True story: A blogging friend was brainstorming on what to name a website page dedicated to featuring businesses owned by friends, professional contacts, and other online connections that have helped her along the way. The title “partners” or “sponsors” didn’t seem right – these people weren’t exchanging money for a mention.
Eventually, we decided together that the word “community” was perfect. It was perfect to describe this list of people as her community because, indeed, these business owners and online friends have been around consistently offering support both professionally and personally.
This friend, NCBN Member Kristin Loy of Campfire Diaries, and I came to know one another years ago, and we were “competitors”. We were competitors in the sense that our readership overlapped.
Where the Magic Lies
The magic is that we owned our uniqueness and respected each other’s uniqueness in the online businesses we were building. We recognized that our voices, and the way we presented almost the same information, were different. A common reader of ours would go to her site for one thing (her event calendar, for example) and come to my site for another (opinion or reviews). Though we pretty much had the same content, we were confident in our work, we recognized what we were good at, and we acknowledged how we were different. We both had a niche in the context we were sharing.
Today, Kristin is my virtual assistant. We work closely every day on a shared mission.
NC Blogger Network Co-Founder Allison Carter and I, too, were “competitors” at one point. She and I shared the same readership demographic, but there was something different about her blog and mine. Thankfully, we share a mad respect for one another and women business owners and acknowledge that we can learn from one another. She and I have seen each other through many professional changes and partnered many times with online projects. We continue to support one another publicly online and lots behind the scenes.
Online communities are valuable and everywhere. You want this for the business of your blog.
“Community to a blogger or a small business is just as important as the cliche of having a “wingman” in the world of dating, it’s absolutely essential for business and success.” – NCBN member Leigh Powell Hines
Leigh Powell Hines, founder of the Hines-Sight Blog and the new NC travel community/extension off her blog that she’s named #Outaboutnc, which serves as an online travel guide to the state of North Carolina. She and I, too, could seem like competitors, although not as much as the other examples. She recently came to me to partner with her on sharing her hashtag with my readers while she’s been sharing my posts with her readers.
Leigh goes on to say:
“In the world of blogging, the Internet is big enough for everyone, but it is so big that sometimes it’s hard to get discovered and read. The same holds true for small businesses. Let’s say you own a bed and breakfast in a town, and you are full the weekend a guest would like to arrive. The smart thing for you to do would be to recommend another Bed and Breakfast in your community.You both have the same goal of making your community thrive. Even though there are other blogs out there that publish similar content that I do, I embrace those blogs and lean on them for marketing support. We are different, but yet complement each other. To me, it’s not direct competition because even if we cover the same event, our blog voices are different and unique. We all have our own spin on what we cover which is the great thing about blogs and the growing digital media world today. We don’t try to scoop people like they did in “old journalism.” By building a community, you go from competing with each other to helping each other achieve success.”
Create Community, Not Competition
Can website owners that share the same content and share the same demographic of readers really be friendly and supportive of one another? Yes. And I’ve got 2000 women that believe and live that same mission.
I’m the founder of Vend Raleigh, the place for Mompreneurs. We welcome all moms that own their own businesses to be a part of our business directory, participate in meetings and networking events, and guest blog for us. So what if there are several newborn photographers or several direct sales reps from the same business? The more the merrier! We support the business owner and in this unique professional setting (community) organic and genuine relationships grow.
We are about collaboration, not competition.
Build Your Communities
What’s to gain in building a community of like-minded bloggers/professionals?
- Support from those that know exactly what struggles are shared
- Contacts to brainstorm ideas and share advice
- Valuable cross-promotion opportunities
- Celebrate milestones together
- Connections that money cannot buy, that only trust can
A writer that is willing to share their uniqueness and own their niche rather than protecting content that is really very likely public information anyway is valuable!
Sharing and connecting for the good of those that share the same passion for a specific topic or field is a gift to those around her.
What does it take to start an online community? Someone with an open heart and creative mind to begin emails and connections that spark conversations about collaborations.
Is there someone trying to connect with you? Have you been wanting to connect with others? Go for it!
I’m a wife and mom of 2 in Apex, NC. I have started two businesses in the last 5 years and with all those connections I was searching for a common place for all my contacts to meet and network. My first business, Social Butterflies, is an online guide to local kid and family events in Raleigh. I’m excited to help Raleigh small business owners advertise. Many of my sponsors are moms and some are advertising for the first time. When I started my second business, a t-shirt line, Stay at Home Rock Star, I was grateful for those connections I had made through Social Butterflies as I received valuable advice and mentoring from these women while I was learning how to sell a product versus a service.
With all these business-minded women around me I wanted to create a platform where I could introduce all these talented and inspiring women, so in 2011, I introduced Vend Raleigh.