I was all set to write a post about hating my job today (shocker, I know), but an interesting thing happened Monday night. I interviewed Marcus From TheSalesLion.com and was really taken with what he had to say.
We had a fantastic conversation about building community and it made me reevaluate my approach to blogging thus far. For the first time, I began to understand the awesome power of relationships as they relate to blogging.
You see, I’ve been of the mindset that I could do everything myself for a while now (have you noticed?). Sure, having contacts and online friends is great but certainly not necessary. Or so I thought.
I didn’t know much about Marcus prior to our call and I was amazed by his mentality towards building his online business. He is all about helping others, building relationships, and interacting with people. He’s built his blog around those things and it works incredibly well for him.
I realized that I need to get better at these things. Much better.
The Selfish Trap
It’s a trap that many bloggers fall into. It’s when we get so caught up in what we need to do that we forget to look outward. We forget that there is life out there. We forget that there are people that can really use our help. And I’m so guilty of these things.
My goal for this blog has always been to have a thriving community of people who care about living life on their own terms. And yet I am doing very little to create it.
I would love to have 100 comments per post and get 50 emails a day but at the rate I’ve been going, that’s not gonna happen. Why? I’m being selfish. I’m focusing only on what I need. Blogging doesn’t work like that and I now see why.
As much as I like to think I’m doing all I can to build my business, I realized that I’m being too selfish and it’s stagnating the growth of my blog. Here’s how:
- I rarely comment on others blogs
- I self promote my posts too frequently
- I don’t often take the time to answer my comments thoughtfully
- I don’t spend hardly any time trying to help people on an individual basis
- I don’t seek out new relationships often enough. Online or offline.
All I can seem to think about is what I have to do today, what I need, what I should be working on. How the hell can I build a thriving community if it’s all about me?!? I can’t!
My results speak for themselves. My comments are down, my email are fewer, and I don’t feel as connected to my readers as I did before. This is what happens when you stop pursuing relationships and go on auto-pilot. Not a good place to be for a blogger…
It’s easy to get wrapped up in our own tasks and projects that we can’t see anything else. It’s killing our chance for growth.
During and after my conversation with Marcus, I thought about what I’m doing differently than him. Why does he get tons of comments, unsolicited offers for business, and the option to pick and choose his clients?
The answer is simple. He cares a great deal about his readers. They become his friends. His goal each day is to help people. Imagine that! I’m so busy trying to help myself that I forget to do the one thing that I need to be doing. And that’s reaching out.
Since I started this blog about 10 months ago, I have had a number of people help me. I was amazed by the generosity of people when I was just starting out. Successful bloggers were actually contacting me to ask if they could help me. I loved it!
When I look back, I see that the reason I had the growth that I did was that I had people helping me get there.
So why am I not doing it myself? No good excuses really. Lack of time, poor time management, trying too hard to do too many things. Are you guilty of these as well?
It’s Not All About Me
Blogging is not about just writing. It’s about being part of something bigger. It’s about connecting with others and making lives better. Here are some of the people who have helped me along the way, some of whom probably don’t even remember doing it. These are not just bloggers. These are real people.
I remember Jen Gresham from EverydayBright.com took the time to help me set up my header categories with my first theme. I was frustrated and didn’t know what to do and she sent me multiple detailed emails with tips and suggestions about how to use them effectively. We ended up chatting on the phone for an hour and I feel like I made a friend.
Then there is Mr. Passionate himself, Jacob Sokol from Sensophy.com. We were both getting started with our blogs and I called him one day. We chatted for a long while about our goals and the fact that neither one of us had much of an idea of how to build a successful blog.
Look how far he’s come. He’s kicking ass and he’s been supporting me along the way. I could drive 4 hours to NYC tomorrow and we would hang out all day. That’s a great feeling to have that connection.
When I started my blog, I was clueless about pretty much everything to do with blogging. I sent an email to Chris Guthrie from MakeMoneyOnTheInternet.com and he was cool enough to give me some very specific advice. Now here’s a guy who makes a nice living online and I’m sure is very busy.
The fact that he took time out of his day to offer up unsolicited advice meant a lot. You never know how much of a difference a little help can have on someone.
One person who really went out of his way to help me when I got started was Nick Cardot from SiteSketch101.com. Nick and I lived relatively close to each other and we actually met for breakfast a few times. This guy is the epitome of someone looking to offer unconditional help and give back.
A while back I started a mastermind group and was fortunate enough to meet a blogger named Barry Morris. Barry has several blogs, including BookBlogBusiness.com and is an experienced Internet marketer and published author.
Over the course of several months, Barry and I chatted about building my business. We didn’t talk about his business, although I’m sure he would have liked that. He was kind enough to spend several hours coaching me on creating a sales page and giving me advice on marketing.
I feel like an asshole because he had asked me to read his eBook and and give him feedback and I didn’t. I never got around to it. That’s NOT how to build a business. I’m guilty as charged and I told him so.
It still sucks for him but he never complained. My point is: take the time to help someone. Especially if they’ve helped you.
When I was about 4 months into my blog and it was growing quite nicely, I got a Twitter message from Kelly Diels from KellyDiels.com. For those of you who don’t know her, she is a phenomenal writer and is doing quite well for herself as a writer/blogger.
Anyway, she sent me a DM telling me that she dug my site but that it was missing a few critical things. She initiated a phone call in which we talked for about an hour. I can’t tell you how helpful that call was.
It was a very thoughtful gesture on her part and made a huge difference in my approach to building a business.
If there is such a thing as a blogging coach, my friend Ian is it. Ian runs a successful tennis instruction site over at EssentialTennis.com and has really started to dominate his niche. Ian and I became friends a few years ago (he actually lives very close by) and he’s helped me with my blog since day 1.
We were actually riding the DC Metro together coming back from a Redskins game when the idea for this blog came to pass. Ian has a lot of experience with Podcasting, product launches, and, most importantly, building a strong community.
I’ve sent countless emails to him and made dozens of calls to him over the last 10 months and he’s helped me immensely.
The Quickest Way To Online Failure Is Being Selfish
(Side Note) Coming in a close 2nd is being a douchebag. This post details what being selfish and being a douchebag is all about.
For 10 months now I have been doing what I thought I needed to be doing to build a successful blog that is rich with comments and user engagement. I was wrong.
I’ve come to realize that it’s not about us, it’s about others. It’s about helping those that you can.
Why do some blogs have thriving communities who will walk through fire to support each other while others are lucky to get 2 comments per post? Is it because their content is worse. Maybe, but more likely it’s because they haven’t figured out how to get people involved.
If you’re looking for people who are building a community and not just a business, then look no further:
If I (or any of us) hope to succeed online, we need to start building relationships. It shouldn’t even be optional. These are some great people to learn from.
Patricia from Lavenderuses.com is one of the true masters of effective community builders. Her site is about Lavender,which I’ll bet many of her readers probably don’t have a strong interest in.
They read her blog because of who she is. She honestly cares about people and takes the time to show them. Look at her comment to see what I’m talking about.
Benny Hsu from GetBusyLivingBlog.com is a relative newcomer to blogging but has managed to build an amazing community of like minded people on his blog. If you are a regular blog reader, then you probably have seen his face in the comment section. He’s also an extremely nice guy. That does count for something in the blogoshphere.
Marcus from TheSalesLion.com as I mentioned earlier has created an truly awesome community and network. And he has done it the organic way,which is simply by helping people with no underlying motives. Read through his comments and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
Adrienne from AdrienneSmith.net is one of my favorite people online. She’s easily recognizable by her huge smile she always has. She was kind enough to write a guest post for my blog a few months ago (her first) and the reaction she received was amazing!
The post has 160 comments right now which tells you a little something about her readers. They are so supportive and it was an eye opening experience for me to see the comments flood in.
Again, it comes down to her willingness to help people. I’m sure her goal wasn’t to get to get tons of comments on her blog. It came naturally because of who she is and from the fact that she leaves incredible comments on peoples’ blogs!
Steve from NerdFitness.com has one of the best communities I’ve come across. Steve is a fitness blogger who LOVES what he’s doing and it shows. He calls his readers the Rebel Army and has a very active forum. Go check out what he’s up to, you probably will pick up a thing or two.
There a many more people I could mention here but this post is already over 2,100 words…
Are You Building Your Community?
If you’re a blogger, what are you doing right now to build your community. A few retweets aren’t going to cut it. Are you looking to forge new relationships on a daily basis? You should be.
Just like with most anything, it’s about who you know. Blogging is no different. The caveat is that it’s not wise to name drop, ask for “favors”, and expect things in return. Remember, it’s about giving, not getting.
If you don’t believe me, you need to contact Marcus Sheridan. Talk with him for a few minutes and you will understand the power of networking and relationships.
Going forward, I plan to change my selfish ways and start giving again. How about you? What will you do?