Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Building a community for your blog

Successful blogs are part of a community. They don't just repeat content from other websites but they are part of a collection of other sites that share interest in similar issues - although not necessarily similar views.

On a simple level, you can identify the community of a successful blog by looking at the sites that are listed in the blogroll - usually provided in the right hand panel of the homepage. However, the community is more than that - it's about an interaction in the content between different sites.

Take this example from Tory blogger Iain Dale. He has written about a story he discovered on Biased BBC. They may share a similar political belief (Tories traditionally dislike the Beeb) but they have a different focus in their writing.

Alternatively, Labour blogger Luke Akehurst republishes content from (unbiased) Guardian journalist Dave Hill but they share another similarity: they are both residents of Hackney.

It doesn't always work favourably though as I pointed out here, even a negative review can help your website's search engine profile!

So when you've setup your blog and you want to get readers, how do you start to build a community? Here are some starting points:
  • your content - find out which other sites report your content
  • your beliefs - which blogs share your beliefs or directly oppose them?
  • your interests - which blogs are in your local community, get on the same train as you, read the same local newspaper as you, both hate/love marmite?
  • degrees of separation - which other sites might interest your readers or who can you do a favour to by reviewing and linking to their site?
  • things you support - use social networking sites or Twitter to find out where you share an interest with people. Do you like a band that shares a bill with another band? Think laterally.
Let me know any other great tips and I'll review your site and give you some extra publicity!

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