Tuesday, May 15, 2007

All Those "Blogging Communities"

I don't know whether you have noticed on the sidebar of my Linda's Blog and some of my other blogs that I've been joining some of the NEWER "blogging communities" lately.

If you have you might be wondering what are they and why would I do that?

Well, before I tell you which ones I've joined let's look at what "blogging communities" are and how they have evolved. "Blogging communities" are basically "communities of individual blogs tied together." These can be blogs housed within blog service providers, closed blog service provider communities tied together by "friends", and some of the NEWER websites with blogs tied together by category and/or theme.

Loosely they can even be blogs tied together by sidebar links from one blog to another. For instance, my "Linda's Friends" links on the sidebar of several of my blogs could be considered a "blogging community" as it is a group of blogging friends with a common crafting interest.

Some of the "blogging communities" are blog service provider communities that have been around for quite a while and who provide you with the ability to create a blog. These include blog service providers like: AOL Journals, Blogger.com, etc. Here you can create one or several blogs and search for other blogs you may or may not like within their network.

Other blog service providers took "blogging communities" to another level by not only providing you with the means to create a blog, but by allowing you to "invite" a circle of "friends" to be listed on your blog. These include blog service providers like: MSN Spaces, Yahoo 360, Tagworld, LiveJournal, My Space, etc. Most of these are "closed" communities in that you need to be a member of that community or have an account with the blog service provider to have a blog and to invite other members to be your "friend."

I have been a member of each of these two type of communities with the exception of MySpace for a while.

I've had my Tagworld and LiveJournal blog for a little while and have been trying to find the time to write about them on my "Testing The Blog and Helpful Blog Tips". I just haven't had the time, but I'm hoping to soon.

In any event, the above are pretty well known and established "blogging communities" - as are sidebar links for individual bloggers.

The NEWER "blogging communities" that seem to be sprouting up everywhere are not blog service providers and do not provide you with the ability to create a blog. They are websites that allow bloggers to join and list their blogs with them and are, basically, groups of bloggers tied together by a category and/or common theme. Usually you establish an account which can house some or all your blogs within it. You could say that these are just another form of a blog directory.

For these communities you upload a 50x50 avatar size photo that is used for your member account. The individual member photo's are displayed on the home page of the "blog community" by category, theme, new members, most popular, etc. dependant upon that particular blog communities rules.

Each of the communities have their own set of rules but, generally, require that you add a widget to your blog that will display other "members" from the community who have visited your blog recently. Also, if a blog reader clicks on the widget they will be brought to your blog community account page where other "friends" and other "criteria" may or may not be listed. Some of the communities allow for other members to post a "comment" on your page.

So, why would you want to join these NEWER communities. Well, the idea behind these "blogging communities" is the same as some of the established "blogging communities" and that is to drive traffic to your blog. In other words, to get other bloggers to read your blog and get linked to it. The nice feature of the NEWER "blogging communities" with the 50x50 photo's is you can scan a bunch of photo's in a category and/or theme and click on the blogs of the photo's that interest you. Some of the communities include a screenshot of your blog that you can also view in each category to see what blog you may or may not want to click on.

So, I spent a couple of days searching through the NEWER "blogging communities" looking for those that were "family friendly." Just like blog directories you need to worry about this if you have a "family friendly" website or blog and only want to join other "family friendly" blog communities.

So, I did some searching and decided to join the following:

1) MyBlogLog.com - This is by far my favorite of the newer "blogging communities" as it allows you to not only add screenshots of all of your blogs but all of your websites as well to you account page. And, by putting some of their html code on each of your blogs or websites it tracks some simple stats for you.

Each member account has a profile page listing their blogs and/or website screenshots, people who viewed their member page, new members to the communities you've joined, your family, friends and contacts, admirers, and your profile. Members can also post messages to you and there is a listing of "What's Hot" in the communities you have joined.

Each blog and/or website also has a page as well that includes the following: members of that blog, widgets for the blog of recent readers and yesterday's top 5 links, community messages, and a clickable recent posts lists for your blog.

In this community you can search an alphabetical list of communities you might like or an alphabetical list by member.

If you'd like to see what their widget looks like just scroll way down on the right sidebar of my Linda's Blog. Their widget is the first one listed on my sidebar under "Linda's Blog Communities." Its dark blue in color and shows "recent readers" with their mini pictures and their names, as well as yesterday's top 5 links to Linda's Blog.

2) FuelMyBlog.com - This is the 2ND community I joined. For this community you place a button banner in the sidebar of your blog for readers to vote for your blog. The more votes the more likely your little blog mini picture will be displayed on the home page of the FuelMyBlog.com community. The 20 most popular blog mini pictures are displayed in the 6 different categories for this community. All the blog mini pictures are displayed if you choose "more" for the individual blog categories.

But what's really nice about this community - actually it's kinda cute, is that if you scroll over the blog picture a little mini-window will be displayed that tells you a little bit about the blogger. Kind of like a little "snapshots" pop-up. Then you can vote for or against the blog and decide whether or not you want to view that blog.

They also have a forum for members to join in on and "competitions" for members to join. The only problem I found was that for the larger categories it takes awhile for all the mini pictures to load.

3) BlogCatalog.com - This is another blogging community that I like. One of the reasons is because it actually has a "craft" category with 567 crafters blogs in it. Here you submit your blogs to the blogging community and if accepted then a screenshot of your blog will be displayed on your members account. Each member has an account page that shows their profile, screenshots and clickable links to their blogs, simple statistics for their blogs, their friends, recent viewers to their profile, and neighborhoods they belong to. Members can also post messages to you in the "Shoutbox" area.

Each blog has it's own page with information on the blog, such as: blog description, who the "recent viewers" have been, stats for the blog, who has joined your blog's "neighborhood", and clickable links to recent posts with a two line blurb of the beginning of the post to entice readers. Viewers can also rate your blog and leave comments.

BlogCatalog.com also has a widget for your blog that contains clickable links to the recent viewers blogs as well as a clickable link to your particular blogs page. One of the nice features of BlogCatalog.com is that it has an active discussion board that you can join in on. Plus you can search for other blogs by categories, word, phrase, or popular tags.

So far I've gotten traffic from MyBlogLog.com and BlogCatalog.com to my various blogs. It's hard to tell exactly how much traffic I've gotten from FuelMyBlog.com other then seeing how many people have voted for my blogs.

I'm sure as the popularity of the newer blog communities increases that there will be more and more communities to join. I wouldn't mind that as long as there are crafters categories and blogs to view. I say, "The more crafters blogs the better!" And, "The more family-friendly communities the better!"


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