The Benefits of Social Networking: Creating a Community for your Blog
When I first started writing my blog, just over one year ago, my intentions were for it to be an ‘online diary of sorts’ and so that was my tag-line. It was my own personal space of the wonderful World Wide Web and I wasn’t necessarily bothered who would read it. That was a good job really as, initially, nobody did. It wasn’t until I received a comment from another blogger that I realised people might actually be interested in what I had to say.
My very kind commenter insisted that I sign up to Twitter- which I did- and not long after I created a fan page on Facebook. It all felt very self-important, if I’m to be honest. Who did I think I was, creating a fan page and suggesting myself to friends in the hope that they would ‘like’ me? It was another blogger who summed it all up for me; blogging was no different from anything else in life and if you want to succeed, you have to get out there and tell people how fantastic you are.
It got easier. I managed to set up a link to Twitter and Facebook so that each time I published a post, it would indicate by way of a tweet or status update. I also learned how to schedule tweets so that I could promote my posts automatically, without even being at the computer. More people began reading and commenting and it wasn’t long before I was well and truly hooked on this blogging lark!
I quickly realised that self-promotion was only a teeny-tiny toe-dip into the wide ocean that is parent blogging. There is a whole community out there who really cares about each and every word that is typed into WordPress, Blogger or Typepad. This community’s strength is built upon good, solid foundations that originate from good old-fashioned hard work. Blogging can be as time-consuming as a job, if you let it. It isn’t enough to simply write. You have to read. You have to comment. You have to join groups. You have to network.
“I quickly realised that self-promotion was only a teeny-tiny toe-dip into the wide ocean that is parent blogging. There is a whole community out there..”
“It isn’t enough to simply write. You have to read. You have to comment. You have to join groups. You have to network.”
Of course, all of this is voluntary. Nobody told me that I had to do all of these things, or else. I do know that Ghostwritermummy may not have survived her first year if I hadn’t, though. By commenting on other people’s blogs, you are extending an invitation for others to come and read and comment on your own. By reading other blogs, you are expanding not only your reading list, but you are growing and nurturing online friendships too. After I wrote about my son’s traumatic birth, I met so many other women who wanted to share their stories too. Eventually, myself and another blogger set up Maternity Matters, as a place where other women could share their experiences and find support. This has been one of the best things to come out of blogging for me.
There are other ways to use social media for your benefit. Blogging communities are very fond of memes, or linkys. These are basically opportunities for bloggers to write on a shared theme and link up their posts. The result is a list of posts on one theme for you to read- and of course it you link up yourself, you will get others to read your work, too. There are also organised online communities which have been set up specifically for parent bloggers. Brit Mums, Netmums and Mumsnet are the most popular and are excellent sources of information.
From here, it is up to you which path you wish your blog to take. I joined all of the communities, I spend time chatting to other bloggers on Twitter and I host Facebook Friday, which is a linky for other bloggers to link up their fan pages. This helps me to connect with other bloggers. I embraced this new life, being an all or nothing kind of person. Others join only one network or choose not to use Twitter. Whichever way, its fine- nothing is compulsory!
So what do I get from all of this? At first, blogging was my form of therapy and it soon became an important part of my life. In April of this year, I was nominated as most inspiring blogger in the Mums and Dads Blog Awards (MADs) and in September was announced as a runner-up. I have also written a few articles for other publications and have been lucky enough to attend various blogging events, such as Cybermummy and, more recently, a Mamas and Papas event at the company’s headquarters in Huddersfield. Such events are beginning to be held in the North West more and more, which is fantastic for local bloggers.
“Make the most of social media and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!”
My advice for new bloggers, or those who are still unsure, is this: if you love writing, then write. If you want people to read what you’ve written, a blog is an excellent way to start. Not only do you have ultimate creative control over every single word that is published, but you will also find that you are building a high quality working portfolio. If you make the most of the communities out there- and (every type of blogger has a blogging community to join; the parent blogging community is only one of them) you will be lucky enough to meet so many like-minded, supportive individuals. Make the most of social media and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!
Susanne Remic is a primary school teacher, freelance writer and parenting blogger. (writing at Ghostwritermummy.) She is also busy writing her first novel as part of the National Write a Novel Month scheme, for which she is collecting sponsors to raise money for the Birth Trauma Association. You can also follow Susanne on Facebook or Twitter.