Online Community Building Right Before Your Eyes

Image of Online Community at CMSo an interesting thing has been happening here at JonAlford.com and not just here either.

I’ve been observing it on numerous websites; business and personal blogs alike. People are embracing the power of community and conversation.

People are happily sharing others’ messages and leaving their insightful comments on other sites.

It’s a good feeling that it’s happening here and it’s fun because I’m becoming better acquainted with some of these “Avatars” behind-the-scenes.

OK, so you’re saying: “Jon, gimme a break. People have always done these things.”

Stay with me for a minute here. Yes, these things are common but I think the approach is pleasantly evolving.

Lately for me, emails have been pouring in.

Skype sessions are igniting.

Guest posting opportunities are finding me.

I co-founded a minisite building community.

Real community building is underway and on different fronts. All these things have been happening as a direct result of building a community using the technique I’ll share in a moment.  But is all this:

  • Possible for you
  • Actionable (starting today) and
  • Will you see fast results?

Yes to all three. And here’s the back story.

A new community

On Monday, I shared with you the important revelations about community that I’ve had. It’s no secret that no matter what you’re doing online these days, you can’t work in a vacuum. You have to reach out to others ( it’s simple: no traffic = no interaction or sales) and show them you exist.

Today I’m giving you something you can sink your teeth into immediately.

I joined the Blog Marketing Forum recently and it has shown instant results. It’s free and registration is still open. The comment count and shares of my recent posts, and the new faces around here, show that this community helps spread awareness and boost social proof.

What happens in this community is we all commit to publishing quality content. Then, we all read each others said quality content (share it if we so choose) and leave insightful comments. That’s it.

Why did I join if I’ve already been doing this on my own?

It’s a time saver and I’m meeting folks with similar goals. I joined and instantly was connected with like-minded people passionate about growing their businesses and communities. They’re also passionate about helping me.

There’s no hunting around or simply hoping that, by chance, you’ll find someone else that values community.

It’s a new “tribe” for me but I have strong hopes. It also has a solid measure of accountability; people are keeping each other honest to ensure everyone does their part.

Commenting on articles isn’t new to me. I’ve watched the movers and shakers do it since I entered the game several years ago on my other projects. It’s something I’ve been doing daily since almost the beginning of the year to build awareness about what I’m doing here.

How I know this works

I track my progress. Since January 20th, 2011 I’ve kept screenshot evidence of my Alexa global rank (click here for more about Alexa).

Also, nearly every single comment I leave is recorded, by site and date, on a spreadsheet. Those records may further be cross-referenced with Google Analytics to derive more useful metrics.

I’ve been outsourcing some link building but I rely heavily on blog commenting to build quality traffic and authority to this site. It’s a brand new domain so I didn’t buy one that was “seasoned” and thus benefit from its age.

No A-Listers or big industry leaders have taken me under their wing.

This has required me to invest time and care.

In the image below, please take a look at: “Rank: 6,720,508″ (captured on January 20th although the post was published on Jan 19th).

Image of Jon Alford's Site

Here I took another capture for you on March 15th, 2011 with my current ranking:

Image of Jon Alford Site in MarchThis site is now holds a global rank of 586,760 (54 days to improve ranking by 6,133,748)

The status bar displaying my website’s figures in the pictures above is courtesy of the free Mozilla Firefox add-on: SeoQuake.

Now, I can’t promise the same results for everyone. You may even do better. I can’t say that the results are typical or that commenting alone did this.

However, with over 400 comments left by me on dozens and dozens of sites since January 20th (driving reciprocal comment traffic here); I’m calling this a win for blog commenting.

I still have a long way to go.

You’re Wondering…

You: So what, a crowd of people leave comments and click your share buttons. Did they buy anything?

Us: We’re spreading our ideas, learning more about each other, spotting strategic moves down the road, and sharing our audiences. This will all lead to future business with the added possibility of lucrative joint ventures. It’s already spawned new joint-ventures (at least for me even before this new community).

You: I run a “so-and-so” company and I don’t see other people in my industry doing it and I don’t have the time.

Us: Most of the offline world has a long way to catch up. They also don’t understand how interconnected we all are here and the power of sharing, goodwill, and subsequent benefits to your brand awareness. What’s more, it only takes a few minutes to read a fellow website owner’s article and leave a thoughtful comment.

You: Where do I sign up?

Final thoughts

It would be wrong to make a blanket statement and say that article commenting and building community is what everyone should do. Mainly because I know that a lot of people would abuse the system and use the community to constantly pitch their business ideas or affiliate products.

Luckily, the Blog Marketing Forum is being kept on close watch to filter out this kind of spammy behavior.

You don’t have to be running a personal blog to join; any of you business owners looking for:

  • A new place to meet great like-minded people
  • An opportunity to share what you’re doing
  • Free promotion (yeah, you like that four-letter word)

Are all welcome.

I look forward to mixing it up with you on your website soon. Any questions?


27 Responses to Online Community Building Right Before Your Eyes
  1. Frank
    March 16, 2011 | 9:46 am

    Jon,

    I too am still waiting on an A lister to take me under their wings. :-) What is taking them so long?

    Forums and also blog carnivals are a great way to meet like minded people and expose yourself to a broader audience. I have joined a few myself and am slowly starting to see the benefits of creating a community outside of my website. I have used linked in as a tool to establish relationships with other writers and bloggers and the experience has been life changing.

    Thanks for sharing these valid points and the screen shots add some creditbility to your message. Great Job!

    • Jon
      March 16, 2011 | 5:40 pm

      Frank,

      You never know, right? The opportunity may present itself. The blog carnivals I haven’t fully explored; I’m guilty of joining one and being rather quite (oh the shame!) But figuring out where we best fit in, add the most value and feel the most comfortable is all part of the process. It seems you’ve found your groove with LinkedIn, congrats. Thank you for the encouragement.

  2. Marlee
    March 16, 2011 | 11:35 am

    I just signed up. It sounds worth checking out. I’ve been a part of membership sites like this before and after awhile the network becomes spammy and you don’t gain traction, but I think a lot of that has to do with the type of people who join. I’m open. See you inside. ;)

    • Jon
      March 16, 2011 | 1:24 pm

      Marlee,

      Very good point about the quality degrading in short time. However, I was impressed at how responsive Heather (the founder) is at monitoring us. It made me feel more confident about reduced spam and real review of our content.

      I’m happy you’re in!

  3. Jk Alen
    March 16, 2011 | 1:08 pm

    You always manage to teach me something new with every post Jon. Seriously! I love it. Being that I’ve never done anything as such, I’m down to give it a try.

    Thank you for sharing your growth results. That’s great man. You have a great place here and I have no doubt that you’ll align exactly where you hope to.

    During the entire process, I’ll be here as a witness and member of the tribe.

    PEACE.

    • Jon
      March 16, 2011 | 5:43 pm

      Hey Jk,

      Support like yours, the way you reach out here and via email, is clutch. You probably don’t realize the impact you have on people when you go the extra mile that way. Just know that I value it and it helps me out. Thanks for being here.

  4. Adrienne
    March 16, 2011 | 1:20 pm

    Hey Jon,

    You are SO right my friend. Since I started implementing commenting on blogs I’ve seen a huge increase in my traffic. My Alexa ranking is a little under 175,000 for a blog that is not even 4 months old. And don’t count out the sales just yet. I’ve made 2 since visiting other blogs and getting new visitors so that’s not too shabby for again, a new site.

    What I have found more beneficial then the traffic from this strategy are the relationships I’m forming and the things I’m learning from my new blogger friends. You just can’t beat that type of community environment. Sure, sales are why we are here but people will purchase from people they know, like and trust. That all starts with building relationships and there is no better place to start then in a community. Plus, your friends will give you referrals so we can’t discard that either.

    Thanks again for pointing this out. You are so right and I really enjoyed this post. As always, awesome content my friend.

    Adrienne

    • Jon
      March 16, 2011 | 5:47 pm

      Hi Adrienne,

      Look at you! Yep, I noticed your rankings ;) You’re doing it right and you’ll have no problem selling more as a result of that foundation of trust you’re establishing. There are some marketers I trust so much I hardly read the sales copy during their launch; I just buy and am always satisfied (I’m looking at you, Copyblogger). Thank you for your positive energy.

  5. Heather C Stephens
    March 16, 2011 | 3:22 pm

    Hi Jon!

    Awesome post and thanks so much for helping me spread the word! Yes, our blog commenting tribe has helped me tremendously and today I’m looking at an Alexa rank of 53,790 on my blog. It was in the 3 millions when I joined this blog commenting tribe just 7 months ago.

    The challenge with our tribe was that we needed to keep it small to be able to really support each other and I wanted to find a solution that would allow more people. I’m hopeful that the forum will serve so many more business owners and give them a home to connect with other leaders, joint venture, build relationships, share resources, and all the great things you mentioned above.

    I don’t know if I would have met you otherwise and I’m so grateful for your help in reaching more leaders online! I can tell right away that we’re kindred spirits in the way we want to help others.

    Looking forward to getting to know you more and more. Thanks for sharing our new community with your audience!

    Heather

    • Jon
      March 16, 2011 | 5:55 pm

      Heather,

      You are dominating! Great job and you’ve worked your way onto the radar of Ana at Traffic Generation Cafe; a quality contact to have. I’m appreciative of what you’ve started with the Blog Marketing Forum and hope to see more dedicated people join. By-the-way, I found you while in the comment thread of another site. See how this works?

      You’re welcome for the share :)

  6. Patricia@lavender oil
    March 17, 2011 | 6:59 am

    Hi Jon

    With my small niche blog, commenting on other blogs and engaging on Twitter got my blog out there. Networking has really been a positive experience for me and I really enjoy it :-)

    Also I have met some amazing bloggers, learnt heaps and now as I build more sites for my growing business venture, have friends who are cheering me on and helping me on my journey.

    Being part of a tribe also brings support and the influence widens as new people are introduced and encouraged on their journey too.

    All the best for your plans for 2011 Jon. Enjoyed the post and thanks for sharing with us. Appreciated.

    Patricia Perth Australia

    • Jon
      March 17, 2011 | 6:26 pm

      Patricia,

      Yes you certainly have a substantial audience over there. Awesome work. I am going to head over there and visit, I wonder if you’ll be sharing the progress of your other sites? Tribes are great for support and wider influence; cheers to new people signing up!

      Always great to see you here, Patricia, and best wishes to you as well. Thanks!

  7. Sarah Russell
    March 17, 2011 | 8:54 am

    Thanks for the recommendation on the Blog Marketing Forum – see you on the inside :)

    • Jon
      March 17, 2011 | 6:28 pm

      Cool, Sarah! How many places will we show up together in 2011? Fun, let me count…

  8. Hector Avellaneda
    March 17, 2011 | 10:55 am

    Jon – thanks for sharing this community, man! I looks great and as a matter of fact I just registered for an account and submitted my application.

    Really looking forward to connecting with even more like-minded people!

    • Jk Allen
      March 17, 2011 | 6:08 pm

      ME TOO! The tie trio has to stand tall together! hahaha!

      • Jon
        March 17, 2011 | 6:34 pm

        @Hector – great to hear, man! I’ll say hi to you on the other side and congrats for joining.
        @Jk – haha! Too funny, man. Yes, this tie trio MUST stand together. Fun times :)

  9. Jerome Ratliff
    March 17, 2011 | 7:59 pm

    Hey Jon,

    Yeah, communities are powerful. For more than a year I participated in this community and a few others and saw my ranking fall below 100k. Wowser!

    The results where out of this world.

    However, because I had to stop blogging for 5 months, to focus on the growth of my team, my ranking took a turn for the worst (which I knew that was going to happen.) BUT (a big but) — since I recently joined back, my ranking has already dropped dramatically and I’m well on the way to where I was.

    Glad you are in the community as well and I’m really looking forward to hearing from you.

    Take care,
    Jerome Ratliff

    • Jon
      March 17, 2011 | 8:43 pm

      Welcome and thanks, Jerome!

      Five months is a serious hiatus in blogging time. But I’m glad to see you back in full-swing, man. If you’ve done it before you’ll do it again. See you soon.

  10. stacey
    March 17, 2011 | 9:52 pm

    Jon,

    I think I will look into the Blog Marketing Forum this summer. Right now, I’m a late night blogger with a full time day job, but I have the summers off. I think I might be able to dedicate more time to joining and growing with a community then. Thanks for the great info.

    I really like the conversational style of your blog!

    Stacey

    • Jon
      March 17, 2011 | 10:06 pm

      Stacey,

      Sounds great. I’ll stop by again and check in on your project anyway! Thanks for visiting and for the compliment. I appreciate your attention :)

  11. Danny @ Firepole Marketing
    March 18, 2011 | 7:30 pm

    Hi Jon, I can certainly say that your attention and involvement on Firepole Marketing is very much appreciated. I’m here because your content is great, but I might not have spent as much time finding that out without that involvement (and probably vice versa) – so you’re definitely right, and this definitely works.

    One question – in the narrative at the end, you describe yourself as “us” – is there a partner or a team behind the scenes at JonAlford.com, or just one super-talented guy? ;)

    • Jon
      March 18, 2011 | 8:57 pm

      Hey Danny,

      Guest posting at Firepole Marketing was a fantastic experience and I’m glad the community here lit up your comment scoreboard! Thank you for your kind words; you encourage me to keep shipping.

      Hm..I’m not sure which “us” exactly but I know I’ve used it in different places. Normally when I refer to “us” I mean in the community sense here when new people are commenting. Or when discussing the Community Marketing Challenge that Sarah at Common Sense Marketing and I started. Here, it’s just me. I outsource some link building work and have some offline friends I bounce ideas off but no partners or ghost writers.

      Thanks again…

  12. Geek Face
    March 30, 2011 | 5:05 am

    Jon, this is awesome just signed up to it. Will see you all on the inside.

    • Jon
      March 30, 2011 | 12:28 pm

      Nice! It’s great to hear you’ll be joining us. This certainly breathes life into your posts and gives you ideas for future ones. Best wishes.

  13. [...] Online Community Building Right Before Your Eyes [...]

  14. [...] you don’t include anyone else in your venture or invite them to join you along the way then it’s like going on a roller coaster without using the lap [...]

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