How to Build a Blog Community

Today, I’m excited to bring you an awesome guest post from the talented Jayme Soulati! I had the pleasure of meeting Jayme this spring at SoSlam in Knoxville and we have become fast friends. She’s smart, fun and I guarantee you’ll learn a lot from her. Enjoy!

* * *

Heh. That title is link bait if there ever was one. I don’t know how to build a blog community, but Ms. Laura Click seems to think I do, so I’m gonna act like she’s right. Here goes…

Before you can say you’ve failed at blogging, you must give it a year, and I’m talking about posting nearly every day. A lot goes on in that time, the most of which is you gaining confidence in your voice.

Having a voice is something that takes time; and, it doesn’t come easy, either. In the beginning, you’re likely afraid of your own shadow, and you ask people to stop in and give their opinion about design, or content.

At first, no one comes to visit, so you just write under the radar. That’s actually a blessing in disguise! Writing without knowledge that anyone is reading gives you the opportunity to practice. There’s one thing that’s certain — practice does not make perfect.

There are NO perfect bloggers!

When you finally become comfortable with your content, that’s when the comments will begin to pick up, and pretty soon, you’ll develop a community. I can’t tell you how many people are in my community; in fact, no blogger can. There are many lurkers who may make themselves visible at one time or another, but one never knows exactly how many there are.

Here are a few ways I can recommend to build a community:

  • Do a roundup of your favorite blogs on a weekly basis and mention the authors and why you like them. In fact, Billy Delaney and PRinPink just did this highly successfully. I was invited to stop in via a Twitter direct message and the pingbacks.
  • Comment, comment on others’ blogs and you’ll find others who engage with you coming over to see what you’ve got going on.
  • On your blog, if you’re ready for a comment system, like Disqus or LifeFyre, it’s great to be able to use a comment feature that has a link to the commenters’ most recent blog post. Comment Luv offers this, for example.
  • When you comment elsewhere, don’t promote your own blog, but leave a smart response and also engage other commenters after you leave your remark. People are always interested in finding new bloggers to follow, and if you’ve done a good job commenting, you’ll earn a few new readers.
  • Guest post on occasion. You don’t need to over do the guest posting; because then people will think you’re over extended and trying too hard.
  • One way to build community is to define something. I set out to define public relations, and it’s been my most popular post. That series took about a month to do right, and by the end I had tons of people engaged from all around the world. It was really rewarding professionally, and those readers flow in and out on a regular basis.
  • If someone is inspired by a blog topic you’ve written and they want to contribute to your community and network, this is one of your greatest compliments. When you create community, treat everyone visiting with the utmost respect. Do invite their feedback, guest post and frequent comments.
  • Ask an open-ended question at the end to invite comments. When a topic is engaging, people do want to share their experiences. As a blogger, ask them another question in comments to keep them coming back, as well.
  • Don’t forget to have all the necessary badges, icons, likes, plusses, and more available to push comments to the sphere. People want to like another’s comment; some like rather than comment, and it helps you know who’s stopped in.

What can you share that has worked for you? I’d love to learn from you, too.


Jayme SoulatiJayme Soulati is president of Soulati Media, Inc., a PR shop of one blending social media and marketing with public relations at its core. Her blog, Soulati-‘TUDE! is nearly 1.5 years old, and she’s grown her community one comment at a time. Follow her all over @Soulati, on LinkedIn, on Facebook, on Google+, and especially at her house.


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Laura Click

Laura Click

Laura Click is brand strategist, speaker, podcaster and the founder of Blue Kite. Learn more about Laura and her work at Blue Kite.

44 replies on “How to Build a Blog Community”

The roundups are that great idea I have yet to incorporate, but not for lack of useful material to include, I’ll say that. I do tend to think of it as something more “for the community” than for new visitors, since I know I seldom read most of the articles in a roundup if I’m not part of that community. But it’s such a nice gesture I’ll probably “invent” something similar soon. Good to see you’re out and about, Jayme!

For some reason guest posts have become part of the recent repartee — one standing in queue over at Ken Mueller’s @kenmueller62:disqus
  (where is that? it’s my fave! and maybe I need to hijack it back) and one just finishing for Danny Iny.

As for the round ups…@ericamallison:disqus

 encouraged me to install PostRank plug in and the post I wrote about link love (?) included at least 20 links to blogs (and yours); it has scored the highest point rank. It also brought peeps to the blog due to ping backs. While that may be ploy-ish, I’d suggest it’s a way to gift back to your community for staying true.

As for link bait, SEO, traffic — I’m so ignorant (and innocent!). It’s my next frontier for learning.

Yeah, deep down I’m afraid of being called out (even internally) for being
 ploy-ish more than just about anything else out there. That’s the main thing stopping me. And that’s why I have to think of some way to do it that will appease that little “this is so not for them–it’s for you!” voice inside.

Hmm, fascinating, Shakirah. Perhaps if you regarded what you write and share and teach as NOT for you then perhaps you can get beyond your deep fear. When I developed that post with all the links, it was a thank you to everyone for being on my journey; it also did drive SEO (intended or not) because that’s just what has to happen with a blog.

When people the likes of Billy Delaney (as said) and @kdillabough:disqus
  take time and space to include me in a post, then I do hope I also get a nudge an invite to stop in (should I not see their content). This is so NOT wrong in my opinion; it’s part of building community so I put them (and anyone, really) on my radar.

I believe you’ve also done this in the past, and I’m thankful. It doesn’t make you seem sales-y or begging; it’s about people are busy and they need to know they’re being featured.

I hope I can encourage you to get beyond your concern b/c it’s only your concern! No one else regards you differently for trying to build your community. In fact, as said and I’ll repeat it, I always invite anyone to nudge me to say “hey, Jayme, you’ve not been to my house in awhile — note to self — see this post you might like.”

Everyone has a reader; I stink at reading it. There’s that’s another torrid secret.

That’s what’s funny. I know I’m always blushingly grateful to be on the receiving end–never occurs to me to think, “oh, that’s just because they wanted…” But me, especially when tempted to mention A-listers on my blog I feel like it might be seen as more a “hey, come
 see me” than a “please, go see them” kind of thing. And I generally hope my readers will do the latter while knowing from my own experience that it seldom happens. But you’re right–if I’m meaning for it to be a gifthorse of appreciation, then I should just give it and not worry about people looking it in the mouth.

I’m one of those people who second-guesses a lot of my own social-media-ness (as if I’ve always
 been
 singing the tune of
 today’s post by Jay Baer
 in terms of
 its public-ness and how we all
 really feel about it), if you didn’t notice by now. But it doesn’t carry over to my perceptions of others, interestingly.

Just know that whatever is going on in your pretty little head (well, I’ve never seen it, actually) does not show on the outside looking in. You’re one well-respected professional; don’t forget that.

Shakirah – We all have our hangups and reasons why we don’t try things. I did roundups on my blog two years ago (before this one), but pulled back because I didn’t think they added value and it seemed everyone was doing them. Fast forward two years and I’ve added it back in because I think it’s a great way to highlight all of the great stuff I read every week. There’s SO much content out there that I think people appreciate the recommendation of what to try out. Like Jayme said, our readers are so out of control, we can’t possibly keep up. That’s why we need folks to help call attention to the good stuff that’s out there.

And, just like this post did, the pingbacks usually are a great way to get the original author to come and check out the post. I don’t think that’s wrong. Every time I get link love, I am grateful and stop by to thank the blogger. I don’t look at it as a ploy for me to stop by (even though it might be). As you said, we can’t look at gift horse in the mouth.
 

All that said, you’re doing great! Keep it up! It’s been a pleasure getting to know you!

Shakirah, absolutely, you should just give those backlink gifts, and don’t worry about what people think! I find my favorite blog posts to write are those that started out as a comment on someone else’s blog, but got so doggone long I decided to use it as a post in my own space, and then send my readers over to the original post with links and blockquotes.
 

Every blogger appreciates those shout-outs, even IF the reason you’ve done so is to attract traffic to your own space. Really. I promise. Backlinks are always appreciated by bloggers!
 

Hello Jayme. Thanks for the mention in this post. For me when I highlighted you and some other very good people, it was genuinely about the quality and content of your writing and posts. This very effective post here just proves the point. You are a an excellent source concerning PR. I love the video you have on your landing page, words couldn’t make it any better! 🙂
Billy

For some reason, kind Sir, I find the blush blossoming on my cheeks when you so genuinely appreciate. Thank you so much. That darn video has one of the highest scores of any “post,” so perhaps using non-verbal communication is the way to go!! XO!

I seriously need an
 itinerary
 for your guest blogging schedule.
 Perhaps you should post an update each week to let us all know where to find you!

Great tips and very applicable for any blogger!
 New or not!

Jayme, I am so honored you mentioned my little blog on your post! You always have a good perspective to the whole blogging experience–it really is what you make of it. I might add that unless blogging is your “bread and butter” to not get bogged down on the statistics and status at first. It’s more important when starting to blog to build your voice and confidence and then go out to conquer the world. Because, really, everyone had to start in a small pond
 also before setting sail into the ocean.
 

Glad you found the pingback and came over to visit, Krista! And, everything you said is dead on. Regardless of how big we get for our britches, we all still put them on the same way.

Absolutely, Krista, about not getting bogged down with statistics and status at first. And Jayme, as you’ve said, those early days when no one’s reading are where you learn so much! I love these last two posts you’ve written, both here and on Gini’s blog over at Spin Sucks. They’re short, conversational, fun, and
 informative, and you’re using lists.
 

The best part? They are SO “Jayme.”
 Having had the pleasure of chatting with you on the phone a few times, I can honestly say your writing is now reflecting the “firecracker” I hear on the other end of the phone.
 How cool is that? You go, girl! I’m thrilled for you!

You wanna know why Jayme’s blog posts are so successful? Because she uses her own voice and presents in an information in a way only SHE can deliver. It’s definitely something we all need to hone. When you find your own voice, your readers will immediately recognize when it’s YOUR stuff.
 

OK, I was told the other evening “I can’t take a compliment,” and perhaps that’s true?? You guys are seriously embarrassing me; all I can say is wow, I had no idea how my posts are regarded, and to say thank you in spades for this generous and genuine feedback. Honestly, I have felt something change recently in the writings — perhaps a more comfy position and a new confidence? At any rate, XOXO to you both. Thank you so much.

If I didn’t mention this before, let me share — I absolutely love networking and helping others get beyond my own lessons. It’s what I do and what I must do to give back. Anyone is also welcome to phone me or reach out via email or DM, etc.

We can chat about something or nothing…I look forward to it!

Thank you, Soulati! I consider myself very fortunate to have found you and all these other, wonderful people via Gini Dietrich. Everyone’s been offering to help me, which is great since I’m trying to grow my business/company and to change its direction (more consulting and less in-the-trenches work). I don’t think I have your email address, but I can send you a DM in order to get it. 🙂

Jayme-You are everywhere…are you SURE you’re not a superhero?

Your tips are spot on. I figured pretty early that community is about sharing and friendship. So I started reading About Me pages and chatting with people on Twitter. If I see an interesting conversation, I jump in–even if I don’t know the people involved. It’s a great way to make new connections!

I am telling you guys, no lie, that this GP thing just happened to me the same week. I’ve been not GP’ing b/c why wouldn’t I want to keep the best content for myself?

Here’s a secret…the two posts I wrote this week took more effort, thought, time, and polish b/c it was for someone else! I didn’t just slap these together b/c each needed a bit more TLC. So, my standards for Laura and
  Gini/Lisa are higher than my own!

That’s a bit strange, eh? (And, oh, sorry, Marianne…who the heck is calling the kettle black?)

No,
 not strange at all. I’ve always read that you give your very best stuff away on other blogs. While it sounds counter-intuitive, I find that to be true. I always put on my Sunday best for other blogs. After all, when you’re in front of a whole new set of readers, you want to look really good so they’ll come visit you on your own turf!

Oh, and now it’s my turn to hijack the comments, Jayme. Since it’s my own blog, I can do that, right? Here’s my guest post about blogging personalities that appeared on
 @pushingsocial:twitter
 this week:
 http://pushingsocial.com/7-annoying-blogging-personality-disorders
 Thought you guys might like it. It’s a little lonely over there so stop by and say hello!

OK, I believe you Jayme….Actually, my guest post for Danny Iny was planned way in advance and has been on the schedule for weeks. When Lisa asked me if I would like to write a post for Spin Sucks, I wasn’t really thinking about how close they would appear. It just ended up that way. 😉

First, I want to just thank Jayme for such a rockin’ post today! I knew it wouldn’t disappoint. The comments clearly show that. Second, I really appreciate her manning my community and bringing her folks on over to my little corner of the web while I’m out of town.
 

So, thanks, Jayme! I really appreciate you taking the time to share and help everyone with this important topic. You already know this, but YOU ROCK!

This is a really good list you’ve come up with Jayme, and some sound advice all-around. I’m going to throw out one that’s not here and is something I do that’s incredibly effective for community.

Last week I made it a point to personally call on the telephone at least one blogger a day. Because I get a decent amount of people filling out my contact forms for general questions (many of which are about community), and because I specifically ask people for their phone numbers on said forms, this gives me the opportunity to give advice to up and comers that are just getting started and need a little guidance (so as to not be a total blogging idiot like I was for the first year). For example,last week I talked to 6 different bloggers, and we had wonderful conversations every time. And with each one, a relationship was formed, and both parties greatly benefited.

Because I’ve had a small amount of success, it’s so incredibly rewarding to give back to others that are in the same boat I was in 20 months ago.

Again, great tips…

Marcus

Wow! That’s really cool, Marcus. I’m sure that each person was surprised and totally delighted to get that phone call from you. And, I’m sure that in addition to helping that person out, it also helped YOU get a better sense of what your market’s needs are. I’m sure you’ve got all sorts of fodder for blog posts and product ideas as a result of talking to your target market like that. That’s an important business lesson we need to remember for sure.

Thanks for sharing that awesome tip!

I’ve done something similarly but oriented more to those with whom I tweet — when I’m day in/day out tweeting with the same peeps, I need to pick up the phone. The relationship becomes richer to everyone’s benefit.

Thanks for sharing your success tips for all, Marcus, and I’d contradict only one thing–“small amount of success??!!” Nah.

Sorry for a tardy response back to you.

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