I work for a costume company that has a company blog intended to inspire costuming and general ideas. We focus on Halloween sales, but we also have Renaissance and Oktoberfest themed costumes that are popular year round. Currently, our blog has no regular commenters, and I'm hoping to change this by taking advice on the style and content of the blog. How can I improve the blog to encourage reader participation? You can view the blog here at Mr. Costumes blog.
While this isn't Graphic Design SE, my first impulse is to say "Change the COLOR SCHEME!" White text on black is seriously painful to read. Make it black text, larger, on a white or light-colored background.
If you want interactivity, you need to ask questions of your readers and make it worthwhile for them to respond.
How about running a weekly or monthly costume contest? Encourage readers to submit photos of themselves in costume, and give away, I dunno, gift certificates, a basket of cookies, movie tickets. Offer a bonus if they got the costume at your shop.
If people are buying costumes, they're going somewhere and doing something in them (well, most people). Invite folks to advertise their event for free on your blog.
Invite your readers to submit Top 5 or Top 10 lists and argue about them. Top 5 Victorian Movie Dresses. Top 10 Authentic Cowboy Movies. Top 5 Costuming Mistakes in Star Wars. Top 10 Reasons All the Aliens on Star Trek Have Two Arms and Two Legs (Except the Horta).
Run polls; same idea.
In short, if you want a dialogue, open one.
First, I doubt that I would ever seek out a blog related to a "Costume Company." I suspect there might be a few others like me.
That being said, what is THEIR take-away? If you are not GIVING them something that makes them REALLY want to read it then I doubt if they'll be waiting for your next post.
And if you are giving away something like a discount on a regular basis THAT is the only reason they'll return- not for the "warm and fuzzy" content.
Blogs are often about information and entertainment. BTW, I've had kids and have friends with grand-kids- pictures of kids in costumes are fun for the parents but not strangers (same can be said for the adults too.)
What are you trying to do with your blog? New customers? If so how are they going to find you? Keep old customers? Sorry, I'd be more interested in good clean costumes than reading about others in the same costumes who proceeded me.
Yeah I'm an old curmudgeon but I suspect what you really want to do is sales and marketing and I don't think that can be accomplished by users "participation" in a blog. Also be wary of legal issues when you start posting photos and personal info of customers.