Welcome to Part 3 in IFB's series on Building Your Blog Community! A few weeks ago, we discussed what a blog community actually is, and just last week, we talked about a few common myths of community building. Now it's time to share the things your community really does need. Too many guidelines can often lead to a lot confusion, so in an effort to keep things streamlined, I've limited today's list to three easy-to-remember items. While you can absolutely get more detailed than what we're talking about in this article, I think of the following three items as the core grouping when it comes to developing your own blog community.
- Your community needs a clearly defined set of rules and boundaries. What those rules and boundaries are will, of course, vary, but the important thing is that you have a general idea, or outline, of what constitutes transgressive behavior for your particular blogging community. For some communities, self-promotion is a major don't. For others, the list of “bad behaviors” includes personal insults, derailing arguments, the sharing of private information, or even the use of profanity. This article isn't about telling you what should or should not be important to your blog community. Rather, it's about encouraging you to think on what you'd most like your community to be known for. While you don't need a particularly long or detailed list of rules and boundaries, it's important to remember that your community members will be many people's first introduction to your blog and to who you are. Think about what you'd like that first (and second and third) impression to be.
- Your community needs a clear sense of direction and purpose. Why do you want to build a blog community? Is it to get famous? To share a point of view that is currently missing? To snark on people you don't like? What's your reason for existing? Next, ask yourself what needs you're answering that aren't currently being fulfilled. Are you doing something new, different, unique, and innovative? Or is it just more of the same? Why should people visit your particular blog and bother to engage with your particular community? What are you offering that no one else has? Why are you worth any of your (very busy) readers' attention? What will they get out of visiting your site? These are important questions to consider, and no one else can answer them for you. However, it's well worth the time to think them over…before you start community building.
- You need to know who your blog community's audience is. Are you trying to talk to everyone? To be all things to all people? Stop. Be very specific about who you want to reach. Trying to make everyone happy will frustrate you and is a quick route to unhappiness and burnout. “Everyone” should not be a part of your blog community because “everyone” is not a good fit. Think about IFB. This isn't a site for people who blog about parenting or food or travel. It's a community specifically for independent fashion bloggers. A narrow focus isn't the enemy here; instead, avoid being too general. Ask yourself who is welcome and who is not welcome in your blog community. After all, you don't want toxic people around who will alienate the members you're actually trying to reach.
When it comes to developing your blog community, what do you think are some important points to keep in mind? Did you make any major missteps when community building for the first time? Next week, we'll talk about things you can do as an individual blogger to build your community, but between now and then, please do share your own advice for blogging communities in the comments!
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