This is a guest post from Matt Cheuvront and is part of the Guest Blog Grand Tour over at Life Without Pants – an epic journey of over 75 guest posts.

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I’m still a newb to this whole blogging thing.

Those of you who know me might think I’m talking crazy, but no, seriously, this is still a relatively new scene to me when I think about the fact that a year ago – I wasn’t here, I didn’t have a blog, I knew none of you reading this, and I was at a completely different place in my life.

But in the past year – some pretty amazing things have happened both on and off my blog. I’ve met some amazing people, established a steady secondary income as a freelance designer and consultant, and have developed a fully interactive and thriving community of readers who genuinely push me to be at my best.

Recently I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down with a couple of people I really respect who wanted to interview me as an “up and coming” thought leader. It’s extremely humbling to be considered in that light – and in each of our conversations, I’ve been asked one common question: “How did you build your community?”

That’s the $100 question isn’t it? As bloggers we all want to know how to get people talking, how to get more RSS subscribers, more followers on Twitter, and so on. For most of us, we establish a niche, and they we start thinking about how to grow our community and spread our voice to a wider audience.

Now first and foremost – while flattered by what some may think – I’m no thought leader in this area. I have no professional credentials to back anything up – but a little bit of real life experience can go a long way. Looking back as I approach the one year anniversary of my blog – here are seven things I’ve done to build and nurture my blog community.

I set out to create “more than a blog” from day one

This was imperative for me. I’ve had my share of blogging flops in the past – with Life Without Pants, in what was maybe a desperate initial attempt to not become TOO specific in my overall theme, I set out to create a platform that was free form – much more than a blog – but rather a pedestal for people to come and share ideas. My style of writing actively promotes discussion – even going so far as to objectively ask questions in every post to get people thinking about a response. A blog should be a learning experience for both you and your readers – thus the more you can promote that level of engagement, the better.

I’ve found ways to relate personal experiences to applicable scenarios for my readers

At the end of the day – your readers care much less about your actual blog and much more about the person behind it (that would be you). I recently wrote a post on the topic – but in a nutshell, while you need to find ways to relate your content to the audience, you should never forget the one thing that makes your blog unique – YOUR perspective. Share personal stories, be opinionated, take a stance, use real life examples – and then open the floor for discussion.

I’ve replied to 99% of every comment received

From day one I told myself that I would respond to EVERY comment I’ve received and, for the most part, I’ve stayed true to this mantra. Even on posts that have had 100+ comments, I’ve invested the time into responding (thoughtfully) to every comment. The goal? Not to say “thanks for the comment” – but to take things a step further – ask another question, get people thinking even more. If you look through my archives – the comments section is always much more valuable and interesting than the post itself.

I actively promote the members of my community

Promoting, appreciating, and thanking the people who take the time to visit your blog is so important, yet often forgotten. We are absolutely inundated with the amount of content that is thrown at us from every direction, so for someone to pick YOUR blog read out of the million other ones out there should mean a lot. Take time to go the next step OFF your blog – send a personal email, follow up with your readers – visit THEIR blogs and get involved in their communities. Building a community is much easier when you have a group of readers who know you actually care about them.

I’ve gotten everyone involved with projects and ideas

E-books, video projects, guest posting – just a few of the things I’ve done over at my blog to involve my community. A community isn’t led by one dictator, but rather should be a place where many people can come and share ideas – not only in replying to comments and being good readers, but in creating some of the content itself. Share the wealth and volunteer your blog as a place for community to assemble and collaborate. It’s a 100% win-win situation for everyone involved.

I invent new ways to share content

Traditional blogging is still the way to go most of the time – people like to read and respond to blog posts – but I have integrated new media into my scheme as well. By using video and podcasting, I keep the content fresh and offer unique ways for people to enjoy the things I’m doing. Plus it challenges me as the manager of my blog to think of new ways to share perspective.

I see my blog as an investment

This is THE bottom line when it comes to blogging. A blog is a commitment, a community is an investment. You get what you give. You can still have a life outside of these online walls, but building a community comes down to being present and engaged in what’s going on throughout this space. Budget time every day to work on blogging initiatives, without distractions. Make it a real investment and when you do – the results will speak for themselves.

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Danny Brown
Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. #1 marketing blog in world as per HubSpot. Husband. Father. Optimist. Pragmatist. Never says no to a good single malt. You can find me on Twitter - Google+ - LinkedIn.

Share your thoughts

53 Comments on "It’s Not Rocket Science. A Retrospect at One Year of Community Building"


Jason Webb
4 years 5 months ago
Great post and ideas! I’m going to share this with the rest of my team as we work more with enterprise-level clients. Thanks and Regards/- Jason Webb
Susan Young
4 years 10 months ago
Hi Danny, These are meaningful tips and insights in your blogging lessons. There is such huge value on so many levels for business professionals to be wring blogs and taking advanage of video blogs. The critical thinking skills, writing, creativity and community will come together... if only we have the courage to begin and the patience to wait!Thank you for sharing! Susan .-= Susan Young´s most recent blog post ...5 Tips to Building Sales & Credibility with Vocal Vitality =-.
Catherine Warren
4 years 11 months ago
This is such a great post. I recently started blogging on my company's website and I haven't been satisfied with the content. After reading this post I now realize it is because I was trying too hard to be professional and not focusing on being personal. Thank you for the great advice!
Matt Cheuvront
4 years 11 months ago
Thank you Catherine - you hit the nail on the head. Even if you are blogging at a "professional" level - you have to infuse some of your personality into the mix - that's what people will REALLY connect with. Cheers!
Laura
4 years 11 months ago
Thanks for the encouraging words, although you sure make it sound easy. I am in the midst of developing a blog plan for a non-profit organization and find myself stumped. Do you (Matt or Danny) have a blog plan and if so, how useful do you find it?
Danny
4 years 11 months ago
As Matt says, Laura, a plan is almost a given. Some planning is easy: * Audience * Frequency * Goals (become a thought leader, just share some personal tidbits, etc) * Business motives behind it * Cut-off point (will you keep at it during early days of no audience) Then you can dig deeper into these levels as well as others. And it's very kind of Matt to offer that outreach - you can't go far wrong with any advice from him! :)
Laura
4 years 11 months ago
Thank so much for your replies, I will likley take you up on that offer to brainstorm with me next week. I suddenly feel motivated to take a more serious crack at this blog plan. Thanks, to the both of you for the advice!
Matt Cheuvront
4 years 11 months ago
Man - you hit the nail - especially with the "cut off point" - that is THE biggest obstacle for all bloggers - if you can make it over that initial hurdle of not having a lot of traffic and thinking "no one's reading this" - the rest is smooth sailing. Thanks again for the kind words my friend. .-= Matt Cheuvront´s most recent blog post ...Walk Talk Chew Gum | www.walktalkchewgum.com =-.
Matt Cheuvront
4 years 11 months ago
Hi Laura. I think it's always important to have a plan with your blog - setting goals and measuring along the way. It's different for every individual and organization. I'd be happy to brainstorm with you if you want to shoot me an email - feel free. mncheuvront (at) gmail.
Phyllis Ershowsky
4 years 11 months ago
I really enjoyed reading this post - as a newbie blogger, you provide some very good insights and optimism for great potential! Thank you!
Matt Cheuvront
4 years 11 months ago
We're all pretty new to this game when you really think about it, eh Phyllis? Thanks for the kind words - glad the post hit home for you. Cheers!
Mark Tosczak
4 years 11 months ago
This has definitely given me some food for thought for my own blog as I really try to ramp it up this year. I like the ideas of creating more than a blog and treating the blog as an investment. I am going to go back to my own blogging plans for the year and reconsider what my goals should be, beyond things like "numbers of subscribers." Also adding you to my Google Reader, Danny. .-= Mark Tosczak´s most recent blog post ...The secrets of finding and sharing great content online =-.
Danny
4 years 11 months ago
Cheers Mark. Make sure to add Life Without Pants - http://lifewithoutpants.com - that belongs to Matt (who guest posted this one), he deserves the full credit :)
Matt Cheuvront
4 years 11 months ago
Thanks for the comment Mark - hope you'll swing by my neighborhood!
Jim Bowman
4 years 11 months ago
Danny – I’ve been an admirer, now I’m a true fan. You see community where others see blog. By valuing the comments of others, and truly interacting with people, you have given hundreds more reasons for people to visit often. Thanks for such a great example, which I will follow as I work to grow my own community (blog coming soon). Jim Bowman – The PR Doc®
Danny
4 years 11 months ago
Hey there Jim, Thanks fella. Though credit goes to Matt for the guest post - I'm just happy to add to the comments :)
Matt Cheuvront
4 years 11 months ago
Hi Jim. Danny boy is great - hope you'll become a regular in my neck of the woods as well. Thanks for the comment!
Wendy Kenney
4 years 11 months ago
Danny, Great post. I am sharing this with my community. PS. I like the layout of your site! The big fonts make it easier to read no matter what your age! .-= Wendy Kenney´s most recent blog post ...Advertising: Then and Now =-.
Diane Meyer
4 years 11 months ago
Very insightful! I believe we are really overthinking what is or isn't a "good" blog...at least I may be. I did just have an experience yesterday when I brought my vehicle for inspection. It was a fine experience, however, I experienced some subtle customer service issues that weren't as powerful at the end as they could have been at the beginning. Everyday occurences are teachable events and I may just blog about that experience instead of overthinking it and try to guess how many people would be interested in that. Perhaps they will be simply interested in what I have to say!!
Danny
4 years 11 months ago
Another great reason for having a community that trusts you (and vice versa), Diane. If companies see someone write about their user experience, and then their community adds to that discussion, it can only be a good thing for improving service all round. Which is never a bad thing.
Mark W Schaefer
4 years 11 months ago
I think this is where the "authenticity" piece legitimately comes into SM. People don;t want to hear about how your spouse snores but they do want to know through your words and actions that you are authentic about how you care for them as a commuinity.
Danny
4 years 11 months ago
And that's something you do incredibly well, Mark, as the lively discussions over at your blog frequently show. :)