How Long Does It Take To Build A Community?

My communities

My communities (Photo credit: steven w)

I received an email from a reader who wants to know how long I think it will take to build a successful blog. The simple answer to that question is it depends on how long it takes to build a community.

That is because I see community as being among the core tenets of a great blog. A good community provides you with readers whose comments help to advance the conversation and whose collective wisdom generate additional ideas for future posts.

A good community is warm, inviting and welcoming. It is a place where newcomers are happy to spend time and welcomed with open arms and that is why I responded to their question as I did.

What do you need to do to build a community online?

One of the best ways to do this is to go visit other blogs/boards/online communities and to start leaving thoughtful comments in those places.  If you do that consistently you will find that people will want to learn more about you and they will come visit.

Don’t be the guy leaves three words about the post they are commenting on and fifteen about how you just blogged about the same topic.

Communities don’t spring up overnight. One of the reasons I like the Spin Sucks community is because Gini is honest about what it has taken to build it. She’ll tell you that it didn’t happen overnight.

One of the things that I try to do in conjunction to leaving thoughtful comments is to link to other bloggers. When you do it properly it can be another very effective way to introduce yourself to others and potentially create interest in becoming a part of the community you are building.

And by properly I mean you do it in a way that makes it clear that you aren’t linking to them for the purpose of link juice but because you found their post to be interesting, valuable and worth sharing with your readers.

Do you see how that is tied in with the idea of leaving thoughtful comments? People like to feel valued and appreciated and links are a useful way of showing your appreciation.

 A Roundup of Posts Worth Reading

Each of the posts below are tied into the theme of this post. While I may not agree with all the points that are made in these you are highly encouraged to go read them.

  1. Why I Remain on the Ad Age 150 Blogger Index
  2. In Social Media, No One Cares Unless YOU Care
  3. 10 Reasons Why Your Content Doesn’t Attract Links
  4. The key to online success? YOU
  5. 3 Simple Ways to Expand Your Blog Through Social Media 
  6. 10 Reasons No One Notices Your Blog Comment
  7. Is Your Marketing a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?

But How Long Does It Take To Build a Community?

The answer is “I don’t know how long it takes to build a community.” I can talk about what needs to be done and whether it is being properly executed but I can’t give you an exact time frame and that is ok.

This is a marathon and not a sprint. The blogosphere is littered with rotting carcasses of blogs that were once among the bright, shiny objects screaming for cyber love. There is low barrier to entry here and the myth that you can go viral overnight is still being promoted by all sorts of people.

What that means is you need to be prepared to spend some time working on building your blog and building your community. You need to accept that it takes time to build relationships with others and that it is ok.

If you are honest and open with the community you are building you will find many rewards come from it. Members will be forgiving of the posts that aren’t home runs and will do what they can to help you.

Take care of your community and they will take care of you.

Now what are you waiting for? Go out there and start building relationships with others.

Two quotes to send you on your way:

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

― John Donne, No Man Is An Island

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