#31WBGB: Contact a Reader

by Tonia Kendrick on July 31, 2011 in And More

#31WGBGWelcome to Week 5 of 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog!

Week 5’s topic is about building a community and making an impression on readers.  Darren Rowse titles this chapter “Email a Blog Reader,” but it is really offers several different tips for making contact with readers.

Key Concept

Pay attention to new readers and it will substantially increase the chance that they will return to your site or spread the word about it through their network.  I think this topic is especially important for genealogy bloggers, because our readers may be part of our extended families and they could have information, photos, documents, etc. that we would like to have.  At least part of the reason that most of that most of us write genealogy blogs is to connect with others who are researching our same family lines.

4 Ways to Make Contact

  1. When you spot a comment left by someone that you don’t recognize, shoot that person a quick email thanking them for their contact.  Be sure you include a link back to your blog, so they know who you are, and make the email relevant to their comment (maybe you answer a question they asked or follow up in some way).  Also, point them to your RSS feed in the email, in case they missed it on your site.  You could probably find a tool to do all this for you (I feel certain there is a WordPress plug-in), but I’m going to discourage that.  People recognize automated replies.  Do it yourself and make it personal.
  2. If the person left a link to their own blog in the comment, then leave a comment on their blog. By doing this, you start to build a relationship with the other blogger (and possibly with their readers).
  3. If they included their Twitter ID, then start following them.  Again, you start to build a relationship with that person.
  4. Respond to the comment on your blog.  This shows other readers that you will engage in conversation.

Make it a Routine

As with some of our previous lessons, you don’t need to do all four methods with every comment.  But do some of them every day.  Darren suggests spending 10-15 minutes a day on connecting with readers.

Isn’t this just Common Sense and Good Manners?

That was my first thought as I was reading this chapter, at least in relation to leaving comments on their blogs and responding to their comments on your blog.  I had never sent an email thanking a reader for their comment, unless they shared genealogy information with me.  Then I got to the next section in the chapter and it clicked for me.

“Is This Tip Not Spectacular Enough For You?”

Yes, it is common sense and good manners. Common sense and good manners are not spectacular (at least they shouldn’t be). That’s why we should do this.

Action Items

  • Spend 10-15 minutes connecting with your readers, either via email or comments.
  • Make sure at least one contact is with a new reader.
  • If you don’t have many comments on your blog yet, then spend 10-15 minutes visiting other genealogy blogs and leave “relevant, helpful, and genuine comments.”

If you are just joining us, then “welcome.” You can read the kick-off post about 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy blog here.  Feel free to start with this week’s reading and action items – you are not behind!


This week’s prize is a t-shirt from Geni.com.*  To enter this giveaway, leave a comment with your thoughts on this exercise (or a link if you blogged about it). All entries for the giveaway must be located in the US, (although everyone is welcome to comment). The contest will be open until 11:59 pm on Saturday, August 6, 2011. The winner will be chosen randomly.

*This t-shirt was a blogger gift at SCGS Jamboree.  I have no affiliation with Geni.com.

Series Navigation<< #31WBGB: Analyze a Top Genealogy Blog#31WBGB: 27 Must-Read Tips for Genealogy Bloggers >>

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Carole July 31, 2011 at 9:40 am

Hi Tonia

I follow all who follow me via Google Friend Connect on Twitter, if they have a twitter account. I don’t get all that many comments on my blog although I have made a few research connections through my blog most connections were made via Twitter.

I’ve been emailed before to say “thank you” for following blogs but to be honest they’ve appeared a bit standardised. If I were going to do this I’d definitely make sure they were personalised.
Carole´s last blog post ..Amanuensis Monday – Drunk in Dulwich


Tonia Kendrick August 1, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Hi Carole, I’ve made more researcher connections on my blog and more general genealogist connections via Twitter.

Those standardized auto-replies are the worst, aren’t they?


Lisa July 31, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Mission accomplished! I actually had done #2, 3, and 4 on my own already, but hadn’t tried #1 – emailing. So that’s what I did for this challenge. I will probably blog about the experience later in the week. I did let the commenter know she is the lucky winner of my ‘contact a blog reader’ exercise. :) I hope she’s got a sense of humor- LOL. I suggested she check out your site too.

Thanks for continuing these challenges – they are really keeping me ‘honest’ in staying up to date with my blog posts. Not to mention that some of these ideas I would never have thought of on my own. Each week I get a little more pumped about the whole thing!
Lisa´s last blog post ..Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Signs you know you have GOCD


Tonia Kendrick August 1, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Lisa, I have “emailing a reader” on my list of things to do this week. Have you heard back from the person you emailed? What was her response?

I’m glad the challenge is working for you. It keeps me accountable, too.


Lisa August 1, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I haven’t heard anything yet. :( I will let you know if I do. I actually had better luck with responding to comments from others and commenting on other blogs. It’s been a great exercise!
Lisa´s last blog post ..Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Signs you know you have GOCD

Susan Donaldson August 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Thanks, Tonia, once again for these tips. Early on I checked the blogger.com site for suggestions on getting more widely known and boosting my number of followers (other than twisting arms of friends and relations!) . I don’t understand at all about RSS feeds – blogger.com Helpline is too technical for me, but I think I am signed up for what I think it is! Is it to do with the Reading List on my Dashboard

I have always made a practice of sending a quick e-mail to thank new followers who have signed up for my site. I must adopt your idea of checking new sites listed on Geneabloggers and sending messages to blogs that appeal. – something I have not done before. I agree too with Carol’s comments that it is too easy just to give a standardised trite comment and I should do my best to add a personal tone to it, pertinant to the posting.

Susan at http:scotsue-familyhistoryfun.blogspot.com
Susan Donaldson´s last blog post ..Grandfather’s House: 52 Weeks of Personal History and Genealogy – Wk 31


Tonia Kendrick August 1, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Hi Susan, I’m glad you are finding the tips helpful. That is so great that you send thank-you emails to new followers. It gives your blog such a personal touch.


Ruth Stephens August 5, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Hi Tonia,

Here’s my post:


This exercise was particularly fruitful!

Ruth Stephens´s last blog post ..#31WBGB: Contact a Reader


Geneapoppop (Bart Brenner) August 6, 2011 at 11:53 am

This week’s challenge was a good one. It gave me the opportunity to practice a few “common sense” behaviors with a little more intentionality. You can read my blog post at: http://geneapoppop.blogspot.com/2011/08/31wbgb-email-blog-reader.html.
Geneapoppop (Bart Brenner)´s last blog post ..#31WBGB: Email a Blog Reader


Dana August 6, 2011 at 7:59 pm

This one wasn’t so bad, since I try to do this on a daily basis. I’m too shy to go e-mailing anyone, but I hope that thoughtful comments on other blogs will get them coming around for more! :)

Here’s my contribution: http://www.justfolks.us/archives/221
Dana´s last blog post ..Society Saturday: Howe Came They Here, 1857


Tonia Kendrick August 6, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Dana, I know what you mean about being too shy to email anyone. I really intended to try that this week — since I routinely leave comments, and I wanted to try something different — but I just couldn’t do it.


Michael Hait August 6, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Last post in my “catchup” marathon of posts:


Thanks for making this series available! I will be sure to keep up with the new posts each week!
Michael Hait´s last blog post ..31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog Catchup, Week 5: Contact a Blog Reader


Cheryl Palmer August 7, 2011 at 1:44 pm
Tonia Kendrick September 6, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Congratulations to Lisa of 1 Ancestry 2 Little Time, winner of the Geni.com t-shirt!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the “Contact a Reader” challenge!


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