Welcome back! Hope you're having a relaxing Sunday. This week's roundup is all about reader engagement and community, with a side-serving of AI tips (mmm... roboty). Let's tuck right in 🍴
In this week's issue:
- An audience determines the success of the creator. Use these tips to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.
- Bring back the comments section. Studies show readers who comment on posts are much more likely to convert to paid subscribers.
- If you haven't got comfortable with leveraging GPT-4 yet, maybe you just need these prompt ideas.
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Three simple tips to boost reader engagement
As an independent creator, your readers are everything. They are the reason you do what you do, and the ones who will ultimately determine your success.
Keeping readers engaged can be a challenge in today's fast-paced world with endless distractions vying for our attention. So what should we be doing to keep our readers engaged? 💍
#1 — Understand your readers
It's up to us as creators to know what our audience is looking for and create in a way that resonates. A lot of this comes down to doing extensive research and having a deep understanding of your topic, but you can also use data to your advantage. Try sending a quick survey, or using tools like audience feedback to gather information on each newsletter you send.
#2 — Be consistent
Your most loyal and engaged readers are the ones who have built a habit of reading your content, and the only way to encourage these reading habits is to be consistent.
- Set a schedule and stick to it, or at the very least keep readers in the loop when it's going to change (even if it's temporary).
- Be consistent in distributing your content to the right places and show up where your audience expects you to show up, whether that's in their inbox, in their Twitter feed, on LinkedIn, MySpace (jk), or all of the above.
- Make your email subject lines consistent so your readers can quickly identify your content in their inbox (with this newsletter, we always use short subject lines that start with an emoji 👋).
- Set clear expectations so your readers know what to expect from you. Your about page and welcome pages are great places to set the correct tone and make sure readers know what they're getting into. You can also be more transparent with your audience by including their subscription details in your newsletters.
#3 — Build a community
Creating a space for conversations to happen around your content is a great way to increase engagement because it gives your audience the opportunity to their thoughts or questions with you, or connect with other members of your community. It also creates a space for you to connect with readers, adding a human element to your content.
Whether these conversations take place in a forum or Discord server, or in comments directly on your posts, readers who feel like they're part of a community are much more likely to come back
Bonus tip — Use a read more section
Surfacing recent or relevant content in your posts and newsletters is a great way to encourage engagement and boost the amount of time readers spend on your site. We just released a new feature to add a "Keep Reading" block to the footer of every email newsletter. Neat!
Keeping your readers engaged as an independent creator requires a combination of research, consistency, community-building, and experimentation. By focusing on these areas and continually striving to provide value to your readers, you can build a loyal following that will support you for years to come.
Interesting stories & ideas 📚
- How Matt Navarra turned a marketing newsletter into a six-figure business.
- Newsletters are reporting revenue growth, despite advertising slowdown.
- A 6-step plan for local news publishers, from content strategy to growth.
- Publishers can succeed on Reddit, but you must tread carefully.
- Writing a book or a long essay? Try using a "book map" to plan your work.
Why readers who comment on your posts are more likely to convert
In recent years, comment sections fell out of popularity. For very good reason too, as they could quickly devolve into a hellscape of unfettered spam and negativity, which becomes incredibly difficult to moderate as a publisher, not to mention demoralizing.
Comments are having a bit of a resurgence lately, though, as publishing platforms (like us 🙃) introduce the concept of member-only commenting. In other words, a comment area that anyone can read, but only members can participate in.
Not only does this type of comment area solve some of the past issues, but it also acts as a growth mechanism where readers feel compelled to subscribe (either as a free or paid member) to join the conversations.
Most publishers today understand that driving their unknown readers to an authenticated registered state is vital to optimise on-site personalisation and collect relevant first-party data. An authenticated user is also more likely to move down the funnel to a Subscribed state. — Mark Zohar
According to a recent WAN-IFRA study some community platforms are seeing a strong correlation between brand loyalty and registered users who are also "UGC contributors", or in other words, registered users who contribute via comments and community.
The article suggests readers who engage in the comments are much more likely to return to your site more often, view more pages per visit, and spend the most time per visit. They make up the most engaged segment of your audience, which also means they're most likely to drive subscriptions, ad revenue, and retention, as well as promote your work via word of mouth.
If you aren't already — consider giving the comments section a chance. It might just be the thing you need to identify your most engaged audience members.
Not finding value in ChatGPT yet? You just need to use a different prompt
There is a varied perspective on AI's role in the creator economy. While some argue that it's overrated, others are concerned about its potential impact, and some are fully embracing it. Regardless of where you stand, AI is fast becoming part of the fabric of the digital world, and it's up to us to leverage its potential effectively. (Like adding an extra thumb to our robot alien image 🤙)
A super insightful tweet thread by online educator Dickie Bush has been doing the rounds where Dickie mentions falling firmly in the overhyped camp, until realizing it was a misguided judgment based on a case of bad prompting.
From the beginning, I made 1 crucial mistake with ChatGPT: I expected it to "think" rather than "do." This means I fed it poorly written, 1-sentence prompts and expected some magical output. But poor instructions = poor results. — Dickie Bush
Creators are using AI tools like ChatGPT to do research, generate ideas, write words, create images, and in Dickie's case, train a personal writing assistant.
Here's some of the techniques Dickie uses to leverage ChatGPT:
Give clear constraints in every prompt. Don't force ChatGPT to come up with new ideas from scratch with vague prompts like "Write me a Twitter thread on X". Instead, give clear constraints to make sure the output is high quality:
- A specific objective (with input)
- A specific format for the output
- A specific list of things to avoid
Ask ChatGPT to rewrite your writing. Providing your own words along with prompts to have it rewritten in a different tone:
- More formal
- More serious
- More optimistic, etc.
Or ask it to rewrite with different goals in mind:
- More concise
- More humorous
- More persuasive, etc.
Doing this helps prevent writer's block, and explores other ways of communicating ideas that you may not have already thought of.
Don't forget to iterate. It takes time to get it right and harness this technology in a way that can speed up your creative process. Spend some time with it every day and keep iterating your approach to get the most out of this technology.
Prompt writing is an iterative game—you will not get it right on the first try. But like training an employee, the upfront time investment is worth it. Because once you have a working, reliable prompt, you can use it forever. – Dickie Bush
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