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Creating a Virtual Community to Build a Better Blog

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Image via Flickr user Steve.Garner32

This is a guest contribution from Sarah Loomes of licoriceandolives.com

There are many online communities available for your readers to reach out to, on all manner of topics – so how can you fill a need that isn’t already being taken care of out there?

I was stuck in a bit of plateau in my blogging and found myself re-reading the “31 Days to a  Build a Better Blog” and brainstorming about a problem that my readers might have that I could solve. It was January, and New Year’s resolutions were aplenty, so having a health and fitness blog I needed a way to help my readers achieve their goals. I am notorious for losing motivation around March (if I am lucky enough to even make it as far as March), so I figured many of my readers would be in the same boat. I had been wanting to host a fitness challenge for some time but there were hundreds of different variations already out there that were all much the same – short term.

That was where my Virtual Race Series came in. I created a series where 12 virtual races occur across the world throughout the year. A Virtual Race can be done anywhere around the globe within a fixed timeframe, and the GPS data from a sports watch or smart phone is submitted for your time.  

I found it built a wonderful community on my blog, and provided a place where readers could come together to cheer each other on and support each other. It had the added benefit of creating a sense of collaboration and real engagement – something every blogger wants. This is how I made sure I made the most of that momentum:

Interact with the Reader

Due to the engagement of everyone involved with the race series, once there is a great community environment then the interaction starts to become self-perpetuating.  Before launching the race series, I found myself spending a lot of time on sharing my content, trying to find readers and I really wasn’t seeing any significant increase in my readership. Now I can concentrate my time on those elements of the blog that will actually lead to engagement. 

Finding the Time

I am not a full-time blogger, so finding the time to develop new ideas for the blog and stick to a consistent posting schedule can be tricky. I generally post two to three times a week and schedule my posts ahead of time including automatically posting to social media. Finding the time to consistently post on the same days at the same time has definitely seen an increase in the engagement of my readers and the visitors to my site.

Dealing with Challenging Readers

This is the internet and, let’s be honest, there will always be people who don’t like what you are doing or saying and want to be vocal about it. There have been a few people not happy with the rules and requirements that I have placed on the participants of my race series. I am the first to admit that I am no expert when it comes to hosting Virtual races, in particular an entire series. So honesty is my policy, I ask for feedback from the readers and implement what seems fair and equitable.

Social Media Platforms

Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have been the primary gathering place for the community of runners – platforms that are easy to use and allow easy conversation.  For the particular group that I am appealing to, I found Facebook to be the best way to create that sense of involvement. I have set up a group for all the race participants where everyone can post their run pictures and running events. There is a lot of communication and encouragement between the runners including information sharing on all running related questions.  Instagram has quickly become a gathering spot for all things health and fitness. So naturally I have a hashtag that the runners can use to share their photos of their run.

Key Points:

Know your reader – why would they come to your site and gather around it? How can you cater to that?

Take your reader into account when targeting social media – use what they already use.

Remember you are human – everything you do won’t be perfect.

Sarah Loomes blogs at Licorice and Olives about her newfound love for running, biking, and OzTag. You can join her Virtual 5k race here.

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Comments

  1. Haytem says:

    Really great post! I enjoyed reading it, especially the dealing with time part I have this issue too because I often don’t have the time to concentrate on what I’m writing.

  2. ipankint says:

    I think most of blog owner use Social Media for building te community.
    But not many of them that succed with that because lack of strategy.
    And this post can use for good strategy. :D

  3. Hi Sarah,

    Interact. Build community by engaging people, connecting and bonding. Comment on blogs and social sites each day. Put in social leg work. Your community will find you if you chat with like-minded folks on a daily basis. Be all over, but do engage and make impacts wherever you show up.

    Thanks!

  4. metz says:

    In order to pursue mutual interests or goals, interact with your readers, the people in your blogging page. I think creating a community of people sharing common interests, ideas and feelings isn’t that difficult to do if you are whole-hearted, or if you have the passion to build your own.

    The article revealed helpful ways on how to make things possible.

    This comment was left in kingged.com where this post was already “kingged” and shared for Internet marketers.

  5. Hi Sarah,

    I am a Blogger myself and I am into Blogging from last 3 years. My people and my community love my blog.I have got 56% returning visitors to my Blog every month.

  6. Chitranjan says:

    Integration is really important and now a day while making brand sometime you yourself become a brand and your company or creations are known by your name.

    Not only this, but one should really help someone this not only build relationships with peoples, but also increases the chances of conversions.

  7. Sara says:

    Absolutely love this! Great job, Sarah!!

  8. Tushar says:

    Exactly. Interacting on social media is important. The problem with plenty of bloggers I know is, they don’t actually reply to comments on social media. Somehow, they think, replying would devalue them in some sense! It may sound weird but it’s true.

    Outcome is — you lose one reader if you don’t respond.

    Have had a terrible experience recently. No reply on social media, emails despite several followups & lol, it was not about guest post . . had a genuine issue to discuss.

    Glad to read your thoughts. Best wishes

  9. Karan Rawat says:

    I agreed that one can build his readership, if he interact with his reader in a polite way.

  10. Ann07 says:

    One of the important elements to build a successful blog is to have a community, where you can interact with your audience and where you can speak to them with regards to a certain topic.

    These tips shared above on how you can do the most in your virtual community are all helpful and valuable. You should know who your readers are, so you can know the right approach to use when interacting with them.

    Thanks for the shared knowledge. :)

    Best,
    Ann07

    By the way, I found this post shared on Kingged.com

  11. sehar fatima says:

    thanks for the great post. i really enjoyed it reading. no doubt users are the most important thing about blogging, and quality content and appropriate time that you talked about is really important one. thanks and big thumb for you. cheers !

  12. Nitin Sharma says:

    I am also a blogger and i love my blog and my visitor. Blogging is my regular work task. Today blogging is the best way to interact with people.

  13. Helal Uddin says:

    Nice article about building a better blog. This discussion’ll help me much. I agree with you. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Olamosh says:

    Thanks for this wonderful guest post Sarah.

    It is all about ENGAGEMENT. First, i do always create time to respond to comments on my blogs and also other top blogs on the same niche with mine.

    Participating in blogging communities is a great way to create a viral community around your blog/brand.

    Social media has been a easy way to create a viral communities around someones blog especially Facebook Group as you mentioned in the article.I love this article of yours because it talks about an aspect most bloggers ignore.

    I know few bloggers who have thousands of friend on facebook, but doesn’t know to get them engage with their blog.

    Thanks for this wonderful eye opening article and have a nice weekend

    I found the link to this post on Kingged and i have also kingged it on kingged.com

  15. “Remember you are human – everything you do won’t be perfect.”

    This really brought it home for me. As a perfectionist I’m always striving to achieve the best and am too hard on myself when I don’t. But blogging is a lifelong learning process. You can eventually rise to be among the best but you’ll never be perfect…and that’s completely ok :)

  16. Rounak says:

    ya, thats true, our visitors are the most imp. thing, interaecting them within comments and all and making pure quality content should be the real aim of a blogger! :D
    cheers!

  17. Hello Sarah,

    Awesome post! I know that feeling of the lack of motivation to do anything. There are times where I stop for weeks and find myself crying that I did not do anything. I’ve generally gotten myself to watching Eric Thomas videos everyday. It’s not an exact quote but I love how he says that you shouldn’t cry because you quit, you should cry because you kept going.

    Marketing my business and writing in general feels like health and fitness to me now. It feels like I’m pushing a large barbell where Eric’s voice resonates deep within my mind. I beat these feelings of pain and keep threading through because I know that I’ll become successful.

    In regards to the virtual community. I love it. I might even give it a shot in the future! But I’ll start slow and start establishing strong bonds with great bloggers for now.

    Cheers,
    Christopher Cuna

  18. Hi,

    As a blogger I think community is also always gives you a support like backbone. Community or a social media is gives you powerpush and help you to increase the traffic in short time. Thanks for sharing this information. :)

    Regards!!!
    Bhavesh Patel

  19. Very nice post and I just loved it Sarah

  20. Evgeny says:

    I every day ask similar questions what to do for more readers on my blog and still looking for answer. Thank you for your thoughts.

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