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.
- 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.
- Visit some blogs and look at their content. Do they do any regular features? Is there anything you can participate in?
- Look for regular Twitter chats in the community.
- Start subscribing to and commenting on blogs in your niche.
- 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.