I was just reading a post by Darren Rowse titled 12 Traits of Successful Bloggers. The point that really stood out to me was about creating an online community:
There are many blogs with great information - but it’s those that are able to draw in and build up a community of passionate and energetic people that often go to the next level. Readers are no longer satisfied just to consume content - they want to participate and belong...
This was just one of the 12 points that Darren made, and it should be said that the online community factor is not necessary for a blog (or site) to be successful. Great content and top search engine rankings alone can pull in enough traffic and sales for a website to become a huge success.
Building an online community takes time, and it also requires ongoing maintenance. It pays to put some forethought into this because abandoned online communities can have more of a negative impact on your business model than no community at all.
I dont want to discourage you by any means, but rather encourage you to consider both the benefits and the responsibilities involved.
There are several benefits to creating an online community in your niche. You can do this on a small scale by creating an interactive atmosphere on your blog, or you can do it on a larger scale by creating a discussion forum or social networking type site.
Hosting an online community will put you in a more authoritive position in your niche, and it also gives you a platform to develop a better relationship with your target market. Both of which can result in more word-of-mouth referrals, and more inbound links.
For those that dont want to manage or maintain an online community, because it can certainly be a lot of work (speaking from experience here ), keep in mind that just being involved in online communties can also be very beneficial.
Research online communities in your niche, and look at ways that you can leverage the power of those groups. Just networking within those established communities can be incredibly beneficial, but there are often options to get more involved - such as becoming a moderator for example.
The same applies to creating a sense of community through your blog. It does require more hands-on maintenance to stay involved with your readers and in the discussions. If this is not something you want to maintain on your own, then seek out those bloggers in your niche that do. Being a guest blogger is a great way to tap into that community and gain positive exposure.
Ideas for creating a sense of community with your blog include:
- Respond to comments on a regular basis
- Invite your readers to submit questions or topics
- Bring in guest bloggers
- Discuss hot topics or current trends in your niche, and link out to discussions on other blog posts & forum threads
Have more ideas on ways you can create a sense of community through your blog, or on the benfits of building an online community? Share them with us by leaving a comment below!