What are blogging communities?
Are you a member of any blogging communities?
Are there any advantages and disadvantages of belonging to blogging communities?
When I started blogging, I had no idea that blogging communities existed, but it wasn’t long before I found myself a part of them.
What are blogging communities?
There are many different types of blogging communities. This post features my experiences with what has become known as ‘Facebook blogging communities’ – a name I recently discovered. You don’t need to have a Facebook account to belong to one of these communities.
How it all started
Within a few weeks of becoming a blogger, I was lucky enough to attend an online blogging course that WordPress ran. It was an online, live event rather than something you could do at your own pace.
Along with over 50 other new bloggers, I soon became a part of a blogging community that gradually built up. We helped each other out by reading, liking and commenting on each other’s blog posts.
Not everyone on the course became a member of the community. By the time the course finished, around 15 of us had kept in touch by reading, liking and commenting on each other’s posts.
It didn’t matter what we published or what comments we left for each other; the main thing was that all our posts got read.
During the first year, three things happened.
- I built my own blogging community.
- I became a member of other blogging communities.
- Some people gradually dropped out of the first blogging community for various reasons.
What are the advantages of blogging communities?
The most significant advantage of being a blogging community member is that all my blog posts were getting read and commented on.
Apart from whoever first visited a newly published post, visitors saw my posts had ‘likes’ and comments.
I had an audience. I was not writing (speaking) to an empty auditorium.
I always found it sad reading excellent blog posts with no ‘likes’ or comments. But then I asked myself if the bloggers publishing the posts belonged to any blogging communities. Probably not!
However, regardless of what I was writing and publishing, my posts were all read and commented on. I was delighted!
Friendships formed with many of the members of my blogging community, and as more and more people joined, those friendships spread.
The same thing happened in other blogging communities. When we struggled, we all helped and supported each other. When things were going well, we all celebrated with each other. These communities were like brand new worlds outside of my everyday life.
My blogging community encouraged me to put my short stories and pieces of flash fiction into a book. If not for their support and encouragement, I’d never have self-published my books.
A few years later, I became one of the founding members of ‘The Bloggers Bash’ – an event where bloggers met up in person. Five events took place in London between 2015 and 2019, all a big success.
I can’t express enough how delighted I am to have met many blogging friends at these events. I’d never have met these bloggers if it had not been for blogging communities.
Sadly, I’ve lost touch with some of the bloggers who attended those events. Some stopped blogging, while others moved away from WordPress into areas of blogging that were much more exciting. Some stopped responding to comments on their blogs, while others left blogging communities I belonged to.
Blogging communities are a big triumph.
They are places where you can talk, and people will listen (if that is what you want). They offer help, support, guidance, free advice and friendship.
I witnessed many blogging community members meeting up all over the world. These were all people who would otherwise never have formed friendships and met up had it not been for them to start a blog, many on WordPress.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, blogging communities were even more critical, especially for bloggers who lived alone.
Of course, not every blogger wants to be a part of blogging communities. It’s their choice, and I fully understand why they may not want to participate.
Are there any disadvantages to blogging communities?
Yes. But only if you create problems.
During the first years of blogging, reading, liking and commenting on each other’s blog posts helps propel you on your blogging journey.
However, as you become a member of more and more communities (and your community grows), you’ll find you have less time to read and leave comments.
As blogging communities become more extensive, they can eat away at the time you have put aside for everything else outside of blogging unless you stick to a strict rule of how much time you spend reading and commenting. Adhering to any limitations can also create problems.
I’ve seen many bloggers forced to change the comments they leave because of a lack of time to read posts. Instead of leaving genuine comments that offer feedback and discussion and prove they have read the post, lazy ‘Facebook’ type comments appear.
What do I mean by lazy, Facebook type comments?
Short one-line comments. Comments like ‘Great post’ or ‘Great story.’ Comments that never explain why it’s a great post or a great story. In other words, comments that lack any feedback. Comments containing nothing but emojis (something I am especially not a fan of) can also pop up.
I noticed (and this is where the Facebook blogging community name comes from) that the comments I was leaving became much shorter as I joined more blogging communities. My time to read and comment became even more minimal with the increasing size of some blogging communities.
My comments were of no value to the blogger I was leaving them for other than to say that I had visited their newly published post (although not necessary read all or some of it).
Rather than read all of the posts, I skimmed over them because I didn’t have enough time to read and comment on everyone’s posts.
I found myself leaving the types of comments seen on Facebook. Many bloggers refer to them as guilt-tripping comments because you feel guilty for not proving that you have visited the blog post if you don’t leave a comment (regardless of whether you’ve read the post or what the comment says).
Along with other bloggers, I began to find blogging become stressful. It made me feel guilty, and blogging burnout hit me because I could not keep up with reading and commenting on other community members’ blog posts. I was overwhelmed and wrote and published the following post.
Is blogging making you feel guilty or stressing you out? Let’s make blogging fun again.
Back to blogging communities.
It was not long before I realised that belonging to large blogging communities stopped other members and me from expanding our horizons by discovering new blogs and bloggers. We didn’t have the time to search. It usually happens when blogging communities reach a certain number of members.
I began to see community members’ blog posts lacking comments from new bloggers/followers. Instead, the comment sections of their blog posts were full of the same short comments from the same bloggers.
But it wasn’t always short comments. Sometimes, the comments section was full of longer comments, but always from the same bloggers. Rarely did comments from new readers appear.
You may think there is nothing wrong with that, but one blogger recently told me that close-knit blogging communities often look like uninviting scary places, so they never left comments. ‘It was like being a new kid on the block, where outsiders would not be welcomed’ — my heart sunk when I heard that.
Duplicated blog posts filled my WordPress Reader and email box because some community members keep reblogging each other’s blog posts.
Some of the blogs of close-knit communities had conversations in the comments section that had nothing to do with the blog post’s subject (usually something much better discussed offline or on Facebook).
When I realised that I was suffering from blogging burnout, I had to change how I was blogging. The most significant action I took was to step back from many blogging communities.
Instead of skim-reading and leaving lazy comments on every blog post of other community members, I selected which of the posts I was going to read and comment on.
If the blog post’s title was of no interest or did not entice me to click the ‘read more’ link, I did not read it.
If a community member published more than one post daily, I selected one or two of their posts weekly, although the titles had to be enticing enough to make me want to read them.
I stopped leaving comments on all posts I read. If I did not have anything of value to add, I clicked the ‘like’ button and moved on to the next post (although if I had enjoyed reading the post, I shared it on social media).
I stopped feeling guilty for not reading all the blog posts community members published.
I cut back on some blogging communities by leaving them – something I have never regretted.
Balancing writing with reading and commenting on blog posts should never be a problem.
Some blogging community members may feel frustrated or upset that you are not reading and leaving comments on all their blog posts (especially if they read and leave comments on all your blog posts). Never allow it to become your problem or make you feel obliged to read and comment on their posts. That’s not what blogging is about.
If any blogger realises you are not reading and commenting on all their posts and sees it as a problem (as a handful of community members have told me in the past), ask yourself if you should be following their blog.
Final thoughts on blogging communities.
Being a member of blogging communities offers many incentives. Many bloggers are happy to have the same readers leave the same comments week after week. Some won’t care about gaining new followers or promoting their writing elsewhere, especially if what they are doing gives them a lot of fun and enjoyment.
Some bloggers don’t care about feedback. They see their blog as a place where people can pop in and say the occasional ‘Hello.’
Some bloggers are happy with their close-knit blogging community and won’t care if nobody else joins in.
Yet, seeing the same short comments on all blog posts of a particular blog day after day doesn’t inspire me to want to leave comments, especially if it’s a close-knit blogging community.
Should you join blogging communities?
Yes! I recommend that every blogger be a member of at least a couple of blogging communities. However, everyone should beware of the pitfalls blogging communities can bring (if you allow those traps to open).
Stick to no more than a handful of blogging communities, otherwise, you’ll find you will need to spread your time thinly between them all.
Do you belong to any blogging communities? What are your experiences with blogging communities? What advantages and disadvantages have blogging communities bought you? Join the discussion by leaving your comments.
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