Let’s face it, blogging is a very social activity. For those of you that might think you can just write a blog, hit publish everyday and nothing more, your blog will in all likelihood not be successful. Sure, you’ll get some traffic eventually and maybe even a few comments, but your blog won’t foster.
Look at people like Darren Rowse of Problogger, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, and Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar just to name a few. These bloggers have very successful blogs and thousands of readers everyday. Sure they are all very talented, but one of the key things you’ll note is that they have have a very passionate reader following. How did this occur? They built community on and off their blogs. We’ll hit on building community off your blog in another article, for this article, let’s focus on building community on your blog.
Building Community on your blog
One my clients and friends, Christopher Foster blogs at The Happy Seeker. I really enjoy reading Chris’ articles. While I generally read articles in Google Reader, I always read Chris’ on his site. Why? Because of his comments. Given the amount of traffic Chris’ blog receives his comment numbers are very high. What this means is that the readers Chris has a are very engaged and active in his blog.
Take a look at a recent article Chris published: How to listen to your hunches. If you scroll below the article and look at the comments and read them, you’ll note three things:
- Chris’ commentators back up and support Chris’ content. This helps Chris with authority. Almost every comment on Chris’ content is positive, helpful and supportive. His commentators support what he is writing about, support him and add value by sharing their own related stories and perspectives.
- Chris responds to almost every single comment. Not only does he respond, but he responds with a thoughtful and meaningful reply and not just a “thanks for the comment” many bloggers use. Chris does this because he is sincere, he sincerely appreciates his readers and them taking the time to comment on his articles. Do you sincerely appreciate your readers comments? Do you really?
- The whole air of his blog is positive and at the point of being cheesy, his site seems “Happy”. Why? Well, number one because of Chris, but also because Chris is building a community on his blog and Chris and his community set that tone. That community will help him go far.
When I wrote on my personal finance blog, I built a community as well, a strong one. I’d love to be able to tell you I did this with intention, but I was too new to blogging to claim that. Frankly I had no clue early on. In hindsight, now that I have a great deal more knowledge of blogging, I built a community there by:
- Being sincere and being real. I put a piece of myself into every article. I shared my personal experiences with my readers. I told them about my wife, my kids, our trips, our home and lots more. I always tied this back to a personal finance message. I allowed my readers to know me and relate to me. Again, at the time I didn’t do this intentionally, but it worked. Allow your readers to know you.
- I responded sincerely to all comments. Like Chris, I responded to all comments. Being a new blogger, I was really excited when I got a comment. I’d always respond, thanking them and commenting about their comment or answering their question. Some comment questions even resulted in me writing an article to answer. When I wrote the article, I always referenced the commentator and thanked them. Your readers like to be recognized.
- I paid attention to readers that had blogs. When readers would comment and they had a blog, I would always visit their blog and make a comment. I would often add their blogs to my Google Reader list and highlight their blog post on my blog if I enjoyed reading it.
- I posed questions at the end of almost every article to encourage my readers to comment. I made it very clear that I wanted their feedback, thoughts and perspective and that when they added a comment, their comment increased the value of my article as a whole. I still believe to this day that comments can often be as valuable if not more so than the original article.
The power of community
I wrote an article one time that I knew would be a bit controversial, it involved credit cards (I am very much against them). The article was linked by a number of other blogs and those readers came over and started attacking my article hard. I didn’t get to see the comments until later in the day and when I went out to respond, I saw that my reader community had already defended me and where fighting for my thoughts and my beliefs. I was in awe. My readers were linking to other articles I had written, arguing to defend my position and defending me personally. I couldn’t thank them enough. I realized then the power of community and the power of what myself and my readers had built together. From then on, I told them often that they were the best community on the Internet.
Tip: Lady Gaga might be a bit different, but she has two key things going for her 1) She makes great music 2) She named her fans. Yep, her fans are called Little Monsters. Giving them a name is a trival but powerful thing. The name gives it the essence of an exclusive club that people want to be part of. Everyone wants to claim they are a Little Monster. How about naming your community? Instead of saying subscribe, say “Become a Little Monster” or maybe “Join the hundreds of other Little Monsters”. See the difference?
When you have a strong community, new visitors arriving on your blog will pick up your community and want to be part of it. A strong community can make your blog and take it to levels you never thought possible. Don’t ever forgot your community, because without them (your readers), your blog is just a bunch of text. Your community will promote your blog, defend your blog, link to your blog, and even write on your blog (I often had readers write guest posts for me). Don’t neglect them, cherish each of them and do so sincerely.
What are you doing to build community on your blog? Did I miss anything? Share your thoughts on the importance of community and strategies for building on by adding a comment.
photo by: eddiehosa