All About Blogging: Building a Community

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Customer in Training, NY State, August 2011

One of the main differences between a blog and a static website is the interaction with the community. But this kind of interaction takes months or even years to build and must be constantly addressed and redefined.

The interaction mostly takes place around three actions: commenting on articles, sharing the content and contacting the author.

Commenting on articles is the easiest and most common way for readers to provide feedback. Blog managers must make commenting as easy and straightforward as they can. This is why I personally don’t think users should have to register or jump through hoops to leave a comment. I stopped commenting on some blogs because the comment system requires users to log onto Facebook—I don’t have a Facebook account and I’m certainly not going to create one for that. On the other side, threaded comments systems are now widely available and make discussion easy because commenters can reply to each other.

Spam is always an issue but I don’t think users should have to prove there are legit commenters by solving a captcha. Some are very hard to read and nothing is more annoying than spending a minute or two trying to get them right. Spam plugins like Akismet do a great job of blocking spam anyway.

Finally, authors should take a minute to reply to comments. I know I haven’t always been good with that and I apologize. I now reply to each person individually directly from the WordPress dashboard. I must admit I get slightly annoyed when I leave comments that are never addressed or answered, I feel ignored as a reader. So I assume my readers feel the same and I’m working hard to let them know I appreciate they take the time to comment!

All bloggers hope that readers will be sharing the blog content on social media such as Twitter, Reddit, StumbleUpon etc. because it can really boost traffic. Most single post pages feature some kind of social media buttons to share content easily. Just make sure it’s not one of these annoying floating boxes that will follow readers everywhere basically demanding them to share the content!

Finally, readers should have an easy way to contact the author. Most people don’t want to leave their emails because it can be easily harvested by spam bots. There are several workaround to protect your email address from spam: you can put an image of your email address or you can use a contact form plugin. Just don’t bother using old tricks such as spelling it out (“user at gmail dot com”) because they don’t work anymore!

I set up a dedicated Contact page and I use Contact Form 7, a WordPress plugin. Because I receive a lot of immigration-related questions, I also set up a Coming to Canada page explaining my immigration story and offering resources. It’s an easy way to answer questions that always come up—I just send people to this reference page.

How do you interact with the community around your blog? What works best for you?


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. I am just starting out and I see what you mean about building a community, it is going to take some time! I use comments, a contact page and I have a small icon on the right about sharing the content. I can’t stand the ones that follow you everywhere. I agree with you about the comments, I do not see the point of having a blog if you do not reply to your readers’ comments. I have not used Reddit, I will check that out. I moderate all comments, just in case.

    • Reddit is pretty cool. I often hang out in r/Iwantout, the expat/immigrant subreddit. r/Canada is also fun for news about the country.

      I never moderate comments, just the ones with more than two links in the body of the comments because spammers typically include a large number of links. I’ve never had any big problem with spam, Akismet works great.

  2. I agree that it’s important to respond to all the comments on your posts. It’s just a nice thing to do. I don’t know how interested I am in building a huge community of readers like you have, but these are great tips, thanks!

  3. I might soon ‘steal’ this post from you, because I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I seem to have lost that drive I used to have, especially after my blog was destroyed back in February. One of the things that keep making me feel bad is the fact that I don’t reply to most of the comments other bloggers leave. There’s two people in particular I’m always thinking about, and one of them is you.

    I think that I what I’m doing is rude, actually, and I’m more than determined to change that. I believe that I have found a couple of things that I want to do with my blog in the near future, and I also seem to have found a way to squeeze my blogging and my online socializing into my schedule. With some luck, I will develop better manners and reconnect with my blogging community.

    But first I’m going to steal this post. 🙂

    • Steal away my friend, you have my blessing!

      Blogging is time-consuming. I know… and that’s probably why some comments slip through once in a while, it’s hard to be on top of everything.

  4. Hi Zhu,

    Oh yes, there is this trend of requiring a FB account to leave a comment. I have a FB account so I have no issues; but usually there is the option of commenting with the Twitter account or other.

    LOL I hear you, Zhu (boy, do you know how to send messages or what?)! But still I am not taking any chances: my blog has been blocked twice by blogger and since I have put the word verification, I have had no issues.

    I hadn’t noticed that you reply to each comment direct and individually now: that is great! 😀

    “How do you interact with the community around your blog? What works best for you?”
    I interact either through the comment section of my blog (and others blogs through “comment follow-up”), or through email, or through FB (which works as an extension of my blogging experience, really). All of them work for me.


    • Oh, so you had issues in the past with your blog being blocked by Blogger because of spam? That’s unfortunate! How did you solve the problem? Was it because of comments flagged as spam?

  5. “I stopped commenting on some blogs because the comment system requires users to log onto Facebook—I don’t have a Facebook account and I’m certainly not going to create one for that.”

    I hate that too! There are some fantastic blogs who I would have left a coment but you need a frickin’ Google account just to leave a comment! (It’s a new thing that Blogger does)

    Why can’t you just fill out your name, email and link whatever that may be?

    • I know, I don’t understand why people make it complicated to leave a comment. I’m not registering with yet another service to say something!

    • Hey Zhu.. I’m still alive. Anyhow I’m glad to hear that you don’t have Facebook. I don’t either. Frankly I hate it. The main newspaper here in London requires a Facebook account for you to comment on articles. I think that’s retarded and limiting. Not everyone uses or likes it. Anyhow… I am checking in from time to time to see what you’re up to.

      Hope all is well.

      All the best,


      • I’m not a huge fan of Facebook, I just don’t see the point of it. It seems to be a huge time-waster and frankly, this blog and photography takes me enough time. At least I feel productive when I write here!

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