Blog networks are popular. There’s a host of recognized ones including b5media, Know More Media and 9rules. Others like Home Turf Media are going live with different niches and twists on the blog network theme.
I’m a big fan of the blog network because you’re pooling resources to help each individual blogger be more successful (which results in the network’s success.) Blog networks can help increase traffic to your blog through marketing, promotion and generating more inbound links between blogs in the network. Blog networks can also provide support and training to bloggers. It’s about building a community that helps one another become better bloggers through best practices, brainstorming ideas, discussion and more.
Creating a blog network is a huge amount of work.
But what about creating a private blog network within your existing community?
The idea isn’t to pool traffic numbers to offer advertisers a more interesting option by advertising across the network. It doesn’t have to be a public blog network like b5media for example, but a community of bloggers that get together online to help one another.
Think of it like a blog support group.
Here’s how you could do it:
- Get a Few Initial Members Involved. You can’t have a network without people, so pool your contacts, friends, associates — people in your blogging world — and invite them to join your new blog community.
- Setup Forums. I envision forums being the most common way for people in your blog support network to communicate. It’s less invasive than email and everyone’s familiar with how to use them. Keep the forums password protected to avoid spammers. There are tons of forum software options available. Your web hosting company might even offer one for easy install.
Here are some forum areas I envision: Introductions, Blogging Best Practices, Promotional Ideas, Technical Help, Want Ads, Success Stories, Items of Interest, Chit Chat.
“Want Ads” would be a place to ask for things that you need, for your blog or otherwise. Maybe you need a great public relations firm, or you need a referral for something. Your blog support group should do more than help with blog-related issues.
“Success Stories” would be a place to promote yourself a wee bit. Never hurts among friends, right? If you’ve got a big success story, or want to tell your friends about something, you could use a forum like this to do that.
- Setup an Email Distribution List or Yahoo Group. This is quite easy to do, and allows everyone in the network to email one another using one email address. Although I don’t see a ton of email flying around, it can’t hurt to have a simple way of reaching out, without it looking like spam.
- Create a Website/Blog. This might be as simple as a single page, or a plain blog that you could use to update the community on things, give people a place to sign-up, etc. You might password-protect it depending on the content being made available. Things you could include: contact information for everyone in the blog support network, general news of interest, feed subscription URLs for everyone’s blogs, updates on new members, etc.
- Focus on Group Blog Promotion. One of the main goals will be increasing traffic to each other’s blogs. So a good amount of focus should go to blog promotion, and in this case, the promotion of all the blogs in the support network. Many of the blogs will already be linking to one another naturally, because it makes sense in one another’s content, and you know each other. But through the blog support network you can take promotion to the next level with:
- Mini-blog carnivals
- Group writing projects
- Theme days
- BlogJolts (use this as an example)
- TheGoodBlogs communities
- Actively Recruit New Members. The one rule about blog support networks is that you don’t talk about … oh nevermind … No community succeeds unless it adds new members. It just gets stale. So every member of the blog support network should actively find others and bring them onboard. A mix of people in different industries with different experience levels from different geographic locations and you’ve got yourself one heck of a support group. But be selective. Not because you’re an elitist pain in the arse, but because adding too many people too quickly could de-value the quality of content and discussion within the network. Once people sign-up for the sole purpose of promoting themselves and doing nothing else, the blog support group is lost.
People who know each other and actively communicate will help one another in all sorts of ways.
The idea is to rally around blogging and help one another with blogging but the real opportunity lies beyond that.
- Referrals will start exchanging hands.
- People will start new projects together.
- Friends will become clients of one another.
- Businesses will grow and improve.
- Buzz will spread.
- Knowledge and ideas will be shared.