As a blogger, I have experienced the utter frustration caused when you put your heart and soul in to a post, a recipe or a campaign that doesn’t quite take off the way you’d optimistically been picturing in your head. Classic start-up blogger feels.
It can be a down right joy killer; acting like a pin to your cherished bubble that makes you think ‘UGH! Why should I even bother if no one is even interacting with me?’
But that was when I first started. Now, I feel like I can say that I have learned that the best way to grow your audience organically and really ensure that you will be given guaranteed satisfaction at the end of all your hard work – is to connect with the other bloggers in your community.
Trust: Once I began engaging with like minded people in the same game as me, responded to my valued readers with genuine conversation and gratitude and actually listened to what they had to say – I finally started to notice a positive correlation in my following.
In this day and age – blogging is becoming more and more popular; not just with food but also with fashion, photography, interiors, design and so much more. I often meet people who are starting out with their blog that all hit me with the same question within the first 2 minutes of meeting them:
‘How they hell did you get so many followers?!’
Now, I know that compared to a lot of other bloggers, my following is considered somewhat miniscule – and I am by no means saying I am the ultimate blogging guru. I definitely have a lot more to learn – but I can say that every day I am constantly working at involving myself in the health blogging community as much as possible – and always trying my best to ensure I reply to all of you (very lovely!) readers.
And that’s when I came across Christina Valenziano, a wellness/lifestyle blogger and co-founder of BGB (Bloggers Gonna Blog) all the way from across the pond – who has created an impressively large ‘tribe’ since mastering the art of communication in the world of blogging.
She now shares her mouth watering food shots, motivational wellness tips and blogging updates to over 10,000 readers; in fact, her page was so eye catching that I had to stop myself from drooling all over my iPhone screen.
What? This girl really knows how to make her food look sexy…
#FOODPORN at it’s finest, I think you’ll agree.
And today she is sharing just why community is the most important aspect of blogging and also her top tips on how to get the ball rolling.
I truly hope this gives you a much needed boost and leaves you feeling motivated to smash some of those goals that have been lingering in your head that have quite frankly outstayed their welcome…
When I started my blog back in September of 2013, I was so excited. I had no idea what the heck I was doing, but I was excited. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and the opportunity to write about things I actually enjoyed was a notion I’d yet to explore. The ideas were flowing through my mind like a violent river rapid, I could hardly contain them.
I truly thought that the material I was putting out was high-quality. I wanted to help people, and every collection of thoughts that I sent out into the interweb was gathered with my heart and soul. I was ready for it to be read. But every time I hit publish, it was as though I was speaking to a wall.
This went on for about a year. I could hear the crickets echoing on my social channels – no comments, barely any followers, generally no engagement. At this point, I longed for connections more than quantifiable proof of success. Google Analytics was bookmarked, don’t get me wrong, but it was the voices that I wanted to hear.
Fast forward to May 2015, I’d met Georgie on Instagram, and we’d connected instantly. She’d invited me to a Facebook group she’d created that was compiled of a handful of her favorite bloggers, entitled ‘Bloggers Gonna Blog’. At the time, the group was made of five people. But it was the first time I’d connected with any other bloggers. Something foreign, but undoubtedly life-changing.
After a few months of organic growth, and a partnership formed between Georgie and I to take the BGB Community to another level, I’d finally got my audience speaking back to me, and my tribe had been formed.
And I’ve realized: curating a community around your blog or business is the most important thing you can do.
So, let’s get into the how.
Use your true, genuine voice.
Genuity wins every time. A little plot twist for ya – I work for a startup full-time, and it’s a rough road to the top. I’ve had to do many a table event. You know, where you stand at a table full of marketing materials and try and speak to people and 90% of them ignore you. It’s just what you have to do in the beginning stages of a business to gain exposure. And what I’ve learned through this has surely translated to my blogging world. Our strategy at our events has always been ‘form a relationship’. We would start by asking people genuine questions, like how their day is going. And because we are truly trying to help people through our business, it all comes naturally. The same thing goes for blogging. Be genuine with your words. Just be yourself. Don’t try to sell people, because it was most definitely come across in your voice. Once you prove your genuity, you will gain the trust of your audience.
Connect with your readers.
This can be done in many ways, but the general idea here is, make them feel like it’s just you and them. They’ve engaged with you, now keep them engaged. And there are a few ways to do this:
- End each blog post with a question to your readers. And make sure it’s open-ended!
- Respond to your readers comments not just with a “thank you”, but asking them a question back! This way, they will feel like it’s a conversation, and will feel more connected.
- Instead of asking your readers to follow you on social media, suggest that you become friends, or connect, on social media. For instance, many bloggers include “Follow me on Instagram” in their sidebar. Change that to “Let’s be friends on Instagram!” or “Let’s connect on Instagram!”
- Talk about your readers in your posts. If a reader has ever left you a comment with a suggestion, or mentioned something specific that resonated with them about your post, talk about them in your next post! For instance, “so-and-so inspired me to xyz”.
Give, share, engage.
Something you will learn in your blogging journey, is that your blog is not about you. You’ve got to give to others, to receive in return. (And again, make sure it is genuine). So, I suggest sharing your favorite blog posts (by other bloggers) on your social media. Spreading the love for your fellow bloggers. Comments are always great, too. Show them you read their post by commenting with something specific. Instead of “wow this looks good!”, talk about a specific ingredient, or something that happened to them which they wrote about in their copy. Share a round-up on your blog featuring links to your fellow bloggers’. Turn ‘me, me, me’ into ‘us, us, us’.
The general takeaway here is that, through two years of blogging and general business experience, I’ve learned that your tribe, your community, your relationships, are much more valuable than the numbers behind them. Instead of putting energy into focusing on Google Analytics and how many followers you have, put your energy toward building your tribe.
A quote Georgie and I love to reference, is one from Seth Godin’s book, ‘Tribes’, that says:
“Great leaders don’t water down their message in order to make the tribe a bit bigger. Instead, they realize that a motivated, connected tribe in the midst of a movement is far more powerful than a larger group could ever be.”
To learn more about the BGBcommunity, and join the tribe, click here.
*Photo Cred: Anthony Ruiz
** Photo Cred: Phinny Photography