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I wrote a series of posts not too long ago about how to host a party at your house. Then I was asked to write a post about how to build a community with your blog. As I’m writing I’m seeing more and more overlap with the two topics. Building a community on your blog is very similar to having a party at your house!
How To Build A Community With Your Blog
So writing a blog is like hosting a party, but how do you get those guests to show up? Here’s some tips to help you build a strong community around your blog.
First you have to plan out what you are doing. Why are you blogging? You don’t necessarily have to state it outright, but it’s good for you to think about and have an answer for yourself. Pick a theme, think about a niche, and really own why you have this blog. Then you need to get started designing and writing.
When you invite people over to your house, you want them to feel welcome. You want your house to look nice, smell nice, and be neat. Again, it’s the same with your blog. You should periodically go through and clean up your sidebars, update your photos and links, and spray some Febreeze around the place.
Once you‘ve got people over to your house (or visiting your blog) you’ll need to give them a reason to stay. Make their time with you worthwhile. What are your readers getting out of their visit? Lots of smiles from cute pictures of your kids? New book recommendations from the reviews you’ve written? Craft ideas from your DIY prowess?
Promoting your blog is part of this, but mostly I’ve found that people stick around because they like what they read. I’ve seen lots of advice for how to turn visitors into subscribers, but people aren’t going to subscribe if you don’t offer something they feel they can connect with. And that’s okay! Not every blog will appeal to every reader. Each blog will have its own unique community.
If you want people to invest their time in your blog community, you’ve got to invest time in those people. Have you provided a place for stimulating conversation? Otherwise known as, did you give people a prompt for what to talk about in the comments? Have you engaged them and made it worthwhile for them to speak their mind? Do you reply to comments and go out to visit people who have visited you? It’s not a community without conversation, and it’s not a conversation without two people talking/commenting.
When you are building community on your blog, you are getting to know people beyond the screen name they use for comments. When you reply to a comment, use their name. When you’ve known each other long enough, you be able to naturally bring up their kids, or a DIY project you’ve both done, or that great post they wrote last month. If a post from someone else prompts a similar (or even a rebuttal) post from you, link to them in your post. And then alert them that you’ve done so. It makes the conversation deeper and can even bring more ideas into the dialogue.
As you get to know more and more people, it can get a little hard to juggle all of those responsibilities. But just as you don’t form fast friendships with everyone you talked to at your first college party, you won’t realistically keep up with every single person who comes to your blog. As your blog grows and changers, your readership might as well. The makeup of your community may fluctuate, but that’s not any kind of a reason to not have one.
Forming a community around your blog is doable with dedication and perseverance.
How do you nurture your blog’s community?
Before you go, check out this post about feeling connected in the blogging world.
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Commenting (whether replying on my own site or going to others’) is admittedly one of the most time-consuming parts of blogging for me. But I also think it’s one of the most important and necessary. I mean, unless I’m getting a zillion comments and just literally have no time to reply, I feel like that’s what connects people the most. I’ll be honest: I’ve stopped commenting on people’s blogs who don’t comment on mine. Lame I know but like you mentioned, it’s a two-way conversation. When I comment and comment on someone’s blog and they don’t do the same, then it feels very much like a one-way street. I don’t always comment on everyone’s new posts every single time, but I make sure to check in frequently. Great post, Rabia. I think you do a good job of connecting people on your blog.
Rabia @TheLiebers says
I agree completely, Nina. I don’t actively keep track, but if I find myself noticing that the relationship is pretty one-way, I start to pull back. I value my time in that way.
Great points, Rabia. I really like how you said “It’s not a community without conversation, and it’s not a conversation without two people talking/commenting”. It’s so true. I think I sometimes get way too caught up just using social media to post my stuff instead of going out to interact with others. Thanks for the post!
Rabia @TheLiebers says
I feel like the interaction piece is the hardest thing. I want to feel genuine, but I also want to reply to everyone!