One of the best ways of thriving as a blogger is by growing an online community. This is basically a group of people who visit your site regularly, believe in what you are doing, participate actively and share your content with others. Having such a community will grow your blog significantly as well as your sales. The great thing about having a community is that even when you are away, it will still exist. People will continue discussing you, your message or your product on different forums.
So how do you go about building a blog community?
1. Define your target audience
Many bloggers make the mistake of trying to target everyone. However, this will only leave you frustrated since you might not be able to address their specific needs. For your blog community to be successful, you need to clearly define your target audience. For instance, don’t just say you are targeting businesses. You could narrow it down to ‘Small businesses that have less than 10 employees’.
2. Establish ground rules/boundaries
The members of your community should feel safe to participate, engage and contribute to your community. Therefore, it is very important to establish some community guidelines about what is acceptable and what is not allowed in the community. For instance, you could prohibit the use of abusive language or profanity. Make sure the rules you outline are easy to remember as well as enforceable.
3. Make use of the comments section
One of the best ways of engaging your readers is by encouraging them to leave a comment after reading your blog posts. However, simply telling them to ‘leave a comment below’ might not be effective. Instead, ask them a question based on what they have read. For example, ‘How have you dealt with difficult employees in your workplace? Share with us below’. Don’t forget to acknowledge and respond to your readers’ comments. You could go further to visit their blogs and leave comments on their posts. Leveraging on blog comments can help build a strong community.
4. Connect on social media
There are several ways in which you can get your community to connect on social media. For instance, you could place a Facebook ‘like’ box or Twitter ‘follow’ widget in your blog’s sidebar. At the end of your posts, you should have share buttons for social media sites such as Pinterest, Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn. If readers find your posts interesting, they are likely to follow you and share your content with others.
5. Mention readers in your posts
Once in a while, mention some of your readers in your blog posts. For instance, you could highlight something useful that they said in a comment. If they have written a post that is related to yours on their blog, share the link with your readers. It would also be advisable to invite the members of your community to guest post on your blog. Be sure to give them credit as the authors.