How to improve your blog community by being yourself

As we all focus on search engine optimization, blogging, and social media… we tend to forget a very important element – Personality.

People want the real you (if they want you at all).

I’m not implying that we shouldn’t be professional and show subject matter expertise when we write, but is that it? There are millions of people talking about the same topics I talk about and probably yours too. Now that we know we aren’t the only ones talking about social media, how can we improve our blog communities by being ourselves?

1. Write down three important personal interests and put them in your bio.

Cheesy? Yes. Painful? Maybe. Useful? Definitely. If you’ve had a blog for more than six months and the three things you write down can’t be found in a post or in your About page, we’ve got a problem. If people take the time out of their days to read our ramblings, unless we’re THE thought leader in the industry crushing it with every single post… we’ve got to let them get to know us.

chris-moody-three-things

Three “personal” things about me influence a lot of what I write or talk about and have all served as conversation starters online and in person.

2. Write as if you are talking to your friends or colleagues.

I too get the Dictionary.com Word of the Day, but that doesn’t mean I need to use it in each post. The goal is to get people to take the time to read and hopefully follow a call to action (comment, subscribe, buy, download, etc.). Today the word is jnana. Do you know what that means? Do I look smart or intelligent for using that? Be conversational and serve your audience – if your audience knows jnana, you get brownie points.

3. Be passionate about things you believe in or are an advocate for.

Please understand that the tips and tricks to making a blog successful are important, but balance that with the fact that in less than 20 minutes… I can start a new blog talking about whatever I want. There is more noise than ever and to build a community, you must either serve a niche or build relationships – ideally both.

If you are motivated to write a post that evokes emotion, do it before you change your mind. To this date, my post with the most engagement (shares, comments, emails, direct messages, discussions, etc) is my most personal post. One that I debated writing. One that I reread four times before posting. One that I wrote at 3am. Passion and expertise differentiate.

4. Reply to comments and share, share, share.

If you receive a comment, take the time to respond – whether publicly or private. Reading and commenting takes time and to the best of my knowledge, we don’t yet have an infinite supply of that. Showing your community that you’re listening, processing, and thinking about what they say is extremely important.

Also, check out the blogs and tweets from your readers. Chris Brogan suggests that we should share 12 times as much as we self-promote on Twitter. Think about that before posting five tweets with different variations promoting that recent blog post. Reciprocity helps strengthen relationships.

5. Extend your reach and get away from the computer.

Since the beginning of time, human interaction has been extremely important. As we create more and more tools to facilitate this online, we forget that in-person interactions are still extremely beneficial. While I say that somewhat tongue-in-check, it is important to make those face-to-face connections when you can. It could be a customer a few miles away or a commenter attending the next industry conference you’re going to. Take the time to cultivate those relationships and you won’t have to tell them when you publish new blog posts… they’ll know. Be yourself and get out there and network.

The benefit of being yourself…

I’ll be the first to admit that most of these tips are not revolutionary or ground-breaking. Often times, the simple things are the ones we neglect. Personal branding is extremely important, but if your personal brand is simply a professional façade with none of the things that set you apart… you’ll just continue to be an information hub. Think of your favorite blog and I’m confident you’ll know at least three things about the person writing it.

chris-moody-traffic

While this post isn’t about metrics, in my opinion, repeat visitors are more critical than first time visitors. Far too often, we choose to monitor “Visitors” because it is the largest number, but there are far more variables there. Keep a constant eye on your Repeat visitors and try to narrow the gap between your first time and repeat folks. The smaller that gap is, the stronger your community is and the more engagement you’ll see. Being yourself is the fastest way to get there.


Thanks for reading this post.

Follow me on the rest of the webs.

Still not sure who wrote this post? I'm Chris Moody.

Comments

  1. Great post Chris. You're right, sometimes it is the little things we forget, but that are so important. I know I subscribe to my favorite blogs for the great information, but also because I really like the people behind them. Thanks for writing this.

    Reply
  2. I love this post. And I agree with Meredith…you have to remind people about these points, because it is so easy to forget them and fall into a pattern of self-promotion and narcissism in the web 2.0 world.

    Reply
  3. Building community requires transparency. In a nutshell, that is the major takeaway and consistent message here. Transparent in your verbiage and personal taste coupled with a strong consistent stand on the issues you are passionate about. It's true, I know personal things about the authors of the blogs I read. For instance, Amber Naslund (soon to be Brass Tack but currently Altitude Branding) enjoys Sauvignon Blanc, is very particular about the pens she uses, and is very sarcastic. Scott Stratten (Unmarketing) adores his son (Unjr), rocks karaoke, and hates #hashtagsthatdonotcapitalizeeachword. Those are just a couple…When I think about it, the blog community isn't that much different from your IRL community. You get to know each other, share knowledge, and converse.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Sum

    Reply
  4. Thanks for the comment Summer and I definitely agree about online communities mimicking networks in real life.

    Also – do you receive payments from Amber and Scott for name-dropping? If not, you should negotiate that because it could be rather lucrative. ;)

    Reply
  5. I'm all about being personable. I mean it is SOCIAL media after all. There needs to be a healthy balance between the lines, so to speak. Search Engine Optimization can only get you so far. It's the relationship that you build with your readers, followers, fans, etc. that will enhance that far beyond the technical. If people just want to be technical & promote, they are in the wrong medium. Of course, that's my very humble opinion. :)

    Great post, Chris!

    Reply
  6. Great post. Bringing your personality into your blog is a great way to give your readers a chance to learn more about you. It's probably something I should do more of. And you'll be more likely to be remembered than if you're just writing the same stuff that a bunch of others are writing.

    How much personal stuff you bring in depends on what your goals are for the blog. And you should use good judgment–some things just aren't meant to be shared and could be detrimental to your goals/personal brand.

    Reply
  7. Hi Chris,

    Starting a blog has an extremely low barrier to entry, like you said. It's easy to forgo the effort of figuring out “why” and finding your voice. We all hear that resumes are passé and that everyone needs a blog to be relevant and competitive in the job market. Bah humbug. If that’s the only reason you’re blogging, chances are you’re boring. And probably don’t have much engagement. And maybe that’s ok for your blog-as-resume, but not for your blog-as-community.

    Thanks for the much needed, if not entirely original, advice on how to improve your blog community. I'm guilty of the ready-fire-aim approach myself and am in the processing of fixing that. The constantly evolving landscape of social media platforms can make for a serious case of not seeing the forest for the trees. The trees are people, folks. Talk with them, not at them. And be yourself. Chris, you are hilarious and pretty darn smart for a Dumb Guy, and that’s why I love you ☺

    Thanks!

    Emily
    @EmilyHaughey

    Reply
  8. I'm all for the enhanced version of self. I am a sarcastic, sharp-tongued kid with a love of social media, but not nearly the levels I convey online. I don't think it comes across as false, but at the same time, it's not exactly the person I am.

    Also, when I thought about what people learn about me from my blog, I shuddered a little bit.

    Reply
  9. I think everyone that knows you automatically sees your personality in The AntiMedia. Personally, I like how you play a little on both sides (love / hate relationship with social media). :)

    Reply
  10. Well spoken as usual ma'am. I think that ready-fire-aim is perfectly fine as long as there is passion behind it. :)

    We're the three best friends that anyone could have.

    Reply
  11. Good stuff bro!

    Do you have any criteria you use for finding the balance with your personality when it pertains to more professional goals? Corporate blogging for a personal company for example.

    Reply
  12. I'm the same way.

    I use the same writing style, sarcasm and all that good stuff… it just isn't as “exposing” I guess.

    That would be a cool little study there. If you want to collaborate on it, let me know. :)

    Reply
  13. C Moody: Totally dig this. You and I think a lot alike. I think that's why I like you. Why not move out to the 801 and we'll blow it up out here? Seriously though, all of your points are spot on. I love #1. As it turns out, my bio includes “Beer. Coffee. People. (in no particular order). Again. Me. You. Same page.

    Carry on…

    DJ Waldow
    Director of Community, Blue Sky Factory
    @djwaldow

    Reply
  14. Good to hear from you man!

    I tend to find myself more attached to the folks I can get to know… even if that is online. Are you heading to Blogworld or NME in Chicago? I'd love to hang out sometime soon. :)

    Reply
  15. What a great framework. I especially like your point about sharing who we are: “If you’ve had a blog for more than six months and the three things you write down can’t be found in a post or in your About page, we’ve got a problem.”

    Reply
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  17. I'm a bit split. I definitely shove my personality into everything that I do, but I also don't do too much in the way of segmenting as much as I occasionally overlay. I talk about business and marketing and storytelling and stuff, and I might throw in a superhero reference, but I try to keep it all in one pot, so to speak.

    Reply
  18. I think being yourself is extremely important. You don't have to go into great detail about your personal life or anything like that, but need to give readers some idea of what you stand for. :)

    Reply
  19. I really like that approach of not segmenting the two. Writing with a conversational tone should automatically infuse some amount of personality if we're doing it right.

    Obviously, you do it right and set a great example for everyone to follow.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Chris! See you soon buddy. :)

    Reply
  20. What a great article Chris! I am an advocate for people being themselves and write about it on my blog every so often. If you create a false persona as your brand it becomes constant work to live that lie. And what's the point in working so hard if you can be more successful by being yourself and having fun?

    Reply
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