12 Ways to Develop a Community of Blog Readers

13 Comments 28 September 2011

image courtesy of Nick Light,

image courtesy of Nick Light,


One of the hardest things to do is to develop a community of interested readers, sharers, and contributors to a blog. For new bloggers, it can be discouraging to publish thoughtful content without seeing the immediate return in reader comments and shares. Creating a blog community takes time and commitment, but there are some things you can do to develop a community of interested readers and fellow bloggers.

Why do you want to create a blog community, and what is it? A blog community is a community of readers who regularly comment on and share your blog content. They definitely feel connected to you through your blog content, comments and responses. They may also feel connected to each other through your blog. This community can be fiercely loyal, if truly engaged with your blog. Blog communities have been known to fundraise for a cause as a community, and encourage fellow members to do great things. If you manage a nonprofit blog, this is exactly the kind of community your nonprofit wants to develop. Once engaged, this community can be moved to action.

So what are some ways an organization can develop a community of fiercely loyal blog readers?

1. Become an integral part of your industry’s blogosphere. Every nonprofit industry has its “must-read blogs.” Choose five blogs to read that fall within your nonprofit’s industry and begin following them. Be part of those blog communities through blog post commenting, sharing, and engaging in the comments discussion. Comment unselfishly, by adding to the conversation rather than pointing back tp your own organization. Always give your blog’s URL when you register your comment so that other readers can find their way to your blog.

2. Encourage your blog community to share with social sharing widgets. Add the standard social sharing widgets to every blog post, such as a retweet, Facebook share, Google +1, and a catch-all social sharing button. For examples, take a look at the social sharing widgets I’ve added to this blog at the top and bottom of each post.

3. Encourage repeat traffic with subscribe options. Allow readers to subscribe to your blog through an RSS feed reader or email. Make it easy for them to receive your blog’s content and return to comment.

4. Blog conference sessions. The surest way to attract a community is to be part of the community when events and conferences are happening. Live-blog sessions you attend, or ask others to do so and post to the blog. Use the session’s Twitter hashtag and tweet that you are live-blogging certain sessions. Those following the conference online will refer to your blog as a source of session content, expanding your organization’s usual reach.

5. Remember you ABCs: Always Be Commenting. Reply to (almost) every blog comment. Readers comment on your blog post because they want to be recognized, add to the conversation, and be considered. Replying to comments can lead to other interesting discussions within the blog posts’ comments, and deepening a reader’s engagement with your blog and its content. No need to reply to every person who writes, “great post!” Instead, comment after a few of these types of comments are up.

6. As for blog comments. Don’t be afraid to ask for comments. Send a DM on Twitter to people you know would be interested in a certain blog post. Ask Twitter and Facebook followers and fans to comment as you share the post. If there is a great discussion happening in the blog comments, tweet that out and ask for even more comments!

7. Friend and acknowledge your commenters. Once you begin to see regular readers commenting on the blog, seek them out and friend them in your social spaces. Follow them on Twitter, connect on Linkedin, comment their blogs. Periodically send a public shout out to those who comment. You could even recognize them in a tweet such as this:”Great comment from @username on today’s blog. Thanks!”

8. Install an easy-to-use, social commenting system. Disqus and Facebook comments are two very easy-to-use commenting systems that are inherently social. Once users are logged into Facebook or Disqus, the comments are publicly shown either on Facebook feeds or the Disqus network.

9. Include a “recent comments” widget on the sidebar of your blog. Highlighting recent comments sends the message that your blog already has a blog community. I’ve installed the Disqus “recent comments” widget within this blog’s sidebar for that very reason.

10. Post the latest blog posts, and even the latest comments, to your organization’s social spaces. A recent case study implied that autoposting to Facebook may decrease views, so be sure to post manually the latest from your blog to Facebook and Twitter. Consider also posting great blog comments to your Facebook Wall and other social spaces.

11. Show blog post retweets on the sidebar of your blog. Consider creating a Twitter feed that pulls in all the blog post retweets as a way to show that your blog already has a community of readers.

12. Give out some link love. Though linking out a lot is not always recommended as a good SEO practice, linking will get your blog noticed. Especially when your blog is relatively new or unknown, don’t be afraid to create links to other blogs your readers will recognize. When you link to others, the blog owner is usually notified of the link, and will often take a look at your blog. This is a simple way to get your organization’s blog onto the radar of other industry blog owners.

  • Great post, Debra! (as always)… A very complete list indeed.   Another might be to have a “Top Posts” section for new readers to easily find the posts that your community found to be the best of the best. 


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Thanks for commenting, Chris. A Top Posts section is a great idea – thanks for your contribution.


  • Love the post Debra. Beginner or experienced blogger, we all need to look at the user experience and build our blog communities. Like Chris, I like the “top posts” widget too, I use the one from PostRank because it really shows which posts are getting attention from the readers. My blog is getting an overhaul soon!


  • Thanks, Janet. I hadn’t thought about using a PostRank Top Posts widget; what a fabulous idea! I’ll be looking into that for my blog, also.


  • This is great advice. There were definitely some tips in here I hadn’t considered and some good reminders for best practices. I am new to the nonprofit community and I have been looking for tips from others to help me get more engaged. I am definitely bookmarking this as a valuable resource. I will also forward it to others who may find it useful.


  • So glad you found these tips useful. Best of luck to you as you venture into the nonprofit community, professionally! Some of the other commenters (Chris, Janet) also offer fantastic tips for nonprofits and nonprofit professionals on twitter and through their blogs as well.


  • As usual, great post and great advice. Thanks!


  • Michelle Hensley

    I appreciate all the information. At first, it can be overwhelming however, it is very inspiring.


  • Fully agree that #1 is in fact #1.  If you want to build community the first step is to become a member of the community.  It seems so common sense but crazy how frequently this is missed.  To give is to get and if you are active and support the community they will usually support you back.

    In addition, it helps you develop your eye and skills in terms of blogs and how the conversation is supposed to flow and the personality of the community.

    Spot on as always.


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Being part of the community is so important, thanks for emphasizing it! Ash, you’re also part of the nptech community, and so good about reading and commenting on blogs. I think of it as how one builds community and “blog community karma.”

    Good point about understanding the culture of blog commenting, too! Could easily be point #13.


  • Bonnie Koenig

    Debra –  These is an exceptionally useful list.  As you well know building community takes time and nurturing and this post should help more people and organizations move in that direction.  I want to underscore how important #5 is.  I am always amazed at the number of bloggers who don’t respond to comments.  It certainly doesn’t encourage me to return  and be part of their community.


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Thanks for commenting, Bonnie. So true about #5! I feel ignored if I am trying to be part of the blog conversation, but the author doesn’t respond. Makes me think twice about participating in another blog post.


  • Sirishavamsi

    Great post thanks for your valuable information



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

Follow Debra

Subscribe via email




© 2020 Social Media Strategy for Mission-Driven Organizations.

Site by Arrow Root Media