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Growing Your Blog: Building a Community and Social Media

I’m so excited to be participating in the Growing Your Blog series (thanks Kate from  Centsational Girl for coming up with this idea).  Five of us are taking a different blogging topic this week.  And I am so excited to host today’s topic here:  Social Media and Building a Community — something I feel passionate about.

Today’s question:

How important is community to your blog? 

How do you use social media to network and build your brand?

I’m going to let these fabulous ladies share their thoughts and then I will share mine at the end of the post:

Nester:

Really, community IS the blog.  If the community is gone, the blog doesn’t even exist.  Does that mean I write in order to try to please everyone?  No way.  I get to choose the readers based on what I talk about, I don’t need to change what I talk about in order to produce a bigger or different community.  It’s actually a lovely self-selecting system.

Currently my favorite social media outlet is Pinterest.  Pinterest was my second highest referral for 2011 and it’s caused me to change the way I take photographs for Nesting Place.  Knowing that once a photo is pinned it can go viral at the Pinterest site really makes me want to provide a photo or two that really tell the story of what the post is about.  That could mean getting a hero shot of a room, a clear photo of the DIY ingredients or a before and after shot stacked into one picture.  I wrote an entire post about what I’ve learned about blogging and Pinterest if you want to find out more.

Sarah @ Thrifty Decor Chick:

I think blogland in general feels like a community — that’s what draws so many readers in and keeps us all around. We feel connected because of similar interests and experiences. I always want my readers to feel like they’re visiting a friend’s house when they come by TDC, so I try my best to make everyone feel welcome. I think social media is a great way to share a more personal side with my readers — I’m able to share random tidbits that I just don’t get to on the blog.

I use Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest and use them all quite differently. I find Twitter is best for quick updates here and there throughout the day, Facebook is for more in depth discussions and Pinterest is helpful because I can see what readers and bloggers are loving (of mine and others). I still want to figure out a couple more sites — Google+ and StumbleUpon. They both confuse me, and it takes me awhile to figure out this stuff, so it may be awhile. ;)

Marian @ Miss Mustard Seed:

One of my favorite things about blogging is the community.  I live in a rural area and didn’t have a circle of friends, but I have since made some wonderful friends through my blog.  I have found encouragement and inspiration through the DIY community and have been pushed and challenged as well.  It’s also helped the growth of my blog immensely through side bar links, blog rolls, features, mentions in posts, etc.  I’m still finding my legs with other forms of social media like FaceBook and Twitter, but I definitely see value in them.  If anything, it’s fun to hop on Twitter and have a chat with one of my readers about some random topic.

 

Kate @ Centsational Girl:

Someone once wrote if content is king, than community is queen.  I love that.  Content is what attracts readers in the first place, but community is where it’s really at.  I’ve found the DIY and home decorating community to be extremely supportive, kind, generous, and welcoming, possessing the traits you’d look for in a great friend.  I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many creative bloggers who I admire through blog conferences and even though we live far away, we’ve built real relationships through Skype, social media, and email.  I have many friends in my personal life, but none who adore the topics I love so much as the home blogger community, and there is a real camaraderie in our circle.  I’d bore my hometown friends to tears talking about paint swatches and pendant lighting, but when I talk about in among our niche, and get comments like “why yes that IS the perfect shade of blueish gray” then I know I am among my people.

I use social media for different purposes, Twitter for random chit chat and also to promote other bloggers or brands I like, Facebook to feature DIY related topics or answer questions, and Pinterest to share inspiration on a microblogging level.  I haven’t had time to jump on other networks like Google+ because for me I can only do so much, but social media certainly enhances the blogging experience and I discover so many cool things and connect with new people on those networks that I wouldn’t ordinarily find if I was only reading other blogs.

 _________________________________________________________________________________

And back to me:

I started blogging because I needed a social outlet. My husband travels a lot of the time and it filled that social need. I remember my first comment and how thrilled I was to connect with someone. It turned out to be Marie from Oak Cottage – a delightful blogger from England. That was so exciting to me. I connected with someone I had never met who didn’t even live on the same continent as me but shared the same passion for creating. And we ended up becoming great friends. We even met when she came to Utah on a trip.

The community, to me, is the #1 thing.  As Katie said, the content and the community work hand in hand. The connection with other people, be they bloggers, readers, Facebook visitors, or whomever, is what inspires me and makes blogging satisfying.

Building a personal brand – knowing who you are and staying true to that vision – is one of the main keys to success in blogging. Take the time to flesh this out — what are you passionate about? And create great content around that. Since I started my blog as a personal blog, it took me awhile to figure out why I blogged. I knew that I love the creative process and sharing my ideas, but I also discovered that I love sharing other people’s creative ideas.  Stay true to who you are and be authentic (see Nester’s discussion), and focus on what you love.

When I first started the TTAJ Facebook page, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with it. People said “You need to start a fan page”.  Then I had an epiphany — it’s a wonderful place to share ideas, not just my own.

Facebook is where I get to connect with my readers — and I love that. It’s an ideal place for more social interaction. It’s so fun to hear what people are working on, what they are thinking, and what they are interested in reading about. People can ask me questions there and if I don’t know the answer, someone in the community always does.

And Facebook is where I have connected with people and developed some of my closest blogging friendships. People that really “get me”.

I like Twitter for quick ideas and sharing links, but Facebook is where we can have discussions. I can ask questions and see all of the answers. And so can everyone else: it’s a platform for true community engagement.

{source}

Pinterest is my new favorite plaything. I love the visual element. And I enjoy seeing all of the lovely things that trending there depending on the time of year. It’s my #1 referrer now and it’s also made me take better photos of projects.

Beth from Home Stories A2Z has a great Pinterest tutorial — http://www.homestoriesatoz.com/2011/01/pinterest-tutorial.html

And be sure to read Nesters post too – I loved it!!

I still don’t really understand StumbleUpon, but I’m working on figuring it out. I know a lot of bloggers who have StumbleUpon as their #1 referrer. You can find an excellent post on how to use it here:

Best StumbleUpon Tips by Cheryl TidyMomhttp://crafterminds.com/2011/02/best-stumbleupon-tips/

How to Write a Great StumbleUpon Post by Amy of Mod Podge Rockshttp://crafterminds.com/2011/04/how-to-write-a-great-stumbleupon-post/

Ultimately, I blog because I love to share great ideas. That’s my passion. I love the creative process. And these social tools let me do it with my friends around the world. And what could be more awesome than that?

{source}

Thanks Kate for setting up this series. Be sure to read Nester’s post on Blogging Authentically and Sarah’s post on Monetizing – they are both so informative. And then tomorrow Marian will be posting on Photography (I need some tips there) and Friday Kate will be posting on Finding Balance (another area I could use some tips on).

 

Have a Fabulous Day!

xoxox

 

 

Comments

  1. Throughout this grand pattern of things you actually receive a B+ just for hard work. Exactly where you confused me personally was first in your specifics. You know, people say, details make or break the argument.. And it could not be more accurate at this point. Having said that, permit me tell you what did give good results. The authoring is actually highly convincing and that is possibly why I am taking the effort to opine. I do not really make it a regular habit of doing that. Next, despite the fact that I can certainly notice the jumps in reason you come up with, I am not necessarily convinced of how you seem to unite your points which in turn make your conclusion. For now I will yield to your issue but hope in the future you connect the facts much better.

  2. Thanks for posting my Pinterest artwork and especially sourcing it. I appreciate people who take the time to do that. This is a good, informative post. My #1 referring site is Pinterest too!

  3. Wonderful! so many helpful tips, thank you for sharing~

  4. Thank you for what you’ve all shared here. You obviously know where your visitors come from (referred by?). I don’t. How do we get to know that? Thank you!

  5. thank you, thank you, thank you ALL for sharing all this great information. I’m sure you know exactly how valuable it is, and it’s so kind for you to help us newbies out! :)

  6. Thanks for the tips. Inever really thought about how to use my Facebook page in a more productive way.

  7. Hey! Love your site so much:) I look forward to new posts in my Google Reader. I LOVE social media and think it goes hand in hand with blogging. If you are like me trying to build a bigger following then its great to get your content out and noticed. I have a question or request actually if someone could help. I have been trying to get an invite from Pinterest but its been two weeks and they haven’t sent one. I heard that you can get an invite sent from a member and was wondering if you or anyone could send me an invite. My email is babygurljrl23@gmail.com. Please and Thank you! I feel like I am missing out on so much without Pinterest. Oh and while I am asking for favors lol I would love for you to drop by my blog and check it out..Maybe even Follow back:) Find me here:

    http://www.twotinytyrants.blogspot.com/

    Have a fantastic day!

  8. I have never laughed so hard as I did when I saw the pinterest saying!! I totally represent that statement!! Being a new blogger, and new to pinterest, I have really appreciated these posts and all the sound advice.
    Living in rural Montana, not many people share my decorating style and passion for vintage. Finding the blogging community has been a true blessing for me. Better late than never!
    Thanks again,
    Cindy

  9. this was the perfect topic for you! if anyone know something about social media & building a community it’s you! such a great series. i love that every post has a paragraph form all 5 of you.

    love ya!
    kellie

  10. I have made connections through the blog world as well. Who knew a friendship could be developed with someone miles and miles apart, without even meeting in person. I love my blogging community and always look forward to the interactions. I took a week off SM and blogging and although it was a nice break with my family, I missed my group of people. Loving this series :)

  11. This is a great post! I’m going to have to sit down and read everything thoroughly (I’m reading while cooking – heh), but one of my major questions is regarding the use of buttons. I don’t currently have a button created, but see several buttons I’d like to add to my blog. Seems silly to ask this, but what is the benefit to me to add another blog’s button? Or is there only benefit if I have a button to provide other blogs in reciprocation? Thanks!

  12. Great tips, thanks so much for sharing. I’m a fairly new blogger and still so confused on using different social media. I sure am loving Pinterest though! That site definitely drives a lot of traffic to a blog! Great post!

  13. I am loving Pinterest, too! T

    hank you for sharing your thoughts about blogging– I finally started blogging after tellikng myself I’d start five years ago! It is such a great outlet at the end of the day for me.

  14. Excellent series to start off the new year!!! Thanks girls!!!
    xo,
    Shannon

  15. Thanks so much for sharing :) I love the community I’ve found since starting to blog this year. I feel like I’ve found my niche. Excited to read the other articles in this series!

  16. This Article is why I love this site so much!! Thanks for all the help ladies!!

  17. Joan Schmidt says:

    I’m kind of stuck at the technical portion of getting started with a website/blog. Where to host it? Coming up with a domain? How do you get advertisements on your page? Do you do your own graphics or hire it out?
    Thanks!

  18. This is a brilliant idea for a “tutorial”. My circle of friends is my blog community. I am basically homebound and the sweet bloggy friends who always take the time to leave a sweet comment bring me joy. I stay connected with them by responding to comments via emails. I pop in once a day to facebook ,twitter and google plus to invite people over ( to my blog) by sharing the daily topic. Hugs!

  19. Community is what makes blogging touch that warm little spot in your heart! Otherwise we’re really just offering how-to’s and straight up recipes. But because you know there’s a little community watching and listening, you change the way you present it and tell a story with the step-by-steps.

    When I was pregnant with my son 10+ years ago (gasp! how is that possible??), I joined an expecting group on iVillage. A decade later, there are about 30 of us who still are in daily contact with each other even though we left that forum many years ago. Because it’s a community and communities stick together. When I started my blog (and still), I think about those gals and how we write to each other and what interests us and I try to incorporate that. Just today I got a comment from a follower saying “Always enjoy your blog and a glimpse into your day” and it made me feel great, because how do you form a community unless you give people a glimpse into your day??

    Thanks for the great post!

    • natalie – that is so awesome!! I was part of a little group about 3-4 years ago where we shared a blog post once a week and I made so many good friends through that group. We connected on Facebook and I still check in on them all the time :) This blogging world really is amazing!

      xoxoxo
      Jen

  20. How do you get the community?

    Many blogs have great content, but no followers.

    How do you promote your blog, without being a spammer and/or attention-seeker?

  21. Many thanks! You guys are so generous for sharing your hard-earned wisdom!

  22. Thank you all! I am enjoying this series.
    Debbie

  23. Great post Jen!!!
    I agree with all of you 110% community is THE best part about blogging!!

    and I love how we can use all the different platforms to communicate if different ways and not only share our own posts, but other posts, ideas and projects as well!!

  24. Great stuff guys! I am glad I am not the only one who doesn’t get stumble! I think I finally get Google+ well, atleast I know how to post now :) Although, I don’t think anyone reads it! :) he he. Oh well. Anyway, looking forward to the other topics and heading over to the monetizing topic….I missed that one!

  25. WOW! This is a great post. So much useful info. Thanks ladies!!

  26. Thanks for the tips! I really work hard at understanding the best uses of social media. Unfortunately I still haven’t managed to get great conversations going, but hopefully I will soon.

  27. WOW, thanks some much for share this series with all the world because non books say this, i found this blog-world because i went to a course about how to use blogs in a school to share homework and things to do with my students so in somehow i started to write and share little bit about me and my favorite things and beautiful things i saw and want to share with someone else, a book about blog says the instructions how to implement and how change the settings but the scence you are in charge.. thanks again.. this is so helpfull for me.
    Love your blog.
    Pily

  28. I get excited when I see another post on the topic of blogging and am enjoying this series! Thank you all. This was yet another great post. I love Pinterest and need to see how to track that activity. I also am on facebook and twitter. Both grow daily, which is fun to see when you are new!-but, getting comments back seems challenging. I Stumble my posts, and things I like, but have yet to figure out that media and how to share my stumble upon page or see where my posts go??!! My main goal is to post topics I like, and hope others will enjoy and find value in them too–and get subscribers that keep coming back. I am going to look at each of the tutorials you shared links to. I might (and am sure will) learn something new in each of the medias I already use! My goal is to be more tech savvy and efficient in it this year!! Thank you again. I always enjoy your posts, tweets, and good info.

  29. Awesome stuff! Thank you for sharing your insight and expertise :)

    Miranda @ Just Drink a Coke.

  30. This is such a great series!!! As a relatively new blogger I have quickly learned that a blog is nothing without community. Pinterest has been a great tool for blog building. I am trying desperately to start using twitter better. Jen, Any tips for building your followers? Such a fan btw ;)

    • Hi Kristin!

      I have found Twitter is a great place to connect with brands and with other bloggers. I have found that it doesn’t grow like crazy. But it’s a great resource. I think more people are on Facebook and that is a better medium in mho to connect with people that read your blog.

      xoxoxo
      Jen

  31. Hi Jen,

    This is a great piece and series. It’s doing what it was intended to and that is build community. I feel like I know each of you a little better now and am glad to read what you have to say!

    Hope you have a Happy New Year! Is it too late to say that on the 4th :-) ?

  32. Wow, so accurate. I’ve been blogging now for almost 2 months and totally see how both the content and community are key in being successful. I’m wonderfully surprised to see the support and amazing content of other bloggers. thank you. Little Bit from DecorateWithaLittleBit.com

  33. Thank you! Great insight from all of you!!! I truly love the community I have found through bloggin!

  34. Great post! I feel more confident in my direction! Thank you all!

  35. Hello! I love your blog! Thanks for the great info about blogging! I am determined to start blogging more this year! You are an inspiration! Thanks!

  36. This is such a great series! Thanks so much Jenn for all your advise! xx

  37. Thanks for the info. I started a blog a little more than a month ago and have no followers and have never had a comment! I posted a few things on Pinterest and many have been repinned but I don’t really know if they visit the site or not. This may sound crazy but I am a little afraid to let my FB friends or even my family know about my blog. I’m afraid they will critique it or wonder why I am doing it. Sounds weird I’m sure. I started the blog because I get so much inspiration from other folk’s blogs and I thought maybe I could do the same for other people. I don’t have a ton of time to devote to it because I work full time but it is fun to post the things I’ve created and the food I have made. I really appreciate all of the tips here! :)

    • Hi Suzanne! That doesn’t sound crazy at all! I didn’t tell any family or friends either because I kind of thought they’d laugh at me! I forget how they found out, but I was blogging for a couple months before anyone realized and then they started catching on quickly, and you know what?? They were so beyond supportive!! They started posting links to it and helping spread the word and it was one of the best parts of blogging to me- seeing how the people I love and care about started lifting me up!

      I just checked out your blog, and now I’m afraid I’m going to have to go make that danish! It looks delicious! I’m not an expert by any means since I’ve been doing this such a short time, but I would suggest you take off word verification on your comments. A lot of times people hit submit on a comment and then immediately log off and never see that you have word verification and then their comment will never post. Also, your photos look great so make them big! I was trying to enlarge them on my screen so I could see them better (but I also have bad eyesight so that could just be me!). Other than that, I think you’ll do great! Commenting places like this will really help direct people to your site! Good luck and I’m off to share your site with my FB friends!

  38. Yeah social media!!! I heart it and I heart you Jen :). Great post and thanks for the shout out. (And that poor Pinterest tutorial is so old I need to update it!!)

  39. This is such a fabulous series – I am learning so much from you guys! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!
    Jo-Anna

  40. Thanks Jen for reaching out to those of us who are newbies and those who need an extra boost in the blog world. I really appreciate the info. A new year brings new goals and I really want to jump feet first in this DIY community this year.

  41. Great post. I love blogging for the community and exchange of ideas too. It’s much the same for me as other bloggers, none of my friends are as interested in party planning, crafting, or decor (or the Longhorns!) as I am. So, my blog gives me a great outlet to talk about my passions without boring people. If people don’t want to read about crafting the perfect superhero invitation, they don’t have to. I’ve “met” great and supportive people (like you!) through blogging. For me its a win-win. I don’t Facebook or Pinterest (mainly because I know I’d get sucked in and get nothing done), but I love the exchanges on Twitter.

  42. Loved reading all your feedback! Pinterest has definitely inspired the way I present a post as well. :)

  43. I love you, Jen!! xoxoxo

  44. {Applause} Community is also, to me, one of the most important aspects of blogging. You can have fabulous content, link to dozens of parties every day and garner lots of traffic…but if you don’t engage with your readers to form community, then your blog is just empty pretty pictures. What I admire about the ladies running this series is that each of you take the time to chat with your readers/answer questions when you can. It is helpful and endearing. So grateful to be a part of the blogging community!

  45. This was a really neat post! Thanks for sharing! One of my favorite things about your blog is you bring a human element to it because I see that you personally respond to a lot of the comments you get. That is something we miss in our fast-paced world these days…

  46. Sherrie Cope says:

    Hello Jen,

    I am sooo impressed with your website, which I just found last night. I have wanted to start a social networking blog for awhile now. I just can’t figure out how to do it. I have found the blog site where you create one, but I don’t know how to go from there. Is there any help out there to help me get this started. I really want to start a blog for single moms. I am a 23 year single mom and have soooo much advice and encouragement to offer. Can you help me? Thanks
    Sherrie Copem, Bountiful Utah

  47. Sherrie Cope says:

    I am brand new at this blogging world and would love to be involved. I would love to start a blog for single moms as I have been for 23 years now and have sooooo much advice and help I could offer, I have tried for weeks now to try and start a blog, yet I can’t seem to figure it out. Is there a source where I can get some help? or can you wonderful ladies with success help me? I feel so strongly that I need to do this blog and I want to. Help wanted!!!!!!

  48. I love it! It’s so great to read how other people are using social media to connect. I’m so amazed by the community that does exist. I’ve learned that through tools like Facebook and Twitter, it is increasingly easier to reach out to like minded people.

    It is a great feeling to be able to socialize in a way that’s rewarding to both or all parties involved.

    Good series! Can’t wait for the next!

  49. I am absolutely LOVING this series! What a great way to kick off the new year, as I know so many of us are reinventing ourselves and/or our blogs in one way or another. These topics have been a great way to get the wheels turning.

  50. Great read! Thanks for sharing : )

  51. Thanks for this post, Jen! I love connecting with people and sharing my passion through blogging. I just recently created a facebook page for my cake blog. Now I have to figure out how to put a “like box” on the blog, so people can link up. I found the html code on facebook to do it, and tried really hard to put it in the right place…but I just don’t know enough about html to make it work. Any suggestions?

  52. I definitely need to grow my blog!

    • Duckie – you are so so talented! I think you connect with people and come through so well on your blog. You are an amazing writer!!

      xoxoxo
      Jen

  53. What a great series! Thank you for posting all of the tips – an awesome read!

    xoxo

    Jenn

  54. Hi Jen. As you know I am a long time blogger. I first began blogging because, like you said, it was much needed social outlet for me . . . someone to talk to as it were, and a way of sharing my thoughts with my children who live in another country. Having moved to a foreign country and working at a job that kept me very isolated and took up much of my time, I just didn’t have the time for a lot of socialization. I know that sounds really sad now! But my job at the time was so very demanding that I just did not have the time to do very much outside of my work hours! ( I am thankfully retired now and enjoying retirement and the freedom it has brought me to explore my more creative side.) Blogging has given me so much more than I have ever given it. Through it I have made some wonderful friends, such as yourself and Lura to name a few. Getting to meet and spend time with you both and your mum has been one of the highlights of my blogging career!! Blogging comes with a warm community of like minded people. I have always said don’t worry about finding your audiance, they will find you. it is a very important part of my life now and an integral part of my day. I do want to say as well though that blogging comes with a responsability. You just can’t sit back and take . . . you have to give something back, but you will find that if you do, your rewards are as numbered as the stars. I haven’t quite figured out how to use Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest to my advantage yet. Perhaps I am just too old a dog to take on new tricks? I don’t know! Although I seldom comment these days Jen, i do always read. Your blog is always so full of wonderful ideas and inspiration. Keep up the good work! xxoo

    • Marie – I just adore you. And you can totally use Facebook and Pinterest. I am learning too. You are so so talented!! It was so much fun to meet you and I love reading your blog. You are amazing!!!

      xoxoxoxox
      Jen

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  2. [...] The topic for yesterday was Monetization with Thrifty Decor Chick and today it’s all about Community and Social Media and Tatertots and [...]

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