In this Blog Exercise, it is time to start building a community around your blog. If you have one, it’s time to re-evaluate it to ensure you keep it.
We will start with defining your community.
Your blog topic should give you a clear indication about demographics of your online community, but it might not yet be clear enough.
Have you defined the community into which your site fits? If you are a knitter blogging about knitting, it is obvious that knitters would be your community. Let’s skip the obvious assumptions and dig deeper.
What is it about knitting that inspires you and motivates you to keep knitting? Is it the people? The lessons learned and skills developed? Is it the patterns? Building things from patterns or designing your own? Is it making things for yourself? For others? Is it about the need to keep your hands busy? Is it the texture, the feeling of the yarn slipping through your fingers? Is it really just the yarn itself that fascinates you? Is it the process of yarn creation from animal to sweater that fascinates you? Maybe the spinning, weaving, and dying process?
Whatever the purpose of your site, ask yourself the deeper questions about what interests you. Just as it isn’t knitting but some deeper part of the process that motivates you, what is it about the cars, travel, quilting, business, hobby, whatever that keeps your fascination alive?
By clearly defining your purpose and motivators, you can take the next step and find like minds interested in the same things.
It isn’t your job to cover everything about a topic. It is your job to hone your topic down to what thrills you, what gives you the kick in the passion seat, and makes life and blogging worth living. By understanding what it is that you enjoy, you will attract others who enjoy the same thing.
I quote often from Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman, now a successful author and television celebrity, when she described her blogging path in an interview with Costco Connections.
I didn’t start focusing on my blog until I’d been blogging about eight months. I started sharing things I was cooking and that part of my blog took off, partly because of the step-by-step photos I posted. I did that because that’s just the way I like to learn things. I’m very visual.
Her site’s purpose was to share her life as a city-girl turned country mother on the range. Yet, it was the cooking that caught the attention of her readers, and she paid attention to that demand, aligning the interests of her readers to a cookbook and television career she never intended.
Your community can teach you much about what you are doing and what connects them deeper to you and your topic. It begins by understand who they are and what makes them tick as they flock to your site.
Your blog exercise is to work on your definition of your site’s community. Here are some questions to help you.
- How old are they?
- Where do they live?
- What do they do for a living?
- What is their average education level?
- What is their average income level? Does their income level (and yours) influence your content decisions? How?
- Do they tend to represent a stereotypical community or group such as a geographic area or ethnicity?
- Do they have hobbies beyond or related to this topic?
- Are they members of any organizations, associations, or groups associated with your topic?
- Where does your community like to “hang out” on the web? On your site, Facebook, Twitter, or elsewhere? Or do they connect mostly via forums or email?
- Why do they like the topic of your site?
- Why do they keep coming back for more?
- What topics do they respond to the most?
- What topics do they tend to ignore?
- What topics do you enjoy publishing the most?
- What topics do you enjoy publishing the least?
- Where else do they get their information on this subject and how? (browser, mobile, email)
- What are your competitors doing to maintain their community?
- What do you want your community to do for you? Do you want them to read, buy, donate, comment, advocate, volunteer, share?
- How do they normally interact and communicate on the web?
- What challenges your readers? Is it specific to your topic or in general?
- What inspires your readers?
- What frustrates your readers?
- How can you help your readers?
- What is your responsibility to help them learn, do, enjoy, share, or entertain on this subject?
- What is their responsibility in your site’s success?
- What are your expectations of your readers? Do they meet those expectations? Why or why not?
- What are their expectations of you? How do you fulfill that or not?
- What do you offer through your site to help your readers and why?
- How do your readers access your site? (browser, mobile, email, bookmarks/favorites, feed readers, subscription, social media channels)
- What does a day-in-the-life look like for five of your community members?
Once you’ve answered those questions, write a descriptive paragraph or short list that clearly describes your community, and list the various ways you serve them and they serve you. Note where you need improvement.
You can find more Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress. This is an ongoing challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles. You may join us at any time, but I recommend you take a moment to visit past blog exercises to help invigorate your site.