Have you ever felt a personal connection with a blogger who you’ve never met and have no real reason to feel connection with?
You read their blog day after day and in time come to feel like you know them—as if their blog posts are almost written as private messages to you?
This has happened to me numerous times over the years. I almost end up feeling that the blogger is my friend, even though I’ve never actually had personal contact with them.
I’ve also been on the other side of that relationship quite a few times. I regularly meet people at conferences who come up and say that they feel like they know me despite my never having communicated with them directly. I still remember the day that a complete stranger ran up to me in tears at a conference and hugged me to within an inch of my life, because she felt she knew me so well.
It’s a slightly strange feeling having someone you don’t know share how connected they feel with you, but I’ve also noticed that it is those same people who become your biggest evangelists, buy your products, contribute to discussions in comments, and more.
That personal connection can bring a blog to life!
How can you foster this personal connection with readers?
I have a theory that some people are just more naturally able to blog in this way. However there are a number of tips that I think can help you to foster that personal connection—even if you’re not naturally wired that way.
1. Tell personal stories
I suspect that one of the most powerful tools at your disposal when it comes to personal connections is the use of personal story. Sharing your own stories on the topics you write about shows that you not only have a knowledge of your topic, but that you’ve experienced it also.
Stories makes you more relatable to people, too—instead of being some lofty, untouchable expert a story makes you someone who’s also still learning, and experiencing what your readers experience.
2. Write as you speak
This won’t suit everyone’s style of writing, but it’s what I always aim for in my writing. I’m pretty casual when talking to friends or even doing a public presentation, so I aim to bring that same tone and style into the writing of my posts. As a result, it’s rare that I get too formal.
3. Use personal language
A little technique that packs a lot of punch in terms of fostering connection is to incorporate language that makes the reader feel you’re talking to them.
An example of this is to use the word “you” as you write. Instead of writing, “here are ten tips for improving a blog,” write “here are ten tips you can use to improve your blog.”
Doing this moves what you say from the realm of theory, making it something that’s very applicable to the reader and their own experience.
4. Picture a person while you’re writing
A simple way to change the tone of your writing is to actually write your post with a person in mind. Chris Garrett talks about this a lot and encourages bloggers to visualize a person as they write. Similarly, I like to develop reader profiles, which I find helps me avoid writing for a nameless crowd of readers. It enables me to pitch my posts in a more personal way, based upon people’s actual needs and situations.
5. Base posts upon reader needs
Perhaps this is a little obvious, but the more you write about the real, felt needs and problems of readers, the more likely you are to connect with them on a personal level.
The fact is that you’ll be more likely to have people feeling connected if they feel that you understand what they’re trying to overcome. For this reason, I find that getting reader feedback through surveys, polls and by inviting questions can be a great help.
6. Using social media
I try to keep the vast majority (if not all) of my blog posts inline with the actual topics of my blogs. ProBlogger is about blogging, Digital Photography School is about photography … it’s rare that I get off topic.
However I do use my @ProBlogger Twitter account to talk about my life in the mix of talking about other topics. This seems to help with showing myself as a real person—a dad, a husband, a football fan, a geek … things people seem to relate to. Whether it’s Twitter or some other form of social media, or perhaps something else, if you have an outlet where you can share on a more personal level, it does seem to “humanize” you a little.
Similarly, using different forms of media has the potential to humanize you.
Using a picture of yourself on a blog puts a face to your name, and your writing.
Podcasts give your name a voice.
Video can not only put a face and voice to your online persona, but can also communicate a lot via your body language.
While it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, multi-media can certainly add something when it comes to building personal connections.
8. Attend events
One of the most powerful things I’ve done when it comes to building relationships with readers is attending events. These include conferences that relate to my industry (as well as blogging conferences) but also online events—whether they’re my own or other people’s.
For example, I semi-regularly try to do a Ustream chat session where I sit in front of a web cam and answer reader questions. I also participate on Twitter in the #blogchat hashtag weekly chat. All of these things build personal connections, and give people a chance to “meet” me in some way.
9. Get a reaction
I spoke with one ProBlogger recently at a meetup and she told me that she’d been reading this blog for a while, but never really felt part of things until the day she left her first comment. She reflected that there was something quite powerful about actually taking that step in terms of feeling a deeper connection.
That’s a story I’ve heard quite a few times over the years. It’s not always leaving a comment that does the trick—but any kind of action that a reader takes brings them a step closer to feeling some kind of sense of belonging. It could be subscribing to your blog, joining a forum, signing up for a notification, leaving a comment, voting in a poll, entering a competition, emailing the author, sharing a post on Twitter … any of these actions deepens the engagement at least a little.
What else deepens personal connection for you?
That’s enough of me talking. What has your experience been? Whether it’s your experience as a blogger reaching out to readers or as a blog reader feeling connected to other bloggers, what deepens that feeling of personal connection for you?