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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

5 lessons i've learned from running a blog community


over coffee at o'henry's in early 2014, i spoke with beth & molly about starting a group called birmingham bloggers. months later, we're having a blast and have loved meeting so many amazing people along the way. we've also got an amazing workshop brunch coming up! i've learned a lot about social media, event planning, and most of all, i've finally been able to flex my marketing muscles that i don't get to use at my day job. it hasn't all been easy, and i've learned a lot of lessons along the way - but most of all, i've learned what i'm capable of with a little determination and a willingness to step outside my comfort zone.

birmingham is full of innovators & amazing writers/bloggers. i've been so inspired by the community and the successful, ambitious people leading it (javacia, wade & countless others!). so if you're in an area lacking a community, keep looking, and reach out to everyone to make it happen. good luck!

if you create it, they will come

i started birmingham bloggers in april 2014. i figured hey, maybe i'd get a few members. i'd be super happy if i got 10. well, here we are, not even a year later, and we're approaching 100 members. i never in my wildest dreams imagined we'd have that many people in this community, and i also had no idea there were that many bloggers in birmingham. the point is, if your area lacks a community, don't hesitate to create it. you will fill a need, even if it is only for 5 other bloggers.

staying organized is key, and saves you a headache

i organize all members of birmingham bloggers into a spreadsheet in google docs. i used square space to host our site, and each 'new member' form is automatically routed to the spreadsheet. i've got everyone's email loaded into mail chimp, and i keep a running tally in my brain of who likes to blog about what, how often and what their "voice" is - i can't tell you how many times i've talked to someone and they've asked, "oh, does anyone blog about xyz?" i'm super type a, so this may not be first nature for everyone. find a way to utilize apps and technology to keep it simple. keep your member data up to date, and jot down ideas constantly.

events don't plan themselves

depending on your community "goals", you may anticipate to host several blogging meetups and events. if this is an aspect of community you'd like to cultivate, be prepared to enlist some help depending on the scale of your event. send out a general interest survey to your members about which day of the week they're available for meetups, or what type of meetups they'd prefer. don't forget to ask this question! after all, they're the ones attending. announce your events at least a week or two in advance to give people time to plan. and don't take it personally when they don't show up. life happens. or sometimes, someone just didn't feel like sitting around and chatting for a few hours after a long day (hello, totally guilty here. introvert problems).

branding matters. always has, always will

if you're looking to create a larger scale community, focus on your community's "voice". what makes you different than everyone else yelling on twitter and facebook? what's your community's niche? always invest in good graphic design and aesthetic - don't be afraid to reach out to your member base and see if anyone would like to help out. decide what the goals of your community are, and remind yourself of those during every event and social media post. positivity is a voice that looks good on everyone. 

give bloggers a benefit

regardless of the size of your community, take a look at what you offer your members. a cute button for their site? weekly happy hours? monthly workshops, discounts or promotions? think about what you'd want out of a community, and capitalize on that thought. even if your benefit is just knowing other local bloggers and having friends to turn to when the blogging seas get rough, make sure your members know that. remind them. or, make koozies. because everyone loves koozies.

4 comments:

  1. I love this Meredith!!! You are doing an amazing job!!! I couldn't be happier with a founder of our community!!!

    xoxo
    Brooke

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Brooke!! You are the sweetest! <3

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  2. Absolutely excellent lessons! You're such an inspiration :)

    xo,
    Marissa
    www.makinitwithmarissa.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow Marissa, thank you! You made my day!

      Delete

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