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Blogging 201, Day Ten: Support Your Community

Today’s assignment: invest in your community by leaving five comments, adding (or updating) a blogroll, and introducing a comment policy.

You’re designing your blog as a hub for your online presence, ready to receive visitors from everywhere and anywhere. Getting them to engage with your content, though, goes beyond thoughtful branding and a solid presence on other online platforms. It’s about making connections.

Building a sense of community around your blog is a lot like making your own home an inviting space where others enjoy lingering for good conversation (and a slice of cake. Or two).

Today’s assignment: invest in your community by leaving five comments, adding (or updating) a blogroll, and introducing a comment policy.

Why do this?

  • Because community is based on voluntary reciprocity. Engaging with others by commenting on and linking to their content — thoughtfully — leads to other bloggers engaging with your blog.
  • Because letting visitors know who your favorite bloggers are is an organic way to extend your brand and develop your blog’s niche.
  • Because setting clear rules on how readers should behave in your comment section fosters lively, respectful discussions.

By now, you’ve probably amassed a respectable number of favorite blogs in the Reader (of course, if you’re looking for some tips on how to explore more topics, we’re here to help). You might occasionally stumble on a great find on Freshly Pressed, or browse the Blogging 201 Blogroll for like-minded bloggers — with hundreds of participants, you’ll be hard-pressed not to find a few.

Reading others’ posts is great in itself — you learn new things, get exposed to more writing styles, and find new ideas for your own posts. But you should also make an effort to engage with at least some of the bloggers whose writing you enjoy. Leave a substantive comment, share a story, or add a pingback in one of your own posts when it makes sense.

We know that it’s sometimes intimidating to break the barrier of silence on a site’s comment section. But there are so many things you can say — from sharing your reaction to the post to asking the blogger to expand on a specific detail. Today, leave five substantive comments on blogs where you’ve never commented before. We know many of your have already been doing this — it’s a great habit to cultivate, and it helps to push yourself beyond the blogs you typically read.

If you already have a blogroll, this is a great moment to edit it: add a few more blogs you’ve recently discovered, remove those who haven’t posted in a while, and tweak the number of links to keep things streamlined.

Next, it might be time for a blogroll to show some sidebar love to your favorite bloggers. Select a few and add them to your Links Menu, then create a Links Widget to make them visible to your readers. It’s important not to simply throw every single blog you follow into the blogroll: this will make for a long eyesore of a widget, and will beat the purpose of making meaningful connections with those bloggers you really connect with. If you’d rather not add another widget, add a “Links I Love” page.

To give your blogroll some extra I don’t know what, consider:

  • Adding hover-over text to the links to give  your links punchy descriptions. “The funniest blog about reptiles on the internet!” “Easy-to-follow tutorials for Renaissance Faire costumes.” You get the idea.
  • Linking directly to a post you love (and think your readers will love) rather than to the blogger’s home page.
  • Splitting your blogroll into categories to help readers get to the content that’s relevant to them — especially handy if you write on a range of topics and have a varied audience.
  • Considering who you link to. Your blogroll is a reflection of what you read and love, not a quid pro quo.

Of course, building stronger relationships with the blogging community means that more and more people will chime in on your content. Make your online home that much more welcoming by making it clear what they should and shouldn’t do while commenting by creating a comment moderation policy.

Here are our commenting guidelines — feel free to crib from them!

You have a great deal of control over how — and even whether — visitors can leave comments. You’ll want to implement a comment moderation policy that matches your temperament, sensibilities, and amount of free time. Make it crystal clear to readers what kinds of comments are unwelcome, whether for their tone, content, or any other pet peeve you might have. (Of course, being all “get off my lawn!” all the time isn’t necessarily the best option, either.)

Once you’ve settled on the parameters for visitors’ comments, make sure they can find them — easily. If it’s a fairly short and simple policy, you could post it to your sidebar in a text widget. Something more involved could call for a comment moderation policy page, which you could link to in your menu.

Either way, remember: your blog is your space, so you set the rules. But it’s also where you want others to feel comfortable, so be sure to set the tone by maintaining a friendly, respectful tone. If you’re unsure, ask you co-bloggers in The Commons.

Editor’s Note: Many of you have been creating or revitalizing social network pages and profiles for you blog over the past few days. Feel free to leave a link to your page/profile on this page on The Commons, so you can more easily find and friend one another.

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      1. I am still undecided about blog rolls I think at times they can look really messy, jurys out for me at the mo, not ruled out though, Carlenoeldhams one looks great though, but the big ones can be a bit of an overkill or detract from the blogs post info I think x

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    1. I like the widget that shows posts that I’ve liked. I prefer this ever-changing showcase of others’ good writing over a blogroll. That being said, I admit that I get a warm, fuzzy feeling any time I see myself on someone else’s blogroll.
      /waves at Sheena

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      1. Hi Cyn! I started that not too long ago on my blog. I got the idea from Fish of Gold and have found some other blogs that way through hers and other sites.

        I would like to have a “one stop shop” for everyone…eventually :-)

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  1. Reading and commenting the posts in “Freshly Pressed” is one of my favorite things to do at free time. Indeed a lot of posts provided excellent tips to improve writing skills.

    I wonder how those posts were selected onto “Freshly Pressed”?

    Thanks,

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    1. There are four editors who read a lot of blogs and search Twitter for great writing on WordPress.com. We hand-select posts for Freshly Pressed.

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  2. This is a really great idea. If any of you blog on issues relating to women I’d be very interested to read some of your posts.

    My blog is very much about inspiring women and providing a platform for women to share and discuss a variety of things that impact them.

    A lot of my posts are about my personal journey and life experiences as a woman, from relationships, personal struggles, my faith, travels, charity to work etc. Everything I write somehow links to the main issue of being a woman.

    Please visit and let me know what you think, I’ll be sure to visit your blog also :)

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      1. Hey i took a look at your blog and commented there :-) If you have time would love a look back. BTW your n ame doesnt seem to link back to a URL that works just so you know I found your blog through the URL you copy pasted x You might want to link your gravatar/avatar up to your current blog that is all x

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    1. Hey i took a look at your blog and commented there :-) If you have time would love a look back. BTW your n ame doesnt seem to link back to a URL that works just so you know I found your blog through the URL you copy pasted x You might want to link your gravatar/avatar up to your current blog that is all x

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      1. Hi, I just replied to your comment too :). Thank you for spotting that, I’ll make that change now, so it links easily. That’s why I love this community, lovely people looking out for each other…thanks you :)

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  3. I have not been partaking in this up to now, because i have been blogging for many years. However, I find it interesting that we should support our community. Of course, and I visit my colleagues every day in the daily prompt, sometimes leaving a comment. I used to do a pingback but this has now been disabled. This was a great way of support, I found. However, today at last I discovered the html way of doing it. It takes time and patience, but I hope those in my community that allow pingbacks will be satisfied.

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  4. I’ve found that these tips have been the keys to successful blogging for me… however moderate my success may be :)

    One of my favorite things to do is to be the first to comment on a new post in my reader. Likes are find and dandy, but it’s the interaction with other bloggers that really makes this whole thing worthwhile and fun. I’ve made some really great friends on WordPress, and it all started with one of us leaving a comment on a post. Those friendships grow, and that brings a terrific human element to this online life of blogging.

    Here is the link to my main page. This is where I have my social media buttons, and I’d love to connect with each of you through these sites as well – http://theweeklyminute.wordpress.com/

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    1. but it’s the interaction with other bloggers that really makes this whole thing worthwhile and fun.

      We feel the same! Getting to meet the people who are on WordPress.com has been fun for us. We’ve learned a lot too.

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  5. Hello,

    I only commented on three blogs from the freshly pressed section, it was hard and I took a lot of time writing the posts, but it felt good! So there’s that!
    Here is my FB page, https://www.facebook.com/Lucandrob like it if you like it;-)

    I tend to write comments to the blogs I follow every 3-4 days, and I saw that it increases the hits….

    kat

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  6. One of the unexpected delights about having a WP blog is the community I’ve become part of. It started to grown on it’s own then I found more bloggers and readers to join in. It is a real joy. We also freely share and ask for guest posts – something I never thought about when I first started this adventure. I’m also amazed by the variety and talent of my fellow bloggers. I’m honored that they follow my somewhat unusual blog (vampiremaman.com). That said… I’ve been meaning to make a blog roll or at least a page listing my favorite blogging friends. Thanks for the reminder.

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  7. I always try to leave a couple comments each week. I just added a new blog to my blog roll. I try to keep it pretty expat and international teacher centered. Are there any other international teacher blogs out there?

    – Amanda

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  8. I wish there was a good widget for library thing since I use this site and belong to some groups there. I have two blog rolls. One that I have liked and the other ones that I follow. Splitting my follow blogroll into categories to help readers get to the content that’s relevant to them is a great idea.

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  9. The WP community has been the biggest surprise over the years. If you need to understand something, there’s always someone willing to share. Lots and lots of fascinating stories to read and discussions to observe/participate in.
    One of the easiest way to improve stats is to visit other blogs and leave suitable comments that show you actually read the post.
    I remember when these WP Comment Guidelines first came out – lots of discussions about them. Modify them to suit your whims and your readers. Some blogs welcome long responses with multiple bloggers responding to comments, too. Some blogs feature quick responses. It all depends. Just put on party manners and fit into the crowd.
    Hmmm need to update blog roll…some are MIA now. Developing categories is a great idea – I love the blogs that have that. Seems like last summer a bunch of blogger decided to close out blog rolls to make site look less cluttered – and allow room for other things. (Asked readers to visit commenters’ blogs – as those people were the ones normally in the blog roll). Some started a rolling list so the same blog didn’t always come up as first in the list (always trying to be fair). But yes, the blog roll does need attention time to time.
    See ya’ around the neighborhood

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  10. yay! love today’s assignment. i’ll be back later and but look forward to building and connecting with some new faces/pages!

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  11. This sounds great, having only recently joined the blogging community myself I’m surprised at the number of blogs I’ve found that cheer me up after a long day at work. Its quickly become the part of my day I most look forward to. Don’t forget to check out my blog :) http://everygirlsfairytale.wordpress.com/

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  12. I don’t know why/if I’m doing something wrong.
    So far I have done most of your guidelines, way before starting blogging 201. I do enjoy visiting other blogs, I always leave a comment other than “I like” or “great post”. I follow other people. I have a blogroll. I reply to comments on my blogs (easy as I don’t have too many) and so on.
    I even opened a twitter account few days ago.
    And yet, I don’t know, since I changed the name of my blog (and despite telling everyone and doing a redirect) and migrated from wordpress.com to wordpress.org, I’ve lost many followers, comments are rare and all that.
    I feel a bit disheartened. Well… lucky that I do not wish to be internationnaly famous eh? :-)

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    1. what is the difference between wp.com and wp.org? Also, not sure what this has occurred. For me, I visit many blogs but rarely follow. I do read and leave comments. When it comes to my blog, I revisit those that consistently engage with me. I have a few reasons for this but it would be rather long winded for this page. Actually, I think I will write a post.

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      1. wp.org is self hosted. Since I have passed a webdesign course, I wanted the freedom to play with themes and maybe build my own without it costing no much more than the domain name. I’m happy with my choice but I’ve lost the sense of community that is built within wp.com (easy to follow, share, comment, like, etc.). I feel like I have to do it all over again with less “results”.

        http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/

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      1. basically yes. I did love wp.com and for novice, it’s perfect as everything is there on a plate; It’s when you want to have a hand on it, play with the css and all that, that having it self-hosted is sometimes better. But what you may have in freedom of design you loose it in community and spirit.
        Here’s the link again showing the pros and cons :-)

        http://en.support.wordpress.com/com-vs-org/

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  13. This is a very helpful nudge, and thanks for it. I find I often get so stuck in my head (and noodling with my new WP theme) that I miss reading what else is out there for a few days (or even weeks). Perhaps I should “schedule” some time to explore each week — time in which I’m not allowed to monkey with my own posts.

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  14. I’m often finding new blogs to follow and commenting is a daily thing for me. I love checking my reader every day. I also have a blogroll in my sidebar using the Links widget. I updated it today. I have 16 blogs in my blogroll list but I chose to show 12 and rotate them randomly.

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