Blissdom – Connecting With Your Community of Readers

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Over the weekend I attended BlissDom (a Blogging Conference).  I had an amazing time as Barbara & Alli made sure there was fun and engaging events throughout the weekend.

I made new friends, met several of my blog crushes, and finally met IRL long-time blogging buddies.  With all the fun I had, what I didn’t expect was the real connection I felt with my fellow bloggers.  It’s kind of a weird phenomena to know so much about a person but don’t really know what they look like!  {{bwaaahaa}}

I hope you’ll bear with me as today’s post is going to be a bit long.  I had the honor of speaking with several fabulous women.  Our session was on Friday and we spoke on the topic “connecting with your community of readers”.  I collaborated with several other women and teamed together to share a few of our cool secrets  and strategies.  With so much amazing information I thought I’d share it with YOU two!

Granted, you’ll be getting the very short version.  But I hope that it will convince you to save your pennies and come to BlissDom with us next year!  {{giddy}}

Free Print Out: BlissDom Hand Out

Now, you might be asking yourself, “Why is Laurie bothering to try to teach me how to connect with my readers?  I’m just blogging about my family.”

Well, the reason is because it’s a very exciting time to be a blogger right now.  Opportunities are popping up everywhere! So you never know where your little blog might take you in a year from now.  Also, these are things that the rest of us had to figure out on our own.  Why not arm yourself with more info so you can make your blog even better.  {{Seriously, what do you have to loose?}}

Connecting with Your Community of Readers

What makes some blogs meccas for loyal fans? Your readership grows when you engage your readers.  Enrich your understanding of cultivating an audience and giving back to your readers in the ways that are natural for you and that matter to them.

Speakers:

I was honored to be speaking with 3 other amazing women.  I have gotten to know them a bit during our skype conversations and e-mails while collaborating to put together an amazing presentation.  We wanted to start out with the basics and then really dive into the “secrets” so to speak.  We are each completely different from each other – which made our panel really cool and informative as we each have different strategies.

Amy – Mom Advice, @momadvice
Stephanie – Adventures in Babywearing, @babysteph
Mindy – The Mommy Blog , @themommyblog
Laurie – Tip Junkie, @tipjunkie

Overview of how to connect with your readers

These are the basic topics of what we disused in our session.  I just loved how BlissDom was laid out with all the panelists at the table which could easily be seen and heard by everyone.  It’s a conference that is absolutely well thought out and planned to help you learn, network, and collaborate.

  • Do’s & Don’ts
  • Blogging Alliances
  • Tricks of the Trade
  • Next Level
  • Q&A

Be Your Authentic Self

Amy took the lead as she has been a radio personality and has been blogging for 6 years.  This is a topic that all 4 of us are very passionate and feel strongly about.  No one else has your talents, trials, personality, and experience.  Use it to your advantage to just be yourself and show off your personality.

  • Let Your Personality Shine
  • Join Special Interest Groups
  • Value Your Readership –  more than free stuff
  • Gain Trust
  • Don’t fake it

Use what you have naturally to allow people to connect with you. Your readers want to admire, but also relate to you. Confess, peel back a little, and don’t alienate them by bragging all the time.  Include them and promote them when you can without it being obvious.  Your readers are a natural extension of your blog so use their comments to become topics of your blog posts and let them you know you hear and appreciate them.

Create Your Own Special Interest Group

The best way to gain a readership is to go where your readers hang out.   Find communities like Good Reads (for book clubs), Nings, Yahoo Groups, and other places online and join in the discussions there.  As you gain friendships and become apart of those communities – they will naturally find you on your blog and become apart of yours.

Stephanie took the lead as she has a very specific and small niche; babywearing.  She makes it easy for her readers to meet and hosted a fun contest on her blog as well as created a blogroll specifically to unite women in her niche.

Tip Junkie has a place on the sidebar that invites creative women to connect and reach out to each other.  Look for the cute hearts – as they are links to where creative women are socializing and sharing projects with each other.

Our advice:  Establish and have a community before you “create” one of your own. It’s really hard for a brand new blog to take off if you haven’t introduced yourself around the community, no one likes a leech- don’t expect others to promote you.

The Golden Blog Rule

“Comment unto others as they have commented unto you.”

  • Be Generous & Genuine
  • Engage Readers
  • Power of Reciprocity – “You Get What You Give”
  • Follow Up Questions on Twitter or E-mail

When you leave a comment be respectful and the comment should have to do with the post, not to promote yourself or your latest giveaway.  Ending your blog posts with a question that is related to the post but not specifically already discussed in the post is a great way to engage your readers and get them chatting with each other.

I know that everyone wants more comments.  In my opinion you have 2 ways of getting them:

  1. Join SITSgirls where their community comments when they see the SITS button.
  2. Comment on other blogs within your niche and community with relevant and kind words.

These are tried and true strategies.  Unfortunately, there’s not a secret WordPress plug-in that will entice more bloggers to leave you comments.  Just be yourself and lift other people up – then they will do the same for you.  {{wink}}

Engage Your Readers

There are many examples of how bloggers are engaging their readers.  We wanted to share some unique and cool ways to get your inspired to create your own unique ways:

  • SAY IT FORWARD – 5 Minutes for Mom picks a commenter each week to feature.
  • GIVEAWAY IN DISGUISE – MckMama randomly posts a picture which ends up being a giveaway for those who commented.

Create Your Own Experience

The perfect example is our panel.  All four of us have had different life experiences, talents, trials, and very different personalities.  Yet we all ended up in the same place at BlissDom.

  • Create triumph out of your rials
  • Blog about your passions which will attract like-minded readers
  • Use your passion to create a bigger purpose for your life
  • Let people get invested in your story; they want to know how it ends

Outsource and barter your weaknesses – for example I don’t do my own graphics on my blog. Also, grow with your blog – it’s ok to let your blog evolve and let things change – it attracts new readers and keeps the loyal ones engaged.  None of us do it the same way and that’s ok. Just be yourself, share your passions, and your readers will keep coming back.

Don’t compare your insides to others outsides while you’re blogging. (That’s a quote from someone – I wish I could remember so I could give them credit.)

Create Triumph out of your Trials

There are tons of examples of fabulous bloggers who create their own experiences.  We highlighted these two:

  • REMODELING THIS LIFE – Showed her vulnerability which makes readers relate to you more and want to engage with your site.
  • THE MOMMY BLOG – Relates the truly tender, life altering, and heart breaking  moments with humor.

… To Be Continued.

Sorry Ladies, this is getting WAY to long.  I’ll continue the session a little later this week.

33 comments

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  1. Comment-Anonymous Jess

    What a great post! Gosh I can hardly wait to read more. Thanks so much!

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  3. Comment-Anonymous Robin

    I love this! I want more! Thank you for taking the time to share all of this with us. I look forward to implementing some of this… maybe today.

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  5. Comment-Anonymous Jami @Intentionally Living

    Thank you so much for posting this! I Love love love that you included the handout..it alllllmost makes me feel like I was there 😉

    I hope to go to Blissdom 2011!! So thank you for sharing this…it let me glimpse a little more into what it’s all about! Looks like you lady’s had a wonderful time.

    And thank you for sharing all these tips. I’m super excited to check out some of the links and start comment like crazy 😉

    Thanks again and Happy Blogging 😀

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  7. Comment-Anonymous Cole

    Thank you so much for the great advice! Can’t wait for the next installment!

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  9. Laurie Turk Laurie

    HA! I feel like I should put a check in the mail for that comment. It was cool meeting you as well. I told my man about our conversation and he laughed so hard. He said it was just like me to do something like that. I tell ya – it’s never a dull day as the Tip Junkie.

    I didn’t think I’d actually meet one of the 5 men who read Tip Junkie. Now I can say, “Hey Ladies & Rusty”. {{wink}} Maybe that will encourage the other four to give me a shout out.

    Tell Holly I said “Hello!” You know – we’re now BFF’s. We’ve bonded over moderating our panels and laughing at our conversation.

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