It’s Thursday and I’m Crafting my Life! March’s theme is blogging. In previous weeks I talked about blogging your dreams and about how bloggers are real people. This week I’m talking about the ins and outs of building community through blogging.
As I’ve mentioned before, I started blogging in 2003 but sort of kept to myself. I lurked on other blogs but didn’t comment, I didn’t participate in forums or social media and I was nervous about the prospect of having visitors to my blog. What if they didn’t like me? I wasn’t entirely happy with blogging alone, though, so I slowly engaged. I learned a few things. I am going to share what I learned and talk about my approach to building community. First, though, I must say that there are many ways to blog, and if you do things differently that is fine. In fact, it’s better than fine, because you are not me. Please do not feel that I am saying your approach is wrong just because it’s different than mine, as long as it’s working for you.
With my disclaimer out of the way, here is how I have built community.
1. My writing reflects my personality and opinions. When I started blogging I tried to be very generic, but I learned that my people and I find each other better when I am myself.
2. I found a focus in maternity leave and now my journey to re-invent my life. Other people who share similar interests connected with me more easily when I did that.
3. I use social media. Twitter and Facebook, especially, are great ways to connect with other people. My community grew as I replied to others, asked questions and followed people who were interesting to me.
4. I publish regularly, so people know when to show up. Posting every day isn’t necessary, but for me having a schedule makes things easier instead of harder, and keeps me from procrastinating too badly.
5. I sought out other great blogs. I found them through Twitter, through their comments on my blog or other blogs, through other people’s blogrolls and through random chance. Some of these bloggers became friends, and all of them became inspiration.
6. I try to write each post so that anyone can understand it. I introduce people by saying things like, ‘my 5-year-old Hannah’ or ‘my husband Jon’. I also try to give a little background, or at least link to the background story, in case someone needs it. I want to be accessible and understandable.
7. I comment on other blogs, but I do it because I have something to say, and because I want to support others. I don’t expect a certain response, and I am not enforcing blog etiquette. My primary goal is not to win a numbers game, it’s to build community. Not everyone is going to be part of my community, and that’s OK.
9. I respond to questions that I get in blog comments. I prefer to do it via email, so that I know the person will see the answer. I know some people respond to every comment and I don’t do that, but I do read all of them and remember them.
10. I have an ‘About‘ page that explains who I am, and I list my contact info there and in my sidebar. If someone wants to connect on Twitter or send me an email I want them to be able to do so easily.
Whether you want to build a big community or a small community, the principles are the same. Interacting with others and sharing ideas is the best way to do it. If you are authentic and speak your truth, you will undoubtedly find some great people in the blogosphere. The internet is a big place, but we are all striving to find real connections. Sooner or later you’re bound to bump into some folks you want to connect with.
So, tell me, how do you go about building an online community? Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments.
March’s Crafting my Life series is about the whys and hows of blogging, and what blogging means to pursuing your dreams. On the last Thursday of the month, which just happens to be the 25th, I will include a link up. To participate, write a post on this month’s theme anytime in March, or track down a post you’ve written on the subject sometime in the past, and add yourself to the list. Then read everyone else’s ideas and thoughts and be inspired! Check out the link-ups from January and February to get a feel for how it works.