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Taking your Blog to a Community

Today Community Strategist Connie Bensen shares some tips on taking your blog to a community.

Every blogger wants more readers. I’ve always appreciated how Problogger regularly features ideas for improving your blog & writing techniques. As people happen upon your blog they may decide to join your community of readers. But what if you could take your blog to a community?

Choose the new Community

Let’s step back & take a few minutes & think about your niche(s) & focus area. At this point there are two directions. Do you want to bring in more readers in your subject area? Or do you want to reach out to a related niche? The latter will require some creative thinking and be a bigger challenge, but don’t be afraid to go beyond the obvious! Decide on your keywords & spend some time with Google & search engines & find out where your new communities are at. Do this quarterly or so because new sites are always springing up.

When I was a librarian we called it outreach. I would go out & speak to groups & my challenge was highlight resources of interest to that group (whether it was a community service group or quilting club).

Two ways to Extend Yourself

There are a number of ways to do this online. Some are automated & others will require action on your part. Building community takes a bit of effort (although you’ve maybe noticed this just in blogging). But this will be fun. (It has to be otherwise it won’t work!)

Automate your Outreach

Where can you put rss feeds for your blog so that it automatically streams at other places?

  • Social networking sites such as Facebook (use notes), LinkedIn
  • Aggregators such as Friendfeed, Tumblr, etc
  • Forums when it’s appropriate – it’s a bit hard to tell but ask the admin
  • Related Communities – ex: scroll down on the left to see an example of my blog streaming
  • Sites that aggregate RSS feeds:
    • You feed your rss in & editors choose which to publish -ex: 1067 views on my post on Twitter that Social Media Today picked up
  • Make it easy for your readers to ‘forward to a friend’ on your blog
  • Join social voting sites such as StumbleUpon, Digg, Sphinn, Mixx, etc
    • Be generous in helping your friends. They will help back. Most have groups by topic areas.

    Set up google alerts & Tweetscan for your new keywords. For example I have an ongoing search for ‘community manager’. My goal is to connect with Community Managers on Twitter & keep up to date on the latest news. It makes growing my connections effortless.

    Send out a regular newsletter with links to your blog. Less than 10% use blog readers, so they may prefer getting a compilation of your links & news in their inbox on a regular basis. (Make sure that people opt-in for the newsletter & can unsubscribe).

    Engage with the new Community

    The next steps require more effort but once you get started you’ll enjoy getting off your blog. The purpose is to meet new people and introduce them to you and in turn your blog. It’s not like flipping a switch & it will take some time. Please don’t go out & spam blogs or forums with links as that won’t be appreciated! You really need to be sincere. And remember this is fun. Do some Googling or set up Google alerts for keywords describing the new community that you’d like to embrace.

    Join Communities & Participate

    Provide something free that represents your niche (whitepaper, ebook, podcast, etc) & link others to it

    • Comment on other’s blog posts & add links to your relevant blog posts & free resources
    • Join forums and get involved in the conversations (make sure that linking is allowed)
      • If you’re shy about this, I have some suggestions.
      • tip – use a tool like Trailfire to keep track of the forums, social bookmarking sites work also
    • Write for a group blog – there’s no pay on this but it’s a different niche than my blog & there’s a community with it that many new people I’ve never met (yet!)
    • Join group projects – this book project that I’m participating in has 275 authors (meaning lots of back links as we all blog about it! LiveWriter allowed me to copy/paste them as a whole) – I see traffic coming from many new readers as they browse the list posted at the 275 authors’ blogs
    • Can’t find a project like this? Why not start one then?
    • Memes are powerful & you never know how far ranging they’ll be - this one went on & on (and people started making lists of the people who had replied & evaluating that = more links!)
      • participate when your friends call you out
      • If you see something meme-like, just do it! Ex: Top 10 Social Media Tools/Platforms
      • Start one – they’re fun! Usually it’s a list

      Don’t forget about groups at social networking sites such as Facebook & LinkedIn

      Include links to the new community in your blog posts

      As you spend time in the new community you’ll start to identify the influencers

      • Invite them to guest write for you.
      • Offer to do guest posts for them.

      Signs that you’re making progress

      Watch where your traffic is coming from & what searches are hitting your blog/site

      *use Feedburner or Google Analytics

      An increased network – if you’re doing the second part then it will grow

      If you found this intriguing then you will enjoy my list of Resources on community building.

      I’m sure that you have ideas that I haven’t thought of… What are your suggestions for taking your blog to a community? What has worked for you?

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. Thanks! This is a huge resource. It takes a lot of hard work when you have a narrower niche.

    The best thing I could stress is the importance of making real friends and partners on social networks, and if you have influence, spread it around.

  2. Edward Lomax says:

    Great post for bloggers. Sometimes I feel a lot of bloggers post to their blogs and then… wait.

    Of course, if you’ve already built up a following, this might be all you have to do. But most bloggers need to do more.

    Spending time off-blog is a great way to promote your blog and pull in other readers. Go to where people who would appreciate your blog hang out, and make yourself know. Great advice.

  3. Great post.

    I rencently did this on my fledging site about motorcycles and scooter. I was going through blogs and I found a guy with a great photo blog about his travels. One of his pictures had been featured in a magazine and Jay Leno happened to be on the cover.

    I commented and asked him if we wanted Jay’s autograph; I work at NBC and see Jay all the time. The blogger ended up linking to my blog. I didn’t ask – I was just trying to help which makes it the best kind of honest community building I think.

  4. I agree with being generous to your friends, because the only began my blogging adventure is due to my friend Dev Basu.

  5. Definitely the community of readers help you grow as so many people empower you by reading your articles..

  6. Nick Stewart says:

    I think joining other communities and contributing is really quite crucial.

    I have found joining forums and leaving good comments on other related blogs work best for me.

    Tips for building a community and getting traffic using forums:

    1) Start by finding a forum related to your niche and make sure signatures are allowed.

    2) Be sure to read forum rules and regulations before joining any forum. Nearly all forums don’t allow affiliate links in your signature or within threads.

    3) Build your reputation as an expert in your niche. Provide quality information in your posts and replies.
    Users of a forum will only click on the link in your signature if you’ve enlightened them.
    One tactic you can use is by creating a new thread with pure information in your niche, almost like a blog post.

    4) Never link to your own site within content of threads unless the rules say it’s ok. And then make sure your link is totally relevant. Otherwise, only place a link to your site within your signature.

    Another huge benefit of forum marketing is that you’re talking with others in your niche. At the same time you’re driving traffic to your site, you’re market researching. You’re finding out the biggest problems in your niche, so that you can provide solutions in the form of an info products or website content.

    Read more:
    http://www.nickstraffictricks.com/day-14-traffic-from-forums/

  7. Thanks Connie for such a helpful, actionable guide. It’s so difficult to get the bigger picture view of this sort of outreach. Especially when you’re engaged in it. Without a master plan it often feels scattered and ineffective. Following these steps brings badly needed structure to the process.Thanks to Darren as well for sharing the mic!

  8. Luis Gross says:

    Social media is definitely a great way to leverage traffic. Recently I started using StumbleUpon and its been sending me a decent amount of traffic; the more I submit reviews, the more traffic I receive. I haven’t had much success with Digg–I still don’t get how people get the “ton” of traffic Digg sends to their sites.

    Also, I have a great community over at MyBlogLog. I just send a message out to everyone, and most of them come check out what I’m talking about.

    Overall, I now get 85% of my traffic from social media sites, and I never thought I could have pulled it off.

    PS is it me, or has there been a gargantuan amount of guest posts lately? Am I missing something?

  9. Patrick says:

    Nice post. I appreciate your approach. :)

  10. Ryan McLean says:

    It is important to engage other people when bringing them to your blog, then they have more chance of sticking around

  11. Do something unusual ..
    Like this clips
    http://boringblogz.blogspot.com/2008/07/dance-with-matt.html

  12. amirulcyber says:

    Thank you for sharing information.you are best mentor.

  13. Dan says:

    Great ideas, Connie. I am now a new subscriber to your blog.

    Dan

  14. Noobpreneur says:

    Hi,

    Some fine tips! Requesting guest blogging – That what I ought to do :)

    Thanks!

  15. I have to say that posting on relevant Forums with my sig link and adding meaningful and helpful answers does wonders for traffic to my sites and blog. Also I think communities such as MyBlogLog is a fantastic source of traffic to blogs.

    Thank you for the great post!
    JR

  16. Wayne Tully says:

    Taking your blog to a community….??

    With all that you mention, it’s like bringing the community to you!

    I’ve started the google alert route and it really does come up with potential community groups and niche partners to get interactive with and I will continue to do that!

    So thanks!

  17. Daria says:

    Thank you Darren. These are truely great tips. I’ve been reading a book Blog Marketing by Jeremy Wright and I was surprised that you’ve managed to give more information about blogging and communities than his whole book. Kudos!

  18. Chase Roper says:

    This was an article well worth printing.

    I wanted to share that I submit posts to Associated Content as non-exclusive works. I don’t get much pay from them – but its syndicated across their vast network and includes links back to my original site.

  19. Wayne, you’re correct. It is more like bringing the community to your blog. :)

    And thank you everyone for your comments & especially to Darren for inviting me to write a guest post.

    Connie

  20. Dee Stewart says:

    Thanks, Connie.

    I have been working on a few ebooks for my blog and thinking about podcasting or hosting a one hour radio show on book promotion, but wasn’t sure if this was a step to take or too commonplace. After reading this I will take out the excuses and get to it. Thanks.

  21. Marisa says:

    Thank you, Connie.
    I find it unbelievably hard to find communities that relate to the subject area I’ve been blogging in. But then, I’m in Indonesia and the social media is quite limited to very few niches in here.
    Quite sure I’d find more internationally.

    Wish me luck and thanks again!

  22. This is a great collection of advice, Connie – well put together. I can’t emphasize the value of leaving intelligent comments – sure, if you’re lucky you’ll get a few clicks, but the real win is that blog authors know who their regular commenters are.

    I’d also suggest that you should include a regular call to action in your post for your RSS feed. Feed stats, like every other web stat, are often a bit inflated, but a subscriber (read: community member) in my mind is far more valuable than just a reader.