The Great Debate: Content vs. Community

When I first started blogging in 2009, my blog was just a self-contained passion project. I was shy about sharing it with anyone, I had no idea what I was doing, and didn't expect anyone outside my friends and family to read it – especially other fashion bloggers. I can't really remember now how or when things started changing, but I joined Twitter, created a Facebook fan page, and started posting between one and three posts per day, every weekday. I didn't have a full time job, so I had ample time to craft my posts and build up a strong archive of content pretty quickly.

 

In my mind, it feels like my Twitter following, my addiction to social media and my relationships with other bloggers grew in step with my blog content. The more content I had, the more I had to say on Twitter. The more I said on Twitter, the more people started following me. The more people followed me, the more motivated I was to put out content. It was organic and natural, and I didn't feel like I had to work for it. Was I just lucky?

 

The landscape of fashion blogging has changed dramatically since I started mine, and I haven't even been at it that long. I get the impression from bloggers just getting started now that you have to come at this vocation from day one like The Perfect Storm: bringing the heat with both community building and quality content.

 

Since I am already so entrenched in the community, with a great following of readers, commenters and followers who I adore, as well as a good undertanding of what kind of content said followers respond to and enjoy on my blog – I wanted to open this topic up for discussion with all of you! Does content rule? Is it pointless to have content without a community to share it with?

 

Some things to think about:

 

  • Who did you first share your blog with when you got started?
  • Did you join Twitter before you started your blog? After? Simultaneously?
  • Why did you start your blog? Did you know people who had them already?
  • Do you blog because you like to write and explore fashion? Or do you want a space to talk with others about your mutual love of fashion? Is it a little bit of both?
  • How often do you post? How often do you tweet? Update your Facebook?
  • Do you see a relationship between your posting frequency and the growth of your community?
  • How important is it to you to have relationships with other bloggers? Are you a lone wolf or a pack dog?
  • What do you hope to get out of blogging? A job? A new social circle? Just a diary of your adventures in fashion? All these things are legitamate and understandable reasons for blogging.

Content vs. Community – where do you stand?

 

Let's get a dialog going in the comments, shall we?

 

[Image via shut up, i love that shirt on you.]

 

 

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34 Responses

  1. Sandra

    I remember when I first shared my blog. I was so scared to put myself out there like that and I was comparing myself to all of the wonderful bloggers I follow. I love to share my little blog now. It might be simple but I love creating posts that make me excited when I think of them and hoping that someone else will feel the same.

    I feel like I personally know a few of the bloggers that I religiously follow and I enjoy commenting on their posts and even receiving comments from them!

    Blogging is definitely both content and community.

    Reply
  2. Pamada

    y’kno i’m really struggling with that right now. i have noticed the more frequent i post the more followers i get, but the less time i have to interact with other bloggers in the community. i think its hard to find a balance, but i think the main thing to remember is that there is no community without good content.

    Reply
    • taylordavies

      “There is no community without great content.” – That’s very quotable Pamada! Thank you for sharing 🙂

      Reply
  3. Christy Lorio

    I’m just going to answer these meme style for simplicity’s sake since I think they are good questions.

    Who did you first share your blog with when you got started?
    I think I shared mine w/ my husband and that’s it. I didn’t tell anyone about it really until I started building up a little bit of content. When I was approached my a local social media firm to write for their website a few months later that gave me a huge confidence boost so I really started promoting it after that.

    Did you join Twitter before you started your blog? After? Simultaneously?
    I reluctantly joined Twitter after much coaxing from a friend, it was the best decision I made.

    Why did you start your blog? Did you know people who had them already?
    I knew a few people with blogs but I mostly read blogs of people that I didn’t know. I started Slow Southern Style in order to create the (very niche) content that I wanted to read.

    Do you blog because you like to write and explore fashion? Or do you want a space to talk with others about your mutual love of fashion? Is it a little bit of both?
    I started it as a platform for what I was already doing, both in my free time and at my full-time job. I wanted to share all of these great southern fashion designers that I was finding and help spread the word that style doesn’t just exist in the major fashion cities.

    How often do you post? How often do you tweet? Update your Facebook?
    I post anywhere between 1-4 times a week, averaging 2-3 posts a week. I used Twitter on a daily basis as most of my interaction with readers is through that. I update FB whenever I update the blog.

    Do you see a relationship between your posting frequency and the growth of your community?

    Absolutely.

    How important is it to you to have relationships with other bloggers? Are you a lone wolf or a pack dog?

    I actually started a group, the Southern Fashion Bloggers, as a way to connect to other ladies below the Mason-Dixon line. I cherish the relationships that I’ve made.

    What do you hope to get out of blogging? A job? A new social circle? Just a diary of your adventures in fashion?

    I’ve gotten all of the above out of my blogging efforts, and while I’m certainly no big time national blogger I’ve definitely created a name for myself within the fashion community in New Orleans. I’m really grateful of all of the opportunities that have come my way thanks to Slow Southern Style. It’s a good feeling to build something from the ground up and be recognized for your efforts!

    Reply
    • taylordavies

      Christy thank you so much for writing such a thoughtful response! I think you have a great approach to blogging and i LOVE that you took initiative and started your own group of southern bloggers. That’s amazing. I think a lot of IFB readers can get value out of what you have shared here. Thanks again!

      Reply
  4. Grace - Stripes & Sequins

    I feel like it’s content first, then community. If you build it, they’ll come! 😉 Taylor, I feel the same as you – my community came as my content was built… but it really does seem like it is much harder now… probably because hundreds (thousands?) of new blogs launch each day – the space is getting cluttered.

    Reply
    • taylordavies

      Right? I can’t imagine trying to start from scratch at this point. I think it would be exciting but also incredibly challenging! Major probs to everyone who’s new to the blogging world – keep up the content/community building!

      Reply
  5. Jed Wexler

    Great topic – I would actually take it a step further and say that;

    Content + Community = Commerce.

    That said, I think enforcing the highest quality editorial standards on your content is critical to growing a valuable community.

    Thanks IFB

    Jed W.

    Reply
  6. MJ

    I think as a new blogger, you should focus on your content first. You can have people coming to your blog all day long but if your content isn’t your best and consistent, they are not going to stay and they are not going to share. Your blog is like your first impression to the community so you want to make sure you have a grasp of it so when you build your community they will see that you take your passion seriously enough to produce good content.

    I would even suggest to a newbie just starting to write up a few posts ahead of officially launching their blog. That can help you focus on what your writing and what you want to say. Then while your posts are going up on schedule, you can get out there in mingle in Twitter land. 🙂

    Reply
    • taylordavies

      Well put MJ – I think you are right, and what a great tip to advise newbies to have a few posts waiting in the queue when you get up and running so you have time to focus on creating new content as it comes up! Thank you so much for sharing!

      Reply
  7. Serene

    Whenever I get busier trying to comment on everyone else’s blog, mine suffers. While there should be a balance, if there’s no content you will lose readers. I’ve learned this the hard way. When I tried to follow all the “rules” of blogging, I stopped being authentic, became frustrated, lost readers, and began to dread blogging. In my opinion, content rules every time. I follow a large number of blogs that I read daily and often leave comments and NEVER receive a comment on my blog from those bloggers. But I’m fine with that because I read their blogs because I like the content! Serene

    Reply
  8. Emmy

    I have to admit I was really naive going into blogging. I started it with really no intention but to just post daily stuff that I felt like posting about, with no thought about what a great post consists of, building a community, having followers/readers or making money of it.
    Now that I’ve been blogging for almost six months (which I know is still fairly short), I do think both content and community are important, but content is what keeps people coming back for more. I don’t have much following, so I’m not the authority on this, but with the blogs I’ve been following for awhile, I know it’s what they post that makes me comment regularly and really feel “involved”.

    Reply
  9. Emma Farrell

    I didn’t tell anyone that I started a blog, infact alot of my family and friends probably have never read it.

    I joined twitter over a year after I started the blog.

    I started the blog because I loved reading other make-up artist blogs and there was not that many professional make-up artists blogging at the time.

    I blog whenever I think I have something interesting to share…

    I only tweet a few times a week or whenever someone mentions me.

    My facebook is automatically updated everytime I write a blog post or

    I feel like a lone wolf to be honest, but am slowly getting to know fellow bloggers and starting a dialogue with them.

    I don’t really expect to get anything out of blogging, just to share my experiences to be honest.

    I love reading blogs and think that it is a brilliant way of getting and sharing information!

    Reply
  10. Lena

    I’m new at this but I created mine because I wanted to create the blog I’ve always been searching for. A blog that mixes fashion, natural hair care, includes ethnic beauty and news, fitness, vegan foods and things like that. Pretty much a mix of things I enjoy reading about and looking at. So, I basically just blog about what I like. it is also fun interacting with a community of people who find the same things interesting…I look forward to my community growing.

    Reply
  11. Cameron

    You ask, I deliver…

    My blog began as a Tumblr. It was supposed to be a place for my podcasts; this never happened because I had ultimately lost the plot regarding the podcasts. It was just your normal Tumblr, filled with everything from “hipster photography” to NSFW images, plus a few models and fashion adverts now and again, the latter only because the adverts reminded me of the video for “Personal Jesus.”

    One day, however, I found myself on a curated Twitter list of “exciting fashion bloggers for AMEX NYFW AW10” or words to that effect, possibly because I had a mutual friend who was one then. My response: I’m a what?! When that list was remade simply to follow IFBs, I decided that if someone thought I really was an IFB, then I’d better get on with it. Thus, I took my URL — which was a different URL at that time — and moved to a self-hosted WordPress, where I’ve been since March 2010.

    It took a while to figure out where to go with everything, but the first people who saw my blog were already following me on Twitter; I’ve had my account since March 2008 at the behest of my friends then; the Tumblr came about in November 2009.

    I blog because I want to share my view of fashion with everyone in the only way I know how: Subliminally. Case in point: My playlist for Project #24. Even if most of the music on that list leaves your ears ringing — especially the middle and last one — I always hope the reader can see what I see, since fashion is a relatively new thing for me… literally.

    I tweet constantly and I blog at least three times/week while Facebook gets a passing glance other than when I share my posts.

    My community seems to have grown over time, but I think it has more to do with what interests them than how I often I post. Let’s just say I don’t have the tonnes of comments I see on the blogs of my favourite French bloggers. Then again, I can actually respond to everyone who does comment, for what it’s worth.

    The relationships I have with the bloggers I know is priceless. The day I saw 600+ visitors visit my blog for one post due to a short mention on a huge automotive blog still makes me smile; I had no idea that post was going to even turn up there! I just shared it with a few automotive bloggers just to say I was trying something different. And of course, a fellow fashion blogger daring me to count the pages of American Vogue’s September 2011 issue was just as awesome in what happened because I took on the dare. And it’s not just the numbers, but the personal connections I feel with them, too.

    I’m currently using my blog as proof that I could do the work as a reporter for my local NPR affiliate; I also have a voice demo on Soundcloud for obvious reasons. After all, actions > words, even if the action is in creating lots of words and making coherent sentences out of them in order to tell a story. Barring that, it’s also practice for starting my own magazine, one that will be exclusively devoted to photojournalism, whether my army is covering NYFW, a war zone or the Great Recession.

    The social circle’s fine, too.

    Reply
  12. style-delights

    I think the great content builds the community, not the vice-versa..And (I am guilty of it too) following blogs and asking people to follow may build the number , not the community. I have seen the blogs with hundreds of ‘followers’ but no real community – only because the content was mediocre!
    I hope to build a content rich blog which will build the community..
    Amen to that:-)

    Reply
  13. Chantal

    I really HOPE it’s content; I work so hard on that with my blog. And I so greatly enjoy taking photos. I think I’ve begun to grow a lot in that department as well.
    I’ve been publishing on the web since it came about, but this is my first time in the fashion arena, in terms of blogging.
    For me, valuable content was always important from the beginning. I try and ruminate over whether or not a large following is something that is really important to me, and though I love sharing my content, I’m trying to validate my blogging without it, and hoping…with my fingers crossed…that those good intentions and humility will pay off with lots of followers ANYHOW, lol…
    I myself am kind of a snob when it comes to community…I will only join online communities, comment, or share content that I actually find to be valuable. Therefore, if I assume other people are like me, well…it puts a fire under my butt to keep my posts worthwhile.
    Since I am new at this game, though, I wonder what a normal rate of growth is, and what would be considered rapid, or slow, in terms of building a community of readers and followers.
    My blog Thrift Trick only has about 13 followers at this point, and thirty something fans on Facebook. I have been at it for 3 weeks.

    Reply
  14. BELLA

    I don’t really have any blog friends. Just one girl I sometimes talk too because we have the same interest. I’d like to have more blogger friends, because on the internet you can immediately see if someone could be a good friend of yours. Just because you tell so much about yourself, you know what the other persons interest are. Anywho, I have friends in real life that blog too, don’t know if that counts? Content is important, but community keeps the blogger going.

    Reply
  15. the clothing menu

    Great topic. I agree that you need the content to build a community. The more you talk about, the more likely people will be to see what you write. The content should not only be about quantity though, but also quality. It’s best to try to be different and show your passion. I’m just starting to build my content out more in order to create a community..the toughest thing for me, like others, is putting myself out there into the public..but that’s what blogging and these communities are great for – “meeting” and learning about other people and why they are passionate about what they’re writing/posting about!

    Reply
  16. Heather Fonseca

    Great content is key – without it you can’t build a community because no one would be interested in your blog. But even if you’re crafting really good, consistent posts, your followers need attention too. I’m sure there are bloggers who never respond in any way to their followers, but I don’t think they’d get very far now if they behaved that way and they were just starting.

    Reply
  17. Elle Croft

    You know, I don’t think there’s a magic combination or formula, I just think growth happens different ways for different bloggers, and for different reasons. That’s not to say we shouldn’t put effort into both our content and our relationship building, but if we focus too hard on the ‘end result’ i.e. followers, we may miss the important life lessons, and the real fun, in the journey there. Great discussion topic though, and one that’s at the forefront of most bloggers’ minds!

    Reply
  18. Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys

    I think twitter is my weak point… and could help the growth of my blog. I, to be honest, find twitter pretty stupid, but I appreciate its relevance for traffic.

    I blog partly for the diary and community aspects, but as my blog grows I see the potential for it to also lead to a job… which drives me to look at the numbers more (for better or worse).

    Reply
  19. Michelle

    When I started my blog, it was not to share with anyone. It was like an online journal about what I was going through. It has changed a little in the past two years. Sometimes I feel compelled to monitor myself and my thoughts because of the people reading. Other times, I remember why I started the blog in the first place, to be my creative wacky self without any restriction. It’s supposed to be about fun, and I think that if you keep with that spirit, the kind of readers you want will follow.

    Reply
  20. steph

    i think both are equally important, of course without great content the community will not grow. my priority will always be community — i’ve met so many great people through my 10 years of blogging and i will always try to focus on creating ‘relationships’ with my readers than to push for a huge audience of which i will never really get the chance to connect with

    Reply
  21. Erin @ ThanksIMadeIt

    I agree with if you build it, they will come. In hindsight, I’m kicking myself for not having started blogging sooner because of how rewarding it’s been, but my question is, is it really problematic if the number of blogs are increasing rapidly? If people want to start their own blogs, and their content is original, it’s not “clutter.” I think that proves absolutely that the content comes first, and community follows. After that they work in tandem.

    Reply
  22. Geneva

    Personally I think that content is the biggest factor in a successful blog. I think if you focus on developing really great content that’s unique and offers more than most of what else is out there your following will grow.

    Although twitter and other social networks are very useful for building connections you wouldn’t otherwise make, they are not very useful if you don’t have the content to back it up. What is very beneficial is to combine content and community by guest posting and post exchanging with others.

    It takes a huge amount of time to think up concepts for blog posts, and for DIY bloggers like myself even longer to do projects and to photograph them – you start having to prioritise what is most important in your day.I use twitter, instagram and facebook regularly to interact with my community and lovely readers but try to keep my usage balanced.

    Reply
  23. jenny

    I joined witter in 09, but only started actively tweeting when I started my blog in 2010.

    I have seen an increase in followers, although i swopped blogging platform (blogspot to wordpress) and lost a few of my following, my approach to blogging and contents did change slightly and i thought it was for the best, but with the decline in followers i felt disheartened, however it is in the last month that my followers on both wordpress and twitter have increased, i put this down to motivation and my new video blogs!

    theres no denying that interest in your work is real motivator!

    follow me on twitter @jennycub
    http://cubloveclothes.wordpress.com

    let me know what you think!!

    Reply
  24. Shannon

    Input and output are directly correlated when it comes to most things in life, blogging included!

    The amount of work (social media connections, great content, commenting on other blogs, etc.) you put into your blog will directly affect the output (the response of your community).

    From our experience, you can’t have one without the other.

    Thanks for the post!

    Reply
  25. Omaily

    When I first started my blog my content was a bit crappy but as time went by I perfected it and people started following me. If there was no community I think there would be no fashion blogging world. Its that daily dosis that push every fashion blogger to be the best they can.

    Reply
  26. FashionGeeksta

    Is a mix between both things because good content is going to make people to read it, comment and coming back and specially share it with other and you need to build community to grow too. Is a really good symbiosis actually :]

    Reply
  27. Domenic Bartlett-Roylance

    I used to be content driven. But then realised the content driven people are actually assholes so now I am much more of a community person. Though it’s weird that there are so many young girls and not so many guys, as I am a guy. I love you all though.

    Reply