How to Build Your Profile and Drive Traffic to your Blog Through Forums and Social Media Groups

In todays episode I challenge you to focus a little attention today on joining an online forum and/or social media ‘group’ as a way of growing your blog’s profile, finding readers and learning more about your niche.

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You can listen to todays episode above or in iTunes or Stitcher (where we’d also LOVE to get your reviews on those platforms if you have a moment).

In this Episode

In this short episode I share:

  • 3 questions to ask to help you find new readers for your blog
  • 3 reasons why joining a forum or group can help grow your blog
  • Some tips on how to find and participate in a forum or social media group in a way that helps your blog improve

Further Reading Relevant to this Podcast

How did You Find this Challenge

Are you already a regular contributor to forums and/or social media groups? What tips would you add to those in this episode? What do you find works best? What would you avoid doing?

I’m looking forward to learning from your experience in comments below!

I’d also love to hear your feedback on this podcast if you could spare a moment to leave us a review on iTunes or Stitcher.

UPDATE: please scroll down to the comments section and check out the amazing and generous advice of Paul who shares some meaty tips on getting the most out of forums. It’s great stuff!

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  • I sure hope joining a Food Photography community on Google Plus counts for this challenge. I love this group. No marketing is allowed. It’s well moderated. You just share food shots and you must describe how the shot was created. A great place to learn food photography and get critiques. Traffic to members’ websites is accomplished by a real interest in their work. I went to one of the members website and signed up for her newsletters. She has a great website, great (yummy) food images and recipes.

    • do you have a link to it? sounds like a great group 😀

      • Hi Rosalind, here’s the link to Food Photography: https://plus.google.com/communities/114895417659148613939 As I state above, I think it’s a great resource for learning food photography. I’m also using an online class on food photography and have been checking out Darren’s photography site. Presently, I’m using my smart phone until I get a DSLR camera, possibly next week.

        You will find people who try to promote. They are quickly referred to the rules and can risk having their images removed. Other reasons I like the group is I can also learn from members’ Google plus web page in how they use it. Already I’m revisiting how I can best use my Google page. Let me know what you think of the group:)

        • I’ve been resiting using Google + I really don’t like the way Google accounts work. They could really use a good process engineer to make it flow more easily!
          I’ll certainly look at the Foo Photography page, it’s a new photographic area for me too 🙂

          • I wholeheartedly agree with you. I find it very confusing, especially between my personal and business pages. If I access G+ in certain way, I can’t even find the communities I belong to. Some members had added me to their circle & I’m following them too. Yet, they don’t show up on my pages. I had tried to get my business on Google map. While setting up the verification, G+ automatically created yet another business page. Pulling my hair out (what’s left of it) trying to figure out what to do.

  • I belong to several professional groups on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. It takes awhile to find the right groups, but once you do it can be extremely rewarding. In addition to the relationships with like minded individuals my traffic has increased as a result of referrals, promotional opportunities and author interviews and I’ve seen an increase in comments for my articles from less than half a dozen to an average of 35 to 40. In the last week my blog has been promoted by two group members and that has resulted in a healthy bump in new subscribers. Forums are another animal entirely. My initial foray in that direction was discouraging to say the least, but it’s been awhile so I think it’s time to take another look-see.

  • This made me realise i need to ID my core customer much more clearly and I need to think about where they hangout, much more. I think this might also be ‘offline’

    I am a member and contributor to several FB groups in the gardening side of things, actually in the Iris side of things too as I am an ‘expert’, collection holder of one rare type. I am not entirely sure there is any gain from the group members to be honest. The admin of one FB group has given me work on several occasions (The Guardian). Sharing in the group on the odd occasion gives a good uplift to views on FB but there is no way to tell if this converts directly to website/blog views.

    I have to say none of my Design clients are regular social media users, in fact I initially used it only to improve my Google ranking to appear on page 1 for my area. Because they do find me that way.

    I’ve made some professional connections via LinkedIn and Twitter and mostly use them for that purpose and not for finding customers. That said I do work for other designers too so perhaps I should call it B2B relationships rather than B2C.

    I’ve found folk are very amenable to blog post sharing but ONLY if it’s done sporadically and ONLY if you are also a regular contributor otherwise it’s not welcome, I find myself feeling that too.

    There is a professional forum for landscapers, gardeners and designers which I am a member of but haven’t put the time into participating of late. I’m not sure of the real time/return benefit. Will look into adding it to my growing editorial calendar.

    • Marie-Claire Allington

      Interesting point about the ‘time/return benefit’ I would say the same about writing grups sometimes –
      I have done a fair few courses with a lady called Holly Lisle who is a prolific author and trainer and she says that she finds that her readers may translate into writers but that the writers don’t translate t readers – but using her forums I can never see anyone who is there as a reader – it is all the writers chatting away – but I think that does translate into sales at times because you get interested in what some one does and follow through so I would suggest the ‘you have to be in it to win it ‘ cliche and the other hack phrase ‘only one way to guarentee failure thing’ – fail to act – and you never know who as read your blog who then mentions you when a project comes up – I think it is worth a go for you – sort of you help them out quid pro quo. Sorry about the cliches – it is 05.21 am here what ever the time on this thing says!!
      So I kind of face the same dilema – large groups – or small – of folk trying to publish books can end up like we are all giving each other writing tips and advice – but we do all also read and I have found some great reads by clicking around ‘the printer ran out of ink’ comments. MC

  • I recently starting sharing my links across several Facebook groups in my niche and really saw a difference including a few more regular followers. I’ve not tried traditional forums yet but there’s a couple out there who’s websites I’m signed up to so will check one out later today as my task. Thanks

  • ticiaM

    I’ve found a couple of really good communities close to my niche on FB. There’s some in my niche on G+, but I just haven’t really found any that don’t feel like “Let me drop my link and run” groups.

    • yeah – it’s hard to find the good ones. Maybe it’s a signal for you to start one Ticia 🙂

      • Maybe, then I’d have to figure out exactly which area of my niche to focus on. I’ve started a successful FB group in my area with some friends, and that has grown to almost 1000 people in it.

  • This is something I have wanted to try. Now it’s part of the challenge I am forced to be proactive! I have found in the past that forums/groups in my genre of eco-friendly living and sustainability tend to be either DIY, farming or climate change forums. The first two are great but the latter tends to attract some crazies and you waste a lot of time sifting through the uneducated rants. Can anybody recommend a great forum or Facebook group focused on sustainability or climate policy?

    • I’ve not seen them on that topic but keep searching!

    • Marie-Claire Allington

      This might not be directly relevant – but try River Cottage in the UK Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall (that may be miss spelt) I live near hi HQ and whilst on the surface it is all about food and smallholding – Hugh campaigns hard on sustainability – even if their blogging area doesn’t suit there may well be useful links.MC

  • Paul

    Hey Darren & PB community. 🙂

    My post is going to be about driving traffic to an eCommerce site – not just a blog. Here goes!

    … Back in the day (1998-2005~) when I first started my eCommerce business – Warcom, I would quite literally spend 4-5 hours every single day on community forums.

    Sites like Atomic, OCAU, Whirlpool, Sitepoint, Tomshardware – all of them.

    Over the course of doing this for a solid 2-3 years, I built that business into a seven figure business.

    I had about 5-6 staff working for me & I was making bucket loads of cash.

    At the time, this was pretty much the only advertising I was doing. There were no Adwords, no Facebook, nothing back then! Heck, I didn’t even have a newsletter list.

    Fast forward 10 years …!

    I’m still speaking with people on forums, on social media, still establishing myself as the authority and it’s still working for me.

    (I run an Australian business owner group with thousands of people in them).

    Needless to say, I’ve learnt a thing or two about monetizing communities over the last 10 years.

    Here are some of my top recommendations:

    1.) Be a producer, not a consumer. (Make your own content, don’t recycle everyone else’s. I mean this, come up with your own methods, be unique).
    2.) Deliver knowledge based value. (Share EVERYTHING you know. Don’t hold back on the good stuff). Hint: You will never run out of stuff to share, so long as you keep learning yourself.
    3.) Don’t advertise, well – … not much anyway. (People will seek you out naturally & buy from you if you appear as the authority).
    4.) Be humble, approachable & polite. (No one likes a d$^k).
    5.) Be personable. (Just because you’re running a million dollar business, you’re no different to the people you’re speaking with, unless of course they have 20,000+ posts on said forum, in which case they probably don’t leave the house all that much & are more than likely quite unique individuals).
    6.) Stand up for yourself. (You’re going to get haters who try and shut you down, it always happens. Many ‘old people’ hate young successful people. Beat them with your knowledge & personality, but don’t let them get to you. This isn’t an easy craft to master, but I can share some more info on this another time if anyone is interested).
    7.) Be friendly with the mods, but don’t be a sucker. (I always liked to stand on my own feet, away from the mods & admins. It gives you a slightly different persona on forums and the members seem to dig it). Hint: Most mods are power trippers, so if you’re seen as a huge authority, it just drives them mental trying to tell you off.
    8.) Organise meetups for people you meet on the forums & social media. (Most people who spend all day long on forums, are dying to make new offline friends). Hint: Just be sure to do it in a safe and central place!

    ——— Now we get into some of the below the line stuff:

    9.) Make sure you have plenty of friends on forums who can help you fight battles. (You can make ghost accounts, but they’re hard to maintain & real people are much easier to manage & help you push your agenda).
    10.) Contribute to the Popular/Most Viewed threads. (You want to make an impression quickly? Go where the people are).
    11.) Occasionally pick battles. (If there is something you believe in and feel needs attention (in my case it’s usually an expensive supplier or a bad service provider), call them out on social media.
    12.) …. Build your own groups & recruit brilliant people to help grow them. As James Shramko would say “Own your own race course”.

    I could probably keep this post going all day, but ‘alas I’m running out of time!

    I hope you all get something out of this. If you have any questions please feel free to throw a comment below & I’ll reply.

    Cheers,
    Paul.

    nb: If you want to follow me on twitter, or subscribe to my newsletters, google my name +.com.au.

  • Sam Walker

    Okay, I’m new to forums. I have landed on several when I’ve been searching for information on different things but I have never joined one. Is there generally a process where you actually have to join up? Thanks!

    • I just joined a forum, and I had to register. In fact, you have to register at most forums before you can post anything. You should see a link to the register page on the website.

    • yep – you normally need to register. Some allow you to post straight away while others take a little while to approve you.

  • OK, challenge #9 accepted! I will join a group or forum. In fact, since I mostly live on Facebook, I have decided to join a forum outside of it. I registered on one that looks promising, so we’ll see how that goes. I also found a couple of Google+ communities that look promising. Perhaps this will breathe some life into my Google+ account? Hope so!

    • Hi Fabi, Thank you for adding me to your G+ account. Unfortunately, it’s page I have had to delete. I’m trying to simplify my pages. I’ll be sending you an invite from my default page. Hope you will accept it!

    • well done Fabi!

  • Challenge accepted here too. Given I live on Facebook and love the way private Groups operate, I’ve joined another 2 groups – the Aussie Bloggers Group (just waiting for that acceptance!) and a self-employed group. I already belong to a few amazing Facebook groups; they’ve really been of huge benefit.

    • Your note on private FB groups inspired me to try again. So I searched and finally found a group, applied for membership and am now waiting. When I looked at open groups, they didn’t seem to have much structure so I got put off. Hope this new try works out.

    • The Aussie bloggers group has some great stuff going on – well done

      • Except I still haven’t been accepted. Was it something I said 🙂

    • I’m going to try the Aussie Bloggers Group as well Lisa. Have you been accepted yet?

      • Yes! It’s a fabulous group.

  • Thanks for the Podcast Darren, it’s come at just the right time for me. I’ve got a new-ish blog and needed something like this to kickstart it. Accepted Day 9 challenge and joined a few FB groups. I had very recently created a FB Page and shared some work from it to a few of the groups. It had a great amount of engagement. Not a lot of it ended up making it from FB Groups to FB Page to blog, but there was definitely a trickle. I think by engaging more in the communities and keeping at it, it will start to generate the traffic to the blog and website. Thanks for the kickstart to do this!

  • I joined a LinkedIn group – Bloggers Helping Bloggers – quite some time ago and this group has been an amazing support during my initial struggles getting my blog moving. They are still my favourite LinkedIn group. Recently I joined AHANow – Harleena Sings’ community and my recent group is MyBlogU, a resource and networking group for bloggers. Today, for this exercise I joined Frugal Village – A forum that focuses on family values and living the frugal life.

    • good work Lenie – those groups sound great.

  • Marie-Claire Allington

    Good Grief I did it! Some one commented and liked it! Michael Hyatt had invited people to pu up latest blog post – so I did and it was great to come in today and see someone had liked it – checked the stat thing 6 people 🙂 LOL. That is 6 more than last week! So glad I noticed you were doing this and made the effort to join in Darren – Thanks – and to everyone who has kindly replied to me as well! :)) MC

    • well done Marie-Claire! Small steps are what it’s all about – keep taking them!

  • This tip pushed me into sharing a link to my last post on a Facebook group I had been following for a year. I was too shy to promote and only answered to questions or asked mine once in a while. The result was amazing. I had more traffic that day than in the 11 previous days altogether! Thank you!

  • I belong to groups both on FB and LinkedIn. When I join a new group, I tend to comment on other people’s posts before posting my own so they can get to know me for my credible critique and comments before I ask for theirs in return. I feel like those who start out contributing rather than requesting build trust more readily. No matter what, authenticity is my main approach.

  • Marie-Claire Allington

    Sadly I have just dropped out of somewhere I valued like this as I realised they were totally abandoning their site to us – not paying experts any more that they were advertising and letting us members volunteer and cop the flack when we were taking up the short fall. They had monetised the site around us and of course bickering and confusion wasn’t far away even though we all tried to jolly it along. Then we realised they dropped the membership 18 months ago and more than a few of us were still paying full whack and keeping the place afloat. Another wave of us have left which is a great shame as it was a great writing group – I have learned from this – spot the automated response from the owner of the site – spot the genuine one – and if you are paying to join just be a bit careful about being too useful – you are the customer first. If it is a free forum and you choose to join in heart and soul then that is fine but when the boundries get blurred it really hurts because you do start to feel part of something that isn’t really yours – on the flip side if building my own comunity I can take this lesson forward if I ever feel I need help with it to really thank the folk who are making the comunity come alive and make sure every one understands who gets paid to talk to them and who is giving up their own time and experience to do so – I am sure if I get that far I will make other mistakes but I hope not that one.:)

  • Oh my goodness, I am in so many groups on FB! I prefer the group set up to just my own regular timeline. My big tip with forums, remember it is just that, it isn’t real life, do not get offended!

  • Darren, Gee whiz! This podcast had such a massive impact on me. Thank you times 10!

    Everyone out there you really should follow Darren’s advice on this one.

    I did what you said and got involved in an online forum. Something I was totally not interested in before listening.

    I got so much out of it I wrote this blog post about my experience. Here it is…..

    http://www.thoughtsonwhatmatters.com/blog/2015/7/19/networking-nerves-online-forum-fear-i-set-myself-a-7-day-fizzle-forum-fling-realised-id-been-missing-out

  • I totally agree with this particular session. I’m currently building my presence in a forum, and hopefully I can start giving them some useful content so that they’ll come to recognize me as a resource person in the field. I used to think forums were outdated (and fb groups didn’t really help) but this changed my mindset a lot!

  • Hasan

    Hi Darren,

    Just starting to learn about the whole blogging sphere. Awesome idea of joining Forums as you mention in this episode. I am really enjoying making my way up your podcasts. Thanks for your time and efforts 🙂 Some great points from Paul below also 🙂

    Cheers,
    Hasan