About once a month I get together with a group of smart people who bombard me with the latest, greatest blogging tips. And I don’t pay a nickel for their wisdom.
I joined the Front Range Bloggers Meetup here in Denver about four years ago, and it’s been a vital part of my blogging education. Chances are there’s a similar get-together near you, or perhaps you could be the person to kick off such a group.
For those unfamiliar with Meetup.com, it’s a site which allows users to organize events surrounding a similar theme. Yankees fanatics. Skiing enthusiasts. Italian restaurant devotees. Or, in the case of the aforementioned Meetup … blogging.
Using Meetup.com is simple. Joining an existing group will take you less than a few minutes, and the site’s team can walk you through the process of starting your own Meetup. The cost can be as low as $12 a month, and organizers can always ask members to defray that fee.
Our blogging Meetups follow a inviting pattern. First, we go around the room introducing each other, the names of our blogs, what we’re currently struggling with and what expertise we can share with others. We often slip in a joke or two – sometimes more – along the way. It’s that kind of group.
Then, we might feature a guest speaker or just throw out some themes in the blogosphere and let the room discuss how they might impact their work. The sessions usually end in a casual fashion, with bloggers free to converse with fellow members who might be able to help them, or vice versa. Our group features both experts and newbies, and all are equally welcome.
That’s more or less it. For me, it’s a great way to meet people with expertise in areas I know next to nothing about. I’m a professional writer but couldn’t tell you the first thing about coding or SEO. Our meetings often feature professionals eager to share their skills. And I coudn’t be happier to offer my editing services to anyone who may need them.
It’s like the barter system on a small, but practical, scale.
You don’t necessarily have to use Meetup.com to create a group like ours. Facebook could be your online conduit with the proper dedication, or you could go semi-old school and seek out members via Craigslist. Once the meetings start, momentum (and email) can keep it alive.
If you’d like to start your own group, remember to keep the lines of communication open. Anything less, and you might discourage new members from hanging around. Make sure to embrace beginner bloggers. It’s an intimidating learning curve, and it’s easy for first-timers to feel overwhelmed. And don’t forget to share tips swapped at the meetings online. It’s a great way to reinforce valuable lessons, and it keeps the conversation alive beyond the monthly meetings.
Either way, these groups allow the kind of offline networking that every online expert worth his or her salt says is vital to successful blogging.
Written by Christian Toto
Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, nationally recognized film critic and fatherhood blogger at Daddylibrium.com. He has written for The Denver Post, People magazine, 5280, The Daily Caller, Colorado Rockies Magazine and The Washington Times. His film reviews can be heard each week on “The Mike Rosen Show” on 850 KOA and he appears frequently on “The Dennis Miller Show.” He belongs to both the Denver Film Critics Society and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.