Working to build a blog community…
There’s no “one sized fits all” solution to creating an incredible blog, one with a large, involved group of followers. We’re all working to build our blogs, and we all have different content, unique fans and followers. We don’t have cookie cutter blogs and that’s what makes this so much fun.
Although we may not write about the same topics there are some things that are universal, no matter your niche. And this is one of those things!
I was not intending that this topic become a series, but after evaluating the comments I received on the post Part One How To Build Your Blog Following, I decided to expand this into a few articles. There’s so much to the subject I wanted to break it down. I find it’s so much easier to learn one step at a time.
I would love for you, and your blog, to benefit from this series. Building a blog community is a HUGE deal, I strongly recommend you read Part One, How To Build Your Blog Following first. Go ahead, we’ll wait for you, it’s that important.
Comments are the foundation used to build your blog community upon…
Replying to comments is one of the two most important things to building a community around your blog. The other is new content. Both take time, but both need your attention. Equally.
If the time you’re able to devote to your blog is limited you might benefit from scheduling your tasks. If time is tight I work on my drafts & new articles and I answer comments, at the very least. Perhaps you would benefit from setting a timer & teaching yourself to work within set time parameters. Maybe you need to think about relaxing your post schedule. But your blog comments always need to be answered, the sooner the better.
Why are comments so important to build your blog community?
Ping…You receive an email notification informing you have a new comment on your blog. (You have it set up so you are notified when you receive a comment, right???)
When you finish your little victory dance, read the comment. If you have time, answer it right then & there. A thoughtful comment, not a quick “Thanks for reading!”, I don’t even consider that a real reply. It’s basically a waste of time. Yours & mine.
Once you come down from the thrill of comment love, the sugar high of candy & flowers, think about the comment before answering. I read my comments as they come in throughout the day, nibble on a few bon bons, think about crafting the best reply EVAH, then I sit down & answer them all, at a scheduled time.
(Or a time that is close to a scheduled time, rarely when you work from home does everything happen on an exact schedule. Am I right????)
Why is replying so important to building a blog community?
The comment, the one that had you doing your happy dance, was left by a real person who visited your blog. I am going to say this very slowly so you comprehend the significance THAT…PERSON…WAS…ON…YOUR…BLOG!!!!!
How many hours do you spend on social media, creating the perfect post, call to action, cute 140 character tweet? We spend a lot of time on a platform with millions/billions of other people, it seems like the perfect storm, we’re all on the same networking site…us & billions of others. Billions of others & our deftly crafted call to action. Match made in heaven right?
But how often is our message seen, and how many people actually see it? If someone does see it do they immediately hop over to your blog becoming your most loyal reader ever? Do they shout your name from the mountain tops, echoing through cyberspace sending more loyal readers in their wake? Do they share your words of wisdom on Facebook, Tweet your praises to the masses, purchase whatever you might sell via your site & place it on the mantle like an Academy Award?
If you have found fans this loyal through social media, tell me how you did it, bottle that stuff, let’s go into partnership on the eBook…50/50…cause everyone’s going to want to know how you did it. We’ll be rich!
Now, take all those hours spent on Social Media, divide them up. Some of this time you are going to want to still allocate to Social Media, but not nearly as much as you are spending now. The remainder of the time can be split up between comments & new content.
Back to… “THAT…PERSON…WAS…ON…YOUR…BLOG!!!!!”
Comments on your blog tell you a few things:
1. Yippee! Someone found your website! I should add a “Hallelujah” and can I have an “Amen” to that!
2. They read your article.
3. And they liked it enough to read it ALL THE WAY THROUGH!
4. They liked it so much that they took the time to tell you, to write it out. To leave you flowers & candy. Statistics say that only 5% of people that read blogs leave a comment. That’s not a very high percentage.
5. Perhaps they checked out other articles that you’ve written, hopefully they will plan to visit again.
You don’t answer their comment. Or you give them a blithe “Thanks for stopping by.” Or they have no idea that you replied to their comment, their gift to you of flowers & candy. So, what are the odds that they will stop by again? Will they shout your name from the mountain-tops, tell all their friends to check you out or buy your eBook/product/services and treat it like a solid gold award?
Once I realized the importance of comments on my blog…
I realized I needed to make it easy for those who stopped by. I want them to leave me flowers & candy, in the form of comments, and I want them to feel welcome enough to come back, soon and often.
In order for me to foster community I put a few systems into place:
1. Disqus. I have Disqus comment system & I loved it until I received many complaints from regular readers. They would leave me emails, FB messages and Tweets letting me know that they wanted to leave me a comment but they could not remember their Disqus password. I deactivated my Disqus plugin but I did not delete my account. When I leave a comment on a blog with Disqus I can still check for new comments and replies on the Disqus platform. It is an extra step, it takes time away from other things I could be doing, but I am creating a bond with these bloggers, working on forming community.
2. I added the CommentLuv plugin to my blog. We talked about this in Part One. CommentLuv is the best! If you have questions about it read Part One.
3. Sign up for a WordPress.com account. Through this platform you can follow WordPress blogs. Sadly, WordPress.com is a great platform but they are seriously lacking in the comment area. There’s no easy way to make sure someone knows that you replied to their comment.
My advice…first of all, get your own domain and sign up with WordPress.org. If this is something that you cannot do at this point, add an extra step…hopefully the commenter left their email address behind, answer their comment on the blog and email it to them also. They will know that you cared enough to answer and when you email them give them a reason to stop back.
If you are on WordPress.com read this to set up your comments…make sure that you get an email address from the person commenting & that you are set up for threaded comments. Make it as easy as you can on your readers to become friends.
4. This is for bloggers that blog on Blogger. LOL! Say that 3 times quickly! I received a comment that Blogger blogs cannot reply to comments. I did a bit of research as I would think that any platform that restricts you from replying to comments would become obsolete rather quickly. In fact Blogger blogs can reply to comments, but not if they are a “No Reply” blogger. Read this Venus Trapped In Mars.
5. This is by far the simplest and best solution that I have found. It makes it so easy for readers to know I replied to their comment, it has enabled me to form friendships with other bloggers, and I love it & cannot stress enough how awesome it is, everyone needs to have it.
Comment Reply Notification Plugin is what I use. Whenever someone leaves a comment on my blog they leave behind their email address, this plugin sends them an email with my reply. They can comment back from their email or on the blog. Poof! A relationship can now be formed. This plugin is the BEST!
(Update: Just a Girl and Her Blog and The Blog Maven both use this plugin, and I’m sure there are many more top bloggers who do, it works, it hasn’t been updated but it works! It’s not broken, it don’t need fixed! LOL I check the box to send an email when I, the admin, replies to the comment, so I’m not sending them a million emails, that would get old real quick. And make sure to put your Blog’s name in place of [blog name] in the email subject line within the settings. All done! Yahoo!)
Although I believe Comment Reply Notification Plugin is the best option, all you really need is… the easiest way for you and your reader to create a friendship. Something simple.
If someone has to return, repeatedly, to your blog to see if you have replied it to their comment it is unlikely that they will become part of your blogging community. Fans shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get to you. It’s not their job to check back to see if you replied, but it is our job. Right?!?
Wrapping it up, How to build a blog community…
A comment gets my attention, my full attention. It trumps a post, a tweet, an update or any version thereof. Let the commenter know how much you value them. Make it easy for them to comment and make sure that they are getting a notification when you reply to them.
Be a gracious host, my blog is like my kitchen table, I am going to pull up a chair across from you and we are gong to chat, smile, laugh, maybe even shed a tear or two.
I lay my heart out on my blog. I write you words from deep within. Words that I leave here on the page I don’t say in real life. I trust you with all that is me, deep down. The good, the bad and the ugly. I tell you about accomplishments, disappointments and broken hearts.
Why would I lay all of this on the line, every little piece of me, and fail to let you know how much I appreciate your comments. I want to find people who understand, empathize, even agree with me. I know that you are out there, you leave little pieces of yourself behind in my comment section. I don’t want you to be afraid to comment, to leave your emotions on my page, I want to be able to answer you, I want you to know that I hear you, I want you to come back. To sit down and share a cup of coffee with me while we spend time together.
This is why comments are so important, and replies are even more so. How do you want your readers to feel? Do you want them to feel good about you, your blog, and your relationship?
It doesn’t matter what your niche is. I am a lifestyle blogger that writes about my Love Story, Life, Home, Food, Gardening, Addiction and Mental Illness and Auto-Immune Disease. And I want my readers to jump in, to work on getting to know me as they get to know themselves. It’s always easier and much more fun to do it together.
Your niche may be marketing, sports, style or underwater basket weaving, it doesn’t matter, this is universal. Treat your readers as you would like to be treated.
That’s it, ’nuff said.
Now, come stop by my comment section, grab a cup of coffee and let’s get to know each other…
Here’s to you building a big, successful, fun, loving, crazy wonderful blog community!