#31 WBGB ~ Week 5 ~ Contact a Reader

I am following Tonia's Roots as she takes us through 31 Weeks to a Better Genealogy Blog which was originated by Darren Rowse. I have the actual information but have never found or made the time to go through these steps. I thank Tonia for originating the idea to do it a week at a time, and for bringing it front and center for all of us GeneaBloggers to follow also! Here is Week 5 per Tonia:

#31WBGB: Contact a Reader

Welcome 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!


I have gone a couple of different routes with this. I have commented directly after comments made in my blog for two and a half years, and then at the beginning of the year I switched over and tried replying to comments made on my blog via email. My reasoning for changing my response route was because I was afraid people didn't come back and read the comments I made after their comments on my blog. So, I thought I would respond in emails as it would be more personal. I am not so sure that was the best idea however, because it didn't give added cause for continued communication through the blog post, also other readers didn't see my responses if they happened to be interested.

I have been trying also to make a comment on a person's blog if they commented on mine, but I find it tough to do at times. I like to make responses on posts when the thought strikes me and not so much because I feel I have to. I also try to comment on as many different ones as I can, not just the same ones all of the time. This is something I have tried to do ever since the GeneaBloggers community really exploded.

When someone "follows" my blog, I do try to go in and follow them also, maybe if I am away from my computer for a vacation or something I might miss a few, but I do my best to always include everyone. I have so many blogs in my reader, there is just no way I could ever respond on everyone's posts. I do love to read as many as I can though and try to learn from others. So, if I don't leave a comment on your blog, it doesn't necessarily mean I am not following it. I do try to use good manners and be respectful and appreciative of all those who take time to read and comment on my blog! I appreciate all  of my comments very much and thank all of my followers, especially those that are new!

I haven't put much thought or effort into making sure my followers are friends on Facebook, Twitter and now Google+. Of course, many GeneaBloggers are my friends on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ because they are involved with genealogy, not necessarily because they friend-ed me on my blog. I do think it would be interesting to see how many of my followers are my friends though, especially in Facebook, being that was the first social network site I joined.

I am anxious to know how others feel about how they respond to comments. I think it is a bit redundant to respond on the blog itself and then again in an email. How do you respond? How do you feel about how you respond? Are you comfortable with your routine? If I responded to you in an email, did you prefer that, or find it to be a nuisance?  So much to think about here! Come on, let me know how you feel!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!

Copyright © 2011 By Cheryl Palmer All Rights Reserved


  1. I think you write very wise! I myself think that it is a bit problematic... I have been following and are following many other blogs, but to post and reply, it takes much time. It's great fun to get comments on my own blog, but as we know, you can not write at all, even if you would like it. I think most people understand ... I prefer If you responded to me in an email, becasue, as you say, perhaps I may not always come back and read the comment directly ..;)..

  2. Thank you Yvonne for letting me know! I appreicate you taking the time to respond. I will send you a message on email also.

  3. These are really good points. I am really bad about choosing the "subscribe to comments" option when I leave comments, so I don't usually get emails when the author or others respond. And I almost never remember to go back and check for responses on blogs where I left a comment.

    I'm not sure if I'd prefer an email reply, though. I think I would really rather have the "subscribe to comments" be automatic - more like the way facebook works. Obviously this is not someone you can change - I'm just thinking.

  4. I can never decide which way to respond either. Part of me wants to leave the comment, because that way others can see it also. But you're right about not returning to see if there is a reply.

  5. Hi Tonya, I do like the subscribe to comments feature, which I don't believe Blogger has, I wonder if that is a Wordpress only advantage?

    Hi Jennifer, it is crazy isn't it? To me, we shouldn't have to think about this so much!


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