Getting Involved in a Community Will Help You Start Your Blog

How to start a blog - part 2: community

In the first part of this series I talked about how to find a focus for your new blog. In this post we’re going to use that focus to find a community you can get involved in.

A community will help you form connections and grow your blog.

Let’s say you don’t find a community. You create a blog, publish posts, and that’s it. You don’t engage or interact, you don’t meet like minded people, you just throw your content out there. If you do that, how will people find your posts?

Sure, there’s search engine optimization but the best way to really meet like-minded bloggers and build up a good following is to join a community. And this is where memes can actually really help a new blog. It’s no secret that I don’t like memes but I actually think they’re an extremely useful way for a new blogger to break into a community.

Finding a community will allow you to research other blogs.

I think this research phase is very important for a few reasons. It will give you a chance to find blogs similar to the one you’re looking to create, which will then allow you to:

  • Get a sense of what other bloggers are doing. You’ll see what their posts are like and what kind of topics they bring up.
  • Find and meet people just like you, who you can connect with and relate to. You can subscribe to these blogs and become a regular commenter, which is a good way to introduce yourself to the community.
  • See what other blogs are called so you can then come up with a totally different and unique name for your own blog.
  • Get introduced to regular features and memes that you can participate in, which will help you spread awareness about your blog.

When I first started Nose Graze, it was purely a book blog. I knew I wanted to join the book blogging community, so before I even launched my site, I did a lot of research.

  • First I Googled “book blogs” or “top book bloggers” or “popular book blogs”. I stumbled upon book blog directories and blog post that listed some top bloggers.
  • I then visited several of those blogs and checked them out.
  • I noticed that almost all bloggers format their reviews in a similar way. They provide the book cover, details/info about the book itself, then proceed with their review.
  • I realized that some bloggers ran weekly features like “In My Mailbox” where they showcase all the books they received that week, and “Teaser Tuesday” where they post a small teaser of the book they’re currently reading. I also saw that other bloggers could participate in these features (memes) and link up to their post.
  • I learned about ARCs (advanced reading copies) and how to get them.
  • I was exposed to “giveaway hops” where one blogger would create a themed giveaway and invite other bloggers to join. Then there was a master list of bloggers participating in that giveaway, where other people could use those links to find and enter each giveaway.

Use your research as a guideline, not as a rule.

From my list you can see that one of the things I learned was how bloggers format reviews. Now, that doesn’t mean I had to format all my reviews in the same way. Similarly, you don’t have to take what other bloggers do as “law”. You can invent your own posts and your own methods. But I think it’s good to have all the information laid out before you so you can then make the decision to either go with the flow or branch out.

But the single most important thing is to find ways to enter the community. From my list, the two top things I encountered were memes and giveaway hops. Those memes really helped me inch my way into the community. Because of them, tons of new people visited my blog every week, and I found new blogs to visit. Similarly, the giveaway hops brought tons of traffic to my brand new blog.

I eventually outgrew both of those things, and I think there comes a time when most book bloggers do the same. But they were incredibly valuable to me in the beginning. They helped my small little blog go from being invisible to being part of the community.

Tasks to help you find a community.

  1. Do a Google search for the type of blog you’re interested in starting. Try to find blogs or even directories of blogs in this niche.
  2. Visit some blogs and look at their content. Do they do any regular features? Is there anything you can participate in?
  3. Look for regular Twitter chats in the community.
  4. Start subscribing to and commenting on blogs in your niche.
  5. Create a Twitter account (if you don’t have one already) and follow bloggers there as well.

Coming up next: deciding on a blog name.

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I'm a 27 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). I like to inject a little #girlpower into the WordPress development community by teaching women how to be coding badasses. more »

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16 comments

  1. Love this series!

    Usually not only i search on google, booktube, twitter… i also check on the people that comment on the blogs i like, for example yours πŸ˜‰ and discover people with similar tastes and also when they share a review of a book i never heard and i found something new and different to read πŸ˜€

  2. These are great tips. I’ve been blogging for almost a year and only have 20 followers. My parents don’t allow me to have social media, so lately I’ve been trying to make more of an effort to comment on other people’s blogs and get more plugged in with book blogging communities. πŸ™‚

    emily @ for the bookish recently posted: share the love challenge!
  3. Hi Ashley!!! Thank you for this awesome post. I have just today decided to start a book blog and your twitter account was reccommended to me when I signed up for twitter so I came and checked out your blog (so beautiful!) and have found your posts very helpful. I’m quite a shy person in real life, and the thought of talking to others on twitter scares the life out of me really, but I love the community that has been created and thought I’d bite the bullet and join in!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Olivia!

      I know it can seem scary and daunting at first. I’m quite shy in real life too, but I promise it gets easier. I was super shy and awkward on Twitter at first, just like real life, but once I made an effort to start using it more and accepted that IT’S OKAY to just jump into random conversations, it felt so much more natural to me. Like anything, it just takes a bit of practice. πŸ™‚

      Best of luck with your book blog!!

  4. When I first started blogging publicly, several years ago, I built my blog by commenting on blogs I loved, and some of them, and their readers, found me and commented back. It was awesome!! But then I got sucked into the lie that the only true way to grow a successful blog is to do a million reviews of any little thing, do at least one giveaway every single week, and participate in “threads” – joining a Facebook “blog chores” group, where every day there’s a new post/thread for a different kind of social interaction (Twitter, Comments, Shares, etc), and you can enter a link in exchange for doing all the other links (and they do yours, back). With my first big blog, Our Little Bit Of Wonderful, I grew my Facebook page to over 5,000 likes in less than 5 months, and my twitter to just over 2,000. But then I realized that my old readers were dropping like flies – I wasn’t posting heartfelt book reviews, or stories about my daughter, anymore, opting instead to post about the latest toothpaste or bib – and within a year, all of my comments were from other bloggers, who were “forced” to comment via these chores groups. Then I rebranded, and The Homemade Creative did much worse in terms of followers because I wasn’t pushing giveaways nearly as hard, and participating less often in threads…but I gained a couple of real readers, and my review opportunities began to improve along with the quality of my blog. And then I rebranded again…and the only social media that’s really growing is Instagram (people love my redheaded toddler). I don’t know how to use Twitter, or even really Instagram beyond just posting pictures of my life, and browsing/commenting/hearting other people’s stuff as I feel inclined. I LOVE Pinterest, and am getting my boards streamlined and under control, slowly. I HATE Facebook, and am seriously considering dropping off of it completely.

    Right now, I’m trying to wrap up the commitments I’ve made to sponsors on both blogs that don’t really fit my vision anymore, so that I can come at this another way. I’ve lost almost all enthusiasm for blogging, and don’t want to quit, so something’s gotta give.

    Out of curiosity, do you think it’s a bad thing that I only have one social media account on each of the 4 platforms I use (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram) for both blogs? I like having only one for Pinterest, and I’m not sure how I’d make two work on Instagram, but I’m wondering if I should make 2 separate accounts on Twitter…

    1. Social media accounts will be useless to you if you don’t use them.

      When I created multiple Twitter accounts (one for @NoseGraze and one for @Creative_Whim) I realized that I was too lazy to actually utilize both of them. I hated switching back and forth… so I didn’t. So in the end, I only actually used @NoseGraze.

      If you think you might be in a similar situation, then don’t bother trying to juggle multiple accounts!

      1. Yep, that’s exactly why I pared it down to one on each platform. Good to hear I’m on the right track! Honestly, I’m just feeling majorly burnt out on blogging. I love it, I want to do it, but every time I actually do something it feels like a HUGE chore. Mainly because of email; I’m currently seeing 100+ pitches for coverage a DAY, and it’s exhausting just weeding through them. I used to reply to every single one, even if only (often) to say, “Thanks for reaching out, but I’ll pass on this coverage,” but I just do not have time to do that anymore. I need to change my contact page up, and say right off the bat that I’ll only respond to emails I am interested in moving forward with. As to Twitter, I need to trim my follows, so I can actually figure out how to use it beyond just posting links and replying to messages.

  5. Hi, Ashley! Great stuff here.

    I was just wondering if how it’ll affect me if I don’t use Twitter as a platform to reach out to other bloggers. I’ve been to other blogs who gave tips like this and they always pointed out that you have to utilize Twitter, but I don’t really like Twitter. The limited amount of characters always made me feel suffocated. Is it really that important?

    Rin @ Hiding Under The Sheets recently posted: Review | Marked by Kaylea Cross
    1. Twitter is extremely powerful, but my belief is that you should find a social media site (or two) that YOU love.

      If you don’t like or use Twitter much, it’s not going to help you because you won’t be putting in 100%.

      But if you LOOOVE Pinterest or Instagram or Facebook and put a lot of effort into one of those, then it will be fantastic for you.

      Focus on the site(s) that you really like and that’s where you’ll get the biggest benefit.

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