No matter what end of the blogging ladder you’re on now, no doubt you’ve looked at some point for ways to make the climb easier. After all, who doesn’t love the idea of a fast lane to success? Today, we’ve got two takes on organized blogger groups – first from someone who thinks such groups represent a way to launch a blog to the top of the heap, and then from someone who thinks bloggers who don’t look outside those insular groups are targeting the wrong audience. Is there a magic pill? Or are these the emperor’s new clothes?

The secret of top level bloggers: Blogging Super Sharing Groups

by Cole Burmester

Creative Commons photo by C!... on Flickr

Creative Commons photo by C!… on Flickr

Looking up from the bottom of the blogging pile towards the success that others have reached, can make you pull your head back in and shut down your blog. But don’t despair there is hope for you yet.

These bloggers that you may look up to didn’t reach the levels by just being excellent writers, engaging on social media or becoming an authority in their chosen niches. Sure it helps, but they also had a dirty little secret. A secret that I was only privy to a few weeks ago.

And I want to reveal it to you…

They are involved in what I like to call a “Blogging Super Sharing Group.”

What is a blogging super sharing group?

You don’t have to look very far to see that the promotional power of social networks is being watered down by automated blogging robots who tweet new posts without reading them and without regard for quality or relevance. This approach to blog promotion spreads a weak message to a wide audience about an even wider (often random) group of mixed quality blogs.

It’s no surprise then that most bloggers therefore only seem to be writing for one another as they hope to join in with the robots.

But a blogging super sharing group is different. In these groups they value content and creativity.

Everyone agrees that just being a great photographer or creator of fantastic content is usually not enough in such a cut-throat business. You also need a strong social media presence.

By utilising a group of like-minded bloggers to share your posts, you are extending your own reach through trusted sources and recommendations.

Some may call it a blogging circle-jerk and look down upon such groups. But no matter which way you slice it, they are extremely beneficial. By joining forces with other dedicated like minded bloggers you can help spread your posts to a much more engaged and targeted audience.

What is involved?

Having only just been shown the key to this exclusive world I had no idea what to expect. And I was quickly overwhelmed. Here I was in the presence of some of my favourite bloggers and being asked to share my own posts with them so that they in turn could share them through their own social media channels.

At first glance the blogging sharing super group “rules” seemed very strict and I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

Luckily these “rules” turned out to be more like guidelines. But make no mistake, if I decided I wanted to start dragging my heels then I would quickly be told where to go.

  • Members can submit up to two posts per week to the group.
  • Members will read submitted posts and regularly submit comments about them.
  • Members will always tweet ALL posts submitted by other members, ideally with a personalized tweet.
  • Members will “discover” other members posts on StumbleUpon with relevant keywords and tags.
  • Members are expected to share and like posts on Facebook if they particularly like the post.
  • Members will develop cross-linking between member blogs within new posts whenever appropriate and legitimate.
  • Members will be available to produce guest posts for each other’s blogs.

How it has benefited us

Before we joined our blogger super sharing group we had stagnated. Our unique views were consistent and our social media channels were growing, but not at the levels we had hoped. We needed something else.

Our group started with 5 travel blogs all willing to share each others best posts twice a week on StumbleUpon, Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

We immediately saw the benefits from day one. One of our posts went viral and within a week we had increased our page views and followers more than in the last 3 months combined. We knew we were onto something.

Every time our posts were shared we saw a surge in traffic. And our fellow members reported the same. We were all benefiting from reaching a new and trusted audience through our fellow bloggers.

How can I set one up?

Realistically you are not going to be able to approach the big names in the blogosphere without doing some groundwork beforehand. But you also don’t have to look very far to see who might be a great fit.

Which blogs do you always read and share anyway because you enjoy what they write? Do they in turn stumble, like, tweet or comment on your posts?

Chances are you have even networked with other bloggers that may have started at a similar time to you or written about the same niche. Just send them a friendly message and see if they would be interested in turning what is currently a mutual understanding into something much more robust.

The key is ensuring that you do not overwhelm your existing community. Luckily the beauty of your own personal blogging super sharing group is that by limiting the number of members in your group to like-minded bloggers with the same goals as you, then your overall message will be even more powerful.

Think Outside the Bubble, Bloggers, or Risk Stunted Growth

by Annemarie Dooling

Creative Commons photo by nic_r on Flickr

Creative Commons photo by nic_r on Flickr

Despite the occasional loud-mouthed scuffle, the travel blogging community is a kind one. There aren’t many more where members would gladly drop everything to teach a new peer a skill, or meet a stranger randomly in a new city, or put overwhelming amounts of passion into building and sharing the connections that strengthen the network.

We’ve created a cozy bubble where every blogger knows each other, some more intimately than others, for sure, and rallies behind their fellow blogger across websites, Facebook, Instagram. But there’s danger in the bubble and it’s called stunted growth.

Here are a few additional facts about travel bloggers: many of them are self-taught in their abilities, don’t always pay for their own travel, and rarely do the wide-market research that would enable their content or brand to spread beyond that comfortable bubble. It’s a fantastic thing when a writer is able to build a truly devoted audience, one that follows you, shares, wants to know more, engages with you and more importantly engages with others about you. But when that ‘devoted audience’ is no more than a small group of like minded peers, we come to troubled territory.

There’s another piece to the puzzle of sharing across a small radius, and it’s the concept of organized groups of voters. In the early days of Internet sharing sites, Usenet and Google groups were designed by the dozens for the sole purpose of sharing one’s latest content and gaming large quantities of comments, likes and clicks as possible. When the temple of Digg fell, so did many of these groups, but they’re still strong in blogging circles. And bloggers aren’t to blame. It’s a larger problem created by aggressive websites built on hyper social activity with much less of a concentrate on originality and authenticity and quality (Ok, I’ll confess to working for at least one company like this). How can a DIY site compete with media monsters who have less passion and better SEO? The answer seems clear in these voting groups; share your link, earn a hundred likes and move on with your day.

But these larger sites will fail if they continue to rely solely on shallow, base numbers, and blogs will, too. It’s much easier to change an independent blog, though, and bloggers have the opportunity to ignore the organized system based on gaming clicks from your friends, and turn it around to a place where good content floats to the top of the Google heap.

Why turn away from those groups of clickers? Though that group might actually be somewhat of an enthusiastic fan base, having no critics means no opportunities to see where you can improve. Having only comments or clicks from someone who is obligated to do so means you’ll never really know how your content is doing. Sharing the same nuclear network as those peers means your content is rarely seen beyond that bubble to the wider audience, the real audience that could wonder at and benefit from your knowledge.

If I had one wish for new bloggers, it would be to, yes, lean on that community, for thoughts, brainstorms, advice and friendship. But don’t be afraid to move beyond. Do some work on the reader base who is the core demographic of your product. Figure out how best to speak to and reach them. They are the reason you started writing; they are the audience that craves your information. Sell yourself to someone who’s buying.

The first post was written by Cole Burmester, founder of the couples adventure travel blog You can find them on Twitter and Facebook.

The second post was written by Annemarie Dooling, travel writer and senior community editor at Huffington Post. Her blog is Frill Seeker Diary.

[stextbox id=”info” caption=”Your turn!”]What do you think of these two contrasting views? Leave your comments below![/stextbox]