A few days ago, I recorded a podcast with Srinivas Rao for BlogCastFM (yet to be published). One of the questions he asked me is what new bloggers can do to find and attract readers and build community.

I used Drew Odom as an example.

Drew recently wrote a blog post where he used some Spin Sucks content. I received the backlink  and went over there to comment. He sent me a thank you note. Via email. It was personalized and written specifically to me. I make that point because some people have email automation set up to send you a note after you comment on their blog. I don’t like that.

What I liked about Drew’s email is he thanked me for commenting and asked me if the way he used some of our content was appropriate. And so began an online friendship.

When I began blogging, I did the same. I would send personalized emails to people who commented. In today’s age of 140 characters, those little things really count. And, without asking people to revisit the blog, it encouraged them to do so because they began to feel like they knew me…on the blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, and via email.

Mark Schaefer took it to a different level. He used to send handwritten thank you notes. Handwritten.  And it worked for him. He has a seriously engaged community.

While I no longer email thank you notes after people comment, I spend A LOT of time commenting to people both on Twitter and in the comments here. I also make it a point to visit all commenter’s blogs as often as I can.

It works. I always say social media, and building a community in general, is all about stroking other people’s egos and scratching their backs. If you do that, they’re much more willing to ask what they can do for you. And, in this case, visiting your blog and commenting is what they can do for you.

It’s hard work and not for the faint of heart. But it works. You can use Drew’s method or you can use Mark’s. Or maybe you have another method. If you do, share it with us!

Building Your Online Community originally appeared on Spin Sucks on April 5, 2011.