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How to Build Community on Your Blog

Speed-Posting@SmallFishMedia asks – “What can you do to make your blog more of a community?”

There are many things that you can do to build a sense of community on a blog. Here’s a short list of ideas that come to mind:

  • Take the lead and be the community that you want your readers to be – readers follow the lead of bloggers in how they’ll interact with each other
  • Ask Questions – the key to more comments and interaction on a blog
  • Give readers homework – try it, it works
  • Give readers a job to do on your blog – bizarre but it works
  • Link to reader’s blogs – it’s amazing what impact this can have
  • Answer Reader questions – this has real power
  • Invite Readers to Take the lead with guest posts, giving advice to each other etc
  • Make Readers Famous – celebrate your readers publicly
  • Do projects where readers can participate, submit things and be active. The more you have them DO the more loyal they’ll become.

It’s over to you now – any tips for SmallFishMedia on how to add more of a sense of community to your blog?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. solacetech says:

    Much needed post!
    as bloggers we sometimes have to compare our readers to young school students who need to be engaged. I’m trying now to bring down my “bounce” rate so these points were right on time!

  2. Siddharth says:

    Good and informative post. All the points here are extremely helpful and well written. You make readers stay by giving them a reason to do so. :-D

  3. Cindy King says:

    Great question and I love your suggestions about giving homework and giving readers work to do on your blog.

    I’ve actually get comments on my blog where I could do a blog post giving homework. And I have not thought of doing so in the past. Homework is easy to think of.

    Asking for work to be done on my own blog, is something I could easily have done when I did a series of translations using the free tools, or website submissions to different foreign directories. But now it seems like I need to spend some time thinking of something.

    Thank you for opening horizons!

  4. Farfield says:

    Ok, but first of all you need to have some readers. I mean, with 10 visitors a day I can’t really ask my readers a lot of questions, or at least I can’t expect any answers… But I guess that’s not what this post is about :)

  5. Katy Castro says:

    For me, it’s been helpful that I respond to a lot of the comments that I receive, if not all of them. While it may be next to impossible to do one day when a single post generates a ton of comments, visitors tend to come back for more when you’ve addressed them directly within the comments.

  6. Mizuu says:

    You can also get engaged in non-blog community like some forums.
    Also don’t forget to put some polls on your site. Whether they create feedback on content or are a base for on your notes, they’re helpful and makes every little voice matter.

  7. D.A.T. says:

    these are great ideas. I’m going to ask readers to post some of there designs in my flicker photo stream.

  8. Troy Duncan says:

    Thanks for expanding my thinking. I never really thought about a blog as a community.

  9. Bash Bosh says:

    Really interesting articles. Thank you for sharing this with us. Really nice and interesting point of view!

  10. Very good points there Darren. Two more points:-

    1: Make a group highlighting your blog in popular social networking websites and invite your readers to join it.

    2: Ask your readers to spread that group among their friends in the social networking sites :)

  11. Sueblimely says:

    I would say that visiting and commenting on the blogs of those who comment on your posts or give backlinks is one of the best ways of opening up communication and establishing and maintaining your own blog’s community.

    Asking questions has not been too successful for me although I will keep trying as well as try some more of the techniques you mention.

    @troy I realized that blogs were communities not too long after starting blogging publicly – not sure that my incentive to continue would be so strong without this keeping this concept in mind.

  12. Simple Mom says:

    Wonderful post! I think I’m a little fearful that if I ask for proactive participation from my readers that I’ll hear crickets. And to me, that’s almost worse than just a few unsolicited comments. I suppose I should just take the plunge and do it.

  13. Frugal Dad says:

    I like to include an “Ask the Readers” section at the end of thought-provoking posts soliciting feedback from readers. This single line usually doubles the average number of comments.

  14. This one would depend a bit on the type of blog, but one thing that’s worked well for me on The Office Diet is having a weekly diarist.

    If you’re writing in a niche where it’s easy to find a “beginner”, how about inviting one of them (probably one of your readers!) to give you a weekly update on how they’re getting on. You can then provide commentary and links to relevant posts on your blog…

    It creates a nice sense of “us together” rather than “you the blogger, them the readers”, and it keeps people coming back for the next installment.

    Take a look at http://www.theofficediet.com/2008/04/07/introducing-anna/ if you want to see how I kicked this off on The Office Diet!

    Best,

    Ali

    Ali

  15. cory huff says:

    I have been running an ongoing series where women can write in and highlight nice things that their husbands have done for them.

    The Good Husband Deeds Series has generated a little buzz and made my readers email me with questions.

    Also, a recent poll that I did caused quite a discussion as well.

  16. Simple Mom says:

    After following a few of the links in this article, I got motivated to add a simple poll to my site. Darren, I’m not sure if you mentioned it anywhere, but I found polldaddy.com, and I was really impressed with it. Easy interface, easy to use. Just fyi, in case you wanted to add that to your poll tools!

  17. Fabien says:

    Thanks for answering my question Darren, it is very much appreciated. You added quite a few points that I hadn’t thought about a lot before. When it comes to building community, the word participation comes to mind.

    I think that every blogger should take the opportunity to participate in their community and encourage others to do the same. When readers see that the blogger (owner) is very active in the comments section, he or she will probably want to comment more because he or she feels it is more alive than other places they’ve been to – and they can get a response to any questions they may have relating to the post.

    The most important factor to remember about community is to know who participates actively and who does not. You can do this by getting people to add you to social media sites, and continually telling them to do this to encourage a loyal readership that will keep coming back. You can analyse your comments and find out who participates actively – then reward them…Using widgets from MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog can help you gauge this.

    Bringing a sense of competition to a blog has a feeling like no other, if there is something that the community can win by participating – they’ll step up to the challenge. This is usually in the form of giving a banner or text link to the top commenter or doing something that gives them a bit of added publicity and promotion on your blog for their own site.

    I read a couple of the previous comments and I certainly agree that having ongoing polls is an important aspect of a blog. I would only do this is the readership of a blog is big enough for the poll to be of any value whatsoever.

    Adding forums are also a great idea, but these are reserved for blogs with over 10,000 RSS subscribers because the forums will look dead if a very limited amount of people participate in it. Steve Pavlina now has a forum where people can discuss articles published on the site, I think the ‘comments’ section has been ditched. This is fine for a person like Steve to do because he has the readership to do that.

    Creating a community feedback section is an invaluable part of any successful blog – but this is once again reserved for blogs with higher numbers because blogs with less than 500 RSS readers don’t tend to get huge amounts of enquiries.
    Lastly, I agree with Darren’s point about community participation projects – Courtney Tuttle’s Writing Project is a great example of this. All in all, community is about being active both at your blog and at your reader’s blogs.

  18. Lightening says:

    My thoughts would be:

    1. RESPOND to comments on your blog. Especially if there are only a few. Why do so many starting out blogs think it’s okay to ignore their readers????

    2. Encourage comments by asking questions, highlighting answers and so on. I know I could do better on writing posts as a continuation of a discussion in my comments sections.

    I like your list Darren. There’s some ideas on there that I’m planning on trying.

    Because my largest blog is a personal blog, I also use things like:

    1. A weekly meme which has some of my readers blogging on a common topic one day a week.

    2. I’ve just started having regular swaps which puts my readers into a more personal contact with one another.

    While these things seem more “natural” on a personal blog, I guess you could adapt them to any blogging niche if you’re creative enough (eg. host a “review” swap where each person buddies up with another and they review one another’s blog on their’s).

    I think giveaways also increase the positive vibe around a blog which can add to the whole “community” feel as well. Making readers feel like they matter.

  19. Life on Mars says:

    Really useful, great list, :)

  20. jams says:

    Oh, really needed this list, thank you! Never thought of giving homework, that could be fun.

  21. SATISH says:

    Nice article Darren.I have started a new blog and I will make sure that I will follow all these advice to make my readers a loyal readers.

    If possible, take a look at my blog http://technotip.org/

    Thanks again.

  22. roentarre says:

    This one is a very good article. I really love it.

    I have to create a community myself!