I’ve got a confession to make. It’s to do with me, and a few other bloggers. We’ve been (whisper it) supporting each other. In a blogging pod.
Gasp! A POD?!
But what’s so terrible about that? I hear you ask. If you’re not a blogger, you’ve probably stopped reading by now. That’s fine. I’ll be back to posting about organising things and parenting and other observations very soon. But for now, I want to explain about blogging pods.
You see, a ‘pod’ is a group of bloggers who support each other, particularly on social media. That means, according to the rules of the pod, they might do any or all of the following: commenting and liking on Facebook posts; commenting and liking on Instagram; retweeting on Twitter; commenting on blog posts; pinning your pins on Pinterest, and so on.
But surely bloggers supporting each other is a good thing?
Actually, yes, it definitely is, and I’ll get to that in a bit. But it does feel like a bit of a blogger confession. More and more, ‘big’ bloggers are slating those who use pods, saying they are unnatural, and ‘tricking’ the algorithm on Facebook and Instagram’s feed.
I can totally understand that. And yes, to an extent, that’s mostly why people join pods in the first place. But actually, that’s not really why I’ve got so much out of pods, and it’s not why you need a pod.
You need a pod to find your group
Tribe, clan, squad… Whatever. But that’s ultimately what a pod has brought me.
I’m not a very new blogger, but I’m not a big blogger. People in blogging circles don’t recognise my name and immediately think, ‘Oh, that’s Life by Naomi,’ like I do when I see some other bloggers’ names. I don’t often go to events (they don’t happen very much in Lancashire), and, despite being pretty active on social media, I’ve never really connected properly with other bloggers like that. Perhaps it’s because I never got to grips with Twitter? 140 characters just isn’t enough. Plus it feels a bit too impersonal… Anyway. You get my drift.
But then, about 4 months ago, I joined a pod. In fact, I organised one, with about 25 members split into different groups. Each month, the groups mixed around a bit according to whoever wanted to participate. There were rules – basically, support each other as much as you can – and we did our bit.
Here’s the thing: the pod worked
Everyone saw their numbers, particularly their reach on Facebook, increase significantly. My real-life friends started commenting on these other blogger’s posts. We were gaining in momentum. As we mixed it up each month, we did ‘trick’ the algorithm.
But actually, the best thing was that I got to know new blogs and, more importantly, bloggers.
When you comment on someone’s Facebook page posts for a month, you get to know them. When you’re interacting on Twitter and making an effort to go and find them on Instagram, you develop a friendship. You can’t really help it.
Then, you start seeing opportunities that you think they’d be a good fit for. You start sharing ideas and the encouragement becomes truly genuine.
The pod becomes your blogging community
Then, these bloggers become your friends. You’ve found your community.
Everyone always says that the blogging community is brilliant. I’ve found a lot of polite kindness there, but it’s taken me getting involved in blogging pods to find people who I think are genuinely looking out for me, and I for them. I think it’s something about that smaller community, and perhaps being at a similar level in terms of experience (and not necessarily follower numbers) that helps.
Taking a break from a blogging pod isn’t a bad thing
So pods have been good for me for a while, and I really appreciate all the support I’ve had from people in my pods. But I’m taking a bit of a break for them for a while. I’ve got a few projects I really want to concentrate on coming up, plus we’re getting towards exam season and I don’t want to overburden myself. I don’t want to let other bloggers down.
Where can I find a pod?
I’ve generally seen pods running in Blogging Facebook groups. If you’re in a blogging Facebook group, just post and ask if anyone would like to set up a pod, or if anyone has any space in one, particularly if it’s in your niche.
Don’t feel bad about trying a pod for a certain amount of time (for example, a month). If it’s not the right fit for you, move on. You won’t gain anything from forced or insincere comments.
My tips for running a blogging pod
Use the right tools for each form of social media: That’s ‘See first’ on Facebook, Lists on Twitter and the messenger on Instagram. It’s the only way you can keep up really.
Change it up monthly: I think one of the reasons these pods have worked so well for me is that we’ve changed the groups each month. It gives everyone a chance to opt out if they want to, and it also means that you get to read a new group of blogs.
If you’re doing all social media, stick to 5-6 people: Any more and it will be overwhelming.
Put the effort in where it counts: In my opinion, I think pods work really well on Facebook. You need to like or comment as your ‘real’ profile, not as your page, and then that boosts the post.
Check your timing on Instagram: Instagram Instants seem to work well for some people. I’m a bit quiet on Instagram at the moment so I haven’t used this, but it seems that the first 15 minutes of a photo being posted is crucial for whether it appears in other peoples’ feeds.
Commit to it: The most annoying thing in a pod is when you comment on someone’s posts really regularly, but they never ever reciprocate on yours. So pay it back!
Work with other bloggers in your general niche: If you’re all parenting bloggers, it helps. The same for interiors bloggers. And so on. Is ‘general niche’ an oxymoron? Probably.
Be prepared to be surprised what you get from a blog. For me, it hasn’t been the numbers (although that has been nice). It’s been the friendships, and you can’t put a value on that.
For me, blogging pods have helped me to find my group in this vast blogging world. That’s why I’ve enjoyed it. It’s not been fake or forced, and it hasn’t felt so. I have discovered lots of new blogs that I wouldn’t have read before, and blogs and bloggers that I genuinely care about and want to succeed. I’ve found where I fit in.
I never expected that from a pod.