17 February 2012

Growing Your Blog: Engaging Readers and Building Community

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I'm so excited to join some amazing women for a "grow your blog" blog hop series! The wonderful Kelly from live.laugh.rowe pulled the whole thing together! You can learn more and see the other posts in the series here.

Other folks have covered some really awesome topics this week including pinterest, linky parties, advertising, giveaways, and social media.

I wanted to talk about something today that makes all of those things possible, worth it, and rewarding.

My most favorite thing about blogging.

My ultimate goal for Along for the Ride.

COMMUNITY

Think back all those many moons ago when you started your blog (maybe it was years, maybe weeks, and maybe you're considering starting one right now!)

Why did you do it?

To give stuff away?//To advertise businesses?//To gets comments?//To have your pictures pinned?

Those are all awesome by-products of blogging (and can lead to some really great exposure for your site), but I suspect that's not the real reason you started.

I think you started a blog to keep connected with family, to share your loves and passions, maybe even to inspire others.

You know why you started a blog?

Because you have an amazing story to tell! 

And, at the end of the day, I bet your favorite part about this whole bloggy business is the people.

Am I right?

We all want people to follow our blog. We all love seeing those numbers increase. And that's absolutely ok. I know I do!

But more than numbers, I want to build a community on my blog. A place where readers interact and share, just as much as I do. I want folks to feel welcome because of who I am, not just what I'm giving away.

Want to build community? I do, I do! Here are a few ideas I've been pondering. Hopefully we can try these together and reap the fruits of great friendship and encouragement together!


1. Community is sharing your story.
found on Marta Writes, source unknown

You have experienced hardship. You have been victorious. You are an expert in a few areas. You are a student in many others.

Whatever your story, know it, believe it, live it, and write it. No one can tell your story better than you can, and trust me, the world deserves to hear it!

2. Community is genuine
Gosh I love this picture! 
Amazing photography from Kara Welter. 
I couldn't find a website, but her other photos can be found on her pinterest board here.

Your readers want to hear from you, the real you. They want to be friends with the real you. And they want to come back to the real you.

Make sure that when you hit that "publish" button, that every word is yours and that your voice shines through. Some bloggers are funny. Some are serious. Some are wordy. Some cut right to the chase.  However you choose to share, work to find your voice and then stick to it!

3. Community is asking

I love including questions in my posts. Whether they have been readers since the beginning or just stumbling on my blog for the first time, I love to hear what other have to say. Questions are a great way to begin a dialogue with your readers!

4. Community is answering and responding

Community is about putting ourselves out there. Making ourselves a bit vulnerable. And when a question is asked, it's about answering it. 

Respond to emails (as timely as you can). Reply to comments (loving bloggers new comment threads!). Use your twitter to follow up with readers and to engage with your favorite bloggers!

Community is a two-sided conversation.

***

I would encourage you to consider ways you can engage your readers in a more meaningful way and encourage conversations on your blog. Some ways I try do to this is by
- responding to as many emails as I can (as quickly as I can)
- asking for prayer requests and praying on them throughout the week
- being intentional to promote others through my blog and social media just because I love them
- ad swapping with blogs/shops that I enjoy
- replying to comments when I can
- hosting a weekend craft party
- asking for shop/blog feedback/advice

What ways do you build community on your blog? Any ideas to share?

I hope you'll join my friend Nichelle at Vintage Wanna Bee tomorrow as she talks about social media!

[If you're going to pin any of these pictures to your own Pinterest boards, please do not pin them from here. Make sure you go back to the original source and pin from there. These are not my ideas so I do not deserve credit for them.]

24 comments:

  1. Love it! Thank you so much for participating in the series, Laura! I think you've created a fabulous community here at Along for the Ride. I remember when I found your blog, I felt right at home! Blessings to you, friend. Thanks again.

    Kelly
    www.livelaughrowe.com

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  2. Great thoughts and insight into blogging. I love it! Thanks for sharing your wisdom :)

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  3. Nice article you have here! Its very informative! Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Great post! Full of excellent info!

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  5. Love this. I am trying to improve in the area of visiting and commenting on blocs I enjoy. There are so many blogs out there...many I joined for giveaways bit I don't really follow them. Sadly all the emails and bloglovin posts are cluttered and I have to be more intentional about finding he blogs I truly want to follow and build community with. I must declutter! I have always enjoyed your Blog and would love to swap ads if you are interested.

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  6. I agree with Kelly, I felt right at home with your blog! I hope to make my blog feel like that also! I have been trying to ask more questions at the end of post. I have even gotten a few comments back! I know I need to work on responding (in general and in a more effective manner) and narrow my blog choices down. Thanks for giving me topics to think about!

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  7. Your blog is so inviting, I love it! This series has been great, thanks for sharing!

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  8. I love this post, a lot of times we completely miss sight of how absolutely important community is to a healthy-thriving blog - just like it's important to a healthy, thriving person! It's sad to see a fabulous blog with a writer who has tons to say simply whither away or simply never growing because he or she forgets: interaction with your readers is so so important! I confess, I have to get a LOT better at responding to comments quickly though!

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  9. You do a great job of creating community, Laura! I love this post and hope it encourages other bloggers :)

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  10. I've been thinking a lot about this recently actually. I started realizing my blog was looking pretty commercialized, instead of being about ME! I'm resolving to start working harder at posting more of my own photos, thoughts, and ideas, rather than constantly borrowing from others. After all, I'm the only one who can tell my story, so I might as well do that!

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  11. I loved this post! building community and being part of a community is one of the reasons why I started blogging. recently i have been really trying to be part of the blogging community by reaching out to other bloggers. sometimes it can be discouraging when you get no response, but i don't let it get me down. i just keep moving forward.

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  12. Lots of encouragement here from the post and from the comments!
    Thanks everyone!

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  13. great blog post thanks :) I must do more of the asking questions thing - good idea!

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  14. Excited to be a new follower! Look forward to new posts!

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  15. I am a new follower!! I love your blog and would LOVE to join in on this Blog link up and follow along. I have been a blogger for 4 years (thanks to my lil' guy), and I'd love more followers to read my blog as well. I'm not big on writing very interesting post bc most of them are about my 3 1/2 year old son, but I believe the more blogs I read the more it encourages me to be a better blogger. :)

    I hope to hear from you and you'll follow me as well.

    Xoxo- Kim

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  16. This is so true and wonderful. Blogging really is a community!

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  17. Thank you so much for this post. I have really enjoyed the Grow Your Blog series and it comes at just the right time for me.

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  18. Amen to all of it, sister! I just found your blog today through the Grow Your Blog series and love it already. I share a similar mission on my own blog. So excited to keep reading your blog and engaging further in community!

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  19. Great post! It's so true that we have to remember our roots and that most of us didn't start blogging just to watch the numbers grow. We thrive on the comments of readers and the relationships we build with others.

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  20. This is all great ideas! I really enjoyed reading this! I love the idea of building a community to share your thoughts and ideas!

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  21. Such great advice...I'm loving the series, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.
    Karah @ thespacebetweenblog

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  22. Oh my heart. Your picture in your banner is adorable. I just want to pinch you for some reason. Love it! This is my first time here and I'm in love! I found you via this lovely serious and am so glad you participated. Thanks. M.

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  23. I am so glad to have found your blog! I'm looking forward to much more!

    Thanks! Tracy @ www.momaical.com

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Thank you for coming along for the ride with me. Your comments make my day!