Break down the community barrier

A bunch of questions without any answers

Why do you blog? What made you decide one day that your thoughts were important enough to share with someone else? What exactly are we trying to achieve? Is it to gain something personally or are we patrons serving our respective communities? Can it be both? What makes communicating with groups of (initially) complete strangers so compelling and interesting? Are you able to establish relationships with the people you meet online easier than those who you meet in ‘real’ life? Why is that? Is there a clear disconnect between our lives on the web and outside of it?

I see a clear disconnect (for better or for worse) between the online world and the real one. This is because we are able to connect (easily) with like-minded individuals on the web in a ways that ‘real life’ does not allow us to do. The Internet allows us to actively seek out people we connect with.  With the click of a mouse, I can find a person interested in living green, a group who shares in my man-crush of Trent Reznor, or who loves the Chicago Bears as much as I do.  We’re able to form immediate bonds, the ‘getting to know you’ process is instantaneous – no awkward first dates – someone can come to my blog and hop right into bed with me and my thoughts without ever taking me out for a nice dinner. Blogging allows us to become more transparent and open in our thoughts and beliefs, and gives the masses a portal into our own psyche.

The internet is truly an amazing networking tool – it allows us to meet people we never would otherwise, it gives us access to an infinite amount of information. But, while the web can be an invaluable tool, it can also backfire. As bloggers, we form social networking ‘bubbles’ – we connect with a group of people that we respect, who’s opinions we value, and who interest and excite us. That’s what blogging is all about, building a community, but it doesn’t, or at least shouldn’t stop there. Getting too caught up in our tight-knit communities means we’re not reaching out – we’re not meeting our full potential. While it’s great to have the support and interest of your online friends and peers – blogging isn’t only about writing for yourself, it isn’t about writing for a few others, it’s about writing for the world at large!

Breaking the blogging bubble

It’s when you step outside your ‘bubble’ and reach new people and inspire change outside of your ‘community’ when the power of blogging is realized. A good example of this is my recent ‘White Whale‘ post written earlier this week. That post was sort of a tipping point for me – a moment of self actualization and realization. I have been in and out of the blogging game for years now, never really getting very far because I focused to much on the ‘me’ and not the ‘we’. The ‘White Whale’ post, which started as a simple discussion about work-life balance, turned into a conversation about love, life, faith, equal rights – you name it. People I never knew existed came and poured out their emotions to myself and the entire community. I think this post was one of those defining ‘blogger moments’ that really make you realize and appreciate the reach and impact one person can have on a community.

Maybe you’re still waiting for that ‘moment’ to happen for you – if you are, fear not. Have faith that as you write, someone is out there listening. Life Without Pants was conceived less than three months ago, and look around at the community that’s been established here. I couldn’t be happier with the environment that’s already developed – but I’m not going to settle in my content. I want to keep growing, in fact – I never want to stop growing, learning, and bringing new people and ideas into the mix.

Reach out and touch someone

I challenge myself – and in turn, all of you,  to think about the community you’ve already established for your blog – whether it be 5 people or 500, think about how you can reach out and impact someone new today. Whether you’re writing about entrepreneurship, politics, or video games – there is always an opportunity to expand your market, increase your reach and influence. With all of this recent talk on doing something new and living without regrets, look within yourself today and ask yourself ‘Why am I blogging? What is my return on investment’? Try something different and be innovative. The most rewarding thing about blogging (in my opinion) is that through enlightening and inspiring others, you end up learning a lot about yourself.

Don’t settle on the community you have already, focus on the people that are sitting out there waiting for you to blow their mind.

What community are you trying to reach? How can you increase your influence and have an impact on someone new today?

Join the conversation! 26 Comments

  1. Great post! That is true that by trying to inspire others, you end up learning more about yourself. The teacher becomes the student and never stops learning.

    Blogging is certainly about reaching out to the world, but I do like the experience of having found an ever expanding community of people with shared interest that I would not have been able to meet offline. Blogging began to become especially interesting when ideas are challenged. It is refreshing to question preconceived ideas, and exchange new views for a better world.

    But in the end why are we blogging? This is an excellent question. Probably to go beyond on offline communities, beyond our comfort zone. As you said, it may be worthwhile not to settle for another comfort zone in a blogging community, but keeping out reaching the world.

    Reply
    • Hey Nathalie! I agree that blogging is (or at least should be if you’re doing it right) a constant learning experience. The most interesting blogs may not present new innovative information, but they do present a unique perspective and engage and challenge the readers. The key word being ‘challenge’ – I challenge people to think about things in a new way, and in return, I want them (all of you) to challenge me and enlighten me to your way of thinking. There is a lot to be learned from one another – it’s all about becoming transparent and letting in ideas from all around us.

      We settle in our ‘real life’ comfort zone – so many times we embark on this online journey to reach out to new people, but what we fail to realize is that we often settle into yet another ‘comfort zone’ online. My suggestion is to keep challenging yourself to reach out to new groups – keep re-inventing your comfort zone, and don’t settle with being content where you are. Keep learning and growing!

      Reply
  2. Great post! That is true that by trying to inspire others, you end up learning more about yourself. The teacher becomes the student and never stops learning.

    Blogging is certainly about reaching out to the world, but I do like the experience of having found an ever expanding community of people with shared interest that I would not have been able to meet offline. Blogging began to become especially interesting when ideas are challenged. It is refreshing to question preconceived ideas, and exchange new views for a better world.

    But in the end why are we blogging? This is an excellent question. Probably to go beyond on offline communities, beyond our comfort zone. As you said, it may be worthwhile not to settle for another comfort zone in a blogging community, but keeping out reaching the world.

    Reply
    • Hey Nathalie! I agree that blogging is (or at least should be if you’re doing it right) a constant learning experience. The most interesting blogs may not present new innovative information, but they do present a unique perspective and engage and challenge the readers. The key word being ‘challenge’ – I challenge people to think about things in a new way, and in return, I want them (all of you) to challenge me and enlighten me to your way of thinking. There is a lot to be learned from one another – it’s all about becoming transparent and letting in ideas from all around us.

      We settle in our ‘real life’ comfort zone – so many times we embark on this online journey to reach out to new people, but what we fail to realize is that we often settle into yet another ‘comfort zone’ online. My suggestion is to keep challenging yourself to reach out to new groups – keep re-inventing your comfort zone, and don’t settle with being content where you are. Keep learning and growing!

      Reply
  3. Matt,

    Can you say top 5?

    Luke

    Reply
  4. Matt,

    Can you say top 5?

    Luke

    Reply
  5. Hey Matt, you make so many great points, I don’t even know where to begin! It’s great to be able to connect with people in the blogosphere, and in a lot of ways, it’s easier without the “awkward first dates.” But, you’re right that it’s easy to form a bubble. I think some of us don’t expect much from our blogs and then are so happy when we develop a small community that we don’t see the need/never think to expand. Others might not take their blogging too seriously and refrain from setting real goals for themselves.

    You are definitely a great example of how to stop outside this bubble. Your blog is such a success and yet you continue to do whatever you can to reach more people. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
    • Whew, I had to take a break from the other post for a minute, that discussion has spread like wildfire! This is a breath of fresh air, and I really appreciate the kind words here Sam.

      To your point – there is nothing at all wrong with establishing a small community, not at all. My community here is small, but I love that I can count on people like you to always show up and lend your thoughts into a discussion – being able to count on the support from your ‘closest’ followers is absolutely key, and it’s what springboards you to further success – it’s what has spring boarded my most recent post to spawn over 100 comments already – I thought it would have taken my years go get that much feedback on anything.

      The point of this post was to say ‘Hey, it’s OK to establish a tight-knit community of supporters, but go beyond, reach out further, and extend your influence whenever you can’. We all have amazing stories to tell and interesting things to say – but it’s those who are proactive in seeking to extend their audience that become the MOST successful.

      Thanks so much for the comment. I love what you are doing over in your neck of the woods. Keep it up!

      Reply
  6. Hey Matt, you make so many great points, I don’t even know where to begin! It’s great to be able to connect with people in the blogosphere, and in a lot of ways, it’s easier without the “awkward first dates.” But, you’re right that it’s easy to form a bubble. I think some of us don’t expect much from our blogs and then are so happy when we develop a small community that we don’t see the need/never think to expand. Others might not take their blogging too seriously and refrain from setting real goals for themselves.

    You are definitely a great example of how to stop outside this bubble. Your blog is such a success and yet you continue to do whatever you can to reach more people. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Reply
    • Whew, I had to take a break from the other post for a minute, that discussion has spread like wildfire! This is a breath of fresh air, and I really appreciate the kind words here Sam.

      To your point – there is nothing at all wrong with establishing a small community, not at all. My community here is small, but I love that I can count on people like you to always show up and lend your thoughts into a discussion – being able to count on the support from your ‘closest’ followers is absolutely key, and it’s what springboards you to further success – it’s what has spring boarded my most recent post to spawn over 100 comments already – I thought it would have taken my years go get that much feedback on anything.

      The point of this post was to say ‘Hey, it’s OK to establish a tight-knit community of supporters, but go beyond, reach out further, and extend your influence whenever you can’. We all have amazing stories to tell and interesting things to say – but it’s those who are proactive in seeking to extend their audience that become the MOST successful.

      Thanks so much for the comment. I love what you are doing over in your neck of the woods. Keep it up!

      Reply
  7. Hey Matt,

    Well I have to say this is my third comment to your posts because you’re definitely someone I can relate to.

    Forgive me for just a sec but it’s quite funny to me that you suggest that we as people should focus on more than just me to the we. There is an actual book about this called Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Materialist World and it’s by Craig and Marc Kielburger. They co-wrote this book to espouse their Me to We philosophy that encourages youth and youth leaders to start thinking beyond themselves and to encompass the whole. It’s not about social media per se (since Craig got started on his project way before social media was big) but the idea is the same. It’s all about building community and network in real life. (I don’t know the Kielburger brothers but I have read their book. This is not a plug; it’s sharing knowledge. :D)

    This post is very timely for me since I’m sort of exploring social media for work (what do I do? Community development. No joke) and the notion of building an online community for social justice. You really put it in perspective for me that my goal should be beyond the product I’m selling but also to the reasons why I became passionate about human rights in the first place and sharing that passion with my online network.

    Great job. Looking forward to more from you!

    Reply
    • @Mandy – I am so glad that you have been able to relate to several of my recent posts. I love your insight and I am happy to have you as a part of the community. You add a lot to the discussion. And I really need to check out that book – here I am thinking I coined the Me to We philosophy – darn – is anything sacred these days? What the heck am I going to name my book? :)

      I think it’s very easy for us to establish a comfortable community online, similar to the way we do with friends in real life – but we can become ‘too’ comfortable and neglect to reach out to other people who might be interested in what we have to say, or what we have to offer, or sell in the case of businesses. For example, the post I wrote in response to P Trunk was on a whim – I have a lot of ‘spontaneous inspiration’, but I’m thrilled I published it – not only did it draw in a ton of traffic here, but it brought in tons of new an unique people. If even only a few of them stick around and keep contributing to future discussions, I successfully increased my reach, grew my community, and ultimately boosted my influence. One step closer to taking over the world, right?

      I’m really interested to hear more about your work and how you want to incorporate community – and I would be more than willing to lend a hand and give you my two cents – feel free to email or shoot me a messege on Twitter. Thanks again for your continued involvement!

      Reply
  8. Hey Matt,

    Well I have to say this is my third comment to your posts because you’re definitely someone I can relate to.

    Forgive me for just a sec but it’s quite funny to me that you suggest that we as people should focus on more than just me to the we. There is an actual book about this called Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Materialist World and it’s by Craig and Marc Kielburger. They co-wrote this book to espouse their Me to We philosophy that encourages youth and youth leaders to start thinking beyond themselves and to encompass the whole. It’s not about social media per se (since Craig got started on his project way before social media was big) but the idea is the same. It’s all about building community and network in real life. (I don’t know the Kielburger brothers but I have read their book. This is not a plug; it’s sharing knowledge. :D)

    This post is very timely for me since I’m sort of exploring social media for work (what do I do? Community development. No joke) and the notion of building an online community for social justice. You really put it in perspective for me that my goal should be beyond the product I’m selling but also to the reasons why I became passionate about human rights in the first place and sharing that passion with my online network.

    Great job. Looking forward to more from you!

    Reply
    • @Mandy – I am so glad that you have been able to relate to several of my recent posts. I love your insight and I am happy to have you as a part of the community. You add a lot to the discussion. And I really need to check out that book – here I am thinking I coined the Me to We philosophy – darn – is anything sacred these days? What the heck am I going to name my book? :)

      I think it’s very easy for us to establish a comfortable community online, similar to the way we do with friends in real life – but we can become ‘too’ comfortable and neglect to reach out to other people who might be interested in what we have to say, or what we have to offer, or sell in the case of businesses. For example, the post I wrote in response to P Trunk was on a whim – I have a lot of ‘spontaneous inspiration’, but I’m thrilled I published it – not only did it draw in a ton of traffic here, but it brought in tons of new an unique people. If even only a few of them stick around and keep contributing to future discussions, I successfully increased my reach, grew my community, and ultimately boosted my influence. One step closer to taking over the world, right?

      I’m really interested to hear more about your work and how you want to incorporate community – and I would be more than willing to lend a hand and give you my two cents – feel free to email or shoot me a messege on Twitter. Thanks again for your continued involvement!

      Reply
  9. Good post again Matt. “… someone can come to my blog and hop right into bed with me and my thoughts without ever taking me out for a nice dinner” is an extremely apt way of highlighting the beauty of a blog!

    Reply
  10. Good post again Matt. “… someone can come to my blog and hop right into bed with me and my thoughts without ever taking me out for a nice dinner” is an extremely apt way of highlighting the beauty of a blog!

    Reply
  11. Hey Matt,

    You have a knack at writing and making it seem like your talking directly to me. This post especially was real, engaging and useful. Bloggers have this tendency to get caught up in the “me” part of blogging. Instead of being obsessed with our readers, we become obsessed with our numbers/stats. I’ll admit it, I’ve fallen victim to this. This post really inspired me, to get out of the “me” (does that make sense)? Thanks for the extra push!

    I am happy to be apart of the Life Without Pants Community. Your content is exceptional and I always look forward to your next post. You’re a role model for bloggers like me out there. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Hi Jennie – I can’t believe I missed your comment earlier this month. But thank you for the kind words – my goal is to talk WITH people, not at them – that’s the general theme I’ve got going on here in my humble abode.

      I’m reading a great book right now called “We” – It’s essentially about what you said here. Blogging doesn’t need to be about me – most of your readers don’t really care about you, they care about what you’ll provide for them. Don’t focus on the “me” – focus on the “we”. Always write with your readers in mind – because if you’re not writing with the intent of others to read, why do you have a blog in the first place?

      Thanks again Jennie – great to have you here. Don’t be shy! Would love to hear from you more often!

      Reply
  12. Hey Matt,

    You have a knack at writing and making it seem like your talking directly to me. This post especially was real, engaging and useful. Bloggers have this tendency to get caught up in the “me” part of blogging. Instead of being obsessed with our readers, we become obsessed with our numbers/stats. I’ll admit it, I’ve fallen victim to this. This post really inspired me, to get out of the “me” (does that make sense)? Thanks for the extra push!

    I am happy to be apart of the Life Without Pants Community. Your content is exceptional and I always look forward to your next post. You’re a role model for bloggers like me out there. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
    • Hi Jennie – I can’t believe I missed your comment earlier this month. But thank you for the kind words – my goal is to talk WITH people, not at them – that’s the general theme I’ve got going on here in my humble abode.

      I’m reading a great book right now called “We” – It’s essentially about what you said here. Blogging doesn’t need to be about me – most of your readers don’t really care about you, they care about what you’ll provide for them. Don’t focus on the “me” – focus on the “we”. Always write with your readers in mind – because if you’re not writing with the intent of others to read, why do you have a blog in the first place?

      Thanks again Jennie – great to have you here. Don’t be shy! Would love to hear from you more often!

      Reply
  13. Matt,

    This is a great question that I still ask myself. I actually just started my blog, exactly a week ago. I figured that I might as well start one seeing how I was spending so much time on other blogs. First I was readind Stevepavlina.com almost religiously. Then I heard about Jamie and started reading her blog. I mainly read them from work as I am now.At my job they have these proxies that block almost everything, but twittershouldhireme.com. From Jamie’s I found yours, and from yours I’d say about 50 others.

    I am fortunate that I found yours, and other blogs in this community because it has dawned on me how important social media is and how useful it can be.I would post inspiring and motivational posts on my myspace, and although I had a lot of views (about 805 for two posts) there was no discussion. That was the main thing that I was looking forward to. So I figured I would create a blog for those that seek the type of information that I may be able to provide.

    At the same time I’m still skeptic. “What did I get myself into? Do I want to be known as a blogger?What makes me different?What makes me qualified?”These are questions I continue to ask myself.

    Reply
    • Hello Robert, and welcome aboard! Happy to have you as part of the Life Without Pants community! Let me be the first (but surely not the last) to tell you that you’ll keep asking yourself those “what’s the point?” questions forever. It’s something that every writer deals with – our own self-doubt is the biggest obstacle to overcome.

      I’ll tell you that you are in good company – and I encourage you to read through some of the comment sections here – follow through to some of my reader’s blogs – You won’t be disappointed. That was the first thing I did when I started blogging – I connected with as many like-minded people as I could – reached out and said hello – and forged relationships and connections one by one.

      It’s a wild world we live in as bloggers – don’t doubt yourself – and if you are passionate about writing, you’ll never have to worry about running out of things to say! God-speed!

      Reply
  14. Matt,

    This is a great question that I still ask myself. I actually just started my blog, exactly a week ago. I figured that I might as well start one seeing how I was spending so much time on other blogs. First I was readind Stevepavlina.com almost religiously. Then I heard about Jamie and started reading her blog. I mainly read them from work as I am now.At my job they have these proxies that block almost everything, but twittershouldhireme.com. From Jamie’s I found yours, and from yours I’d say about 50 others.

    I am fortunate that I found yours, and other blogs in this community because it has dawned on me how important social media is and how useful it can be.I would post inspiring and motivational posts on my myspace, and although I had a lot of views (about 805 for two posts) there was no discussion. That was the main thing that I was looking forward to. So I figured I would create a blog for those that seek the type of information that I may be able to provide.

    At the same time I’m still skeptic. “What did I get myself into? Do I want to be known as a blogger?What makes me different?What makes me qualified?”These are questions I continue to ask myself.

    Reply
    • Hello Robert, and welcome aboard! Happy to have you as part of the Life Without Pants community! Let me be the first (but surely not the last) to tell you that you’ll keep asking yourself those “what’s the point?” questions forever. It’s something that every writer deals with – our own self-doubt is the biggest obstacle to overcome.

      I’ll tell you that you are in good company – and I encourage you to read through some of the comment sections here – follow through to some of my reader’s blogs – You won’t be disappointed. That was the first thing I did when I started blogging – I connected with as many like-minded people as I could – reached out and said hello – and forged relationships and connections one by one.

      It’s a wild world we live in as bloggers – don’t doubt yourself – and if you are passionate about writing, you’ll never have to worry about running out of things to say! God-speed!

      Reply

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About Matt Cheuvront

I empower folks to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live. Connect on Twitter or check out the work I'm doing at Proof.

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