This is the kick off  to our annual January Blog Challenge: 31 Days To Clean Up Your Blog. What better time than January to sit down and review your blog? Over the 31 days we'll be sharing 31 tips, ideas, and strategies for you to deal with all those pesky maintenance tasks, take steps to grow in the new year and make blogging easier. This is Day 12.

31 Day Blog Challenge Day 12: Reach Out to 5 Established Bloggers

Blogging can be a lonely pursuit. So much of it is spent behind a screen or alone in your kitchen or home.  And when you're new to the blogging world you haven't had much time to get to know anybody yet.  Today, we're going to help you make the first steps to building a support community of other bloggers be encouraging you to reach out to 5 established bloggers. And when we say "established" we don't mean you have to pick a superstar blogger. Just reach out to somebody who's on the same path as you but step or two further along!

You Don't Have To Be A New Blogger To Do This

If you've been blogging for a long time, don't skip this task.  We're sure there are a few bloggers out there that you've always wanted to connect with but haven't taken the first step.

So, new or established blogger, today's the day to start reaching out to some new people you've always admired or felt you could learn from. If you're naturally shy or introverted, here's some steps to make it more comfortable.

Don't Be A Fan Girl (or Boy)

"There is nooooo way that person would ever speak with me! They are so popular!" Have you ever uttered those words or something to that extent? While it's totally understandable to think and feel that way (we all do!) that's only going to hold you back in your blogging career.

Becoming starstruck when talking to or meeting a well-known blogger, or a blogger you look up to, will forever put you in the "fan" category. But you want to be in the "colleague" category - because that's what you are: a colleague and a peer.

By all means let them know that you enjoy their work and that you have learned so much from watching them - because who doesn't like to hear that. But be cool about it and don't go on and on about how fabulous they are.  That can make people feel uncomfortable.

Don't Be Demanding of Their Time and Knowledge

Remember when you do reach out to somebody who has never met you and knows very little about you they don't owe you anything. They don't need to reply and they don't have to give you their time or their expertise.

The more well-known the blogger, the more requests they have for their time and knowledge in their inbox and nobody wants to feel like they're being used.

So How Do I Reach Out??

Ok so you can't be a fan girl and you can't ask for help or a favour so what do you do?  Well... be patient and consistent.  It's hard making friends when you're a grown up! It's like dating. You don't ask somebody to marry you on the first date - you go for a cup of coffee!

Start small - comment on their blog posts (people get so few comments these days that a blog post comment definitely stands out - especially if you do it regularly. But a lot of bloggers with big followings may actually have somebody who helps them with things like comments so...

RELATED:  The 31 Day Blog Challenge Day 16: Find 5 New Sources of Inspiration

Comment on their social media posts - make your comments thoughtful and intelligent. Those always stand out. Be consistent and engaging without being overwhelming.  No spamming!  Only comment when you can make a valuable contribution. When they respond, you're on your way - keep it light and easy until you've build up a friendly rapport. Like we said - be cool!

Be Strategic

Reach out to bloggers who live near you.  Most of us would love to have a few local blogging buddies we can meet up with to talk shop or collaborate with or just to hang out and have coffee. Be the person who organizes something and reach out to a few different bloggers in your city and invite them.  Here in Vancouver over the years we've done potlucks, content planning dates, picnics, a Daiso prop shopping outing and other meetups.  It's a great, organic way to make new friends and spawn conversations where you can ask for help or advice.

Find people who are only one or two steps ahead of you on their blogging journey rather than somebody who is 10 steps ahead of you. It's really nice to have a circle of blogging friends who you can grow with.  If you speak to some very established bloggers you'll find that many of them are still friends with the same people who were starting out or close to starting out at the same time as they were - even if that was 10 years ago!

Try and connect with bloggers who are in a similar niche to you - especially if it's a small niche! Those are the people who often have the hardest time finding people they can connect with!

Reach out to bloggers who you know respond to readers - if you only see them talking at their readers on social media but never responding, then it's unlikely they're going to respond to you!

Spend a bit of time in Facebook blogging groups and be somebody who responds to comments and questions instead of just asking them.  This is a great way to ease into blogging friendships.  If it's appropriate for the group you can even start a "where do you live" thread and mention where you are. it's a great way to find people who live near you.

Once You've Made a Connection

Once you've made a connection that's mutual then you can start having those bigger blogging conversations. But always be respectful of that other person's time.

The beauty of the world we live in is that in some shape or form, everyone is accessible. If there is someone you respect, would like to get to know and have a conversation with, there is actually nothing stopping you from doing that! Now, this won't happen overnight, nor will you have a 100% success rate doing so. Just be genuine, considerate and helpful wherever you can!

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Joanne T Ferguson

G’day! Another great hint and tip today, true!
Love learning all things new when it comes to blogging…so much to continue to learn…LOVE it and am continuing to enjoy your daily challenges too!
Cheers! Joanne

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