Ins and Outs of Blogging: Building Community

by Amber Strocel*

Hey Ladies, this is Amber here, continuing my series on how to start a blog — “The Ins and Outs of blogging.”

This is the fifth post in the series — you can get caught up with my blogging tips in the earlier posts: why people blog, choosing a blog platform, naming your blog and collecting blog post ideas.

If you blog it, will they come? Many of us write our hearts out for weeks and months before anyone comes by to say hi. I myself blogged for 5 years before I actually started to attract visitors that I wasn’t directly related to. In the beginning, that was fine – I was blogging for my family, so if the they were the only people who read my blog, I had accomplished what I set out to do. But eventually, I came to a place where I wanted to connect with a larger community.

Community is one of the best parts of mom blogging. I spend most of my time at home with my kids. They are fabulous little people, but they don’t exactly provide stimulating adult conversation. By going online, I can immediately connect with like-minded moms and share some of the high and low points of my day. They can cheer me on or give me a virtual shoulder to cry on. When I can’t make it out to meet with a friend in real life, my online community helps me to get through my day with my sanity intact.

Some moms get together for a 'tweet-up' at a local restaurant

A quick Google search can turn up dozens and dozens of articles on building blog traffic. Many of the suggestions are fabulous, but most are focused on drawing big numbers rather than making real connections. Don’t get me wrong – big numbers are great. But raw numbers don’t provide community. So how do you build community? Here are my tips:

  1. Know who you’re trying to reach, and write for them. If you’re looking to connect with folks of a certain viewpoint, write about the sorts of things that interest them. Hopefully, they’re the same things that interest you, too.
     
  2. Visit other blogs. Surf the web, and when something catches your eye, leave a comment. Let the person know that you were reading and liked what you saw. Who doesn’t like to hear that their words are appreciated?
     
  3. Use social media. Twitter and Facebook are big for the mom blogging community. It’s a great way to meet new people, engage and interact.
     
  4. Participate in blogging communities. Sites like BlogHer and SITS provide support and community for bloggers, and allow you to check out lots of other blogs, too.
     
  5. Interact with your visitors. When someone asks you a question in your comments section, answer it. Respond to what people say, and let them know you’re glad they stopped by. Community goes both ways, after all.
     
  6. Be yourself. You don’t have to air all your dirty laundry on your blog, but the best way to connect with people is to be genuine. It lets people know that you’re real, and helps them relate to you.

My kids and Susan's kids on a real-life playdate after we connected online

I certainly don’t have all the secrets to building community, so I’d love to hear from you! How have you built online connections and attracted visitors to your blog? And what does online community mean to you? Tell me all about in the comments!

Written by 5 Minutes for Mom Contributing Editor, Amber Strocel. Check out her blog at Strocel.com, and her online course on living with intention at Crafting my Life.



Email Author    |    Website About Amber Strocel*

Amber is a crunchy granola mom of two, a suburban superstar and an incorrigible dreamer. She spends her days trying to organize chaos, and eating chocolate on the sly. You can read about her daily adventures on her blog at Strocel.com or check out her quest to help other moms live with intention at Crafting my Life.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Susan December 20, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Building community is such a time consuming but rewarding effort. I’m so happy to have you as a local and an online friend. And it was such fun getting our kids together that day. We must do it again soon.

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2 Amber Strocel December 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm

We really do need to have another play date soon. :)

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3 Crystal & Co December 20, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Great tips!

I agree, building a community is important. It has hard with so many online sites and programs for moms who blog, you kinda don’t know which one to choose.

Facebook has been a great place for me to connect with my readers. Twitter, too!

Thanks for the pointers! :)

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4 Amber Strocel December 22, 2010 at 8:20 pm

It’s true, it IS hard to choose. But I really think it doesn’t matter so much what you choose, as that you get out there and engage. It could be Twitter, or Facebook, or something else altogether, as long as you do it!

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5 Wendy December 21, 2010 at 7:27 pm

I have to admit, I’m just a tad confused by your first tip. Should we ever write about something that doesn’t genuinely interest, for the sake of connecting? Not trying to sound snippy (PLEASE don’t read it that way!) just genuinely not quite understanding. ??

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6 Amber Strocel December 22, 2010 at 8:24 pm

I’m not suggesting that you should write something that you’re not interested in. But, if you have a cooking blog, then you know that people come to your blog to read about THAT. So writing about car maintenance might be off topic.

If you DO have a cooking blog, you are probably interested in cooking. So you’re not writing about something that doesn’t interest you. You can choose topics that DO interest you based on what sort of community you’re trying to build.

Of course, this is assuming you’re trying to build a community. Not everyone is. Some people write just for themselves, or their mom, or their children. That’s fine, too. But even then, your writing will most likely reflect your audience.

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7 Wendy December 22, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Thanks Amber! Next time, I’ll make sure I’ve had more than two hours of sleep before I try to catch up on my blog reading. ;)

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8 Amber Strocel December 22, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Ah, sleep deprivation. I know it well. ;)

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9 Janelle December 22, 2010 at 12:16 am

As far as building traffic, viewing your stats is a good way to learn what posts are popular and generate the most hits. It’s a great way to learn about the interests you pointed out in tip 1.

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10 Amber Strocel December 22, 2010 at 8:26 pm

It’s true, viewing your stats is useful. It’s very interesting, too, because the posts that get the most page views are not necessarily the ones that get the most comments – at least for me. My informational posts generate a lot of traffic, but not a lot of obvious feedback.

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11 Aimee February 3, 2011 at 11:54 am

I love this post!! I actually had a friend tell me about mommy blogging back in December. Then finally one day, I decided to give it a try. He told me to join twitter and post my blog on Facebook, and I was amazed at how fast my page view numbers went up! It’s a great feeling to even just see the numbers go up, whether people comment or not :) I look forward to reading more on this topic!

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12 Becky McWhorter February 17, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Thank you for the information. I am a mom blogger, too. I am new to this but loving it! I look forward to growing a community of fantastic bloggers like you! When you get a chance, check me out!

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