This morning, while reading a post in praise of the next blog button, I realised that I have something to say about community building & networking &c. Had been working on a "10 things you can do to make your blog better" sort of a list, of the sort that are popping up to the left and right of late, but I realised that most of the stuff on my list was really about effective and sincere community participation.
Hari's Blog via TitaniumGeek: “One thing which struck me was how useful the random/pseudo-random “next blog” feature is (when you neglect the occasional spam blog that you come across). It seems to, in a sense, connect so many blogs together and gives a sense of community to the whole blogging business.”I have to disagree with the specifics here. I'm not sure that the “next blog” button helps you to build a community because, of the ten blogs that you click through ‘til you find one that has hacked out the bar, not one of them will be written by a person who shares your interests. The key to building your blog is finding members of your community, but that community isn’t yours by default simply because you share a hosting service. You have to go out and form your own micro-sphere of people whose interests coincide with yours. Traffic won't necessarily translate into inbound links & ranking, but it's a great start. (Stop rambling, bonehead, and give me the list already...)
1. Add Value to the conversation.
No-one will read it if you're making it up or regurgitating it from somewhere else. You have to "write what you know" because that's the only way that you'll be able to add value.
2. Read, subscribe to, and make every effort to understand the blogs that are already out there in your area of interest. There are experts out there, and good source material, and stuff you'll want to chime in on. Make sure you're seeing it.
3. Declare your focus clearly on your site, in page titles, post titles and elsewhere. What is your blog about? Focus your blogroll too. What family of sites would you like yours to be in?
4. As you write posts, link generously, with site and author names. People will do the same for you. Backlinks bring traffic as other bloggers check out who is commenting on their stuff. Generous backlinks prompt repeat visits and subscriptions!!
5. As you read other blogs, especially the ones that you’re subscribing to, leave your comments. Add something to the discussion & include a link back to a post on your blog that says something relevant. Add value.
6. Use trackback whenever you’ve referred to a post on your site and the source post has an available trackback URL. Don't use it if you haven't made reference to the post you're trying to ping. That's just wrong!!
7. Make full use of available tracking & search services to increase your visibility. Tag your posts so that they appear in tag search results. Tag your blog (from your Technorati “claimed blogs” page) to state clearly the subjects that you’re interested in.
8. Offer a full RSS feed to make your content widely available. Some bloggers feel that a full feed cuts into your traffic, & if there are ads on your site that you want people to see, that's true, I guess.... but if you're propagating ideas , it really doesn't matter if you do that through readers or on your own pages, does it?
9. Use e-mail to communicate with other bloggers / respond to comments / sustain a dialog outside your site. Interact positively with people who have chosen to interact with you. Help if you can. Fess up if you can't.
10. Become a buff.
GEORGE: I'd love to be a buff. ... What do you have to do to be a buff?
JERRY: Well sleeping less than 18 hours a day would be a start.
Search regularly for new stuff in your areas of interest. Write & publish focused posts that add to an existing discussion or define a new one. Stay focussed, even if Britney Spears does something that you'd really like to write about.
Before you know it you'll be a part of your own micro-blogosphere, with interested readers, subscribers and a new set of sites to read. Excellent. You've defined a community & become a part of it!! Content then linking then ranking...
Sounds good to me. As always am interested in discussion / expansion / correction!!