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How to Build a Blog Network from the Ground Up

Guest Post by Elle from Couple Money.

Getting exposure is a goal of many bloggers. They work hard writing and sharing their thoughts on various topics. Once they achieve a certain size however, growth seems to plateau a bit. They need a bigger platform so to speak and some decide to join a blog network.

Blog networks have different meaning for different people. There are networks that are business focused and the members form a more formal alliance. They share revenue for example. There are networks that are more interest based, with the intention of helping the members grow. The network typically is based around a common niche, such as personal finance. When I’m referring to blog networks in this post, I’m referring to the more informal network

Note from Darren: this is what I’ve previously talked about as Blog Alliances.

Join a Network or Start a Network?

However, for some niches it can be hard to join an established network, as current members have established their brand and they add new bloggers slowly. Understandable for sure, but it can be frustrating.

Starting a blog network is an option, but for many newer bloggers it appears to be daunting. So many blogs have come and gone that it can seem hard to keep everyone focused. Is there a way to start a blog network that can help spread the word of member sites quickly and effectively? Can any group of bloggers start a network and get their best material to a larger audience.

I want to share a case study behind the scenes of a blog network that promotes others and has grown rapidly.

Case Study of Building a Network

Financial Samurai had a post back in January about an Alexa Challenge. It was an open invite to personal finance bloggers to help promote one another and improve their Alexa ranks. It started as an informal gathering of hungry bloggers and in less than 9 months it has become a network of around 100 bloggers.

If you’re willing to work hard and have fun, building a (or revitalizing a stagnant) network is possible. In the spirit of Yakezie, I asked members to share their best tips on building a successful network.

Set a Specific Goal

The wonderful part of this network came about was how it was presented as a challenge. Having a specific metric to measure our efforts helped many to work harder. Competition and camaraderie can go hand in hand.

Develop a Pattern of Cross Promotion

One of the big phrases thrown around was ìselflessly promoting othersî. The idea was to get the word out on each other’s sites and learn from one another. I believe a successful blog network is truly collaborative.

It’s certainly one thing to say you’ll promote each other’s best material, but it’s something else to organize and execute that. How bloggers promote each other in the network varies, but there has to be some strategy behind it.

What are some things that you can do to help promote your network?

Mini Carnivals can be a boost: Submitting to carnivals is something encouraged to new bloggers, but lately it seems to have tapered off in the personal finance niche. The Yazkezie holds a network carnival, with different members signing up to run a small and tight carnival promoting other members’ best posts. It’s a great way for members to discover each other’s sites and to promote favorite posts.

Reciprocate when appropriate: You should never feel pressured to link back to any post just because they linked to you. Sharing great content whether it’s your own or someone else’s is vital to the success of the network. Providing useful material to readers is what will help your site and network to grow.

Some Yakezie members are meticulous and use spreadsheets to keep track of bloggers that have helped them by sharing a link. When the time is right, they are gung-ho with returning the favor. It’s a balancing act to be sure, but it’s worthwhile in the long run.

Make search simple: Yakezie has a tool in the form of a special search page that allows users to quickly check to see which topics have been covered. If your network hasn’t done something similar already, I highly recommend doing so.

Be open to guest posts: Sometimes bloggers get overly possessive about their sites. It’s certainly understandable to want to maintain a certain level of quality on your blog. You can, however, broaden out and still keep the spirit of your blog.

Guest posts are a wonderful way for you to expose readers to other viewpoints and topics. Coordination between bloggers in the network has allowed sites to round out their blog’s scope while promoting other bloggers. It’s a win-win situation.

Mentor Newer Members

When you have new members, it helps to get them quickly on board with the goals of the network and help them maximize content and monetization on their blogs. You can’t expect them to know what more established bloggers know, so mentoring them can beneficial.

Some topics that you can assist one another with include:

  • How to handle advertising inquires
  • SEO tips that have worked for you
  • Blog and logo design feedback and recommendations

With helping newer ones with the above topics, you’re also reviewing your own decisions and may be able to refine the network and blogs.

If you have a blog network established, do you take time helping newer members with their specific goals? Do members volunteer to help one another?

Next Steps

For a network to survive, it has got to keep engaging bloggers and readers. An inactive blog network can become a liability. With a few leaders in the group, though, it can become a great to interact with your online colleagues and your readers.

How about you? Are you part of a blog network already? Do you have plans to start your own?

Elle has been blogging about personal finance and freelance work over at Couple Money. To follow Elle you can chat with her on twitter (@Elle_CM) or subscribe to her blog.

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Comments

  1. Yakezie says:

    Well done Elle! It’s been such a wonderful collaboration so far. Each and everyone from the Yakezie Network is inspiring others to do more.

    Blogging is a very personal, and arduous activity that so many people burn out after a year. It’s sad that someone quite before ever reaching their potential.

    Not only are we turning inwards to help our fellow bloggers, we are planning on turning outwards on helping others through the Yakezie Scholarship vertical! This is our unique product offering where we can give back to the community selflessly.

    Creating the network is not easy at all. It just starts with an idea, and a belief there are like-minded folks out there who believe in your same ideals. You have to find them, and inspire them. You’ve got to help them, with no expectation of anything in return.

    At the end of the day, everything is about relationships. The stronger they are, the better the Network becomes.

    Thanks again Elle from Couple Money for writing this review, and thanks Darren for hosting!

    Cheers Mate!

    Sam
    The Yakezie

  2. Blog networks are indeed the best way to maximize the visibility of the participating blogs’ content. By integrating RSS and Custom Search Engines, it would be easy to provide access to say 100(posts/month/blog) * 100 blogs in the network, and definitely the net traffic would rise appreciably. I’ve tried using some large networks like MyBlogLog and an Indian network called Indiblogger, but can’t seem to establish a rapport. Perhaps that would be possible with a tighter network with fewer members.

  3. Syndication can be powerful — thank you for the post. What do you think of syndication that includes other social media like facebook and Twitter?

    I have in mind TSA on facebook.

    Contact information for some of theses carnivals — and blog groups would also be welcome.

    I am in social media, MLM, and local marketing.

  4. B Simple says:

    Nice article Elle. I have also recently joined Yakezie. It has been a great way for me to meet other bloggers in my niche as well as help each other. Being a part of a community has many benefits as you have stated. I have definitely see them with Yakezie.

  5. Hi Elle,

    Thanks for sharing the helpful insight.

    I intend to join a network within a day or 2. The benefits are great.

    We are all in this together. It’s easier to expand your presence when you promote others and they promote you. This is a powerful form of leveraging.

    Ryan Biddulph

  6. Kitty says:

    Thanks a lot for the tips. Some great food for thoughts for me as I seek to build a network through blogging.

  7. Elle,

    Great Post. I like the idea of creating or joining a network.
    You’ve made some great points. I also like the idea of setting a specific Goal.

    Anyways, Great work Elle.

    Thanks for sharing your insights.

  8. Thanks for this post, Elle.

    I’ve heard of blog networks, but didn’t look into it before. Yakezie fits my niche and it seems like a good goal for me to join. My blog hasn’t been around for long and I’m still looking for ways to connect to other bloggers.

    Stephan

  9. I haven’t yet joined a blog network, but am going to start looking around for one in my niche. I know that it would be immensely beneficial for me, and thus for my readers.

  10. James says:

    I’ve kinda toyed with the idea of a trying an informal style network. I think it is a great way for a group of new bloggers to help push themselves off and give each other the need push at the start.

  11. Elle, Reall well written. Congrats on a great article, thorough and informative. I particularly liked the idea of focusing on “good content..” Very important.

  12. Elle, Meant to say REALLY well written :)

  13. Hokya says:

    good points elle

    but creating a network is easier than keeping/improving one…

  14. Duncan Riley says:

    Got to say this is a good read, with some good advice. However I’d disagree with the title: what you’re describing is what Darren himself calls a “blog alliance.” This isn’t a template to create a blog network as such, unless you take network in a broadest meaning of the term

  15. Thanks for the tips it will help a lot. I appreciate everything I learned from you..You really gave valuable information..:)

  16. Forest says:

    Excellent post Elle, the Yakezie network has been a great experience so far and I am sure it will just get stronger due to a great core group of people.

  17. nmsblogs says:

    Hi Elle,
    Excellent post. Starting is still easier than getting it going

  18. Josh says:

    For my new project in the fishing niche, this has been something I’ve been working to get established. It’s something that can be beneficial to us all since, while a very good niche from and SEO standpoint, there aren’t alot of carnivals for us. Thanks for the post.

  19. Chaudie says:

    I created a blog network amongst my niche (Japanese Gyaru Fashion) call the Lovely Blog-sa (Meaning blog circle), and so far there’s 15+ including myself.

    I am glad that you posted this. I wanted to know how to take the network to the next level.

  20. I follow a blog network of moms who created a community. It really works to network if you want to gain an audience.

  21. Hi Elle,
    I believe sometimes networks will crash when the only motivation from members is personal success and publicity. So when you point out that members will want to ‘selflessly promote others’ you are pointing out a very important issue. If you are only trying to get yourself noticed you are not in the network for the right reason. (that’s my opinion anyway).

    Personally, I am delighted to earn money since I have a family to support but the main reason why I started my current business (and within it I am developing a network) is to help others succeed where I have done so in the past. As I grow this business the money is coming to others and me.

    I welcome comments on my comment,
    David

  22. Yakezie says:

    @David,

    It’s kind of like getting to know the girl when you are broke and in college. The love is more pure after you make it big and propose, than compared to a multi-millionaire who proposes to someone. Undoubtedly, no matter how strong the love, i’m sure the person who got proposed to is thinking about all the money s/he will get to enjoy.

    In the Yakezie Network, which is open to all who want to take on the challenge for 6 months, the idea is that during this 6 month period, we are helping each other out as much as possible, and getting to know folks, so that when there are monetary opportunities, nothing stands in our way.

    Best,

    Sam

  23. Thanks Elle for writing up a stellar post about the Yakezie. And thanks Darren for hosting it.

  24. Craig says:

    Going about blogging on your own is certainly do-able but having a team of people out there that can support you and bounce questions off of is invaluable.

  25. Great take on it, Elle. Being a part of the Yakezie has done some wonderful things for my blog, and it’s incredible hearing the success stories as each member reaches their goal. Now, with the new site and the member introduction posts, we’re getting to learn even more about our fellow members. A network, or Alliance, is a great way to not only help build your site, but to build your network of like minded bloggers. Even if I were to leave the Yakezie, I know that I’ve made several contacts that I could continue to count on.

  26. Eric says:

    Great post Elle. I am proud to be a Yakezie member. I am also trying to start a new Jewish/Israel blogging community called the Kehila. It is not as big as the Yakezie, but we just hit 18 members!

    http://www.israelsituation.com/kehila/

  27. To me, discussion forums have been a lot of help. I joined Digital Point a while ago and it’s been adding value since day one.

    Then, a few months ago, I joined Third Tribe and that’s the best thing I’ve done when it comes to marketing. This way I got a lot of mentors (some are the most well-known people in the industry).

  28. Elle, great take on the Yakezie network! I found that being a part of it has really helped my writing and given me goals to shoot for! I have also received great advice and have enjoyed helping others!

  29. Stacy says:

    This was so helpful! Thank you for sharing :)