There’s a trick to building a community.
It’s not the 89 book marketing tips. It’s not a formula. It’s not what you’re thinking, either.
It’s knowing that you can’t “build” anything.
People aren’t bricks, beams, or concrete blocks. You can’t dictate their actions. You can’t purchase just the right one at Home Depot. People are lumps of flesh and blood who don’t want to be forced to do what they don’t want to do.
Think of your blog as a group of friends. You can’t demand people to interact. You need to coax them out of their shells. Let them know that your blog is a safe place to express their opinion.
Trust is the foundation you need to build a community on.
Cultivate trust by being yourself. Don’t write things you don’t mean. Don’t try to write like Jon Acuff, Donald Miller, or Seth Godin. That’s not who you are. You aren’t going to build a community by being a fake. We call those people liars and frauds. Aspire higher.
Write your passions. Write your personality. Write with your tribe in mind.
It takes a lot of work to build a community on your blog. Unless you are famous, you won’t start a site and magically have high traffic on the first day. Most writers live in obscurity, famous only in their mind and in their small circle of friends. They write for themselves and never meet the tribe of people waiting to hear their voice.
Which writers do you think have the best interaction on their blog?
Ask questions to connect with your community.
You’ll never know what your readers are thinking unless you ask them.
Think back to first grade. You were curious. You wanted to know the answers to everything.
Tap back into that insatiable curiosity. Ask your readers questions. Sprinkle them throughout the post or ask them at the end. Your tribe members have faces and they want to be known. Not convinced? Watch this video.
If someone takes the time to leave you a comment, you better take the time to respond.
Imagine going to a party, finding the cool kid, and talking to them. You’ve just heard them tell their story, now you want to give them your thoughts on the matter. So you open you mouth and offer your gut-level response. Maybe it’s something that you’ve never shared before. But you know that even though this person is ridiculously cool, they seem to get you.
Instead, they ignore you. They don’t even acknowledge that you are there. How rude!
When you don’t respond to reader comments, you’re snubbing the very community you’ve been slaving away to cultivate. Would you want to be that person?
Invite Further Discussion.
Conversations require more than one or two sentences. Friendships are more than 140 characters. They require continual interaction. They require caring. Sharing. You know…talking.
When a reader comments, talk back to them and ask a follow-up question. Probe. Find out what they really think. They have stories of their own that are worth being up on your website. Get to know them like you were sitting across from them at a coffee shop.
Isn’t that what you’d do if they were standing in front of you?
If your discussion becomes long, invite them to email you. John Locke does that masterfully because he knows that community is built on friendships.
How do you engage your fans? What are some of the ways that you like to be interacted with?