How to Build Your Blog Community, Part. 1: What IS a Blog Community?

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Note: This article series is based on a presentation I gave at New Media Expo 2014.

Community is a word you hear a lot in the world of blogging, but unfortunately, many people don't follow up by talking about what they mean by the word “community,” why you should have one, or even how to build one. Recently, I gave a presentation on community building at New Media Expo in Las Vegas (formerly BlogWorld), and I thought it might be good to share my talk with the IFB community as well. We'll start by discussing what exactly a blog community is.

First of all, you community doesn't consist of everyone who visits your blog.

A member of your blog's community is more than a casual or occasional visitor. We're not talking page views and stats here. Community members are people who really “get” what you have to say and what your blog is about. They understand your site. They're passionate about it. And they're supportive of it (as in believing in your blog's mission, not necessarily supportive as in sending you Paypal donations).

Often, this belief and support comes from your site not only filling a particular niche or need (one that resonates with your particular community), but also from your personal brand, i.e. people's ability to relate to you as the face and name of your blog. In a way, you're your blog's first community member. What you say and do on your site should reflect the sort of community you're hoping to build.

For example, my site, The Lingerie Addict, focuses on the world of lingerie from a fashion and society perspective. I try to talk about undergarments in the same way other bloggers and industry writers discuss fashion, beauty, and accessories. TLA is a site for people who truly enjoy lingerie and love learning more about it…every aspect of it. We don't dedicate a lot of “ink” to the practical side of lingerie (for example, lots of articles on shapewear), but that's okay because we're not trying to appeal to every single person with a casual interest in lingerie. I want readers who are interested in more than just the practical. When you're thinking about building your own blog community, ask yourself who you want to reach and why because that will be the core of your community building efforts and the statement you turn to again and again.

The other important element of a community is that it exists even when you're not directly around and contributing to it.

The easiest example of this is popular web-forums. Even if the forum creator or manager isn't around, a good forum will always have various conversations happening among its members. The same is true for a good blog community. That community will have conversations of its in your blog comments, on your social media channels, or even on other sites and forums about your site. Even if you're not seeing that kind of activity yet, that's okay. It doesn't mean you have a “bad” community, just one that's not fully developed yet. And you're not alone…many bloggers are in the exact same place in their community-building efforts.

Here is a good place to stop until next week where I'll talk about myths around community building as well a few things your community actually needs. When it comes to blogging and building a blog community, what qualities do you believe a good community has?

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19 Responses

  1. Nadya Helena

    I understand what you’re trying to say on this matter, but it’s actually hard to build a good community when you’re not entirely sure your readers are getting the message, or if the posts you write attract and capture the readers’ interest. I know I have some loyal readers on my blog, and some friends who would read my blog every so often.

    I know who i want to reach and why, but often got lost on the how and the “then what?” part. Well, I hope you understand my concerns of this part.

    Nadya
    http://thedillychic.com

    Reply
    • Nancy

      I agree with you. My problem is that I know what my target customer is, but I don’t know how to reach them. Any suggestions?

      Reply
  2. Taila

    This post was awesome in breaking down what a community is, I have been trying to pinpoint who would belong in my community and how to engage them. I want to encourage them to share their thoughts in the comments section of each post. Proving to be quite a challenge I must say. Looking forward to your next post! 🙂

    http://www.hautehemisphere.com

    Reply
  3. Juliana

    Thank you for this post! I’ve been trying to figure out and pinpoint as Taila said, the kind of audience I’d appeal to and be really specific about it because I don’t want my blog to be too general and all over the place, which I find it can sometimes be. It was also a gentle reminder to get on my social media a bit more because I’m absolutely awful at tweeting and Facebooking new posts. I’m really stoked to read the posts to come on this topic. 😀

    Reply
  4. Sally

    This is such a great idea for a blog series. I feel totally lost in this part of blogging…I have a vague idea of posting etc & I don’t think I’m doing badly on those parts but I wasn’t really sure there was anything I could do to build community…
    I’m really looking forward to the rest of this & hoping to learn lots 🙂 x

    Reply
  5. Corinne

    This is a great post, to me my community on my blog are those bloggers that I know and know me on a more personal level. You can tell by the comments they leave on my blog – often related back to past posts or something that they can relate to due to us building a relationship!

    This is a very fitting post for me right now, I started a forum ( http://www.bloggerforums.co.uk ) and am trying to get it off the ground, it is going well so far – 68 members in just 14 days! I’m trying to get more engagement and people contributing to topics a bit more. I’m just wanting to create a place for people to come and share their experiences and tips with blogging while making some blogging friends. Sometimes it’s hard to do that via blog comments or in 140 characters on twitter!

    Corinne x
    http://www.skinnedcartree.com

    Reply
  6. Letitia Elizabeth

    Once I took the time last year to make my content topics more niche, I really saw an explosion of community readers supporting and returning daily, including leaving tons of comments. Great post!

    http://becominglola.blogspot.com

    Reply
  7. Wilmotts Wonders

    Really useful thanks – made me go back and think about why I was writing my blog, what it’s about and edit these sections to be more relevant.
    Thanks for the advice!

    wilmottswonders.blogspot.com

    Reply
  8. Coconut + Cream

    I think building a dialogue between the author and the reader is so important. As a blogger, I suspect that you really should have that yearning to get to know your readers, especially if your blog following is quite small.

    C+C

    Reply
  9. Amanda

    I agree that a community member is somebody who is engaged and understands your content. I have a tougher time expanding my community and even viewers because I need more resources. Soon I will look into advertising but It would be nice to expand. I am grateful for the people I have who keep on coming back and interacting with each other and for those who pop in once in a while.

    Great post 🙂

    Reply
  10. Casey

    Building a solid blog community is a hard time to do and also a hard thing to keep up with. But it is completely worth it. Without a blog community, actually having a blog and the purpose of it kind of gets lost. I am a new blogger, starting my blog in October, and I was getting really discouraged because no one was commenting. Now I am getting a lot more comments because I have been very involved with other blogs and having people coming to my site and being actively involved has been so meaningful and nice to see. I am now excited about my blog again.

    Reply
  11. Miss Monet

    This is a great post! Although my views have picked up I struggle with getting reader interaction. I look forward to this series and plan on applying everything I will learn.

    Reply
  12. Diamond Smith-Penn

    I am having a very difficult time trying to build my community. It is extremely hard to do so even if you have good content and a good sense of who you want your reader to be. I’m not even sure of the correct way to go about. I’ve been blogging for a while and even still I’m not getting the interactions that I am looking for.

    I think that a good community actually interacts with each other on your blog, they look forward to reading your next post.

    Diamond A.
    http://styleonedge.me/

    Reply
  13. Kinyatta

    This information and the subsequent comments have been very helpful to me! I just woke up one day and said, I want to write, I want to blog but I had no idea of where I’d begin or what I needed to do. I have since made some progress and I’m working on focusing in one area. So thanks so much for the information! kinyattagray.com

    Reply
  14. Talita Taiti

    Great series and lots of food for thought. Sometimes I get discouraged when growing my blog’s community. I have to keep reminding myself that it takes time to build a great community and I just have to keep at it.

    Reply
  15. Kenneth Jacobs

    Building a community is definitely difficult because you have to reach people whom you want to inspire and may have the same tastes as yourself. For me, My style is very diverse. So I really don’t stick to the same genre than most. While there’s sites specifically for “The Gentleman” or “Streetwear” for men, I stick to things that look great on me whether it is menswear or womenswear. I’ve taken notes from bryanboy and jay strut because they’re two that I follow because they have their own unique sense of style. That’s how I want my readers to perceive me and receive me when they visit my blog, one-of-a-kind.

    Reply