Sunday, April 1, 2012

On Being a Generous Blogger and 9 Ways to Build Online Community

You start a blog. Not so tough.

You visit the blogs of others and comment. Check.

You meet people online. Wow, fun.

Now you want to maintain online relationships. Um, how? It’s not like you can invite new friends over for your famous homemade salsa and Magic Hat's #9 (Should you know and like Magic Hat's #9, consider us instant forever friends).


Take a peek at nine ways you can become a generous blogger and build online community.

1. Post. Seems obvious, right? But really, hit the little publish button, regularly.

2. Tweet it, share it, and name drop. People work hard at pounding out posts. When you connect with words, find a way to acknowledge the writing and the writer.

3. Meet an online friend in person. Last summer at She Speaks, I roomed with a girl I met online. I was very nervous about this whole meet in real life opportunity, and I was a tad worried this online friend would turn out to be a crazy person. The entire first night of the conference, I fielded texts from at-home friends asking, “How’s Jen? What’s she like? Oh, and is she crazy?” The answer? She’s fun, real, artsy, deep, and inspiring. Stretch yourself to connect with online friends. It brings the relationship to a deeper level. If you are close to Asheville, North Carolina, consider connecting in real life by attending a small party I'm hosting. Go here for info.

4. Champion their cause. People use the Internet to rally support. Help online friends tell the world about water or the importance of mentoring or following a dream.

5. Sprinkle your writing (and commenting) with bits of you. This is tough for me. I teach high school kids and last year a picture I posted on my blog ended up in one of my senior's presentations. It was not at all awesome. However, you need to let readers into your world, at least in small ways, and then cross your fingers that your big, fat head doesn't find its way into a PowerPoint.

6. Take off word verification. Blah! I know people disagree with me on this one because they are afraid of spam, but geez, I hate the extra step of word verification, and it’s simple to take off.

7. Share cool content.  Discover a new site. Fall for a new voice. Stumble on a moving article. Share your findings. Don’t hoard. Share. People will see you as a resource.

8. Join someone’s something. Online communities abound. Find one you like and join it. Be a part of an online book group. Participate in a link-up and share your mad photography skills. Tell others about inspiration you heard on Sunday. Join.

9. Write an email. I remember the first email I received from a blogger. It was random and about the words "fist pump". The content of the email didn't matter. I was clapping-my-hands happy she wrote.

Now let's hear from you.
 What are ways you try to be a generous blogger and build community? Any points or tips you have in regards to connecting with people online? Any big turn-offs when it comes to blogs or online communities?
: :

Image credit.

Linking with Jen.

Photobucket 

36 comments:

Kendal said...

:) i can't WAIT to meet you in person!!!! i have to admit that i added the annoying word verification, but only after i was hacked. and had a lot of problems with it. scared to remove it....but i do consider it a treat when i don't have to do it:)

HopeUnbroken said...

okay, so i haven't hit "publish" as much as i like lately, but hey, sometimes life takes over, ya know? :-)
i try to be consistent in visiting particular people and always comment when i do visit. yeah, i know stats aren't important, but it's no fun to see a bunch of people stopped by and only one or two said anything. imagine if a bunch of people just meandered through your house. . . wordless? creepy, eh? i try to not go blog hopping if i don't have time to leave comments, even if they are short ones.
i try to leave private e-mails occasionally, for posts that have had an especially strong impact. i think it's fun as a writer to know when something has been particular meaningful to someone. and it's an extra step that i or the other person has to take in order to build that relationship. for whatever reason, it's just nice.
turn-offs? i don't know how the advertising works, but i have been on some blogs with some really whacked out ads. i won't go back because i just don't want to see them. word verification has only become annoying since they made it so hard to decipher!!! geesh. makes me feel like i need glasses every time i encounter it.
that's it! i do wonder why i get so "wordy" when i respond to your posts. . . .
steph

marlece said...

Amy, I'll take your advice any day! I think my biggest problem is the 'posting' enough. Always get this fear factor before pushing the post button. But, I will listen to you!

Flower Patch Farmgirl said...

Number 6!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes.

ps - She Speaks was good to me, too. ;)

Amy Sullivan said...

Kendal,
I'm super excited too! And I had know I idea you were hacked. I must hear more about this later.

Jen Ferguson said...

You almost took me off the friend list when you found out that I didn't like beer. But then when I told you my husband brewed it...well, things started looking up, yes?

So, so, so glad that we are virtual and IRL friends. You, my friend, are such the generous blogger. You lead by example.

(can I just say that I am so with you on the word verification thing????)

Amy Sullivan said...

Whew, your husband saved you on that one JF.

Loraine said...

I am with Jen, you for sure are a generous blogger!

Love championing someone's cause--I am doing that every month and that cause is um, well, YOURS!! You have been a huge resource.

And YES online book clubs! You can still get the book 7 and join us...

Brandee Shafer said...

Good stuff. Sorry about your photo on the powerpoint. Ugh.

Susan said...

Great post! I totally agree that turning off the word verification is important. Yes, I've received some spam but I just take it off with a quick click so who cares?

One of my favorite things is to encourage a new blogger by referring my readers (not that I have that many) to check out the new blog. I feel like I just introduced nice people to each other.

Michelle DeRusha said...

Love this, Amy - I am sharing it on my facebook page.

Especially love meeting online friends in real life -- connected with Lyla from A Different Story this week when she came through Lincoln, and it was SO cool! And I *might* have the chance to meet Kendal if she goes to She Speaks (I am going, and I think it should be retitled She Freaks in honor of me!!).

seekinghisgrace.com said...

Thank you for these great tips. I did just recently start a blog and while I have been doing some of these things, I haven't been doing them all yet.

Adriel (The Mommyhood Memos) said...

what a great post amy. i think i'm not as good at being a "generous" blogger as i used to be. i used to be a lot more intentional about sharing posts i enjoyed and highlighting other bloggers. i'm afraid it's fallen to the wayside this last year when my pregnancy kicked me in the butt and then i had judah and am juggling too. also, i read far more now than i comment and i know that's also important. *sigh* but i've also made a peace that i can only do what i can do and i certainly try to be generous where i can. speaking of generous, do you have a facebook fan page? i really must being fb-ing or tweeting some of your posts - many of which i adore....

Sadee Schilling said...

YOU are a very generous blogger, Amy. I so appreciated your comment a week or two ago about I share bits of myself on my blog--especially because you are a blogger I truly admire!

I've been thinking about some of the things you posted here, about how to be more generous in sharing links and building community. Thanks for the ideas and encouragement!

Jodi said...

Good advice, Amy. I feel fortunate to have met some very generous people through blogging, and amazed to have found kindred friends.

Nancy said...

Okay, I just tried to comment, but I think Blogger ate it. I'll try again--So happy to be commenting here after Jodi who I actually got the chance to meet in. real. life.

You are a most generous blogger and, boy howdy, I would be happy to share a Magic Hat #9 with you one of these days.

Okay, gonna push publish. Let's see what happens...

Jill @ Craft in a Northern Town said...

Why do you make me think about this stuff? :)

It honestly scares the crap out of meet to even think about meeting other bloggers IRL. Why is that?

If you were to ask people that know me, they'd say I'm not shy, but my insides get all squirmy when I have to meet new people.

Being a lurker is much easier than actually getting involved. If I get involved, then I have to follow through, if I have to follow through, that means I have to commit, if I have to commit, that means I have to...maybe it just boils down to I don't want to let people down and if I don't try, then I won't.

See? You make me think of hard things and then want to change. :)

ells said...

Hi neighbor...I am pretty new at this blogging thing...your list is helpful...and challenging. I feel I am taking baby steps...one day maybe I will make some big leaps like you:) I think you are a generous blogger!

Tesha said...

WOW AWESOME post!!!! I just started blogging in Feb. I started my blog to cope with my feelings after giving birth to my baby, that was already in heaven. I searched hi and low and left about a hundred comments before anyone responded. I now reline that a lot of baby loss blogs are abandoned. I want my blog to be about my family that includes my sweet Jonathan in heaven. I am trying to build a community of friends that support each other. I so appreciate when I read a comment and here I am praying for you, so I try to go to many blogs everyday and leave an encouraging comment and lift up a prayer for the writer. I so hope to meet some of my online friends in real life one day... maybe at a baby loss conference. Really great advice, Thank you!

Beck Gambill said...

Excellent tips Amy! One's I need to implement far more regularly. Thank you for being generous to me today! I can't tell you how that encourages me! I respect your writing and blogging skills and I'm touched by your recognition.

Kelli said...

This is great advice! It is hard to stay current and blog regularly through every week with busy mama lives.:)

Shelly said...

Great ideas and tips here. I need to work harder at building and maintaining relationships. I'm going to take this to heart...really, I am. Thanks, Amy :)

Will I see you again at SS this summer?

Shanda said...

Thank you for these great ideas, Amy. What it boils down to is: if we want to be successful, it is a huge time commitment! Sometimes I only have time to post but that is also when my readership drops.

redemptionsbeauty said...

Amy, I think you model being a generous blogger more than most. I agree with your list, especially removing those crazy captchas, and I think the one that I want to be better on is sharing cool stuff. I don't actually have the time to find it. But I do love those who share what they find generously and always think to myself, "how in the world do people have the time to find all this stuff."

messymiddle.com said...

Ah yes, the balance between sharing enough to be real and connect, but also not so much that when you run into someone in person you forget that they can read :) ... and may have read what you posted. Usually a good thing, but still sometimes catches me a bit! (and a double dose of YES on #6) Amy

alicia said...

Great post, Amy!! Words I needed to hear, "hit publish regularly". So, so true!! I have met now 2 of my online friends IRL and I can say that those are the most memorable friendships that have been formed! It is amazing- and no butcher knives were ever used. :) I hope to meet you in Austin!!

Stephanie said...

Thanks for the gentle reminder. Been very quiet lately - Need to be hitting 'post' again:) I think #5 had me standing still for a while. In fear.
You're an inspiration. Thank you!

Jenilee said...

this was such a great and informative post! thanks!!!

Kim Turnage said...

Amy, you are so good at reaching out and intentionally building community. I'm repenting of my failure at #1. Love #6! And work at all the others. When will you start something I can join? (or have you already and I missed it in my absence?)

denise said...

The people have spoken... and I am choosing to listen- I deleted my word verification! ;) I'm still learning the blogging culture/etiquette so discussions like this are helpful!

Connie@raise your eyes said...

Good tips Amy!

As "blogservant" for Northwest Christian Writers' Association, I always advise writers to comment on other blogs.

Re: emails, I turned my blog into a comment free/quiet place, so I really appreciate emails to keep the contact going!

Sew Fun Design said...

New to blogging too..it is fun (although time consuming). Thanks for the tips.

Heidi said...

This is excellent. I agreed with every point here, generosity above all.
And time management for me right now. I could spend all day reading and commenting on blogs, but I have kids and a husband and, you know, a life outside of this.;) But, this has become a significant part of my life and it's made my life richer.
I'm so glad you found me and now I've discovered you and your lovely writing.:)

Alene said...

This post is really resonating with me girl! Every point right on. Juggling all this seems a stretch as I want to "live" offline and online for others. So the new thing I'm doing is releasing a short ebook next week and giving it away free. I"m hoping others will share it with others.

I do love it when I finally get to meet a bloggy friend online. What a treat. So maybe one day I'll just get to meet you. I'm thinking we'd be chatting non-stop.

http://www.positivelyalene.com/

Aislinn said...

Found this post from Lisa Jo. I'm a very new blogger but am loving loving the community and the sharing. These tips are so helpful! And um, I love Magic Hats! Living in a dry country right now and MISSING salsa & beer with friends. Maybe when I'm back in the States? ;) We can share teaching tips (I teach literature? What do you teach?) and you can mentor me about experiences with daughters. I mean, you did say we could be instant forever friends. Happy to meet you, Amy.

Alia Joy said...

Great post Amy! I agree with them all but #6. Oh heavens yes. I just entered 10, count them 10 captcha words to finally post one measly comment on someones blog. I was going to tell her that may be one of the reasons her blog was almost entirely commentless but didn't think I'd make it past another captcha verification. Geez. Also, make name/url a choice for blogger comments. I hate when I have no option there.

Post a Comment

Talk to me, friends.

Share It