When starting and growing a blog, it’s very easy to forget that your blog, while fully online, is a business like any other. Businesses are visited and supported by people and developing a successful business requires social interaction. Your blog is no different.
If you aren’t building and fostering relationships as part of your blog’s growth strategy, you are making a huge mistake. Trust me, I made the same mistake, and recently…
My first blog six years ago
I started my first blog in 2006 on personal finance, having little to no clue about what blogging really was. Initially it was just a personal online journal that I never really thought anyone would read. After a month or so of writing some articles about things I was learning, I was approached by another personal finance blogger about joining a “blogging network”. This “network” would be a group of like bloggers that would help each other learn and grow. Sounded good to me, so I joined the M-Network.
That seemingly insignificant decision turned out to be the single most important decision I made. That blogging network become the primary reason for my success and growth.
That network and the people in it provided:
- Help and answers
- Direction when I needed it
- Accountability when I slacked
- Encouragement when I needed it
- Knowledge, which I needed a great deal of
- Backlinks and social media support (at the time, StumbleUpon was the bomb)
- Friendship – I still talk frequently with most of these folks today, and consider all of them close friends.
I firmly believe that had it not been for the M-Network, my blog would not have reached the success it achieved. I ended up selling this blog for a five digit figure in 2008 to pursue other things.
My current blog
Fast forward to three years ago. I decided to start a blog about blogging. The main driver was that I missed blogging, but I also wanted to use the blog to help support my blog design and development business.
For some crazy reason, I failed to remember how important people and social interaction where to my initial blogging success. Frankly, I’m a little embarrassed about this. Being honest with you and myself, I think it was ego. I felt I was good enough and important enough to grow the blog on my own, without support and help from my peers. I was dead wrong.
Side Income Blogging grew very slowly. Part of the reason was that my focus was still on my services work, and as a result I didn’t publish consistently nor put the effort in to grow it. The primary reason though was that I was not building relationships and active in my community – “blogging”. My ego was standing in the doorway blocking me from moving forward, and I didn’t even know it.
Fast forward again to summer of 2012. I see a number of other blogs on Facebook, and decide to set-up and begin promoting a Facebook page a little. Overtime, I started to see growth, comments and some traffic. Not much, but enough to make me realize getting on Facebook was a good call. Believe it or not, I still had the mindset that I was doing this on my own.
Then one night I’m talking to my wife about my blog. How I’m frustrated that it’s not growing like I would like. She replies:
“What do your blogging friends think?”
“Well, I haven’t asked them.” You know that funny feeling you get in your stomach when you realize you’re doing something really stupid? That “oh no…” moment? I felt the beginnings of that.
“You need to ask that group you’re part of what they think”
“I’m not really part of that group anymore, especially since they are personal finance and I’m not.” Oh no feeling escalates.
“Why aren’t you part of a group? That’s what really made your first blog grow”
“Well, I don’t know…I didn’t think I needed that group anymore.” Oh no feeling kicked in full force then. “But, I know what I’m doing…I’m an expert…” An expert who made a vital error.
How could I have been so stupid? The answer to my lack of success was staring me right in the face, it was me. I was hindering my blog growth by not being part of my blog’s community. I wasn’t interacting with my readers, peers, and A-List bloggers in my niche. I was standing on a island, expecting my blog to grow with nobody around me.
The importance of community and building relationships
Blogging is no different than any other aspect of our lives. We, as humans, are social by nature. We need personal interaction and rely on relationships.
When was the last time you did business with someone you didn’t like? If you have a really good positive relationship with a business owner, do you frequent their business more? I know I do.
This applies to blogging as well. Assuming you’re a likable person, when you get out there and allow people to get to know you, they support you. By support I mean they will:
- Promote your blog
- Promote your content
- Work together with you on projects (such as group writing efforts)
- Comment on your blog
- Share their knowledge and opinions with you, which can be invaluable
- Trade guest posts (this article is a perfect example of that)
To have a successful blog these days, especially with social media so prevalent in our day to day use of the Web, bloggers have to be out there. You have to be sharing your content, sharing/promoting content from others, commenting, following people and communicating with them.
You absolutely have to interact and build relationships. This was true in 2006 when I started, and even more true today where social media is king.
Are you blogging on your own island hoping for success or are you blogging in your community and talking to your neighbors on a frequent basis?
Be in your community, and build strong relationships, your success will depend on it.