A couple of us from Nuffnang were lucky enough to attend the Problogger Training Day in Melbourne this week, so we thought we’d share some of the great tips which were shared by Darren Rowse (@problogger) and Chris Garrett (@chrisgarrett – his co-author on the Problogger book).
There were a number of great sessions, but this post will focus on Darren’s presentation, Tips on Building Community on Your Blog.
One of the really impressive stats of the day came when Darren revealed that he gets ten times the page views from the comment pages of his blog than from the blog itself. A pretty compelling reason to start nurturing your commenters, don’t you think?
He gave a number of reasons WHY you should grow the community side of your blog:
- it makes your site more useful because you’re getting input, tips and questions from readers – you can draw on their questions AND answers to inspire new posts!
- your community activity (ie comments, posts on a forum, number of retweets, number of RSS subscribers, number of members of an online community) provide social proof, or credibility for your site and for you.
- it gives you increased page views (see above)
- if you’re thinking of one day selling your blog, it is more valuable with an active community attached to it.
- the community can become a source of user generated content.
Then he gave a number of ideas for HOW to grow community:
- “Be the community you wish to have” – readers take your lead with regard to tone, conversation, etc
- Invite interaction – pose questions in your blog, run surveys (and then write posts about the results)
- Reader-centred posts – give people an opportunity to show off what they can do. For example, if you run a photo blog, ask people to share a link to their best photo, then showcase all the great photos taken by your community members.
- You can help kick off comments on question posts or surveys by being the first person to comment. Darren starts these comments by saying “I’ll kick things off…”
- Write in a personal and engaging tone, and use “you” and “we” to make your posts personal and ensure readers feel included. Darren said that at first commenters on DPS used to contact him talking about “Your site” but that over time commenters would refer to “our site” and “our community” – sign of a successful community when members claim ownership of it!
Darren also shared a couple of anecdotes from the early days of his Digital Photography School blog which I thought were helpful reminders that even big blogs start out small:
- When he first started the Digital Photography School blog, Darren did two things to start encouraging his (then small) audience to come back – he emailed them in response to their comments on his blog, and he would visit their blogs and leave helpful comments for them. LESSON – nurture & respond to your commenters so they become loyal readers and hopefully bring their friends too!
- Another important audience-growing tactic he used was ‘leaving his own turf’ – and establishing a presence on Flickr, because he knew that a lot of amateur photographers hang out there. He participated, commented and started a group there – knowing that if he was helpful, he’d get people following him back to DPS to check things out. LESSON – leave your own turf if you want to build your blog’s profile and attract new readers.
Thanks to Darren & the rest of the presenters for such an information packed day! We’ve also found a number of other blog writesups from the training day, so please follow the links below for more.
Blog writeups of the Problogger training day:
The Value-Add – Roundup (links to each of her posts on the event)
(Photo of Darren Rowse from Problogger and used with permission)