Communities have been on my mind a lot lately. Maybe it’s because daily I stalk the Jewelmint Facebook page: it hypnotizes me, it cracks me up, but most of all, I think I see it as a very active community of women gathered around a central love. And I long for that.
After Hurricane Katrina, I experienced a similar reaction to the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab community on Livejournal. Women enthusiastic about these magically made potions that smelled delicious on, that came in samples called imp’s ears, and were named after macabre, magical, and mystical sources themselves. It was, again, the sense of community and shared enthusiasm that lured me in. While it lost its allure within a year, I soon after began my blog– and in it, sought out like minded fashion-loving individuals to fill the voids in my Indiana life.
Humans are naturally community oriented people. In some ways our reliance on technology has made us lose sense of our community. On the other side of that coin, online communities have made it so everyone can find their community.
This long introduction is to say that the community you develop on your blog is far more important than SEO, pageviews, or advertisers. Your community is your lifeblood–they’re the people you write for, the people who respond to you, and who invest in your site and you. While my readers have always been important to me, I don’t think that I realized how important my blog’s community was until too late.
Ways to make your community grow & thrive:
- Provide multiple ways to interact with you– and REALLY interact! I’ve started using Facebook more and more to reach out. To talk about the small things I’m doing and to get feedback from my readers in ways that don’t involve posts. By using it more– I hear from people more. Make it easy to email you– and respond to those emails! I believe in having all ways to get in touch with you prominently on your site and in multiple areas. Don’t make it just about promoting your work– make it about engaging with you.
- Provide readers a way to interact with each other. Community is never built around one person. It’s built around a collective of people. Make sure that people visiting your site can interact with others on it– enable comments so that they are emailed to you. Publicize recent comments. Build a forum. Encourage activity from everyone who visits your site.
- The things you love? Be fanatical and vocal about them. People can relate– and connect! This is something I wish I were better at– I wish the readers of my site knew how much I love Trashy Diva, Betsey Johnson, and nOir. That I loved the Scream movies, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and film theory. When I think of bloggers who’ve built a strong community, I think part of it’s because we know what makes them tick & gets them excited.
Even though I should have been doing these things long ago, it’s never too late to make a change–for me or for you.
How do you feel about community’s online? Have you built up a strong one around your site? What sites do you think have strong ones that you’re enthusiastic to be part of?
Image by Noemi Manalang