be afraid to ask a few questions, to give the readers something to comment on and talk about.
- Write lists. There’s something about lists that readers and other bloggers love. They contain a lot of information, they’re neatly ordered, easy for readers to skim through, and easy for other bloggers to link to. While you don’t want to overdo it on the lists, adding them into the mix now and then is a great idea. You could even create a brand, like the TV Squad Ten and Film Gecko Five.
- End your post with a question. That’s a call for immediate action, and when a reader sees it, they automatically start thinking of an answer and are more inclined to leave a comment. It can be as simple as asking readers for their own ‘Fringe’ theories or asking what TV guys have the best girly scream.
- Create a faux chat room. Film Gecko isn’t set up to have a chat room, and most blogs aren’t unless you’re part of a bigger network which offers that. But sometimes people just want a place they can come and interact with other readers. When ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon’ was in its beginning stages, I realized there were no good sites for folks to talk about it. So I created a post called “New Moon Casting News and Rumors — Discuss!” and promoted it around the Web. Within a week, I had more than two thousand comments on that little post. Can’t find a good place to talk about something? Create one.
- Link out. The more you link out, the more notice you’ll get from other blogs and sites. Every time you link to another site, they see those incoming links and, more than likely, will check you out in return. Be generous with the linking, but space the links out within your text, so the reader isn’t trudging through one link after another. Also, it’s important to link not just to the big sites like CNN or Variety, but also to smaller blogs where you know that a real person will see your link.
- Pay attention to your stats. If your blogging platform or host includes a stats tool, check it regularly and see where your traffic is coming from, what they’re searching for, and which posts are most popular. Use that as a go-by for future posts, writing the content that people are searching for. If your host or platform doesn’t have a stats tool, sign up at Google Analytics and download the Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. Also, subscribe to Google Trends’ RSS feed, so you know what people are talking about at any given moment.
- Include polls. Most blogging programs and offline editors have a tool that allows you to easily include polls in your posts. Polls encourage instant interaction from readers, and they only take a second to complete.
Do interviews. The cool thing about posting interviews on your blog is that not only are you hosting a cool new guest on your blog — whether they’re an expert in your niche or a rising star — but you’re also bringing all of THEIR traffic in, all of their friends, family and fans. And sometimes it pays off in unexpected ways. A few years ago, I did an interview with the three stars of a grindhouse movie called “Bitch Slap!,” and a link to the Film Gecko interview got posted on the movie’s official site.
- Create a playground. People like to have fun, so think of your blog as a big playground where folks can relax and be themselves. And that applies to you, too! Be yourself when you’re writing. Don’t try and be someone you’re not, because readers will pick up on that right away. Also, use your brand wherever possible. On TV Squad, I have a weekly column called “Jane After Dark,” where I ruminate on all the DVDs I watch at night while editing the TV Squad queue.
- Post often. Don’t go too many days without writing fresh content. Readers will find it elsewhere and not come back. If you’re posting more than once a day, time your posts so they’re not bunched up against each other. This also helps to give your RSS subscribers fresh content on a regular basis. Another reason to post often: search engines love fresh content.