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Review: Online Community Management for Dummies (Plus a Giveaway!)


What’s the difference between an online community manager and a moderator? More cowbell.

At least, that’s the answer BlogWorld’s very own community manager Deb Ng gives in her new book Online Community Management for Dummies. Deb was nice enough to send me a copy to review, and at the end of this post, she even has a special giveaway for the BlogWorld community!

Online Community Management for Dummies is part of the best-selling Dummies guide series from Wiley. On the cover, Deb promises to teach readers how to:

  • Identify core tasks for community managers
  • Build and maintain positive relationships within your online community
  • Establish policies and transparency
  • Manager comments, respond to criticism, and evaluate ROI

I whole-heartedly think she fulfills these promises.

If you have blog, podcaster, business Facebook page, forum, video series, or any kind of other online content, you have a community – people who enjoy what you do and feel a sense of camaraderie about your online presence. A lot of people make the mistake of never engaging their community or even acknowledging their existence, but without these loyal people supporting your work online, you’re dead in the water. Deb’s book is all about how to interact online in a way that thanks your community for their support, builds your network of fans, and helps them thrive.

Online Community Management for Dummies is 314 pages split into the following parts:

  • Part I: The Basics of  Online Community Management
  • Part II: Embracing the Community Manager’s Role
  • Part III: Building a Productive Online Community
  • Part IV: Growing Your Community
  • Part V: Assessing the Health of Your Community
  • Part VI: Taking Your Community Offline
  • Part VII: The Part of Tens (Ten Essential Community Manager Tasks, Ten Must-Have Skills for Community Managers, and Ten Best Practices of a Community Manager)

I like that this book is so encompassing and even covers the complexities surrounding specific types of communities, such as communities for children. The biggest negative, in my opinion, is that this is a Dummies book. I think Deb does a great job making the content interesting, but I personally tend to enjoy books that have less of a rigid structure and more personal stories about failures and successes. That said, if you’re new to community management, the structure of a Dummies book makes it easy to follow along and learn step-by-step, so don’t let this observation of mine deter you from picking up a copy.

I found the most helpful section of this book to be Chapter 7: Listening to Your Community. Writes Deb,

It’s one thing to watch and a whole other things to listen. During your rounds on the social networks, blogs, and community pages, pay attention to what people are saying. How many members are saying the same things? Members won’t come to you with every concern or request, but they may share ideas with one another. Pay attention to what they’re saying an take notes.

I think that’s where a lot of community managers fall short – they monitor, but don’t actually listen. Of course, this is not the only point of good advice in the book. Deb also makes a lot of stellar suggestions and observations such as:

  • Adding a community calender so members know what’s coming up
  • Rewarding loyalty with prizes and perks
  • Encouraging members to share rather than making it all about you
  • Using Google alerts to make sure you know what people are saying about you
  • Consider planning real-world meetups/tweetups
  • Avoiding the negativity trap

I could continue, but in all honestly, you should just pick up a copy yourself! 😉

Or you could win a copy! That’s right, Deb has agreed to give away a copy of Online Community Management for Dummies to one lucky winner. To enter, simply leave a comment below responding to the following community challenge:

You write a blog post that goes viral and starts bringing in hundreds of comments. As readers weigh in with their opinion and reply to one another in the comments section of your blog post, you notice that one commenter continually makes negative remarks and calls other people names. He’s not just trolling, because he actually has insightful things to say about the topic, but his comments are increasingly rude and hurtful not just to you, but to other commenters. What do you do?

Leave a comment below by Friday, May 11, 2012 at 5 PM EST and one lucky winner will be drawn to receive a copy of Deb’s book!

(Fine print: Winner will be drawn using Random.org and notified via email. Winner must respond within five business days to claim this prize. You may comment as often as you like, but only one comment per person will count as an entry. Commenting from multiple accounts and other attempts to cheat the system will result in disqualification. Only comments answering the above question will count as entries, though other comments are welcome. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received. All decisions made by BlogWorld are final. Void where prohibited.)

Review: MyBlogGuest Premium


If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I’m a fan of MyBlogGuest, a forum run by Ann Smarty from SEO Smarty. This forum was created to help connect bloggers who are interested in writing and posting guest posts. You can get started for free, and I highly recommend signing up for this version if you’re even slightly interested in guest posting in some capacity. For free, you can:

  • Surf the forums for bloggers looking for people to guest post on their blogs
  • Post a guest posting opportunity if you want guest posts on your own blog
  • Post that you’re looking for places to guest post about a specific topic
  • Post/view real paying jobs available around the web
  • Ask for help promoting guest posts via social media
  • Participate in blogging contests
  • Chit chat with other bloggers who are interested in similar topics
  • Access a free email course about guest posting

Yes – all of this is completely free, so you really have nothing to lose in checking it out. I working with one of my clients to secure guest post opportunities, and this forum has been invaluable for me. There’s no guess work – if a blogger posts on this forum, you know they are accepting guest posts. Without MyBlogGuest, I would be left contacting bloggers randomly, hoping they accept guest posts, and that takes a lot of time.

But what about MyBlogGuest premium? There’s an option for you to purchase premium membership for $20 per month, and after months of considering it, I decided to take the plunge last month and upgrade my account. Today, I wanted to talk a little bit about what you get as a premium member and whether not it is worth it for you as a blogger.

As a premium member, you get access to a private forum, where premium members can speak with one another, but to be honest, I don’t really see much value in this private forum personally. The real value in premium membership, in my opinion, is with the article gallery.

As the name implies, the article gallery is  a section where users can upload posts that need homes. You upload the title, content, and byline you’d like, along with a picture (optional), tags, and a short description. Users who want guest posts for their blogs can browse the articles by category or keyword and make an offer to you if they think your post would be a good fit for their site. As the post’s writer, you can review all of the offers you receive and choose one or reject them all and wait for another offer.

Screenshot of the article gallery. Note how you can click on categories or search for posts via tags. If you scroll down, you can also see the most recently uploaded guest posts.

You can also suggest your post to other users. If you do this, that user will receive an email alerting them that their is a post that might be a good fit for their blog. It’s a great option if you have an awesome post that hasn’t attracted much attention in the article gallery.

Additionally, you can post directly to blogs for users that allow this option. With this feature, you can send your post directly to the person’s blog, so all they have to do is hit the publish button when they log into their dashboard. You can search for blogs that allow this feature by keyword.

Of course, this has been my perspective as a guest post writer, but it all works in reverse for someone who wants to post guest posts. You can browse the gallery for posts that are relevant to your site, add the “post directly to blog” option so you’ll see new posts when you log into your blog’s dashboard, and accept suggested posts that users email to you.

My experiences have been mostly positive. I’ve found that 99% of the time when I upload a new post to the article gallery, I have multiple offers for that post within 24 hours. Occasionally, a post sits in the gallery longer, and when that happens, I like having the option to suggest it to other users or post directly to blogs. Suggestions have worked out great. I have mixed feelings about posting directly to other blogs – when using this function, I’ve found that it’s a crapshoot. Sometimes, the person gets back to me, but just as often, I never hear back.

Final Recommendations:

So, should you upgrade your account to be a premium member? Yes. Well, maybe. It depends what your time is worth to you, your ultimate goals as a guest poster, and the volume of guest posts you do. Let me explain.

What MyBlogGuest premium essentially does via the article gallery is allow people to approach you when they want a guest posts, so you don’t have to spend time researching the blogs out there that might fit what you want to write. However, you don’t necessary get guest post opportunities from top bloggers in your niche, mainly because most of these bloggers are MyBlogGuest members. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t awesome blogs using this service – there are – but they are most small and mid-sized blogs.

I’ve also noticed that some MyGuestBlog users have blogs don’t necessarily have a strong niche. They’ll accept any content. This might be okay if you’re guest posting for SEO purposes, but it isn’t necessarily going to help you if you’re looking to connect with new readers.

Keep in mind that if you want to get your money’s worth, you have to actually be able to devote time to writing guest posts. You still have to write the actual post – the $20 per month that you’re paying to be a premium user is justified because you’ll be saving time in finding guest post opportunities. If you only write one or two guest posts per month, the price of premium might not be worth it to you, especially if you already have a large network of contacts who would be willing to accept your guest posts whenever you email them.

For my needs, MyBlogGuest is awesome. I write guest posts for a client who blogs about and sells insurance, which is much different than my own blog’s niche (and therefore doesn’t really make sense for the network of contacts I’ve personally built). This client pays me based on the number of guest posts I can have posted every week, so saving time is important to me. MyBlogGuest has paid for itself over and over and over again in just the short one month I’ve been using premium membership.

I will say this as well: if you’re someone who needs motivation, paying for premium membership can inspire you to get moving with guest posting, something that can really give your blog a boost. Money is always motivation for me!

Something else I want to make very clear: If you’re someone who wants to accept guest posts on your blog, but not necessarily write them, premium membership is not for you. You can find posts on MyBlogGuest with just a free membership – you don’t get any extra perks as a premium member, other than the private forum access, but as I’ve noted before, I don’t see a ton of added benefit to that part of the forum. Most of the users active there are just as active on the free forum.

I recommend started out with free membership to learn how the MyBlogGuest forum works, and peruse the article gallery for some content for your own blog. If you find that guest posting is something you want to do more, explore the premium membership option. At least test it out for one month – $20 isn’t much of an investment, and in just a month it’s easy to determine whether or not the price is worth the benefits for you.

Disclosure: I did not receive free access to MyBlogGuest premium in order to write this review (I paid full price out of pocket), and I’m not part of any kind of affiliate program, so there’s no financial benefit to me if you sign up. I was honestly just interested in exploring this option and wanted to recommend it to you! I’m not opposed to receiving free review products or affiliate programs with transparency, that’s just not what’s happening here.

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