How To Grow Your Online Community as a Blogger
Back in 2012 when I first started Keep Calm and Chiffon, I wasn’t really doing it for anyone other than myself. It started as an outfit diary of sorts, mostly as a way for me to keep track of my personal style and see what I wore over time. But a blog is nothing without its readers, and you’ll never see me publish a post on here that doesn’t provide value or give back to my community in some way. Whether I’m sharing how to style a certain item of clothing, giving you the latest scoop on a new beauty launch, or sharing blogging tips and tricks that I’ve used to help grow my audience over time, I always want readers to walk away feeling like I gave them something useful. If you take two, five, or ten minutes out of your day to read one of my blog posts or watch one of my YouTube videos, that means so much to me because I know how busy we can all get and I want to make sure that that time and experience is worthwhile to you.
So, how do you create an online community? Not just someone who stumbles across your blog once and then never thinks about it again—but a group of dedicated readers who care about the same things that you care about and getting them to not only check back in with you over and over again, but who may even pass you along to their friends or family who they think might also enjoy the type of content you’re creating. Here are a few strategies that I’ve used to establish a community of Keep Calm and Chiffon readers who are here for more than just a minute.
Build your email list
If you are a blogger in 2018 and you don’t have an email list, I think you should seriously consider creating one. Develop a newsletter using Mailchimp or Convertkit and plan on sending it out once a week or bimonthly to the people who consume your content on a regular basis. My newsletter (which you can subscribe to here) goes out once a week on Sundays and in addition to a roundup of the new content that I’ve created in the past week, like blog posts and YouTube videos, it also includes a section called “Currently Coveting” where I share what I have saved in my online shopping cart at stores I love like ASOS, Nasty Gal, Mango, Topshop and more. I also like to provide exclusive information in the newsletter that gives people a bit of a behind-the-scenes look at things. I’ve also used it to make announcements that go out to my email list before I share news on social media.
Encourage conversations on social media
In my eyes, one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a blogger (or digital publication) is to ignore your audience. Social media has given us such an incredible opportunity to engage with people who consume our content on a daily basis and it is a fantastic resource to be able to reach your readers with a simple Instagram comment. So ask them what they want to see from you, answer them when they ask where your shoes are from, and poll them on what they’d rather your next post look like. Not only does it make it more fun to share the experience with other people, but if readers feel like they’re involved in the process, they’ll keep coming back to see the final result. Social media can of course be overwhelming, so plan on setting aside 30 minutes where you can go through and answer comments and DM’s and then plan to stop when you hit that time limit.
Start a recurring series on your website or Instagram
People love consistency when it comes to blogs and posting and when you’re just starting out I think it’s one of the most important things that you can do to grow. For example, I post on Mondays and Fridays here on the blog, upload new videos to my YouTube channel on Wednesdays and send my weekly newsletter out to my email list on Sundays. You can also be consistent by starting a recurring series on your blog or Instagram account for people to look forward to. I know Caitlin Patton of Sophistication (pictured with me above!) has started a #SelfCareSunday series on her Instagram stories and I love tuning in each week to see how she’s treating herself and it reminds me to take a minute for myself and do a face mask or something else relaxing. Some of the recurring series I do here on my blog are my how to style series, my shopping guide series, my “Face Off” beauty series and my NYC Neighborhood Guide series.
Create a Facebook group for your blog
This is something that I haven’t gotten around to doing yet but have thought a lot about because of how active users are in Facebook groups. I’m in lots of Facebook groups focused on blogging and freelance writing (and okay a few for Bachelor franchise fans too) and the ability to be exposed to so many different people and comment back to them, start discussion threads, or take polls is something that is so unique and gives you direct access to your audience. A great example of this is the Who What Wear Insiders Facebook group where fashion lovers are constantly talking about up-and-coming designers, where to shop, or what trends will be big for this season. If you don’t want to create an entire Facebook group for these types of conversations, host a live tweeting session on Twitter or go live on Instagram and offer to answer people’s questions. As long as you’re encouraging a conversation, you’re on the right track.