Building An Online Community

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!

Best,

For more on this topic, see:
Running and Managing Online Communities
The Do's & Dont's of Building An Online Community
5 Rules for Building A Successful Online Community

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...moreĀ»

Discussion

  1. Joseph Ratliff says:

    Lynn,

    Excellent points! And I think you are definitely qualified to post on this topic because of SSWT forum.

    It's very true, it take a LOT of work to build an online community, but if that is the model you want to go with, it can be rewarding as well ;)

  2. I agree, and I consider the SSWT Forum to be an incredible asset. There are tons of benefits to creating an online community, including: leadership role, authority status, "Google love", repeat visitors, viral referral marketing, etc.

    In fact, when I sat down to write this post, I had every intention of highlighting all of those benefits (and more). I ended up editing this post 7 different times, and I believe it came out more discouraging than I intended.

    There is much to consider when creating online communities - specifically the long-term maintenance and management of such a site. The model is not for everyone.

    There are ways to leverage the power of established communities, without taking on the responsibility of a community leader.

    My point - which may have been lost entirely - is that each person should consider their long-term objectives and determine which position aligns best with their business model.

  3. Annie Binns says:

    I didn't take away any discouragement from this - I found it to be very informative and with all the hype you find online these days, I'd rather read the TRUTH than baseless encouragement.

    I just started blogging again this week (!!!) and for now want to get involved in other (like YOUR) communities vs. trying to create one. In my opinion there are some really cool places where people have already done the hard work. If I end up building community, it will be a tiny neighborhood of offshoots like myself, who centralize around bigger cities like SSWT.

  4. Mark Nolan says:

    I liked this article a lot and didn't think it was discouraging at all. It was a good honest lesson on the actual challenges involved, and offered some easier options like guest posts on blogs and being a forum moderator, etc. I like articles that show both sides of the situation and suggest variations of how to make it fit your own situation. Personally I could not run a forum myself; I'm not cut out for that giant effort. I'd much rather be a drop-in guest on occasion, than host a never-ending party, ha ha. So this article is helpful in getting me to think through what I really want long-term and finding some great options that work for me in my situation. Also, on a new blog I'm creating I am talking to other writers already about preparing guest articles. That way I'll have extra content ready to go and won't be under such pressure. Thanks for all the good ideas. --Mark

  5. I totally agree with the others. it was a lot more enlightening ten discouraging.

    You "told it like it is" from the top down. Plenty of continuous work but with a certain light at the end for those that stick it out.

    There's an altogether 'nother reason to join and participate in communities instead of your own, or rather BEFORE your own.....there's a good chance you can meet one that has done it or is doing it and pick up some good JV opportunities. :-)

  6. Instant Messanger says:

    Best way to make online community is to envlve youre frinds from bigger communities like myspace

  7. hi Lynn,
    Would you say that it is more beneficial to participate in online communities or to have one of your own?
    Time wise- is the time better creating your own community or just participating in other people's communities?
    I know that it takes time and is a lot of responsibility- do you think it is worth it, or do you think it is better to spend our time creating more content pages and other kinds of marketing?

  8. Neither way is necessarily better. It depends on the person, and on the business model. If you are marketing yourself, community is the way to do that - either through your own, or through your community involvement. If you are marketing your content/site, then *content* is the way to do that. Make sense?

  9. hi!congratulations for being the blogger of the day. Online community may be would help me regain my PR3 web. Now im only PR O. I dsont;t know wjy it happned im still searching for the answer.

  10. Hmm- i think i kind of get it:-)
    I want to build an authority site so a forum might be a great choice in my case.
    But i think i understand what you are saying. Maybe you could give me an example of the difference between marketing yourself versus marketing your content kind of niche.
    Thanks for any help,
    Eren

  11. There are now thousands of social networks that cater to a whole variety of subjects. These smaller, focused sites allow users to connect with like-minded people and give advertisers targeted demographics. Niche social networks are also good for marketers who have a product or service they want to promote that relates to a particular interest. A good place to find such sites is a search engine that caters specifically to social networks such as http://findasocialnetwork.com

  12. I think the new style of shops on the internet is based around a community... IE: Create a community / forum of chilli growers... Let those chilli growers sell seeds to each other / buy chilli seeds of the site and this is quite effective for bringing in sales.

    Also creating blogs.. getting traffic and a community, then adding on a shop.

  13. Good point and I like that model myself. But in setting up something like that (an online community of buyers) its important to set it up with long-term success in mind. A community model can be high maintenance, so its important to put some forethought into it.

    A recent post on that topic can be found at:
    http://www.clicknewz.com/1526/set-your-business-up-for-long-term-success/

  14. Maybe you could give me an example of the difference between marketing yourself versus marketing your content kind of niche.

    Hi Eren,

    An example of marketing yourself would be a public speaker marketing their expertise and speaking rates. An example of marketing content could be a website all about growing watermelons. One is about the author of the site, the other is simply about the topic.

  15. thanks Lynn,
    My niche would be more about helping people out with the content. I definitely want to create a community feeling around my site. This will be in the future plans of my site for sure.
    Thanks for this great post.
    Eren

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