As writers, webmasters and blog owners, we spend a good portion of the day with only our own company. But contrary to the impression this solitary state implies, we are never truly alone in our work. Creating web content is a two-way process between writer and reader. The companionship of followers of our work means we have to get out of our own head and step into the minds of our readers to stay on track.

One valuable way to engage with this community is by enabling comments on your blog or website. Reader comments are a treasure trove of ideas for articles and blog posts. Although spontaneous comments are quite useful, you can solicit feedback by inviting readers to share their thoughts at the end of a post. Simple questions like “What do you think?” or “How do you cope with this situation?” will elicit approaches to future content that you may not have considered.

Reader comments give you immediate feedback on your web content so you know if you’re on the right track or need to adjust course. Once a website or blog has launched and attracted a modest following, keeping readers happy is as important as building new traffic. Your followers are loyal because they found something that meets a need. They’ll remain loyal as long as you continue to fill it.

Another way to harness the value of community is to recognize accomplishments of your readers. When someone leaves a comment, their web address is often part of their signature. Visit a few reader sites and look for posts that are related to your topic, original information products they’ve produced that would be useful to your readers, or creative approaches to common problems your followers and theirs share. Then, write an article about it, identifying the creator as a follower of your site and pointing out the strengths he or she demonstrates.

How does this help you? In several ways. First, it builds good will with your readers. Those about whom you write get a public pat on the back from an authority in the field, and everyone else benefits from the additional information. Second, it gives you additional ideas for fresh web content. You might even consider inviting occasional guest posts from the readers whose work you admire. Finally, it most likely will create more traffic to your website. As soon as your post is published, the person you’ve written about will share the link with others – testimonials are powerful marketing tools – and these others will visit your site, hopefully deciding that they like what they see and joining your community.