Taking Your Blog to the Next Level — Building a Community Around Your Blog
Starting a blog used to be a very bold move back in the day but now, it is considered ‘normal’. More and more bloggers are finding themselves starting a new blog. As the number of blogs posting similar content (somewhat) about their niches increases, standing out becomes harder and harder.
Where the secret to a successful blog used to be creating high quality content, today it’s about performing impeccable SEO and making a community around the blog. The road to building a blogging community is a long one, and filled with ups and downs, so we recommend you only move toward it after you have a big enough audience.
A figure above 500 should be the right number.
If your blog has over a thousand readers, on the other hand, creating a blog community building strategy is something that you simply can’t ignore. Here, we’ll go over the steps necessary to make a community around your blog in a step-by-step guide.
Remember, though, that this guide doesn’t need to be followed step by step, and if you’ve been following my blog avidly and implementing what I write about, you will find yourself very well prepared for the monumental task ahead.
So, let’s start grinding!
The Comment Section – This Is Where You See Whether You’re Ready
One of the most important sections of your website on your road toward building a blog community is the comment section. This section is where your audience gets to contact you and get in touch with you without having to open a new tab.
Yes, they can send you an email or even call in some instances, but the comment section is more convenient. People looking to share their two cents about what you wrote or their own experience share via the comment section.
And that’s where you get the basic idea about whether your audience is ready for a community or not. People don’t usually leave a comment unless you tell them to, so keep that in mind whenever you’re writing a blog.
How many times have you heard someone say that feedback and reviews are one of the most important elements in a business? In fact, here is a graph to show you how important feedback really is.
Your blog’s review section is the comment section below.
As for the community-building part, you’ll find that people are starting to communicate with each other via the comments. That is when you know that the time has come to make a dedicated community page or forum.
Set Up Your Community Page
If you’re ready, why wait, right? If your comment section looks like it’s about to get overloaded, or that comments are starting to get lost, ask your developer to make you a new community page. You can also do that with a simple click of a button if you’re using WordPress.
Create a page where anyone can create a sub-page ON YOUR WEBSITE and discuss anything and everything related to your niche. These sections have the potential to invite very weird conversations, so make sure you set up some restrictions.
One of the first restrictions to place is to allow only those who sign up to comment. This will protect you from spam posts and also help improve customer experience. Keep the page alive by replying to as many topics as you can and taking part in the conversation.
Remember the time you commented on a blog and the author replied? Remember how happy you were? Try to give your readers the same satisfaction.
Top Your Page Off With Push Notifications
Web push notifications are a great addition to browsers and help users stay up to date with your blog. These notifications can be about anything; be it when you post something new, when someone replies to a comment, or in this case, whenever a new update on a relevant thread is posted.
Just make sure you don’t become ‘pesky’ with your notifications. This is just the icing on top of the cake that is your blog community, and while it adds immense value, if you can’t, don’t.
Build an Email List & Let Everyone Know
I’ve explained the importance of setting up an emailing list in one of my previous blogs, so I won’t take too much of your time here. Here, you will need to build an email list not just including your audience, but also those on-offs who commented on one of your blogs.
Writing separate, tailored emails for each of your readers can be a painstaking process, so I recommend you enlist the help of mailing services such as Aweber. The more tailored your mails are, the more you’ll attract.
The goal of this email list is to let everyone know about your new page and what it entails. Since your goal is to make a community around your blog, try to include their last interaction on email. If they commented, tell them that they can discuss the blog in more detail on this page.
Here is a quick overview of what you need to do:
- Signup to an email marketing service
- Create a custom email and a form that the email service will fill automatically based on their last interaction
- Include a link to the community page in your email, and
- Click send!
Start Calling Out Your Readers
One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself when promoting your community and inviting more to join is to start acknowledging your readers and commenters. Thank them for their contribution not only to the community but also to your blog.
A great way of doing that is by including their names in your blogs or incorporating a rolling banner (or something of the sort) that thanks them for their participation. The more pressing and relevant their question/concern, the more you highlight them.
This creates a certain attraction in your audience’s minds since at the end of the day, everyone yearns to be acknowledged.
Create a Podcast or a Vlog
Continuing the promotion phase of your community, start doing podcasts or vlogs. The more interactive, the better. This doesn’t really have to be on your actual blog, but can be hosted by someone else as well. There are several benefits to doing this, two of which include:
- More exposure for you
- This lets people see you for who you really are, hence building rapport
With a podcast alone, you can make a whole new community for yourself. Remember, not everyone is a good reader. In fact, if you look at the statistics, after blogs, vlogs are the next-preferred form of content out there.
Connect Users – Digitally & Physically
What do you think is the secret behind the popularity of social media platforms?
Is it their time-wasting capabilities or is it something about seeing themselves on-screen? (Okay yes, the second part may be a bit plausible).
It’s all about connecting people the right way. When Facebook was the only social media platform out there, it was used mostly to look at what the other person was doing and second, to plan something big. A get together.
If you can achieve that with your blog post, you can rest assured that you didn’t just manage to make a blog community, you managed to create a loyal group of readers that are sure to stay with you for years to come!
Try to host digital and even physical parties (if possible), inviting all your readers and their friends. I’m not asking you to go out of pocket for a party, just a meet-up where you all discuss something about the blog or play a game, even. Book a venue and party!
On the other hand, you also have the option of connecting users digitally. Host a live chat but don’t be the only one talking. Give others a chance to communicate and share as well. Make the chat as much about others as you can. A video conference would do you wonders.
Encourage your audience to communicate not just with you, but others in the chat as well. Oh, and a word to the wise, keep your cursor on the ‘kick out’ button at all times.
I should also mention that not every reader will be into the idea of meeting physically or the digital get together. We recommend you prepare an email for them suggesting that you missed them in the meeting, or a polite way of telling them that many like the idea and this is happening.
Give People a Place on Your Website
Another reason social media became so popular is that it gave people a sense of ‘ownership’ on the internet. They had a page that they created. One that had their name on it. Today, with social media becoming so common, people are no longer looking to Google their name and find their profile on it.
Instead, they now prefer to be associated with something more intelligent. Something with some sort of material impact to it. You have managed to do that with your blog. But your readers might not be that lucky.
The spirit of a community lies in the idea of ‘sharing’, and the best way to promote that idea is to give your readers a chance to see their name associated with intelligent content. You can give your community a chance to be associated in such a manner by giving them some of your digital space.
You can put up a banner that tells your community about you being ready to publish their content on your website. It is important to remember that this might be a bit frustrating; to post their content on your website since not everyone will be writing content as well as you do.
For this, you might have to make a dedicated forum within your community page where people get to post their content. It’s a great way to get free publicity!
Giveaways – The Best Form of Marketing You Can Ask For
Who doesn’t love free stuff, right?
Depending on the niche of your blog, you are bound to have stuff just lying around that you don’t really use. As a hiker, you will have old ropes and equipment, as a traveler, you will have souvenirs that you don’t really need, as a food blogger, you will get free food coupons, as a gaming blogger, you will have extra copies of games.
This step will take a bit of sacrifice, but is the best way to get your name out there. We recommend you make the most of your giveaways by asking people not just in your community but also on your social media. Ask them to sign up, take part in a contest, and win!
The more contests you host, the more people will follow you. While not all of them will be your avid followers, a majority of them will actually take part in whatever contest you’re hosting.
The problem with most giveaways is that people think they are fake. To tackle that, I recommend you ask everyone to be a part of your blog community where you will announce results. If possible, ask the winner to make a video to thank you or simply to show the unboxing. Telling the winner about your intentions, i.e., to show that the giveaway wasn’t fake might actually convince them to do so!
This is just one incentive; I recommend you give people more than just one reason to join and be an active member of your community.
And that’s it!
For those of you struggling with your blog community, this guide on how to build a community around your blog should be helpful, but keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list. The sky’s the limit when it comes to finding the best way to build your community. Imagination leads to amazing results, as you’re about to find out via your community.
If you are ever stuck and need my help, or simply want to say hi, I am just an email away. Let me know what you think about my blog and if you have any ideas on making it more to your liking!
I hope your grind toward building a blog community pays off. Best of luck!