#NBI2015 Tips: Connecting to the Blogging Community

You’re all revved up to take part in this year’s Newbie Blogging Initiative. You’ve done the sign-up. Folks have welcomed you. You’re blogging stuff. It’s moving right along.

While you’ve got the momentum, it’s time to talk about what happens after this month is over, and how to take away the most important part of the experience. I’m talking about the “C” word, the one that’s been tossed around a bit this week. That word is Community.

Gaming bloggers have formed a community whether they meant to or not. The NBI is the community’s way of opening the door and welcoming new folks to join in. You’ve taken the first step through the door, but to make it stick and to really get the most of the experience, there’s a little more to it. I’ve found that building connections with other people is what community is about, and you get back what you put into it.

Being a part of a blogging community is a wonderful and inspiring thing! There’s many times I would have nothing to write, except I just read an article a fellow blogger posted that inspired me to try a different game, do something new, or respond to a topic I wouldn’t have thought of myself. The community is really an ongoing whirlwind of ideas and writing prompts! Not only that, but comments from the community (on your own blog or on other blogs… or when you go to make a comment yourself) can also provide fuel to write.

So How Do You Connect to the Community?

I’m a shy person. I don’t like to throw my writing and creative stuff out there and shout, “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT MY STUFF!”

But under that all, I’m still a writer and creator. So, like many of us, I still want folks to see what I spent so much time musing and writing. It’s a weird sort of paradox, but one I think is familiar for introverted creators. Most of us write because we have something to say and hope that someone else will read it and care.

While I’m not going to promise that you’ll get a million hits and comments and become wildly viral popular, I will say that building up other people is one way to build up yourself. By giving a little bit to fellow bloggers, you might be surprised at what you get in return. The key, though, is to be sincere in what you give – don’t do things because it benefits yourself. Do things because you are genuinely interested in others. That shows through your interactions, and is a good foundation for making lasting connections.

So how do you do that?

  • Remember that behind every blog is a person. View reading that blog as getting to know a bit about the person who writes it. When you react on a blog, always remember you are responding to a person.
  • Follow blogs that appeal to you. I posted an article on using RSS to make this an easier process.
  • Read and comment on blog posts that interest you. (Note, the following is my personal comment etiquette…) Only leave a comment if you have something sincere or significant to add to the discussion. I’ll use a Like button, but I don’t tend to just plop down the “I like this.” or “Good post.” kinda stuff. Spam bots do that enough for us. 🙂
  • Get a Twitter account if you don’t have one already, and follow those bloggers you like. Tweetdeck helps make this easier to do… maybe a future post for me to make!
  • Interact with those bloggers on Twitter. Start out small if  you’re unsure. Favorite posts. Retweet stuff. Respond to questions and offer positive reinforcement. Little interactions are what make up Twitter and can add up over time.
  • When someone comments on your blog, respond to their comment. Like, every time. I try to leave no comment unanswered. Well, unless they’re a troll. In that case, I delete the comment and move on. No need to feed trolls with drama.
  • If you read a blog post that inspires you to respond with your own post on the same topic, link to that original post or to other posts on a similar topic. If you give links freely (and really, this doesn’t take that much time to do), other bloggers will see this, and are more likely to link to you one day, too!
  • Check out blogs in people’s blog rolls. Stop by blogs you’ve never heard of before and see if it’s a new blog you’d like to follow.
  • Be generous and sincere with gratitude. Did someone link you? Thank them. Did someone say something kind about something you wrote? Thank them. Approach people who provide small kindness with appreciation, and return that kindness when you can.
  • Be open to welcoming new bloggers and encouraging other writers. Not just during NBI, but all year around. Even if you’re new, yourself, interact with new folks and encourage them to become part of the community, too.

And the most important thing is:

  • Do all of the above as consistently as possible. The goal isn’t to “earn readers,” it’s to make lasting connections. That takes time as you learn about other bloggers and they learn about you. You get what you put into it.

I’ve been involved in this blogging community for about a year now (since the last NBI), and I still feel like I’m a new kid on the block. I don’t really know who knows me and who doesn’t, or if they know me well. It’s okay, though. This isn’t a popularity contests, it’s a gathering of online writers. That doesn’t stop me from reaching out to interact when something moves me, even though I’m fairly shy.

With all that being said, if vet bloggers have thoughts to add on making connections in the blogging community, I’m humbly open to your feedback!  🙂