Back in the day, when I had my old blog, I made a few blog friends — other bloggers who regularly read and commented on my site. I loved getting to know these women via the Internet, and I continue to follow the ones who are still around. I didn’t call them anything other than “blog friends,” though one of them used the term “blends,” which not surprisingly, didn’t catch on.
When I started Mommy Sanest, I researched — and I continue to research — how to be successful in this very crowded mommy blog space. And over and over, I keep seeing that to be successful, you must find your tribe.
Back in the aughts, this wasn’t a thing you set out to do (or at least, I didn’t). You stumbled across a blog, you read it, you liked it, you commented, they checked you out, they liked you, they commented, and ta da! Best Blogging Buddies Forever.
Now, according to every blogging resource everywhere, if you are a new blogger, you must find your tribe… like right this second. And, it makes sense that you can be more successful and feel more confident in your work if you have blog friends who dig your content, comment on a regular basis, and promote your stuff on social media.
I don’t know about you, but this near-hysterical directive to “GO FIND SOME BLOG FRIENDS, LOSER” is daunting. As a new blogger, how do you even start to “find your tribe”?
Well, I don’t have one, so grain of salt and all that, but I’m a little wary of this whole blogging tribe thing. But maybe that’s just because the word “tribe” makes it seem like there’s a group of people out there just waiting to lift me up and make my blog successful. I just have to find them… and make them like me. Easy, right?
The only problem with that plan is that I really believe that relationships with other bloggers need to happen authentically, so when I wander around the Internet attempting to find a tribe, it all feels forced and desperate and kind of like a horrible, virtual high school situation, and please.make.it.stop. For me, it’s more about connecting with individual bloggers in a way that makes sense.
FIND YOUR TRIBE: A RELATIVELY PAINLESS PLAN FOR BEGINNING BLOGGERS TO MAKE CONNECTIONS WITH OTHER BLOGGERS
Figure out who you are. Finding your tribe and making blog friends come easier when you have a sense of what you’re trying to do. A lot of us jump into blogs and just start writing. While I know my content strategy on Mommy Sanest will continue to shift, taking a Mediabistro class forced me to write a blog business plan and think about the kind of content I want to share here. While my blog business plan is a working document, I’ve referred back to it several times because it laid the groundwork for answering big questions like, who am I, and why am I here? Answer these questions first, then worry about what the rest of the blogiverse is doing.
Find a blog spirit guide or two. There are a lot of bloggers out there (#understatement). And after rambling around the Internet for several years, I found two blogs/bloggers that really give me a sense of what I want to be when my blog grows up. Now these bloggers have zero idea who I am — I actually rarely comment on their sites. And, I’m not looking for them to be mentors; I’m just using their hard work and success to help me define where I’m (hopefully) going.
Seek out similar blogs. Good lord, I fell down the mommy blog rabbit hole the first few months I was doing this. There are just so many subcategories! It took awhile, but I’ve started to find other bloggers whose content is more similar to my own as well as bloggers who have been blogging about the same amount of time as I have and bloggers who seem to have reached a level of blogging success that is just a smidge ahead of where I am.
Using Feedly (or another RSS service), start a category of feeds called “Bloggers to Follow.” Yep, I literally put blogs into a category called Bloggers to Follow. These blogs have content that interests me, and I regularly feel I can add something to the conversation. I have eight blogs in this category. Keeping up with other people’s stuff can get overwhelming, so do yourself a favor and pick a few that you really, really like. Now granted I have about 50 other blogs in my Feedly, but I pay special attention to these five.
Put yourself out there. Did you find some bloggers and put them in your Feedly? Good! Go comment on their stuff; follow them on social channels; tell them how you came across their site. If they are newer bloggers, they are likely looking for a tribe just like you are and will be happy to return the love.
Follow a blogger who blogs about blogging. I just wanted to see how many times I could use the word “blog” in that sentence. Seriously though, these bloggers know their stuff, and it’s easy to find one whose voice and style appeals to you. Keep an eye out for a site that helps foster a blogging/writing community. Often, they’ll have blogging or social media challenges; opportunities for you to get your stuff out there; classes you can take about specific topics; sometimes they’ll even have active Facebook groups. I like these four: SITS Girls, Blog Clarity, by Regina, and Beyond Your Blog.
Check out your commenters. You already know that you should respond to your commenters. Take it a step further, and go see who they are. Chances are if someone felt moved to comment on your stuff, their content might be interesting to you. Go find out. Maybe it will be a relationship made in blog heaven.
Be authentic. It’s nice to think that you can go around commenting on every post that comes your way, but if you’re not feeling it, you’re not going to come off as sincere. That doesn’t mean that “How to Sew Your Pet Ferret a Christmas Mumu” isn’t a totally valid and interesting post for the right audience, it just means that you’re not the right audience. If I can’t think of a better comment than, “What an interesting post. Thanks for sharing,” (which basically makes it seem like clicking on my name will send you to a site for knockoff designer bags), I best be moving on.
Go to Facebook and search for blogging groups. They are there. Go find a few, hang back for awhile, then join in. It’s a great way to get your stuff in front of other bloggers, and you will definitely find some blogging soulmates in the mix.
Don’t take any of this too seriously. Remember that blogger you LOVED, and you gushed about her post in the comments section and never heard a peep back? Whatever. Keep following her if you like her stuff, but don’t spend time wondering why she gave you the cold shoulder. If someone seems disinterested in your interest in them, put your energy elsewhere, but don’t over-think it.
That’s pretty much where I’m at in my “find your tribe” journey. Do you find this process as daunting as I do? Or have you figured out an easy way to make blog friends? I’d love to hear other tips that have worked for you.
Already found your tribe (or not)? Then you probably need a content calendar for your blog.