13.2 Easy Ways to Build a Thriving Blog Community

community.jpgWe’re frequently asked about our secrets for creating a healthy, thriving active blog community. We’ve heard comments like:

  • It’s a blogger’s dream – alive!
  • You have some of the most active conversations around.
  • How are you creating such dynamic discussion?

Anyone can have what we have. There is no magic secret. All it takes to create a thriving community is some time, some socialization with readers, some personality and some interaction.

Be Active

Harry and I have a background in forum moderation, and we firmly believe this foundation set the stage for proper handling of a comment section. A question required a response. A comment required attention. A joke instigated a reaction. We were active and present at all times, often far into the wee hours of the morning.

Be Responsive

Some bloggers tend to let the comments pile up and then zoom in for a quick catch-all before zooming away to never return. That doesn’t happen on our blog. People know that we’re responsive and that if they post a question or a comment that deserves an immediate answer, they get it.

Be Present

Taking to the walls isn’t a good feeling. Neither is the sense that you’re completely alone in a crowd of people. Everyone – even those that disagree or that instigate flame wars – deserves acknowledgment. That’s why we answer every comment we receive. Every single one. People know that when they comment on our blog, someone will answer.

Be Personal

Not only will someone always acknowledge a comment, someone will always provide personal attention. It’s a good feeling to have a blog owner single you out and respond to your comment personally with a customized answer that shows they’ve listened and heard what you have to say.

Be Personable

We’ve tried to go the purely professional route. It doesn’t work. It’s also silly. Everyone – including us – is just regular people at the end of the day. We don’t wear suits 24/7 and we have personality to fit with who we are. Readers and commentators can relate to us by feeling that we’re just regular joes. Nothing wrong with that.

Be Real

Showing personality in our posts and in our comment section makes a huge different in how people feel about us. They know that we’re just one of the gang – we’re equals. We don’t come off as the untouchable big blog owner with minions of fans. We’re guys with a blog and we aren’t big shots who lord over the followers that come.

Be Silly

Everyone likes to have fun. We all like entertainment and a break from the day’s seriousness. It’s common to see Harry and I poking fun at each other or sharing “inside” jokes that everyone gets. We goof off. We play. We go off topic and let down the serious side. People like that. We like it too, and the whole ambiance is relaxed.

Be Professional

We show personality, we goof off, but we also know where to draw the line. We remain professional and we don’t share intimate details. We share some of our personal life with readers, but we don’t drop our pants and let it all hang out. We know where our job and our blog ends and where our personal life begins.

Be Supportive

When people ask questions, we answer. When people need help, we do what we can. When people struggle, we offer our insight. As forum moderators, we offered support, help and advice at all times. We carried that forward to our blog. We try to offer help with our posts, and we bring that support into our comment section – even if it’s just to empathize with someone having a bad day.

Be User-Friendly

When our commentators speak up about the functionality and user-friendliness of our blog, we respond. If our commentators remark on an ugly submit button (that now looks slick) or a too-wide column (that now fits just right), we fix it. A small irritant important enough for our readers to mention is important enough for our attention.

Be Firm

While present in your blogging community, do your part to ensure that conversation remains respectful, polite and diplomatic. Have a comment policy. Nip nasty comments in the bud. Tug the reins when you see discussion getting out of hand. By showing that you won’t let flame-wars occur and that you aren’t a welcome mat to walk all over, your community learns your limits and operates within them.

Be Permissive

Let people speak their minds. They come to your community to talk and debate, so allow people their voice to do so. Editing comments to remove negative feedback isn’t smart. Negative feedback offers the opportunity to display your credibility or work on areas that need improvement. Handling debate properly to turn it into a positive experience for all involved lets you grow and gain more readers.

Be Easy to Use

The more red tape to comment, the less comments you’ll have. People like one-click action and the easiest road. If you set up captchas, logins and registrations, your commentators become frustrated and stop participating in discussions. Likewise, offer full feeds over partial and provide a “subscribe to comments” plugin so that everyone stays in the loop.

Bonus Tip! Be Neutral

Harry and I each have our own personal views, values and morals. We have beliefs and political stances. We’re pro- this and anti- that. But we keep all this “off the boards”, to use an old moderator term. We also respect everyone else’s views, choices and opinions if they share theirs. We’re polite, we’re diplomatic, and we remember that manners matter online.

Now that you know our “secrets” to a thriving blog community, step into your own blog comment section and be active, real and present. But don’t forget – you still have to work on bringing people over to your appealing, welcoming atmosphere

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. James,

    I’m supposed to be putting on that suit that you guys don’t wear right now. (Well, not your suit…)

    I’m peacefully reading this post in my full-feed email, when I felt someone poke a stick in my ribs about that submit button and I just had to come over and say 😉

    (I know I wasn’t the only one who commented, so maybe others felt the poke, too?)

    Because you’re listening, and because I know you are user-friendly: Pix of the Men! Not your bikes or monkeys. I think at least About pages ought to show people the authors they’re “talking” with, and I don’t think it’s giving away too much. It adds to that personal thing, and still fits within professional. Harry might have to watch out, but who’s gonna stalk you up in Nowheresville?

    Nobody stalks me, dammit…

    Knowing how responsive you are, I will get some goofy pix in the comments in a moment to teach me a lesson, but I will be on my way to work by then. Be careful what I wish for. Shiraz (?) and a good laugh tonight.

    Regards,

    Kelly

    P.S. The submit-button comments seem to have started Harry on a mad, web-wide crusade to make RSS buttons ever-more-glorious. Hmm…

    Kelly’s last blog post..Was That You Throwing Your Money Out the Window Today?

  2. Michael Martine, Blog Consultant says:

    It takes a lot of work and engagement (following your excellent points) to build a community from the beginning. It will seem like really slow going, at first. You have to stay with it. One way I’ve found to make real connections with people is to email them personally to thank them for commenting (NO AUTORESPONDERS). People appreciate that.

    Michael Martine, Blog Consultant’s last blog post..Overheard in the Blogosphere 17

  3. You’ve nailed it on the head, James. One of the reasons I subscribe to nearly every post is so that I can follow the witty, silly or insightful comments that people make (sometimes all three at the same time). It’s a great incentive to keep coming back. I try to respond to everyone who comments on my blog because, like you, I feel that a comment deserves a response. I must admit that I’m not always as timely as you, though. If someone comments during school pickup time, they won’t get a response till the kid’s bedtime. :)

    I love the way you have developed this blog into a thriving community in a relatively short time. Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned.

    Sharon Hurley Hall’s last blog post..Adding Some Glue To Online Relationships

  4. BTW, I think this post fits in well with my last post on Adding Glue to Online Relationships and (if I may link drop), this one I wrote over on Pureblogging – http://www.pureblogging.com/2008/03/20/the-three-ps-of-good-blogging/, particularly the bit about personality.

    Sharon Hurley Hall’s last blog post..Adding Some Glue To Online Relationships

  5. @ Sharon – I find it pretty cool how our community here at MwP feels relaxed enough to be thoughtful and share insightful comments, slide off to some teasing and jokes and then come back to the purposeful comments to continue more serious discussion. I also enjoy how conversations naturally evolve into discussions about other matters or related topics. It truly feels like we’re all hanging out and kicking back, conversing as a group. I think our readers create our ambiance.

    I’ll admit that we are two people and we are at our computers enough to cover almost all 24 hours in a day – that’s an advantage we have.

    I’d say that more time-limited bloggers or those not interested in participating in discussions or those just too busy should definitely look at bringing someone on just to handle that. We’ve already discussed our plan for when we achieve such a large community that we need help – we’ll bring on a person who our community can interact with freely and one who becomes part of the gang while we can’t be there.

    Ha, who would’ve thought we’d have to consider community outsourcing! (but it’s true lol.)

    And yes. You may link-drop. (No spammers or jerks abusing the privilege allowed.)

  6. James,

    The guitar? Seen it. *Yawn.* And the arm that may or may not have been yours over at Dave Navarro’s blog. Serious photographic memory, though, I never forget a forearm…

    I have pix of Harry’s RSS buttons all over my secret room, deep in the basement of the building. And a dartboard with the old submit button. What makes you think it’s you I want to stalk?

    I am rather serious about pix somewhere on a blog, though, it does help folks to connect with you. Not that you have a lot of trouble with that. Connect, connect…

    Pinstripe suit is on, I’m supposed to be working right now.

    Until later… seemingly never much later… it’s my own fault…

    Kelly

    Kelly’s last blog post..Was That You Throwing Your Money Out the Window Today?

  7. (Although I’m late to the party today :) breakfast at my house) I have to say this is a great list that perfectly describes what you guys seem to have done to get to where you are.

    And you should be proud of what you’ve built. I *love* coming here, it feels like “home”. Welcome, like there’s a fire on. And I always learn something (kind of like that old Cosby Kids cartoon show…)

    It goes further than that, too, as you guys are helpful here and away (e.g. the assistance and advice you’ve given me as I get my hosted blog up and running is priceless).

    Thank you.

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the privilege of choice.

  8. @ Brett – I look forward to the typos and seeing the progression of malt beverages affects. I just bought some beer myself the other day (been out for a week).

    @ Kelly – You know how some people have weird fetishes like a foot fetish or something, ya – Harry has a RSS fetish 😉

    But he’s damn good at those pix!

    @ James – Great post for me. I am a very analytical person when it comes to business and the number one thing I am currently working on when both responding to my comments in my blog and commenting on others is the personal relaxed feel. Thanks for the insights.

    Also, two thoughts:

    1. You know, it’s the 21st century. You don’t need to outsource anything. Technology now is capable of cloning Harry.

    2. Ok, here’s some feedback. I think it would be great if you could somehow make it so we can see who’s telling us this stuff (i.e. the article) at the top so we know who’s talking to us. There’s been a couple of times I just assumed it was one of you and then halfway through the article I realized it was the other person talking.

    Before I read any of your articles, I typically scroll down first to see who’s talking and then scroll back up to read.

    Just a thought.

    John Hoff’s last blog post..Google’s PageRank: We All Love It, We All Hate It

  9. John,

    Your #2, I totally agree. I do the scroll thing, too. It’s critical when I’m deciding whose voodoo doll to caress.

    I don’t know anything about fetishes.

    Later,

    Kelly

    Kelly’s last blog post..Was That You Throwing Your Money Out the Window Today?

  10. @ Brett – On the day of our launch, Jay came by and wrote:

    *kicks off his shoes and makes himself comfortable.* Nice place ya got here.

    That simple statement written in such a relaxed, friendly “hey guys” manner has stuck with me. That’s the feeling we want, and I’m glad you all help us achieve it.

    As for fires, um… no. Harry doesn’t like it when I set fire to the blog.

    @ Michael – That’s very true. I enjoy personal emails from blogger and it helps create an instant bond of friendship in most cases. I should do that more often myself. Lack of time is my excuse.

    As for building community, yes, it’s work. Yes, it’s effort. It doesn’t happen overnight, and you have to want it. Attainable with the right recipe, but no one does miracles.

    You get what you put into it.

    @ Kelly – Admit it. Go on. You just want to tape my picture to your wall like a schoolgirl with a crush. Say it. You know you wanna. And who the hell has a monkey, by the way? It’s a GUITAR, lady. Sheesh.

  11. Haven’t had coffee yet, but if I did Kelly would have made me snort it out my nose. Yes! It’s “Harrison McLeod and the Last Crusade for the Perfect RSS Button!” *cue theme music in background*

  12. @ James – glad to be a part of it. It has really been a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see what you guys have in store.

    No fires eh? Tell you what then, everyone is welcome at my house, bonfires, pagans, merriment (virgins optional)… it’s Ostara this weekend, after all, so if it looks like I can’t type tonight, some merriment & malt beverages may have been involved 😉

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the privilege of choice.

  13. Amy,

    Nooo, you mistunderstand. I adore the work and choose the suit. I am sad that not enough people are in suits anymore. No mystery.

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kelly’s last blog post..Was That You Throwing Your Money Out the Window Today?

  14. I think John has a good point – the author’s name tends to get a bit lost, although I can usually tell which one of you has written it. I play a game with myself to see if I can guess right, and most of the time I do ok.

    Sharon Hurley Hall’s last blog post..Adding Some Glue To Online Relationships

  15. @ John – Very good point. We’d changed it on the home page after requests like yours and just realized (thank you) that the individual pages didn’t have the same feature. Name at the top coming up in a day or two.

    It’s also good to know you can’t tell us apart sometimes :) Though I’m sure we’re quite different, too. I’m way cooler. 😉

    As for cloning Harry, nah. I like him. I’ll keep him. Two like him would drive me insane. (or is that the other way around?)

  16. Oh that’s too funny, Sharon! “Guess the author and win a prize!” heheheh

  17. I’ve been lurking for a little while now, and I’ve been captivated by the community you’ve created and allowed to flourish here. I’m a pretty avid blog reader (it’s an affliction!), and I’ve never paid such close attention to a comments section. Actually, I often skip them. Blogs should be conversations, but that’s rarely the case; most bloggers seem to want to tell you something, get votes in social media site of choice, collect their ad money, and go to bed.
    As you’ve discussed recently, we are rapidly reaching an overload of regurgitated and stale information. People like you will survive.

  18. @John & Sharon: I fixed that on the main page a while back. We’ll change it on the post pages too.

  19. @ James and Harry: Thanks for that speedy feedback

    @ James: Having two people as blog authors is definitiely an advantage when it comes to responding to comments. It’s something to think about for developing my own blog.

  20. @ John, I missed St. Paddy’s Day (well, missed the green beer, anyway) and there was an “Irish Beer 8-pack” at the liquor store I couldn’t pass up… :) hey, I’m half-Irish!!!

    If you clone Harry, we might end up in some “wacko alternate universe MwP Clone Wars”, and George Lucas might sue us into oblivion…

    @ Kelly – voodoo dolls? Fetishes? Do tell! 😉

    (In all seriousness, I think voodoo is pretty neat.)

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the road ahead.

  21. MwP is definitely one of the first stops in the morning — the RSS feed only lets me know there’s a new post!

    It’s definitely been fun so far.

    Except, James, you’re supposed to have 13.2 easy ways — get with the program! 😉

    Nez’s last blog post..Blog Haiku #1

  22. @ Nez – Done.

  23. You guys had secrets??? 😉 Great post. The pen men rock.

    @Mary – I used to never read comments on other people’s blogs, and mostly I still don’t. But I subscribe to these dudes’ comments. They are great, and the really cool thing is that they actually care about people as people, not just as blog visitors. That is what I like about them most.

    @Kelly – Work? Suit? Ewww. No wonder you have to fantasize about Harry… 😉 A d where is this money everyone is talking about???

    @Sharon – I need a clone too. Or at least some kids to recruit into part-time cyberjobs. 😉

    Amy – Write From Home’s last blog post..Corporate Mentality: How Understanding It Can Help You

  24. @ James – now *that* is service.

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the road ahead.

  25. I meant monkey not money… iPhone changed it. :-/

    Amy – Write From Home’s last blog post..Corporate Mentality: How Understanding It Can Help You

  26. @ James – Have you ever considered what Harry would think if you cloned yourself? Also, “guess who the author is and win a prize” is pretty cool. You might have a lot of winners, though as it is a 50/50 shot.

    @ Brett – I wish I knew voodoo. I’d use it to create a hip and cool comment section like MwP.

    @ Harry – that would be really cool (showing us up top who’s posting). Thanks.

    John Hoff’s last blog post..Google’s PageRank: We All Love It, We All Hate It

  27. @Kelly – I apologize for projecting my suit-hatred onto you. 😉 I hated them. A lot. Can you tell????

    @Pen men – I have the Cleveland rocks song going through my head as pen men rocks now……

    Amy – Write From Home’s last blog post..Corporate Mentality: How Understanding It Can Help You

  28. @James: I think my kid’s a bit young to train, but you never know … in a couple of years …. :)

  29. The balance that you describe – and effectively strike – in all this is nothing short of amazing. I especially thing the last tip on being neutral is interesting. I find a lot of bloggers all over the place on this. Especially in an election year, things like this get personal, and blogging can be a very powerful off-topic platform.

    Where do you stand, by the way, on using political, religious, or cultural references in building content or headlines? Is it crossing the line to bait readers with those key words just for the sake of generating traffic? Curious your thoughts.

    Tiffany Monhollon’s last blog post..5 Easy Ways to Make your Comments Section a Conversation

  30. @ Tiffany – Admittedly I am a new blogger with only a few months or so under my belt. However, I know a few things about business and marketing.

    You had a few questions there and I know they weren’t directed at me, but like Amy, here’s my 2 cents worth:

    First, I’d say it completely depends on your target market/readers and type of blog you run as to using such headlines and content to attract niche traffic. If you talk about topics like politics and religion, it’s pretty hard to completely mask your personal views and readers of such topics typically have strong opinions and are willing to express them.

    If however, you run a blog about flowers and suddenly you hit your readers with “Why Obama Is National Suicide,” it’s probably not gonna fly with a lot of people.

    The key, though, is to not look like a gimmick. I see nothing wrong with writing headlines that sell, but if every headline you create looks like bait, I think it would look like a gimmick. I found out early on that social media marketing is NOT the same as print media and radio/TV.

    Is it crossing the line? Well, there’s one way to find out for sure. Try it.

    John Hoff’s last blog post..Google’s PageRank: We All Love It, We All Hate It

  31. @ Tiffany – That’s a very good question, and I have a very clear opinion on that : No.

    The Internet is international. However, us “outsiders” are no fool in that Americans play a huge role in the Internet’s action. Americans are all over, most information is U.S. biased and many cultures and countries are disadvantaged.

    I’m Canadian, probably the closest culture to the American one, and I find myself often offended, insulted or irritated by U.S. culture permeating everything. Harry and I have also had sparks between ourselves and finding the middle ground of respect between two distinct cultures with very different views has been a challenge.

    Political, religious and cultural references to build content or headlines is, to me, extremely disrespectful of the Brits, the Israelis, the Muslims, the Japanese, etc etc etc. Creating a multicultural, widely respectful community, to me, is extremely important.

    I hope I haven’t ranted too much, and I hope I interpreted your question correctly. Let me know if I didn’t.

  32. OMG you guys crack me up! After I hit “Submit” for my last comment I scrolled up to read your other comments. Amy – now that would be a link bait for sure!

    John Hoff’s last blog post..Google’s PageRank: We All Love It, We All Hate It

  33. @ Harry – I think the Borg, Seven of Nine, and Tyler Durden are something guys understand. My wife has been shaking her head lately because I have taught my 2 year old to say, “Star Trek.” He likes the old series.

    By the way, T’Pol was way hotter than 7.

    John Hoff’s last blog post..Google’s PageRank: We All Love It, We All Hate It

  34. @Tiffany: Wrote a post about it, wanna read it? :)

    Religion and Business: Keep it Neutral

  35. @Tiffany – Just another blogger’s opinion – while I’m not adversed to sharing my own views from time to time, I find it highly annoying when I come across blogs where it’s clear the attention is just to raise a ruckus. In fact, it’s usually enough to make me hit the back button and never go back. I seem to cause controversy without even trying, so I can only imagine the mudslingings that would go down if I started trying to rake readers in with posts like “100 Reasons The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own” — not that I wouldn’t enjoy writing such a post, but I would not want to see the fighting and name-calling bash-fest that my comments section would become. Some bloggers live for that kind of controversy, but I’m not one of them. Real life is dramatic and problem-filled enough. Just my 2.3 cents. 😉

    Amy – Write From Home’s last blog post..Corporate Mentality: How Understanding It Can Help You

  36. Bush that you…

    WAH!!

    *falls off chair while pealing of laughter*

  37. @ Amy, coffee just *literally* came out my nose… oh crap that was funny :)

    @ John, I’m lucky – even though I think voodoo is cool, I have a little army of minions that (so far) do my bidding. When they become teenagers, however…

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the road ahead.

  38. @Amy: BWAHAHAHA! OMG, there goes the coffee all over the keyboard! Damn, Pandora, you start a ruckus without even trying. Such a gift! Have you been taking lessons from James?

    I sooo dare you to put up a title like that…

  39. @Brett: that’s why you have to get the Borg involved early. The sooner you incorporate the Collective, the better.

    Resistance is futile…

  40. Wait, wait… are you daring ME or daring Harry? I think you should dare me. Do it. You know you want to.

  41. @ Harry, hmm, the Borg, yes, Seven of Nine, I can see where this could go…

    😉

    (now if that wasn’t a blatant attempt at getting guys to watch that show…)

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the road ahead.

  42. You guys are too funny. I wasn’t even joking that time. 😉

    @ Harry – I think James might be the male half of my brain. It’s pretty scary, but when I read some comments he leaves other places, and I’m scrolling through really quickly, I sometimes have to scroll back up to see if I already said something or if it was James’ name by the comment.

    @ Harry again – WTF is a borg?

    @ Brett – I want some minions. I just found out my niece’s twins are going to be boys, so there may be hope for me. Only I’ll be too senile to remember how to use a computer by the time they’re old enough to come work for me. 😉

    Amy – Write From Home’s last blog post..Corporate Mentality: How Understanding It Can Help You

  43. @Amy: The Borg have to be the scariest antagonists I’ve ever seen. It’s a Star Trek reference. These beings are half human and half cybergenics. They have a collective hive-mind mentality and go through the universe like a plague of locust, taking humans and incorporating them into their “Collective”.

    This could probably explain it better than I can at the moment: Star Trek Borg

    @Brett: Seven of Nine was *hot*. And so was the Borg Queen in the movie…in a creepy kind of way.

  44. @Harry – “star trek reference” was enough. :-)

    @John – I completely agree with the points — I am scrolling backwards too, because every time I type something there are 5 new comments by the time I hit submit — especially what you said about it depending on the type of blog you have. I have a blog that bashes the US government about food safety, and I could totally post something very snarky there (it’s called Food Snark, after all). I’d get food poisoning lawyers and food safety advocates telling me to rock on. However, I don’t think my “I wanna be a write from home mom” writers would much care about my bush-hatred or lesbian tendencies. Ok, maybe James would stop by to buy a t-shirt, but in general, I’d get a hundred emails from offended Christians and another few hundred emails asking me if I’d lost my mind. I think it TOTALLY depends on the audience and the context.

    Amy – Write From Home’s last blog post..Corporate Mentality: How Understanding It Can Help You

  45. @ Amy, you may borrow my minions any time. No charge. And they also do windows… err, sort of – they put fingerprints all over them. :) And congratulations to your niece, I read that over at your blog and that is such wonderful news!

    @ Harry, I second that about Seven, and yeah, the Borg Queen was hot too… like, dominatrix hot (yes, my Queen…)

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the road ahead.

  46. @ John – my oldest boy (Cameron) is a practitioner of “Kirk-Fu” – you know, the Kirk-chop, the double-clenched fist strike, the two-legged flying kick…

    (classic Trek is da bomb)

    @ Amy, when can I buy that t-shirt? :)

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the road ahead.

  47. They sell the t-shirts at http://www.cracksmokingshirts.com. Brett, browse those for a while at the office, and see how many people look at you like you’re crazy. Fun corporate american experiment gone canadian. 😉

    Amy – Write From Home’s last blog post..Corporate Mentality: How Understanding It Can Help You

  48. Wait! Uh, Amy, do you have 100 reasons? I mean, I’m as confident as the next lady and probably moreso but 100 is a lot of reasons. I think after I got past thirty I’d be kinda stuck.

    Hehehe. Oh boy did I laugh when I read that one. I think you will have to write it now. Whatever they are I want to add 31-100 to my repertoire.
    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kelly’s last blog post..Was That You Throwing Your Money Out the Window Today?

  49. @Kelly – I could probably think of 100 if I had to. But most would be repetitive and redundant. 😉 Kind of like the majority of the Top 100 Lists I come across in Blogland — maybe 10 are really good, and the other 90 act as filler to make people go “Wow! 100! That MUST be important enough to link to!”

    Amy – Write From Home’s last blog post..Corporate Mentality: How Understanding It Can Help You

  50. @Amy, You rock! Ha ha!

    @Tiffany, I agree with John Hoff that whether or not you address politics and religion depends on your readership and the topic of niche for your blog. Certainly there is a place for blogs that discuss these subjects. Do they belong on a blog about writing or freelancing? Probably not, although I can see where if your blog is about writing, you can pretty much tie in any topic: “How Current Events and Politics Affect Literature,” or “Religion in Fiction” are perfectly legitimate topics. I think that the idea is to keep your own stance out of it so you don’t offend readers by taking a side on something that’s unrelated to what has brought everyone together.

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..Improve Your Writing: Proofread, Edit, Repeat

  51. The reason I have come to love you guys so much is exactly because of the way your are handling your commenting strategy. You raised some great points here and like you, I’ve always tried to answer every single commenter on my blog.

    People deserve to be acknowledged for taking time out their own busy days and making an effort to stop by.

    So, I’m patiently waiting for Brett to turn up and make me a virtual flat white. You wouldn’t have any cake to go with that would you?….

    …….oh uh I nearly forgot. Easter bunnies…..happy Easter to all of you crazy Canadians, Americans and wherever else you hail from. :-)

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Let Go Of …!

  52. Now that you’ve mentioned Easter…

    Peep Show

    Don’t worry, its SFW (Safe For Work…or family)

  53. Is it really easter, or are we just making up holidays now? I thought easter was in april??????

    Signed,
    lost & confused, party of one

    Amy – Write From Home’s last blog post..Corporate Mentality: How Understanding It Can Help You

  54. @Amy: It’s insanely early. I don’t get it either.

  55. Benefit of a thriving blog community 13.3: someone’s always around to tell you when the holidays are 😉

    Amy – Write From Home’s last blog post..Corporate Mentality: How Understanding It Can Help You

  56. @ Harry: bunnies…..bunnies falling over each other.

    @ Amy: don’t worry, I’m confused like you. I think the world is upside down.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Let Go Of …!

  57. Great post–you shared so much info there, you should charge for it! :) But I’m glad that you didn’t. Great tips, much appreciated.

  58. @Monika – forgive my stupidity, but do Australians (as a whole) not celebrate Easter? Clearly, I don’t celebrate it (or even know when it is) as an American, but I’m curious whether it’s a recognized holiday even? If you’re not really Australian and I’m thinking of someone else entirely, then…..er….never mind the question. 😐

    Benefit 13.4: someone else is always as confused as you are 😉

    Amy – Write From Home’s last blog post..Corporate Mentality: How Understanding It Can Help You

  59. @ Amy: Yes, Australians do celebrate Easter. I don’t however. I generally don’t celebrate any of these public holidays since I’m a big anti church person (uh, does this make me new enemies now?)

    My referral to being confused was to do with what you said “I thought Easter was in April”. Hope that clarifies this.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Let Go Of …!

  60. @Monika – I am with you. I was only curious. I am always interested in various religions and holidays and such, even though I don’t celebrate them myself. I am strange like that. :-)

    Amy – Write From Home’s last blog post..Corporate Mentality: How Understanding It Can Help You

  61. Well I came for the cake! Seriously, this is definitely one of the best blog communities around. I really appreciate the tips and plan to shamelessly steal every single one of them. It’s not often that I go to blog where I enjoy the readers as much as the blog posts!

    Karen

  62. @ Amy: curiosity was eaten by the cat. Hehehe….but seriously, it’s great to be curios as learning new things helps us to grow. There is nothing strange about being you!

    @ Karen: there you go *Monika has spent the last hour baking a yummy chocolate cake and hands Karen a slice*.

    You hit the nail on the head there, this community truly rocks.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Let Go Of …!

  63. Well, I’m not religious or anything, really, but I do have supper with my mum at Easter and go to church at Christmas. They beat those two holidays into you pretty hard when you’re raised Catholic.

    That said, I’ll be on dialup this weekend (Harry: we have uber short loading times on dialup, you’ll be pleased to know) and my Imperial presence may be spotty.

    @ Karen – If you came for cake, you must bring beer, too. It’s in the rules.

    @ Kelley – We’re all for free. We eat lots of Kraft Dinner, but hey 😉

    @ Amy – Did you know Australians celebrate Christmas in the summer?

    @ Monika – In today’s speedy world, anyone who takes the time to drop us a comment has gone out of their way and we appreciate that. We do like to make it easy for them, though 😉

    Happy Easter to those who celebrate it, Happy Weekend to those who don’t. Cheers!

  64. Holy cow, James & Harry, hats off to you – this place is *the rockinest place on the net” (is “rockinest” a word?)

    Go out for dinner with the inlaws and I’m lost. Bigger envelopes be damned James, I could have used an iPhone tonight (*winks at Amy*)

    @ Monika – here’s a virtual flat white, just for you 😉 and I’ll have another one to follow that, whenever you are ready!

    @ Harry – peep show, classic – hey, I think I know the one on the left…

    Easter. (*pagan alert*) If you aren’t religious and still want to celebrate something, celebrate the spring or vernal equinox as Ostara around this time of year – it is a fertility festival. Light bonfires, paint some eggs as a symbol, eat drink & be merry with friends, get drunk (if you drink) and jump over the fire.

    Chocolate cake and beer (XXXX, of course for Monika) are welcome.

    (Can you tell I like parties?)

    @ Monika – I’ll bet that cake would go well with a flat white, here’s another one 😉

    @ James, I’m still hungry after my supper, got any Kraft Dinner left?

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the road ahead.

  65. Yum, reminds me of cafe con leche which I drank by the vat when I was in Spain in the long ago. Nothing the coffee shops make here in the U.S. ever matches that memory, and certainly nothing I can brew up at home, though I try valiantly. Maybe it was the air…

    Kelly’s last blog post..Tip of the Week: Be Transparent, or, (One More Reason) Why I Heart Jeff Bezos

  66. @ James: Easy peasy sounds like it’s cheesy. Uwahahahaha……..

    @ Brett: I’ll have a go at jumping that fire. Damn, I just burned myself – oh well, I have a beer then. No – hold that, coffee sounds like the thing I need most to get my brain into action. Give it back, give me the beer back – NOW.

    *she takes a big swig of the ice cold XXXX*

    Did somebody say parties, I love ppppppparties, *hick*….ahem, is that you Brett? Uh ahem why do I suddenly see tttttwo of you? Oh my head is spinning madly. I have to lay down, this is too mmmmuch *hick* for me.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Let Go Of …!

  67. How else to explain how he works full time, has sixteen children, and still posts comments like a man on fire? Clearly, coffee is mission-critical. :)

    Kelly’s last blog post..Tip of the Week: Be Transparent, or, (One More Reason) Why I Heart Jeff Bezos

  68. @ Monika: nothing wrong with a beer in one hand, a coffee in the other – I’ve done it myself on occasion :) if you burn yourself, just have another beer and all will be well (done that before too)

    If you see two of me, it isn’t the beer, it’s a side effect of John Hoff’s cloning experiments above… sometimes I could use an extra “me”, one to go to work and do the boring stuff, and one to stay here, hang out with all of you folks, and get my other stuff done…

    Whoa, pass me another beer, would you :)

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the road ahead.

  69. @ Amy – Oh my. My whole family is looking at me oddly because I just started laughing… 😀 You are… amazing. !!

    @ Monika – Mmmm… any of that chocolate cake left?

    @ Brett – Eh, who cares if it isn’t a word… it shall be known as one now! 😀

    @ Whoever – At the risk of making myself look like a complete idiot… anyone care to explain what the heck a flat white is?

    Great post, but I think a lot of whether your blog has a great community like this or not also has to do with your readers. I try my hardest to do just about everything you listed, but I think part of it is that most of my readers are not the type who are online 24/7 and checking their feed readers all the time like most of us here are, plus, well, there’s not a whole heck of a lot to discuss about sushi!

    Allison’s last blog post..Oh? Crudmonkeys.

  70. @ Allison – that was totally amazing what Amy said, wasn’t it… I’m still laughing about it :)

    And thanks for your support, that makes you the rockinest person around!

    A flat white is “a coffee beverage served in Australia and New Zealand, prepared with espresso and milk”, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_white

    Very tasty, if you like coffee.

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the road ahead.

  71. @ Brett: that experiment sounds like fun. I could do with a clone myself and tell it to do all the spleeping for me so I have more time to come and hang out too.
    Let me hang.

    *passes Brett another one* enjoy mate.

    @ Allison: you are kidding , right? And here I was thinking I was the only species of that kind left on earth. :-) You are however forgiven since flat white really is a term used mainly in Oz and NZ for a special coffee.

    Definition of a flat white: A flat white is a strong, smooth espresso drink – less milky than a latte, and not as foamy as a cappuccino. The art to make it perfect lies in the crema which is when the oils of the coffee bean release themselves into the actual shot of espresso while pouring it.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Let Go Of …!

  72. @ Monika: maybe John can share his secrets with both of us, we’d have more time to “let go” of the unimportant stuff and be with our friends here.

    *mmmm* thanks for the beer, that’s great!

    @ Allison: I like Monika’s description of a flat white better than mine, so go with hers 😉 they are super good in any case

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the road ahead.

  73. @ Brett: thanks for that. I might convince John to do a little coffee show once he gets his paper. :-)

    @ Kelly: cafe con leche….ah that evokes memories alright. It’s funny though, it is really hard to get a decent coffee in the USA. The best is probably Starbucks, at least they are drinkable. But go into any diner and the staff isn’t even good enough to water my house plants.

    You can probably tell that I’m a real coffee connoisseur. And by the looks of it, Brett is too.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Let Go Of …!

  74. @ Monika: hey, you’re a “real Aussie” and I’m just a “virtual Kiwi” so your description is bound to be better! The only flat whites I get these days are made by me (and pretty good, in my humble opinion – although I’m still working on the artwork in the crema). Yes, please do ask John to put on a little show for us!

    @ Kelly: if there was a caffeine equivalent to crystal meth (“crystal caff”?), I’d be a “caff-head”… (I admitted that to Amy recently :) ) for my next trick, wait until my “real blog” is up and running – I’ll need one of John’s clones to help out, coffee or not!

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the road ahead.

  75. @ Kelly: I know, where the heck does he take all that time from? I think he failed to tell us that he actually did develop a super clone in his bunker and now his clone is mixing in with the crowd here too.

    Be assured though, whenever he makes reference of the real thing *coffee* it isn’t the clone. :-)

    @ Brett: Thanks for the flattery. I will actually film John making this cream trick when he does at work and then you guys can become lifelong slaves to Brett’s virtual coffee magic. Just a bummer you can’t drink it.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Let Go Of …!

  76. We celebrate Easter in the Caribbean too, though not being particularly religious for me it’s just a welcome four day weekend. :)

    @ Monika: ever try those thick bowls of chocolate in Spain. Another breakfast specialty with some little dough things called churros – and the chocolate is thick enough to stand your spoon in. Yum!

    Sharon Hurley Hall’s last blog post..Adding Some Glue To Online Relationships

  77. @ James: quick work on the name thing. Since you two never seem to sleep, you probably did it way before I noticed. 😉

  78. @ Allison – I have no idea why you’re worried about what people would discuss on your blog. Write about sushi, and your blog community will write about anything *but* sushi.

    The name thing for posts is done – author will be at the top of posts now, so you all have to find Sharon a new game to play to make up for it.

    @ Sharon – We sleep :) But we made that change within seconds. What can be done now, should be. That way, I can procrastinate on more important things 😉

  79. @ Monika and Kelly: you see, I’m actually a vampire… who happens to like coffee! 😉

    @ Monika: yes please, a video would be great, I can sometimes draw an apple or a heart, but I’ve seen people do some really neat stuff and I’d like to learn.

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the road ahead.

  80. Brett,

    In that case, if you didn’t drink coffee you’d exhaust the kids’ blood pretty fast, so I guess your wife is happy about the substitute.

    Sharon,

    Churros! I’m instantly in a little town called Elche, A grey day in March, 1985. OMG!

    Allison,

    In spite of these stats-chasers here at MWP, there is nothing wrong with a smaller band of readers who really get what you’re doing. Okay, I love my stats too, but if you’re really focused on your sushi-loving niche (fish niche… respectful giggle) then it’s just not going to have 50,000 readers per hour, or you’ll dilute your quality.

    On the other hand, I think you can probably do a lot of lifestyle talk that does stay focused on the niche and come up with a pretty endless supply of things to talk about.

    Supplies, reviews (you could even approach readers who live in other areas of the world to do national/international reviews as guest posts), 10 best cities in the world for sushi, I dunno… appropriate drinks, for sure (how to make the perfect tea, whick sake goes with what, martinis that make your sushi rock even harder)… do you have dessert sushi or any other takeoffs on tradition like that on the site? I didn’t see it… I’m just riffing here.

    You have eye-candy down with the beautiful photogs, maybe just expanding how you define the blog a bit would give you a million new ideas and a hundred new subscribers, which in a smaller niche is nothing to sneeze at.

    Also, think like your ideal reader… when they sit down to Yahoo! or Google, what do they type in? Make sure the ten to twenty phrases you suspect they search for appear in your posts at least a couple of times a week. (Not all of them, I mean one at a time… just keep up a steady stream of writing that makes use of phrases they’d be likely to be looking for, and slowly you’ll see readers wander in.)

    /end riff

    James,

    Procrastination rocks (but Sagittarians and Capricorns get to call it “careful consideration”).

    Hasta luego,

    Kelly

    Kelly’s last blog post..Tip of the Week: Be Transparent, or, (One More Reason) Why I Heart Jeff Bezos

  81. I think that’s what my ex calls me and my daughter. Thank goodness for the nice judge.

    Kelly’s last blog post..Tip of the Week: Be Transparent, or, (One More Reason) Why I Heart Jeff Bezos

  82. @ Kelly: yes, I’d better stick to the coffee then 😉 although I think they are little vampires too, at least when we look at the costs for food, daycare, clothing etc. we are tempted to call them “bloodsucking dependents!” (cute ones, that is)

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the road ahead.

  83. @ Kelly: hmm, that’s not a nice thing to say when it’s not in fun… and you are right, thank goodness for a nice judge 😉

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..the road ahead.

  84. Allison,

    I see what you mean but I do think that the ideas may still apply, but let’s rephrase from chasing readership to being “stickier.” When I am at epicurious or other online recipe sites it’s in and out once I’ve found a recipe that suits what I cam searching for. If you really only provide “what’s for dinner” type answers it is harder to form community around that.

    I don’t mean it as a drive-by critique, that’s the Men’s job; I meant it to be helpful, looking with an outsider’s eye. It’s what I do, but here I’m just thinking out loud. (Feel free to ignore.) :)

    Regards,

    Kelly

    Kelly’s last blog post..What’s Hot Now: 39 Inspirations With Sticking Power

  85. @ Brett and Monika – Thanks for the explanations! Yeah, seriously… never heard of it!

    @ Kelly – I think you misunderstand my point. I’m not worried about getting tons more readers to my fish niche (*giggle* that was a good one!), and I have soooo much to write about… just not enough time to write it all! Instead, I’m just wishing for a community like MWP has here. I know there are many reasons why I don’t… a lot of my visitors come from searches and don’t really stay long (I need to be stickier… like rice 😀 ), a lot of my loyal readers are super busy and don’t have time or necessarily a desire to hold a big conversation, and I’m sure it mostly has to do with how I approach it. I’m thinking maybe I just don’t have an open enough style of writing the posts and responding to the comments?

    Allison’s last blog post..Oh? Crudmonkeys.

  86. Sniper. Hehehe. I was almost an honorary MWP once, but then the whole (Wo)Men thing got in the way. Maybe I could be a moll? Nah, as Groucho Marx said, I wouldn’t be a part of any club that would have me.

    Like I said, I shoot this gun for a living. I just try not to aim it at innocent bystanders too often.

    Keep up the fish-niche work!

    Kelly’s last blog post..What’s Hot Now: 39 Inspirations With Sticking Power

  87. Kelly – I completely understand! I realize that a lot of your ideas would be super useful to my blog! There’s a whole heck of a lot I can do with it, and once I graduate and have the time to do more sushi research and stuff like that, I intend to expand the breadth of my blog.

    If the MWP do drive-bys, maybe you are a… sniper? 😀 Seriously though, I did find it helpful. Thank you so much!

    Allison’s last blog post..Oh? Crudmonkeys.

  88. @ Allison – Kelly is right. Have recipes only once or twice a week, and have other entertaining stuff, reviews, talks, questions answered the rest of the week. Go get the people who want more than recipes. Hell, you can even do Oriental decor days. What good is sushi without the ambiance? If you have a high bounce rate or if you have people who don’t stay long (in, get recipe, out) but you want a community, then you have to change your tactics and strategies to find the readers who want a community to.

    Lead, and they shall follow.

    Men with Pens – Where Even the Mafia Doesn’t Rock So Good.

  89. bindaas girl says:

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  90. Terry Finley says:

    I learn more and more here.

    thanks

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