How Closing My Laptop Made Me A Better (and More Popular) Blogger

Practically everything I know about participating in communities online – everything that I do myself and that I teach to clients – was something I actually discovered as a member of a 400-person local community that is based in my current city of Boulder, Colorado.  It pays to invest in other kinds of communities – not just blogs – if you want to build your fan club.

Want to know what I learned that is relevant in the blogging world?  Here are a few highlights:

  1. Don’t talk ONLY about yourself, your products or services, or your accomplishments. Answer questions; provide praise, host get-togethers without ulterior motives. Just be around. Meet people and participate in communities (whether online or offline) because you genuinely like people, not because you want to talk about yourself and promote your own stuff.
  2. Give stuff away for free. I still give advice away for free on a regular basis when people have questions I can answer over email. When you practice this give-away stuff on a regular basis, it establishes you not only as an expert, but as generous person.  That’s ALWAYS a good thing.
  3. Show up on a regular basis. Don’t show your face once a year and expect everyone to remember you. Participate, meet lots of people, make REGULAR contact with the people that you’ve met, and what do you know? All of the sudden, when you walk into a party, everyone’s cheering for you like Norm in that old sitcom Cheers bar. And you WANT fans like that.
  4. Treat the members of your community like real people – because they ARE real people. Don’t over-promote yourself, act like a used car salesman, or use people. Follow the Golden Rule as much as possible.

The community I’m part of (that has taught me all these amazing lessons) is a Boulder-based women’s group called Boulder Media Women. The group, which members like to call BMW, is a networking group for professional women who work with words and images. BMW members include writers, editors, photographers, journalists, filmmakers, graphic artists, web designers, TV producers, screenwriters, publishers, agents, PR specialists, and others who work in the media business.

Right now, the Boulder Media Women group has more than 400 members, many of whom actively participate in a very lively Yahoo! email group as well as weekly happy hour gatherings and monthly potluck dinners.

I started my blogging business three years ago by taking the knowledge I had gathered about blogs, community and writing – and declared myself an expert. I did this because I ran my own (personal) blog at the time, and many of my friends and colleagues had started asking questions about blogging and Internet marketing.  They wanted to know if I would teach a class, so I summoned up ALL of my courage (every last ounce) and taught a very small (3-person) class to a couple of friends.

After that first class, I starting holding regular classes on blogging, social media, building traffic on websites, and Internet book promotion techniques. I advertised my classes on a regular basis to the Boulder Media Women email list, and the members – much to my continual surprise – showed up for the classes. I got to meet more and more women face to face. I found out what their needs were and expanded my teaching skills accordingly.   Many of the members wrote glowing testimonials about me and my classes to the BMW list.

But at the same time, I made sure to chime in (regularly and LOUDLY) whenever someone had a question about blogging, Facebook, Linkedin, or Internet marketing.  I gave advice, answered questions, provided resources, and generally tried to become a real resource to people in my area of expertise.  The Boulder Media Women Community rewarded me handsomely for this, and I am forever in their debt.

After three years of being an entrepreneur, I now have a very successful business, a whole file full of testimonials (many from my first clients, who are BMW members). And I still go to potlucks and happy hours, answer questions when I can, listen to people’s needs, and generally get to know these amazing women. I have a reputation for being “The Blogging Guru” in the group, and I thank my lucky stars every night for the continued support and well-wishes and praise that I receive on this local Yahoo! List.  I genuinely like these women, and I will forever be grateful to them for teaching me some incredibly valuable lessons.

I thank Boulder Media Women on a regular basis for continually teaching, encouraging, and supporting me in my journey as an entrepreneur – and I’m particularly grateful for them teaching me everything I know about how to be a productive and community-minded member of the blogging community!

Lesson to be learned here? You don’t need to spend all of your time on the computer in order to develop a fabulous community, both online and offline.  Get out of the house and join a networking group in your area of interest!  Boulder Media Women was a good fit for me, and it has taught me SO much, and you can find a group that will suit your interests by asking your friends and contacts for suggestions AND utilizing resources like   Shut off that laptop and get out into the real world – you’ll be astounded at what you learn and the people you meet!  And then of course, blog about it. 🙂

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  1. beth, i signed purchased your blogging with bet book/course your newbie year – almost 3 years ago. it was great. loved seeing your post today. — for some reason me the girl who cant stop talking goes panic stricken at the key board when i go to blog. TODAY IS A NEW DAY – it starts here – AM PUTTING ALL YOUR GOOD DIRECTION TO WORK – i just celebrated my 10th anniversary on the farm with our first sheep shearing — which gives me loads of things to talk about. THANK EWE — for all the inspiration you provide – cant wait to get your regular newsletter. HAWGSNKISSES – farmer sue.

  2. Thanks for reminding us that not everything in life centers around the blog-o-sphere! And I appreciate your points about being friendly, reaching out to others without an ulterior motive, and occasionally giving things away for free. Your four ideas are not only neighborly and can help you meet new friends–they’re ultimately good business!

    (For those who haven’t benefitted from Beth’s expertise, I attended Beth’s blogging seminar two years ago, which inspired me to create a website and start a blog. Together, they really help my freelance writing business.)

  3. Beth, I love working with you for the very reasons you point to in this post–your generosity, availability, and astounding ability to keep the “social” in social media. You have a lot of heart, and that combined with your expertise and intelligence is a winning combination. I’ve having such a great time with the blog you helped me create, and am bursting with new ideas thanks to your encouragement!

  4. As always, you give thought-provoking advice, Beth. I love that the Blog Queen is telling us to close our laptops!

    It’s a huge transition, especially for me, to go from the secluded writing phase to publishing and marketing, especially in this day and age of changing trends in publishing. There is so much to do–blog, tweet, comment, write, edit, layout, business plan, market . . . it is overwhelming at times to consider it all. But then to be reminded–oh, wow, I can go out, and have FUN and call it networking! Yeha!

    Do I do this already? Yes, and not as much as I could. Did I need a reminder? Absolutely. Thank you.

  5. I agree wholeheartedly with Beth, blogs are at their best when then celebrate and enhance “real world” activities, and that means spending time with people, listening & watching, and not constantly staring at our numerous digital crack pipes we have available to us.

    blogs are at their best when they are like good art, when they LOOK outward at things, not just being self-referential. Sometimes I want to delete my facebook account simply because it takes away from blog writing time. It is fun though, and part of a well rounded media outreach.

    No one commented on the title, close the laptop. I would even argue taht to blog with the seriousness of a true novelists… stop twittering on the phone, and listen to the twitter of real conversation, or the twitter of birds in the early morning sunrise on your street.

    When was the last time we did that?

    great post beth!

  6. Great advice, Beth! And believe me, we’ve all very much enjoyed watching you build such a wonderful, successful business!

  7. Beth, what a great article and thank you so much for all the goodies contained herein! I wish we had a women’s media group like yours in Santa Fe. Perhaps we do and I just need to get away from the computer and go and find out 🙂 Congrats on your bourgeoning business, and long may it continue!

  8. Hear, hear, Beth! You have earned these accolades and publicly acknowledging your peers is just one more reason why. As Mother Teresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

  9. Beth, if a year ago anyone had told me that today I’d have a blog site, I would have snortled. Within this month mine went live, mostly because you showed me how–step-by-step, encouragement-by-encouragement, revision-by-revision, and always with good natured patience.

    You embody professionalism and the wonderfully talented women of BMW.

  10. I second everything you said about the amazing women in BMW. I regularly do the Friday morning coffee gathering and always leave stimulated with new ideas and support. My sister tried to start a similar group in Texas. Couldn’t get it going. Who knows why, but Boulder is blessed!!

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