16 Jan Cultivating a Blog Community in 10 Steps – Part 1
1) Network yourself : Networking can open many doors for you as a blogger. Networking is not just something you do in person. This is something you do online as well. If you are going to build a blog about cars then get to know who the industry voice is for automobiles. Find out what blogs are the authority on the topic. Stay on top of whats going on in the industry and most importantly contribute to these authority blogs on a regular basis. If there are conventions then be a part of them. If you are known in “real life” you are known in the online world. Most importantly by networking you will enlist “power readers” which can help drive traffic and authority to your blog.
2) Know your community: Study your industry using mybloglog. Find related popular blogs and see what their community members are saying. What are their community members looking for and what their needs are. Do readers respond better to open ended statements or hard facts. Studying your community will help you gauge your reader and community response when creating a new blog post.
3) Your Content: Give your content a personality. Give opinions, and do your research before posting. Read as much as you can and give your brain the time and resources to think of great content. Check out Darren’s post on “how to think outside the box and develop great content” post to learn more. Your content is your voice. You have to stand out above the noise to establish credibility and longevity which is especially true for new bloggers. With quality content you can get an explosion of traffic and inbound links.
4) Think long term: When you imagine where your blog will be in a year or two it helps you set realistic goals along a time line. Setting goals and time lines will help your blog grow in leaps and bounds. You will see improvement over time and by meeting your goals it gives a sense of personal satisfaction and is a powerful motivator. Some long term idea’s are, create a custom WordPress theme, creating a branding, creating a weekly newsletter, releasing paid content, achieving a high PageRank, your first post to go to the front page of digg, hitting 1,000 RSS subscribers etc.
5) Retaining visitors: Retaining visitors can be difficult. I do it by interacting with my users. If I see someone came to my site via mybloglog I contact them or leave a comment, thanking them for stopping by my blog. If people have bookmarked me or created a post on a forum about me I will contact them or respond in their forum post thanking them for quoting me or somehow further engage them. Link bait can be another effective way of retaining visitors. Another way to attract return visitors is to do blog post’s in series. If you do this right then you will attract readers to frequent your blog for your blog post series and can help create some viral marketing.
6) Increasing comments: Increasing comments is another form of networking. In your blog posts you can invite comments, reply to comments left on your blog and reply to comments left on other leading blogs in your industry. Try asking question’s in your blog posts. Finally, one technique I have used and seen used, which is very effective, is to create controversy.
7) Title bait: Be a blog that inspires posts, comments and forward thinking. Talking about controversial topics and interesting blog post’s will form as content bait. Combine this with a unique and interesting post title you can create a swarm of traffic to your site by just creating the right blog post. Some title bait resources, wolf-howl, Copy Blogger and SEObook.
Leveraging Social Media: Get a FeedBurner account and start gaining RSS subscribers. Get a digg, stumbleupon, newsvine and del.ici.ous account and start becoming active members in all of these sites. Try not to submit your own pages but just participating in these communities will give your blog the exposure it needs to help push traffic, links and money to your blog. Darren Rowse from Problogger.net gives some good advice on how to cultivate a digg community. This is a complete article by itself so in the meantime check in at pronetadvertising to see how Social Media Marketers handle social media sites like these. If you can leverage quality content with the power of social media you are going to set yourself up for tons of traffic, inbound links and exposure for you and your blog.
9) Link baiting: If you create tools, games, tests, polls and other forms of link bait then you will increase your return visitors, you will start a viral marketing buzz that can increase traffic, branding, sales and in time create a reinforced authority. Make it unique, interesting and engaging. Here are some resources for link baiting; SEObook and here, also Andy Hagans.
10) Ad Networks: If you are selling a service or a product you may want to think about using ad networks like AdWords or Yahoo Search Marketing. If you are just looking for a subtle way to increase exposure then try stumbleupon ads. The key to using stumbleupon ads is that you need to have valuable content on your blog or people will give you a thumbs down. The higher quality of your blog content the more people will give you a thumbs up. It is inexpensive and targeted traffic.
This was meant for a brief overview and outline to get new bloggers started and old bloggers on the right track. I will have more in depth information on all of these points in my upcoming blog series “cultivating a blog community”. I would love to hear how other bloggers have cultivated their blog community and see if anyone has any steps to add.