This post is the second in the Benefits of Blogging series, where I will cover the many benefits of blogging, for bloggers and readers.
What could be better than gaining a worldwide audience with blogging? Taking that audience and creating a community.
Benefits of Building a Community
Have you ever wanted to find people to share a particular interest, but maybe friends and family are not that interested? By blogging, you can build a community that not only wants to hear your opinion about a topic, but wants to share theirs with you as well. A community interacts with you on the things you care about. The benefits of having community members is that they:
- Come back time and time again
- Add insightful comments to your articles
- Inspire you to write more
- Help you when you ask for advice
- Ask for your help or advice
- Share ideas that they think will help you
- Share your articles with others
- Recommend you to their community
Having a great blogging community also means that community members on your site will get to know each other, expanding their network and reach as well.
Now that you see some of the benefits of building a community, let’s look at some ways to do it!
Ways to Build a Community
So how does one build a community with their blog?
The best way to start building community is through commenting. If you are new to blogging, find blogs that are similar in topic to yours and start commenting. I don’t mean the quick, drive-by “Nice post” comments. I mean really read the articles, and offer some useful comments. Consider your comments as information that future readers will find in addition to the article. Prove that you have thoughtfully read the article and include experience you have with the topic, how you think the topic could benefit yourself and others, and if there is anything you would add that would make the topic more valuable.
Also, be sure to reply to comments on your blog. Some commentators leave in questions or ideas that they have on your topic, and are genuinely interested in seeing your response. If they never get a response, they may think that you are not interested in their views, and may be less likely to comment in the future, thus diminishing the “community” feel of your site.
One way to see what topics are gaining the most community interest is by analyzing comment subscribers. For example, WordPress 2.7.1 users with the Subscribe to Comments can go into their Tools > Subscriptions and see a list of posts with the most subscribers, and also a list of commentators with the number of posts that they have subscribed to next to their email.
If you don’t have time to reply to all of your comments, at least be sure that you look at which commentators subscribe to the most topics (you can click on the email address to see which topics they are subscribed to) and be sure to respond to them. They subscribe because they want to be alerted to your replies! And if you want another reason why it is beneficial to reply to comments, think of it this way – anyone subscribed to a particular post will be emailed when replies have been added, and thus, reminded of your site and post via email.
Strengthening on Social Networks
While your focus is building community on your site, you should also research what networks are most popular with your community. Extending your blogging community on social networks allows you to:
- Learn more about what interests your community.
- Share your other projects with your community – things that do not quite fit with your blog, but you know your community may also enjoy.
- Remind your community about your site by communicating with them in other areas as well – some of your community members may inhabit Twitter or Facebook more than their RSS reader.
- Have the means to contact your community in case of blog downtime so they know you haven’t disappeared from the blogging world.
How to Tell if You Have Built a Community
Here are some ways to tell if you have, or on your way to, a successful blogging community:
- Do you have a group of “regulars” who always are commenting on your site?
- Do you recognize your readers on other networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)?
- Do your readers interact with each other as well as with you?
- Do you notice your readers commenting on other sites that you also comment on?
- Do your readers share your articles with their online community?
- Have you had visitors say they are visiting you from another reader’s site?
If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, congratulations! You have a blogging community.
Your Blogging Community
Do you feel you have a good blogging community? Can you think of other benefits or ways to build your blogging community?