Like any community, our blogging community is full of a diverse group of people, each with their own ideas, opinions and customs. As our blogging community has grown, the intensity of our group has increased and so has the feeling that this isn’t a small niche anymore, but a vast network of sites each jockeying for the same position. And myself, as one little fish in this big sea of bloggers, tries to just hold on…sometimes I feel myself slipping. Especially when I look around and notice that I have no idea who these people are around me.
What are you looking at?
I just have to keep chugging, the whole time reminding myself that it’s hard to keep on top of changes, to not let people annoy me and keep making friends, all the while keeping abreast of what is going on in this ever growing community. But its worth it, this is fun, this is rewarding, right? If I couldn’t respond affirmatively to those statements, then I guess it would be time to pack it in and look for another hobby. But, I don’t want to do that. I want to be a part of something. And the Book Blogging Community is my “belonging of choice.”
But, it’s hard. And if it is hard for me, with my vast amounts of book blogging experience (just about five years, I’m almost an expert – nod in agreement folks) how hard must it be for bloggers just getting started? The cure for this, do I have one? Notice the bold word over and over again: Community. As a group of people with the same goal and love of literature, we should easily be able to band together and form a tight nit community. With a strong community behind us, it will only strengthen us as individuals. And it will also give us a reprieve, a place to fit in and be ourselves. But, we can’t just wave our books around and say “Accio strong community” and expect it to be summoned into existence. No, each of us has to work on it and together, as a team we can make this book blogging niche something to be proud of.
Remember a good Online Community is there to support the bloggers, foster good feelings in it’s members, get people talking about books and other shared hobbies and promote learning and achievement. The point of a community is for us to feel like we belong.
Here are some of my ideas on fostering a good Book Blogging Community:
Healthy Competition is one thing, but your fellow bloggers are not to be considered “the competition.” Stop thinking of other bloggers as your competitors and more on the lines of future BFFs.
When engaging with a fellow blogger, don’t do it with the intention of gaining promotional value or information gathering, approach the interaction with the intended goal of gaining friendship points.
Make a point to visit new blogs and leave a comment. Make sure the comment is a greeting, much like you would greet someone in the line of the grocery store. “Hi, how are you? That is a nice shirt you are wearing.” You wouldn’t walk up to someone and say, “Hey, I’m Rachel. Want to see what’s in my purse?” Slow and steady – you can show them your purse — er, url later.
Strike up a conversation on social networks. Respond to tweets or facebook posts that pose a general question and begin conversations with fellow bloggers.
Never demand. Don’t be needy. And don’t expect anything from anyone. Would you befriend someone just so they could get you a job? Or would you date someone just because they have a rich family? This is the same notion. Don’t pander to bloggers just so you can use them for promoting your blog or gaining information.
Be a Match Maker. Have you made a few friends lately and two of the friends both really adore The Vampire Diaries, introduce them.
Help out! Notice that someone is really trying to promote their new meme, but no one is participating? Why not do it once or twice? It’s not a life-long commitment and maybe you’ll start a trend.
Get inspired. Look around the community…as you visit blogs, ask yourself, “what is awesome about this blog?” Maybe take the time to tell them this. Who knows, you could spark up a friendship.
Meeting face to face can be a great way to get closer to your community. Organize local meet-ups, or attend a convention. Take the time to say hello to fellow bloggers.
One of the ways communities protect themselves is by not allowing what they consider “bad elements” into their group. But, this can lead to stereotyping, ostracizing and cliquish behavior which is not good for any community. Just remember before you jump to conclusions when you see an accusation of “bad behavior” go out – do your research. Yes, we do not want trolls and rats in our community, but we also do not want to promote mob mentality. Put the pitchforks away and think logically.
Think of ways to bring people together, whether it is a book discussion on twitter, a Facebook party, or just a meet-up in a nice forum. Common threads are great ways to make close friends.
Have some great ideas or tools that you can’t live without? Share the knowledge! Telling everyone about the great plugins you are using will not hurt you…it will only foster good feelings and make you a community asset.
Be welcoming. If you see a new book blogger commenting on your site, or maybe saying hi on twitter. Make them feel welcome. Visit their site, leave a comment. Say hello.
Support a cause that is close to you and let others know about it. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help, this is not blog promotion if it is for a good cause. Bring others into your cause, everyone wants to help out. Look for ways, other then money that people can join in and help out.
Organize an event. Start an online chat. Get creative and get people involved. Even if you have only three people join, it’s still a nice group chat.
Don’t be an enabler. If you see someone in the community that likes to do things that hurt the community, don’t enable them. It is not your job to tell them to quit their bad behavior, but if you ignore them, if you don’t comment and they see this behavior doesn’t get them attention, they’ll discontinue doing it. Much like a child that throws tantrums. Just ignore.
Promote the expression of opinion, even if it is different from your own. If someone has a difference in opinion it is okay to say, “hey I don’t agree with this, because of XXX, but you make a good point.” Don’t make someone feel stupid for the way they feel or believe.
As this book blogger community grows, the numbers increase ridiculously. Remember when you engage with someone they might not always hear your message. If someone doesn’t respond to a comment, don’t give up. They just might have missed it. Maybe try and engage a different way.
As in everyday life, it should be about the Little Things. Remember this is a fun hobby for most of us. Yes, there are a few of us that are professionals and make a living at this thing called “blogging” but the majority – it’s a hobby. Professionals – remember, you are the minority, don’t judge the fun-lovers when they are acting unprofessional – and hobbyist, don’t judge the professionals when they do something business-like. We are still people, professional or hobbyist.
You like to receive compliments don’t you? Well so do other bloggers, so dish them out! Promoting good feelings is a great way to inspire positive outlooks in our community and make friends, which is the point of this whole exercise. To make friends.
Here is an exercise of sorts, an activity for you guys to promote a strong Book Blogging Community. Use the hashtag #BookBlogInspiration and tell the world what book bloggers inspire you. Make sure to mention them in your comments, facebook or twitter post. And let us know why they inspire you.