Whether you want to build a professional multi-million dollar blog, or an amateur hobby site, to make it successful you need to build a community based around it.
Blogs are exactly that, a community of people that get together to talk about a certain subject. Now that subject could be anything from; baking recipes to wildlife photos, your local news to the latest cinema reviews, etc. the list is literally endless. The point is that there is an audience for what you are writing about!
Make Sure There Is A Community To Blog For
Now if you are wanting to start a blog, it’s important that you take the time to consider which niche topic you want to write about. This initial decision can determine whether your site has any chance of getting off the ground at all. You need to consider your target audience. Is there enough people interested in the topic that you what you want to write about? If the answer is no, then you may want to think about another niche topic to write about. Here are some examples to think about;
- Example #1 – You may want to start a blog about your annual local farmers market. It could be a really big event once a year in your village or town, but is there really enough interest to write a blog about it? Well, probably not. Not only because it happens once a year, but because it’s a local event so many non-local people won’t be interested. Picking a subject like this to blog about instantly limits the amount of people who may visit your site. It’s much better to think a little bigger.
- Example #2 – You may have a burning passion to write about your hobby. This could be; painting, cooking, hiking, travelling, video games, etc. The good thing about hobbies is that there is already a community based around them Take something like stamp collecting, a hobby famed for being quite dull. There are literally hundreds of thousands (if not millions!) of people around the world that collect stamps. Instantly you can see that there is a potential market for a blog about collecting stamps, or any other hobby that has a mass following. You only have to attract a small fraction of people to begin building a community around your blog. But of course you could take it one step further…
- Example #3 – You could combine related subjects into a bigger website covering a larger range of topics. So instead of focusing on just baking or just vegan recipes, you could write about cooking in general. These types of sites attract many different types of community together, so keen bakers, practising vegans, meat eaters, etc. can all meet in one place. It’s not hard to see that this type of site has the biggest potential target audience and you will certainly have a multitude of different things to write about. HOWEVER… you stand relatively no chance of becoming successful if you start out trying to appeal to everyone at once. Most likely your site will seem to publish posts erratically on different subjects, which may alienate your audience as they try to understand what your site is about.
Now if you want to build a top earning blog, you should probably aim for a site like Example #3, but you are much better off starting out as either an Example #1 or Example #2 based site and building your community up.
How Do You Build A Community Around Your Blog?
Well there are many ways to do this, but all of them are related to communicating with your visitors/readers. Here are a few ways to engage with your blogging community.
Everyone is on social media these days, be it; Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. Obviously, due to the ‘Social’ aspect of ‘Social Media’, these are great places to interact with your website visitors. You should have your own account on all of the major networks to promote your blog on and by doing this you are able to talk with your own community.
Ask questions, answer questions, help people out, build relationships with people, etc. It all helps to show that you care about the people who have spent the time reading your articles. If it appears that you are only interested in getting them to your website to push advertisements, then they will go elsewhere.
When people spend the time to comment after one of your posts, comment back. Again; answer peoples questions, help them out if they need it, ask questions back, etc. Ideally you want to post helpful replies to people, but sometimes just a “Thank you for the comment” helps to show that you appreciate their feedback. People will always be more likely to revisit your site if they feel that they are being helped by you, not just being talked at.
Your Site Content
The way in which you produce your content can have an impact on your community. Write helpful posts or make videos that people actually find useful. Ask questions within your content to your readers, such as; What do you think?, Do you agree with…?, Do you think it’s right to…?, etc.
Run competitions, conduct surveys, run your own forum, run polls, quizzes, questionnaires, news letters, etc. The list is endless. Basically anything that gets your blog visitors to interact with either you or the other visitors on your site.
It sounds counter-intuitive, but you can help to build a community around your own site by being active yourself on other peoples blogs. Now I don’t mean blatantly plugging your own website because that is just spam (I get enough people doing that on this site!), but instead help people out. Yet again, answer their questions, be helpful, ask your own questions, etc. People will begin to see that you are helpful and you know what you are talking about, so they will be more inclined to visit your site.
Try to build relationships with other bloggers within the same niche as yourself. One good way to do this is to write a guest post for them, but you could also tweet a link to their latest post, or recommend them to your readers. You will probably find that they will do the same back to you.
Community & Traffic Are Different Things!
I’d just like to state that I believe that there is a difference between building traffic TO your site and building a community AROUND your site. Many of these methods can be used to drive traffic to your website, but by trying to build a community, that traffic is more likely to keep coming back for more!
But what do you think? Do you agree that it’s important to try and build a community around your site? Do you have any other ways of building a community? Please leave your comments below.