BBAW 2011: Community, Part II

by Kim on September 14, 2011 · 26 comments

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Today’s Topic: The world of book blogging has grown enormously and sometimes it can be hard to find a place. Share your tips for finding and keeping community in book blogging despite the hectic demands made on your time and the overwhelming number of blogs out there. If you’re struggling with finding a community, share your concerns and explain what you’re looking for–this is the week to connect!

Being part of a community takes work. That’s true in real life, and it’s true in blogging. You don’t get comments without leaving comments, you don’t get followers without following others, and you don’t feel part of a community until you do some work to participate that community.

That said, I do think there are some ways to feel connected more quickly than others, at least from my years of experience as a blogger.

Think Outside the Blog

First, leaving comments is still, I think, one of the best ways to help grow your blog in the long-term. However, it can be time consuming and the results aren’t always immediate, which I think can be discouraging. So, my first piece of advice is to reach out to others through other kinds of social media like Twitter for a more immediate impact and as a way to connect with a different group of bloggers.

I’ve been on Twitter for a long time, and while my addiction to Twitter goes in fits and spurts, I’ve found it to be a great way to connect with other book lovers — especially people with blogs that I don’t find much to regularly comment on.

When I’ve asked for advice on Twitter, I’ve almost always gotten a series of great responses. And when I answer questions or offer advice, I’ve felt more connected. One blogger I’ve had some great conversations with on Twitter is Jenn (Jenn’s Bookshelves or@jennsbookshelf), even though I’m not much of a commenter on Jenn’s blog. I also participate in a variety of Twitter hashtags like #fridayreads and #IndieThursday. Friday Reads is also on Facebook and has a blog, so you can find that community all over the place.

Twitter seems intimidating at first, sort of like jumping into a giant conversation and not knowing where it starts or ends. But most book bloggers are incredibly generous, and if you reach out to them (sent an @ reply or something), they’ll usually respond back and you can get into the conversation.

Make Your Own

As a blogger who — until recently anyway — mostly read and wrote about nonfiction, I always felt a bit on the outside of the larger book blogging community. Not in a serious or detrimental way, but just in the sense that I found myself skimming over a lot of reviews in my Google Reader in lieu of more discussion or personal posts from bloggers I like to read.

At BEA this year I was sitting on the steps of the US Post Office with Ash (English Major’s Junk Food), Amy (Amy Reads), Cass (Bonjour, Cass!), and Anastasia (BirdBrain(ed) Book Blog), and I made some comment about wishing there were more people who loved nonfiction and it was easier to find them. I think I must have been the one that suggested some sort of society for nonfiction lovers, and over a terrifying cab ride out to a party, the general idea for the Bloggers’ Alliance of Nonfiction Devotees was born. I have so many ideas for what BAND can be, and I think with time (whenever it gets found) and effort, we’re going to make it great. I hope others will join in!

This isn’t a unique idea or anything — plenty of blogging groups and projects pop up as bloggers within our huge community want to find a way to connect with each other. I’d venture to guess things like Armchair BEA, the Classics Circuit, and A Year of Feminist Classics, all came about from that same impulse to connect over some shared reading passion.

So I guess my other piece of advice for finding a community within the community, if you’re struggling, is to think about making your own. It doesn’t have to be huge: ask another blogger if they want to do a read-a-long with you or decide to host a challenge about your favorite books and get it posted at A Novel Challenge. If you reach out a little bit, you’ll start to find community where you may not expect it.

Bottom line: it takes reaching out to build community. A community is not going to just come to you. While I still think leaving comments is huge in terms of finding other bloggers, sometimes it’s the other things — saying “Hey!” on Twitter or just sending a personal e-mail with a compliment to a blogger you like — that have a bigger impact in a shorter amount of time.

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