Through the years it has become obvious that the users want to know about who runs the site. Besides, having your own column let's you control your image and it can be a lot of fun while building a bond between you and your users, member or not. My users know more about me than they do about most celebrities. We have such a bond they e-mail me, call me and send me birthday cards.
What you write about isn't really important. What is important is that you be yourself. I'm a regular guy with a family. I like to fish and because I live in Costa Rica I come up with some fantastic fish stories. I think it took two days of columns to cover my landing of an 800LB Black Marlin.
I just purchased a winter mountain home and am doing a lot of remodeling. Believe me I plan on asking my user base of millions many questions. I'll probably get offers for help.
Besides being fun and informative it will bring your users closer to you. You will gain their trust because as a living, breathing person you will have things in common. This relationship with users is more powerful than any BBB or trust icon. When it comes down to getting a membership or more importantly renewing this trust will count for a lot. At Chatropolis we are in our 11th year. We have many monthly members that have been with us for 7 years. I believe we have members that have been with us from day one but they are impossible to track since they usually upgrade to a yearly membership.
Many webmasters worry constantly about getting more members. It is far more important to improve your relationship with the users you have. Believe me, have a good relationship with them and they will help you get new users.
At Chatropolis we spend under 10K yearly on advertising. A lot of this we spend because we feel an obligation to long time supporters. We could cut this to zero and see no significant impact because of our high attention to the individual user. If we didn't we would have to spend 100's of thousands yearly.
I suggest you start writing just one paragraph 3 times a week to your users. Write it about anything. Just do this for 6 months and see how your membership increases. I've been doing it for 10 years. I'll be glad to show our user graphs to anyone. I'll also be glad to talk with any webmaster to form a plan to pump up your relationship with your users.
Chatropolis.com is powered by Interfun.net's IFCS Chatserver. At Chatropolis our 24 average of users on line is over 1200. We have been as high as 2400 during peak hours.