I have a confession to make: I have not been the greatest blogging community member since creating Frugal Confessions in March 2009. I have managed to go through substantial periods of time without commenting on other blogs, I have not “followed” all of the people following me on Twitter, there are missed emails sporadically lost in my inbox, and I’ve probably alienated more than a few commenters. Aside from not being a socialite to begin with, I think the main reason is how I approached my blog from the beginning.
After not being able to break into the columnist world in 2008, I approached my blog as someone would approach a column. Being a writer was always a dream of mine and the various columnists I read in the newspaper each week were my superstars. As a young girl I envisioned my adult life as being holed up in my office brainstorming article ideas, clicking and clacking away at my computer and ending each week by sending off one beautifully finished product to my editor.
I could practically see my own name in the byline of a 1.5” by 3” section of a paper; I even daydreamed about discretely purchasing a newspaper from a newspaper stand to read my own words in print. “Liking” someone, reading tweets, and engaging in social dialogue with other bloggers…this was just not what I had envisioned. Not only had I not included all of this socializing into my daydreams, but I also felt that helping others through social media was like helping a colleague get a promotion over me. Why would anyone want to do that?
What I failed to see in my first year and a half of blogging was that it’s not every man or woman for themselves in the blogging world; it’s every blog for each other. Another blog’s Alexa ranking, page rank, or other metric increasing is not something that threatens my blog. You do not have to be chosen for one of the coveted blogging positions like you do for the dwindling columnist positions still available because there is enough room for a limitless number of blogs.
With that being said, I wanted to share with you what I have learned through the Yakezie and other bloggers on how to become a better blogging community member.
Introduce Yourself to New Bloggers
As Pat Flynn stated at the Financial Blogger’s Conference, a new blog is created every six seconds. You may feel comfortable in your own pack of bloggers consisting of those who came before you and those who started around the same time as you. However, blogging is one of the hottest side jobs around—especially with so many having lost their jobs in the Recession—and it is a great idea to introduce yourself to the newest blogs on the block. You could provide yourself as a resource, give a few tidbits of advice, or offer yourself as a mentor to them. Sometimes it’s just nice to check in with a neighborly “hello” through an email or a comment. Try to remember what it was like for you when you were just starting out, and how excited you were at the sign of life out there.
Finding new blogs can be difficult because they are not ranked high in the search engines. The Yakezie public forums (Blogger’s Lair) is a great resource for finding newbie bloggers. Sometimes readers of your own blog turn into bloggers themselves; be sure to visit them and offer some encouragement.
Give Love to Pet Projects
Fellow bloggers are putting lots of time, mental energy, and money into pet projects that have no chance of getting off the ground without people like you and I getting involved. I learned this firsthand through my experience with my $5 Left at the End of the Month initiative where I challenged others to come within $5 of their budgets each month in order to spend that $5 on a Random Act of Kindness. The goal was set to collectively make $10,000 worth of Random Acts of Kindness. Despite my efforts to inspire others by writing about our own random acts of kindness and to encourage readers who were sharing their stories, the Frugal Confessions community was only able to make an impact of less than $200.
Whether it’s to donate money, retweet introduction posts, link to updates, or just participate, try to give other blogger’s pet projects some love. Just to highlight a few such initiatives, you could get involved in J. Money and Nate St. Pierre’s >Love Drop, Penny’s >The Saved Quarter Challenge, or Smart Family Finance’s >Weekly Saturday Interview Segment.
When others are kind enough to link to your articles, retweet something of yours, or include you in an article, send them a thank you. You can find links through trackbacks on your blog (sometimes they show up in spam). You can also find links by setting up a Google Alert with your blog’s name to get a better idea of when your blog is mentioned on another person’s site.
Give Link Love
After writing your fantastic post, conduct an internet search to find articles of interest on other blogs. Find a few that strike your fancy and include a link to these articles within the text of your blog post, or at the end under a title of something like “Other Articles You May Enjoy”.
Look Out for What Other Blogger’s Would Find Interesting
When reading another person’s blog if you know an answer to a question they have posed, you have a link or information to something they have expressed interest in, or you just think they might enjoy something, leave a comment or send them an email.
Be a Blogging Consultant
We are not on our individual blogs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many of us have experienced a blogging glitch that we would not have known about if someone had not taken the time to email, tweet, or comment about it. If you see someone else’s blog is down, shoot them an email. If something is looking wacky, leave a comment. Chances are good they do not know and they will be incredibly thankful to you.
Meet Up in Person
Find bloggers within driving distance to meet up with. I live just one hour from Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff and we’ve met up twice over the last year. The next time you are traveling, see if any bloggers live near where you’re going to. Also, go to conferences in your blogging niche. I recently attended the Financial Blogger’s Conference and got to meet over 40 bloggers face to face that previously I had only known through emails and forum chats.
Host a Carnival
There are prestigious carnivals, carnivals that were once great and are now fledgling, and carnivals that are just being lifted off of the ground (see pet projects above). Take a hand in a carnival’s success by volunteering to host it for the week. A new one on the horizon is My University Money’s Carnival of Financial Camaraderie.
Host a Virtual Party
With blogging you build close relationships with real people. Even though you may be hundreds or thousands of miles apart, celebrating milestones in your friends’ lives is just as important. When Two Peas and Their Pod were close to having their first baby, blogging buddies hosted a surprise >virtual baby shower. Around 30 bloggers each made a recipe in honor of the coming baby and then linked to their blog. Needless to say, the blog owners were touched!
While I have not mastered the examples above, I have seen them in action as well as the very positive wave they can send through the blogosphere. Each day that I blog I strive to learn more, to become more, and to develop into a better blogging community member. I am sure I will continue to flail about in the social media realm, but if flailing means I send a small ripple your way, then I will gladly continue to do so.
Have you been touched by acts of other bloggers? What are ways you have become a better blogging community member? What are areas you need to work in?