I think it's really important for bloggers to make 'blog friends.' I know that the thought can be daunting. There have been days where I've felt like I'm late to the party, where every blogger is bff's with every other blogger. (Dramatic, much?)
So how did I get over that? How did I put my shyness to shame and put myself out there? Two words: Social media. Social media is the key to networking for an online site, whether it's a blog or a shop. You might think "But do I really need Twitter account AND a Facebook account?" Yes. If you want to make an online presence for yourself and your site, then yes, you do.
These days, when everything from paying bills to buying Mom's birthday present is done online, it is so important for those who run an internet-based business to participate in and have knowledge of the latest and greatest social media site(s).
So you have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Etsy, Blogger, etc, now what? It may be easy to think that social media is used solely to gain fans or followers, but it should be used for so much more than that. It helps you develop real relationships, not just with customers, but with other independent business owners.
Obviously these sites are used for self-promotion, whether it's announcing a sale or sharing a new item in your shop. But go beyond that. I always make it a point to "like" my favorite bloggers Facebook status's or start a friendly conversation via Twitter. But make sure what you have to say is relevant. No one likes the "Hi, I love your page! Would love for you to come like mine!" comments. Remember, the goal is to make a real relationship, not get borderline spammy.
For me, Twitter has been the most beneficial way for me to make friends with other bloggers. I'll admit it took me some time to figure out the "right way" to use Twitter. For a while there, I just didn't get it. I think the key is to incorporate personal tweets, not just "new blog post!" or "new item in the shop!" Self promoting tweets are fine, but if that is all you're typing it's going to be harder to get people interested in what you have to say.
The best use for Twitter is communicating with other people like you. It is so much easier (especially for us shy girls) to converse with another blogger or Etsy seller through a tweet, rather than meeting in person (insert awkward hello and a "Oh hi, I read about your life all the time" moment here). It's also less formal than sending the "I'm a huge fan of your work!" e-mail. You want to use Twitter as a conversational tool more than you want to talk to yourself about your new blog post. I mean, WAY more.
By reaching out and making relationships with other independent business owners you create a network that can be used in any way you want it to. You can make a friend. You can make a business partner. They can help you advertise. They can write a guest post for your blog when you're extra busy (wink, wink). I mean, the possibilities are endless. Remember, you don't know how a relationship will effect you until you reach out and give it a try. For example, did I know that casual tweets with Rouge&Whimsy and YellowHeartArt would result in monthly g-chat video dates with them?? I mean, they're my best blogging bitches now and I know I can always rely on them. I can't imagine if we had never started tweeting at each other some random day.
Social media allows you to create a support system for your business. I have made real life friendships through it (Remember when meeting people via the internet was scary? I guess it probably still is in a lot of cases...) and I know my business would not be where it is today without them.