10 Ways to Grow and Maintain a Blog CommunityNovember 25, 2018
Just writing articles on your blog might not be enough for you at some point. You'll want to grow and maintain a blog community so that you'll have pe
Just writing articles on your blog might not be enough for you at some point. You'll want to grow and maintain a blog community so that you'll have people who'll read your articles, who will be your true fans. They will also give you valuable feedback, helping you to constantly improve your blog.
The ideas from this article can be applied to most of the blog categories out there: travel blogs, social media blogs, tech, fashion, food etc. blogs. After all, a blog community has the same basic characteristics everywhere.
There will be examples, Sales references, all for you to understand more about this subject.
A blog community is basically an audience with which you interact: you share your articles, the people from the audience read, share and comment on them.
As I see it, a community is a bit more than a general audience. Your audience is represented by all the people you're addressing to. They might be your fans, but they might not. You can reach to all of them, but that's it; they might see your article in the Google results, but they won't click to read it. Same can happen in social media.
You see, in sales there are 4 categories of clients:
- A – the Awesome ones. They are your true fans. Whenever they need something, you're the first one they call. They recommend you to everyone they know, and they stick by you;
- B – Basic clients. They buy from you, but that's all.
- C – Can't deal with. Clients that will buy once, but who consider that they have no reason to return
- D – Don't want. Those who are bad payers, avid searchers of the lowest price, constant complainers.
Making an analogy with this subject we are talking about, what can you say? Of course, you can't relate to all of the categories, most of the time. There are exceptions, but let's focus on the general approach. An audience is similar to the Basic Clients category. They read your articles, but they won't come to you first when they need to find out something.
The Can't deal with category also involves an audience. You might reach this through paid ads, if you use them, for example. There can be various reasons why they will only read one article of yours, and then never coming back. Even though they match your audience's characteristics.
What you want to do is to have an Awesome audience, which is a community. This blog community consists of people that found you, liked you and kept loving you. They share your articles, they follow you on every social media platform. Also, they recommend you to all of their friends and family. Besides these, whenever they try to find an information (of course, an information that they know you can offer), they don't search for it on Google. Your blog search is the thing that they choose, to see if you wrote something about what they're looking for.
The key idea is that a blog community is represented by true fans, who are beside you constantly (in a digital way, obviously).
Before we go any further, let's understand why you should grow a blog community. In the first paragraph of the article, you can quickly find two reasons for the question “Why?”: an audience that will read your articles, and feedback from that audience.
Making use of what I wrote above, I can say that you should grow a blog community for several reasons:
- Constant feedback – true fans will support you. They will constantly read your blog articles and engage with your social media posts. Most of them will leave a feedback, assuring you that you're doing a great job or expressing their own opinion, which in some cases can be different than yours. Either way, you'll know how to improve everything you're doing.
- Blog traffic – being always there for you, your community will help your blog have a good amount of traffic. Which in Google's eyes can be a really good thing. You might rank higher, therefore other people will be able to discover you.
- Social media engagement – similar to the blog traffic, by reacting and sharing your posts, your community will help others to see you.
- Direct recommendations – the last two reasons can be categorized as an indirect recommendation. The direct ones refer to the situations when someone verbally, or through a direct message, recommends you. For example, if someone will ask me “what's your favorite tech blogger?” or “who should I follow for social media articles?”, my answers will be direct recommendations. Answering on forums can also be considered as a direct recommendation.
Now, even if you start your (future) blogging career by writing your ideas out of a hobby, you'll still have a community. This small, kind of limited community is represented by your friends and family, possibly colleagues, too. I say it's a limited community because they might not do everything a full community will. That means they might not share your articles, they might not direct recommend you. But this is only because they think you don't want this, taking into consideration your articles subjects.
But as soon as you decide to take another step and really start blogging, this small community can be really helpful. It will be there to “promote” you, being proud that they have a friend or a relative that writes so good.
You might not have used your social media accounts to share your articles, but as soon as you will, your small community will be there for you. And just by liking a post, or commenting on one, they will increase your chances to be seen by their friends.
Of course, there's also the case when none of your friends and family is actually interested in what you write (with all good intentions). They will like your social media posts just because they support you. Depending on their own friends (digital or true ones), your post can have an impact, bigger or smaller, or no impact at all.
Either way, try to reach for a community, not only for an audience. And you'll find later on this article how to do it.
Let me make another sales reference. A loyal customer is easier to maintain than to constantly having to search for new ones.
This idea also applies in out the situation. Think about it. What will be easier for you? To constantly search for new people to read your blog or to keep and take care of the ones you worked for?
Every blogger starts with working for an audience and for a community. You want to make sure you can rely on those people, rely on them reading your blog. For certain, you don't want some people who will come only once to check one of your articles, and then never return.
And I'm sure you don't want to constantly have that type of audience. It implies working in vain because you'll have to constantly find people willing to read one of your articles. You can end up in the situation where for every single article you write you'll have to search for people to read it.
So, once you've worked a lot into finding those A readers, you will want to make them stay forever (because not even the best fans will stay with you if you ignore them). Doing this will take you to the point where your blog community will be the one bringing new readers and fans.
And you'll be able to focus on them, making them feel valuable; because they actually are.
even your personal blog, where you just write out of a hobby, has an audience: you shared it to your friends, family, colleagues etc. This is your audience! You want to keep it, right? Maybe you've already asked them about their opinion on what you're writing. This means that you care about your small audience and you want to keep it, to maintain it.
As I've said, at the beginning of your blogging journey you'll have to put a lot of work into finding an audience. This audience can be later transformed into a blog community.
Don't hate me, but here's another sales analogy. Let's say you work in telesales. You have to call daily around 50 people in order to have, at the end of the day, 1/2/3 customers. Now put this into our perspective. You'll need to reach thousand of people, in order to remain with tens of them. Let's see how can you do this:
The easiest way is to gain some traction on your blog is to promote it wherever you can. I say it's easy only in terms of how easy is to have a social media account. Other than that, it's not that difficult, but not that easy either, because you have to constantly do this.
I'm sure you already have social media accounts. If you have separate accounts for your blog, then you can use your personal ones to promote each one of them. Also, as I've said above, your family and friends can support you, and do the same on their accounts.
Each social media account has its own characteristics, therefore you'll find different types of persons on each of them.
Facebook brought new algorithms (2018), which will make you want to have a community that is really interested in you. Otherwise, your posts will not reach as many persons (organically). It can happen that a FB Page that has 2000 likes and followers your posts will have a reach of only 100-200 people (no other shares, no other likes; in case if those 2000 likes are from people that are not genuinely interested in what you have to offer). If someone likes the posts or if someone shares it, the reach can be higher, but not by much.
There also the situation where posts on a FB Page that also has 2000 likes will reach at least 500-600. And with a single share, the reach will increase to 700. Two shares and the post will have 1500 reach. This is because the ones that like the page are truly interested in it. And Facebook knows this.
Therefore, you can still “use” your friends and family, but make sure that you'll also bring people who are interested in you. You can do this with the help of the other means of promotion, listed below.
This social media account is all about beautiful pictures. If you're a blogger that uses lots of photos (travel, food, fashion etc.), then it's a good place for you. Follow other people, to let them know you're there. Some will follow you back, some will not. You can actually unfollow those that haven't followed you back, just to keep your account organized.
The sad part is that here you can't post pictures with links in descriptions. Links can be inserted only in Bio and used in direct messages. You can also add links in Stories, but only at some point when you'll be popular enough; Instagram has its rules.
Even if your type of blogging doesn't involve photography, you can still use Instagram to promote your blog. Do the same thing I mentioned above. And try to think of something that can be posted.
For example, you can take passages from your blog articles. Write them with a beautiful, appropriate font, use a colored background and voila: you have an Instagram post.
This social media account + search engine is a platform for every blogger. You just have to create posts that are visible and interesting enough to be pinned by other users.
Every blog article of yours can have multiple Pinterest posts. Use the title with different graphic designs. Or use the single design for an article, but write various things (title and short sentences from the article).
You can even ask to be part of Pinterest Groups. They are owned by one person that allows access to others. Be sure to respect their rules. Pinning in Pinterest Groups can increase your visibility, and grow your audience, which you can later turn into a community.
You can also use the same strategy from Instagram: follow people and make yourself noticed.
Twitter it's all about quick ideas share with the world. The 140-character limit shouldn't scare you. I'm sure you can write great ideas while respecting that limit.
It's recommended to use two hashtags, maybe a single emoji. Either way, try to post tweets with photos because it is said that they bring more engagement. Compared to the link preview ones, or the ones that are only text.
Here it's really important to start following people, as, in my opinion, you can't count on only tweeting and hoping to be seen. There are millions of tweets daily, so it will be like you, a fish, in the Pacific Ocean.
Coming back to Facebook, Groups have really stepped in. Even Facebook added a bunch of new features these last years, making them more … user-friendly I might say.
We have a whole category that focuses only on Facebook Groups, so if you want to find everything, here it is.
The main idea is that with a Facebook Group you can create a whole community. Which is exactly what you need. In a Facebook Group, people are there to get in touch with you, to create a relationship with you. And you can genuinely talk to them.
A Facebook Group it's… let's say more intimate than a Facebook Page. As I've said above: you might have likes from people who are not that interested in what you have to offer. But in a Facebook Group, you'll find ALL of the people who truly like your articles and your blog.
It's not that hard to keep. You just have to state clear rules and apply them when needed. Be their friend, but also let them know that you won't tolerate inappropriate behavior.
Ask them questions, make them discuss with you and between them. Help them feel appreciated. There are so many ways to keep an engaged Facebook Group.
Make them feel comfortable enough to answer other's questions. I say this because you don't want to be seen as the boss but as a leader. If they can help someone, they shouldn't wait for you to write the first answer.
So the Facebook Group community can actually have the whole blog community that you build. It's basically a virtual meet-up place, a virtual hub, house (whatever you want to call it) for your true fans.
The key idea is the reason why a Facebook Group is a good way to promote yourself. It's the fact that it can be used as a starting point in your search for an audience. But it can also be (and should be) the place where your blog community will gather.
Bonus part: you can also join other Facebook Groups where you can mingle and discuss with others. Some groups will let you post direct links to your blog, some will not. But if you're active or if you give great answers, people will search for you, and they will discover your blog. Sooner or later.
Here are a bunch of Facebook Groups that you can join.
At some point, recently, I found out about a story. An entrepreneur had thousands of likes on his Facebook Page. Facebook being more severe in the last year, and trying to manage all the fake news, nudity, and other posts that don't sustain Facebook's Terms and Condition, did something devastating. Even though the entrepreneur's page clearly was obeying the terms, something happened: the Facebook Page got blocked/erased. The entrepreneur lost thousands of fans.
You see, relying on just one social media account shouldn't be the way to go. Luckily for him, he also had a quite big email list. Therefore, he still had an amazing and direct way to communicate with his fans.
The truth is that you can also lose the database, but that shouldn't be as easy as losing a Facebook Page (because it apparently is). Either way, the idea is that you have to have a proper backup for situations like the true story I told.
I basically answered the “Why?” question. Let's see “How?” you can build an email list.
The easiest way is to add a subscription pop-up to your blog. Every mailing platform (MailChimp, Sendgrid, Sendmachine etc.) has the possibility to add this. Some of them even have plugins for WordPress.
Just be careful to properly state what you're asking the email address for. With the GDPR law in place, you really don't want to mess things up. What you have to do is:
- tell you readers exactly that you need the email address for further communication. You will send them newsletters once/twice/thrice a week;
- let them choose between different categories of newsletters (if you have). They can be purely informational, new blog articles, new promotions etc.
- inform them that they can unsubscribe at any time.
Oh, and one last thing: make sure that your pop-up will not cover the whole page. I know you're tempted to make the pop-up as visible as you can, but as far as I know, Google thinks differently. A pop-up should cover only a small percent of the page it appears on.
You can make the pop-up visible in other ways: colorful, constrasting, writing something funny etc. I recommend to set it to appear somewhere in the bottom corners of the blog.
Adding something as an incentive can also be a good idea. You may choose not to tell them directly what they'll receive, but to let them discover in their email. Might as well not them at all, and just surprise them with a freebie or something else. I propose these variants because you don't want people to subscribe to your newsletter just because they want to receive the free thing.
If you want to tell them what they'll get, you can say something like: “Just so you know, every new subscriber gets [insert free thing's name]”. Or of course, you can go for the eye-catching, classic statement “Subscribe here to get [insert free thing's name]”.
Here are a bunch of tips&tricks for getting more subscribers.
The most popular forums are Reddit and Quora. Each of them has a different set of characteristics and rules, of course. Either way, take some time to “stalk” them and see what's happening.
Reddit has a bunch of threads, each having a theme. Find the ones that interest you and follow the discussions. Be there when someone asks something or raises a debate about something that you know about. Make sure to follow the rules, as you can't always place links to promote yourself. Either way, try to establish yourself an image, be present.
Quora is full of questions, and I feel that is more serious than Reddit. I mean here I didn't remember seeing so many funny gifs as on Reddit. Jokes aside, again you should follow the domains you're interested in. You'll receive notifications when someone asks questions that you can answer, or when someone requests your answer.
On each of the platforms, be sure to give more complex answers. In this way, you'll show people that you actually know what you're talking about. Also, you'll show them that you're involved in what you're doing.
Each one of the way you used to grow your community should be used to maintain it. That can mean a lot of work, but establish a schedule and go for it.
There are numerous tools that can help you automate your social media posts (Buffer and Hootsuite are two with which I'm familiar with; here are some others).
Answering on Reddit and Quora can't be automated, thus you should take some time every day or every other day to be there.
In Facebook Groups you should engage daily, to make sure that members won't feel “abandoned” and that they got in that group for nothing.
These are the easy and basic ways to maintain a blog community. Because once you've been present somewhere for some time, people started noticing you. You have likes, you have followers. What do you think they will think when all of a sudden you say “OK, I now have a bunch of fans, I won't post a thing”. Do you think that they'll stay? Clearly, they won't.
As I've said, be sure to keep being active on every social media platform that you have, or on every forum. Diving deeper into maintaining a blog community, here are other things that you can do:
Facebook Groups – set a schedule and make everyday another day; that means you can use Mondays for welcoming new members, Tuesday for #TuesdayThoughts, and so on. The idea is to engage your members into conversation that don't necessarily involve you promoting new blog articles.
- Your members are there to communicate with you and with each other. Be sure that you offer them valuable subjects and information to talk about.
- Each group has a few persons that are more active than the other ones. Make sure you appreciate them, by thanking them publicly (depending on your possibilities, you can even give them something). In this way, you'll also encourage other members to step out of the shadow.
Newsletter – besides offering new subscribers something when they give you their address, you should do this constantly for your whole email list. Once in a while you can send them something just because they are still in your email list, as a thank you gift. You can let them know about your new ideas before anyone else, again, as a thank you.
- An email address is more personal, I would say, so make sure you're valuing them properly. Don't let them think that you take their email addresses for granted.
Contests – as soon as you'll have a big enough audience, and an established image you can start a contest. Of course, your email list and Facebook Group should be the first to know about it, because they did a step more into following you.
- To make sure that your current fans won't think that you do this to gain other likes and followers, you can state that the contest is only for those who followed you until a specific moment.
- If you don't want to use the social media account at all, you can stick to your newsletter and to your Facebook Group. You should have enough users for a contest, and they will feel even more appreciated. After the contest, you can post about it on social media, saying something like “Hey, if you didn't already decide do join our newsletter/group, here's something: I just threw a contest and it was a delight”. Describe how it all went, how much you appreciate your community. You can even write a whole blog article about this!
Here are some ideas of incentives/freebie that you can offer your blog community:
- eBooks; they don't have to be that long. As soon as you have an idea, put it in practice and give your creativity some place to wander;
- printables; there are so many ideas that you can use. Just think about what would you need as a printable, then imagine if your readers will use it, too. Here are more ideas about printables;
- infographics; sometimes, your blog posts can be transformed into something more visually appealing. These infographics can be also used on Pinterest, as they will have a great impact.
The whole idea of maintaining a blog community is to never let them go:
- Communicate with them, constantly;
- Offer them valuable content;
- Thank those that recommend you, in a private message or publicly;
- Appreciate the ones that follow you everywhere, in a private message or publicly.
Of course, at some point, when your community will reach thousands of followers, communicating with them through direct message could be a bit hard. But try to always let them know that you see them. Even a like for a shared post is valuable for them.
To conclude, you need to grow a blog community and you need to maintain it. Engage wih your true fans, and make them feel appreciated. Appreciated for the fact that they are there for you, they follow you everywhere and they recommend you. These are your A fans, the community that you're looking for.
For other ideas, tips and even strategies regarding blogging, here's our entire category.