Writing That Develops a Personal Connection With Your Readers

Have you ever felt a personal connection with a blogger who you’ve never met and have no real reason to feel a 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 even though we’ve never actually met.

That personal connection can bring a blog to life!

In Today’s Episode How can you foster this personal connection with readers?

Listen to it here in the player above or over on iTunes here.

  • Tell personal stories
    • Sharing your own stories, not only shows you have knowledge, but you have experienced it too
    • Stories make you more relatable to people
  • Write as you speak
  • Use personal language
    • Incorporate language that makes the reader feel you are talking to them
    • Use the word “you” when you write
    • This moves the topic away from theory and makes it more applicable
  • 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.
  • Base posts upon REAL reader needs
    • The more you write about real needs, the more you will connect
    • People feel connected if they feel you understand what they are trying to overcome
    • Get in the habit of asking your readers what their biggest challenge is
  • Write about Your Readers Feelings, Fears and Dreams
    • What really connects people is when you write about what they feel, think, fear, and dream.
    • This makes your reader feel you are speaking to them on a deeper level
    • An example of this was my last newsletter where I asked readers what their challenges were?
    • The responses were fascinating, I analyzed them in a spreadsheet and even made a word cloud on the topics
    • Strategies for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome was a topic I got from these responses
    • After the show went live, I received messages from listeners that felt I was speaking directly to them
    • This is the power of understanding your readers dreams, fears, needs, and challenges.
    • Create that kind of content!
  • Go Off Topic
    • I try to keep my blogs on topic, but I do find ways to weave in other elements of my life
    • My Instagram and Twitter accounts give glimpses into my life
    • Occasionally, I’ll blog while on holiday or from my couch with a beer
    • These things seem to show me as a real person
    • Have an outlet to share a little about your life and “humanize: yourself as you blog
  • Multi-media
    • Different forms of media can also humanize you
    • A picture puts a face with the name
    • A podcast gives you a voice
    • Video not only shows a face and voice, but body language too
  • Attend events
    • Attending events is a powerful way to build relationships
    • Online events like a Ustream chat session or a Twitter #blogchat is also an opportunity to meet and relate with readers
  • Get a reaction
    • Readers will feel a connection when they comment or participate in some other way, such as polls, competitions, emails, sharing, etc.
    • 31 Days to Build a Better Blog
  • Write from the heart
    • One of the best things I think you can do is to allow yourself to FEEL something about what you’re writing about.
    • Write on topics that mean something to you.
    • Write with passion.
    • Include how YOU feel about a topic.
    • Writing in this way takes some vulnerability but as Robert Frost says:
    • No tears in the writer – no tears in the reader
    • No surprise in the writer – no surprise in the reader.
    • If you’re not willing to go to a personal place it’s unlikely your reader will either!

Full Transcript Expand to view full transcript Compress to smaller transcript view
Hey there. It’s Darren Rowse from ProBlogger here. Welcome to Episode 127 of the ProBlogger Podcast. 

Today, I want to talk about how to make your blog, your podcast, your Instagram feed, your YouTube channel, your podcast, whatever it might be, a little bit more personal. To build a personal connection with those who are reading and following you in those different places. Having that personal connection is a very powerful thing. I want to give you 11 different tips on how to write in that way, and how to create content that is more personal.

Before I do, I just want to mention one thing. First of July is just a few days away if you’re listening to this as it’s going live which means two things. One, tickets for our ProBlogger event are about to go up by $100. You can check out the details of those at probloggerevents.com.

 Two, first of July might be a great time to start 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. Those of you who’ve been listening for a while know that I started this podcast with a series of 31 daily shows. Each one contained a little bit of teaching and a little activity, a challenge that you can go away and do that will improve your blog. Those 31 days are still sitting there in iTunes. They’re still sitting over in the show notes on problogger.com/podcast.

I pulled them all together for you if you want to listen to them on the show notes at problogger.com/podcast/31days. You should bookmark that page and keep coming back to it. It’s got all of the episode. You can listen to them without leaving that page. 

One of the things I loved about 31 Days to Build a Better Blog is that the activities that you can do over, and over, and over, again. If you’ve done that series in the past, maybe July is a great time for you to revisit it. Maybe, if you haven’t done it before, maybe now’s a great time for you to do it for the very first time. Head over to problogger.com/podcast/31days and you’ll find it there. Or, search on iTunes for ProBlogger and you’ll find if you go right back to the start of our feed, those 31 episodes sitting there, waiting for you. Let me know how it you go. I’d love to see you progress through those 31 episodes so tweet me @ProBlogger. Let me know which one you’re up to and any feedback you’ve got along the way.

Without any further ado, I’d like to get into today’s show where we’re going to talk about building a more personal blog.

Have you ever felt a personal connection with a blogger? Or a podcast? Or YouTube? Someone whom you’ve never met in person but you have a real feeling of connection with? Maybe you read their blog day after day. In time, you’ve come to feel like you know them or you listen to their podcast everyday or every few days. It’s as if they’re talking just to you. It’s like they’re almost privately messaging you with their thoughts everyday. 

This has happened to me numerous times over the years. I always get this feeling that the blogger or podcaster is my friend. It’s almost this weird, familiar feeling that you have with a long lost friend that maybe you’ve never met before but you just feel like you’ve shared experiences with them. When you meet them in person, you’re all gushy and it’s a bit awkward because you feel like you know them but they have no idea who you are. 

I’ve been on the other side of that a number of times now where I’ve met people at conferences who come up, hug me, or talk to me like they know me, like they’ve communicated with me many times before, like we’ve grown up together. It’s a very familiar feeling and it’s odd when you’re on that side of it, but it’s also a really wonderful thing. It’s something that I’ve seen happen many times, particularly in a blog. I guess in the last year, it’s happened to me even more and I think it’s because of the podcast. I think podcasts have this ability to do it even more. I guess that’s because we’re hearing the voice of the person we’re listening to and not just reading their words. 

A number of people have asked me recently, “How can you foster this personal connection with your readers? How can you increase the chances of that happening on your blog?” I’ve got a bit of a theory that some people are just more naturally able to blog and create content in this way. There’s this sort of mojo that goes on with some bloggers. They seemed to be just talking that way where you feel like they’re talking to you. 

It’s something, I think, that even if you don’t have that mojo (and I’m not sure that I’ve got the mojo), I’m also pretty sure that we can work on different ways of growing that in our own creation of content. Today, I want to share with you 11 different things that I think you can do to increase the chances of your readers, your listeners in your podcast, the viewers on your YouTube, and the people watching you on Instagram even, how you can use these mediums to make that personal connection with the people who follow you.

Let’s get into them. Number one is all about telling personal stories. It’s not rocket science, is it? It’s pretty logical, really. I suspect one of the most powerful tools at our fingertips right now is that we have all got a story to tell. We’ve all lead a life. That’s one thing in common that we have with our readers. We’re all alive. We’re all led lives and we’ve all had these moments in our lives which connect with one another whether we know it or not. 

Sharing your own story in your content, whether it be a blog or a podcast, shows not only that you have a knowledge of your topic but that you have experienced life, too, and there are these connection points with your readers. Stories make you more relatable. They show that you’re a person rather than just some brand, instead of just being some lofty, untouchable expert in your industry. Sharing of a story is a very personal thing and it will make people remember your content as well. This is one of the things I love about storytelling. When you tell stories, people remember those posts more than when you are just teaching them something. Tell stories as much as possible. 

Number two, I think something very powerful happens when you write like you speak. This one suit everyone’s style of writing. Some people just write in a more formal tone, perhaps, but it’s what I aim for my own writing. When I started blogging back in 2002, the first blogs that I ever came across were written in a more formal tone. Now, it’s almost written like academic papers. Something in that appealed to me because I seemed very comprehensive and deep. 

But when I tried to do that for myself, I discovered very quickly that I couldn’t do it. I just was not wired that way to write that kind of content. I kind of got down about that and I almost gave up blogging in the first couple of weeks as I just didn’t think I have what it takes to be a blogger because that’s what I thought a blogger did. 

Then, I decided to write some posts that were just more conversational. It’s just me talking about what I did know. What I found is that those post got my first comments. I never had a comment until I started writing in that tone. I encourage you to think about your voice. If you can, to write like you speak. Now, I really would encourage you to go back and listen to Episode 52. I did an interview with Beth Dunn who works at HubSpot. She put together this, List of Things That Can Make You Sound Like a Human Being, I think that was the title. Episode 52. I’ll link to it into the show notes. It’s all about how to write like a human, not a robot. 

Very simple things like using contractions, so using the word “I’ve” instead of “I have.” That’s how normal people speak. They say “I’ve,” “I’ll,” that type of language, those contractions. There’s a whole heap of other tips that she used in that particular episode as well. Write like you speak, not like a robot.

Number three is connected to that. We actually did touch on that particular episode as well. Use personal language. This is a little technique that packs a lot of punch in terms of fostering a connection with people. Instead of writing in a third person, you can use the word “you” as you write. This is something I do all the time. Try and use the word “you” so my readers know I’m talking to an individual. I think that makes it more personal.

Let me give you an example of that. Instead of saying, “Here are 10 Tips to Improve a Blog,” write, “Here are 10 Tips You Can Use to Improve Your Blog.” That simple addition of “you” and “you’re” personalizes it. I’m not just writing about this abstract topic, someone’s blog. I’m writing about your blog. When you use the word “you,” when you use the word “you’re,” it forces people to think about their situation rather than something abstract. That has a big impact upon people.

Even using words like “we.” I’ve got an episode in the podcast talking about “I” and “we.” In this case, using the word “we” to talk about you and your readers together, can also be a very powerful thing. I’ve tried to do this in my podcast. I’m talking about an issue that my readers have and I include myself in the problem. “We often have this particular problem.” “We often talk in this way.” “We need to learn this.” That shows your readers that you and them are in the same journey. Using “we,” using “you’re,” using “you,” and that type of language can force people to think about their own situation but also feel like you and them are in the same type of boat.

Tip number four, picture a person while you’re writing. This is a very simple technique that you can use while you’re writing that will help you to write in a more personal tone. Chris Garrett, who co-wrote the ProBlogger book, talks a lot about this (or at least he used to) back when we last met. He really encourages bloggers to visualize a person as they’re writing. This is something that I’ve done as well particularly since I started creating reader profiles or avatars for my readers. 

When I first created a reader profile for my readers, I printed out the profile, and I put it next to my computer. I actually created three profiles. One of whom was Grace the Mamaratzo photographer. This is for my digital photography blog. It was a character that I imagined was reading my blog. The avatar was all about her needs, her problems, how she spoke, the type of photography she was into, and it talked a little bit about her. I put a photo of her there as well. I had this avatar printed out and stuck next to my blog. 

Quite often, as I was writing a blog post, I would write, visualizing Grace, which sounds a little bit creepy. She wasn’t a real person so I wasn’t stalking her. I was visualizing this person and asking myself as I was writing, “What questions would she be asking at this point in my article? How would she be reading this? How would she be applying this? Is this relevant to her?” I found simply by visualizing this person, it made me write to someone rather than just to a group of people. I just came across in a more personal way. It enabled me to pitch my post particularly to her needs and her situation, at least what my imagined situation of her.

Tip number five is to base post upon real reader’s needs. Grace the Mamaratzo was a figment of my imagination, although it did turned out I ended up having a lot of readers who were just like her. I think that was because I was writing for that type of person. Once you’ve got readers, you can begin to find out what their actual needs and problems are. Actually tapping into those challenges that your readers face is a very powerful thing. 

This is one of the reasons that we on ProBlogger and Digital Photography School constantly are surveying our readers. We’re doing polls. We’re sending out surveys on ProBlogger every year. At the start of the year, we do a census. We try and collect as much information on who’s reading the blog. Also, really try tapping to what their current needs are, what their dreams are, what their challenges are. Those surveys turned into content. We take that content, those ideas, those challenges, and the needs that our readers have, the things that they feel, they have a problem with, and we turn that into content as well.

Related to this is the sixth thing that I want to talk about. That is not just writing about the tangible needs of your readers but also writing about their feelings, their fears, their dreams. Some of these less tangible things. Writing about the tangible felt needs of your readers is important. But what makes people really feel connected to you is when you write about how they feel. What they’re thinking, what their fears are, what their dreams are. These are the things that they sometimes can’t even articulate. If you can tap into these types of things, this will take your content to a whole new level. 

Let me give you a real quick example of this. This encapsulates both the last two points that I make. The ProBlogger Plus Newsletter is a newsletter we send out every week to ProBlogger readers and podcast subscribers. Usually, these ProBlogger Plus Newsletters are largely sharing links to the latest tutorials and podcast that we’ve published over the last week. A few weeks ago, I started the ProBlogger Plus Newsletter simply by asking those who were getting the email to send me an email back to reply to the email and answering two simple questions with a sentence each, telling me their biggest blogging dream and their biggest blogging challenge. I asked them to hit reply and in a few words describe their biggest dream and their biggest challenge. I’ve had several hundred people email me back. I took every single one of those answers and I put them into a spreadsheet. I had these two columns—the challenges and dreams.

I’ve also pulled out all of the responses and put them into a little tool that created word cloud for me (which is fascinating.) It made the words that were most commonly used, big and bold, and all the other words smaller. It was fascinating to look at those word clouds and read through every single one of the responses which took me several hours. To see the things in that, there were some definite themes. 

What I decided to do with those themes was to take some of them and to incorporate them into the podcast that I was planning for the coming months. Now, you’ve already heard one of them. Episode 121, if you listen to that one, it was about dealing with imposter syndrome. I created that podcast purely based upon some of the challenges that my readers were telling me about in that particular email that I sent them.

We had a number of people sharing quite personally about how they felt like they’re an imposter, that they were a fraud, that they didn’t really know how to deal with that. What I did was I took those questions, those feelings, that tangible need, but also some of the feelings around that, some of the language that they use, then I turned that into the podcast. We use some of the actual words that readers responded with in the title of the podcast. I used some of the exact words, almost quotes from those responses in the episode as well to set the same forum. 

What I found really fascinating was that for about 24 hours after that podcast went live, even since that time, I’ve had private messages, emails, public messages, on social media for listeners saying that they felt like I was speaking directly to them or that I was looking inside their brains. This is the power of understanding your readers’ problems and needs. Also their fears, the language that they use, the feelings that they have. If you create content based upon that, you are going to create content that makes a big personal impact upon them, and begins to build those connections.

The seventh thing that I want to talk about is going off-topic. I try and keep the vast majority, if not all, of the blog post on ProBlogger and Digital Photography School about the topic that there are on ProBlogger about blogging, Digital Photography School about photography, and it’s rare that I go completely off-topic. I think there’s always ways that you can weave in other elements of your life into what you do. Even in blog post where you’re talking about something, you can weave in little anecdotes from you life about family or about places you’ve been or stories that you’ve experienced.

Certainly, on your Instagram account, your Twitter account, there’s certainly ways you can weave in a more personal element that perhaps isn’t completely on-topic, perhaps it’s illustrating a point, or perhaps it’s just there simply to show people that you’re a real person. I’m a dad. I’m a husband. I’m a football fan. I’m a geek. I hope that comes through in some of the things that I share in my social media accounts, and from time to time comes through in the podcast and in my blogpost.

Whether it’s on social media, whether it’s on the blog itself, I think there are always ways that you can just go a little bit off-topic and humanize what you do. Show that you are just a normal person, too. You will find every time you do that you will make a little extra connection with someone else along the way. 

I think Pat Flynn does this brilliantly with his podcast in his introductions. Every introduction has a little facts that you may not know about Pat. While not everyone will relate to every single one of those facts, I bet that if you listen to many of Pat’s podcast, there’s a little fact that you know about him that is also relevant for you.

I’ve been seeing people in person come up to me and say, “Yeah, I’m really into whatever it was that he’s into as well.” Make these personal connections with them. Maybe there’s a simple little way that you can go a little bit off-topic and share a little bit of who you are. Show your readers that maybe there’s a connecting point there within.

Tip number eight is to use multimedia. Similar to using different types of content and going off-topic. I think we can mix up the type of media that we use and formats of posts that we use as well. Using a simple picture of yourself is a powerful thing. Using video. Using podcast. As I mentioned earlier, I think a podcast is a very personal medium. I have people come up and say that they feel like they know we so much better or even after reading ProBlogger for six or seven years, a few podcasts in, I feel like they know me in a different level. 

Video is similar. When I started using video on ProBlogger, I started getting people leave comments, who’ve been reading for a long time but never commented before. It was because they saw me, they heard me, they suddenly feel like they have this deeper connection, and that they wanted to respond for the first time ever. Live video, I think, really ramps this up even further. That live interaction that you have, people not only see and hear you, but they get to talk to you. They get to see you react to the things that they say. That is a very powerful thing as well. It can really build that personal connection. 

I understand that multimedia, using video, live video, particularly podcasting, is something that we don’t feel comfortable doing. It’s also something that, some people don’t have the technology to be able to do. Although, most of us who have smartphones these days, have the ability to record our voices and to record ourselves in front of video. These tools are increasingly accessible for more and more people. Give it a go, see what happens.

The ninth thing I’ll say is attending events. Actually, meeting people in person is possibly the best thing that you can do to build personal connections. This is a big challenge, particularly for those of us who live in different locations to a lot of our audience. It can be tricky to meet our readers, but if you do have the opportunity to go to a conference that your readers might be at, or to even run a meet-up, or a live event of your own, then that could be a very powerful thing. 

As I was saying before, live video, running an online event, could be something that you could do as well. I would encourage you to experiment with Facebook Live, but also, tools like […] where you get to see your readers as well, can be a useful one. We’ll link to a podcast that are recorded on […] a few months ago in the show notes. 

Two more things that I want to say, the tenth thing is, getting your readers to do something, is one way that can speed up the personal connection, particularly leaving a comment. I spoke with one blogger recently, who came to an event that I was at. She told me that she never really felt like she was connected to ProBlogger until the day she left her first comment, which is kind of weird. I was like, “You know, just leaving comments suddenly made you feel like you belong to this thing and you understood it more?” There’s something really powerful about that. Taking that step in terms of adding something to the site made her feel more connected to the site and more connected to me because she was responding to a question that I’d asked in a blog post.

I actually heard that a number of times now. Getting your readers to do something, makes them feel more connected to you. Probably, the best example of this that I can give you is, 31 Days To Build A Better Blog, which is why I mentioned it at the start of this particular podcast.

31 Days To Build A Better Blog, was 31 days where I got my readers to do something. They didn’t know why I always leave comments on my blog, although I invited them to do that. They took the information away and they did something on their own blogs. There’s something very powerful happened the first time I did 31 Days To Build A Better Blog. I started to get emails from readers who said, “You know? I so appreciate what you’re doing here because you are actually not only teaching me something, but you inspire me to do it and you got me to take some sort of an action.” There’s something happened there through that process that seem to build the relationship that we had.

No longer where they’re just reading my stuff. They’re actually taking my teaching and implementing it. I could see the results of that. Getting your readers to do something, getting them to react to what you’re saying, getting them to engage in some way, whether it’s voting in a poll, leaving a comment, or doing something like 31 Days To Build A Better Blog, can definitely deepen the engagement that you have with your readers.

The last thing I’ll say is, right from the heart. One of the best things that I think you can do with your content, whether it’s writing, or speaking, or in front of the camera, is to allow yourself to feel something about what you’re writing about, what you’re communicating. When you feel something, your readers are much likely to feel something. When you write about something that means something to you, your readers are going to begin to see that. When you write with passion, your readers will begin to read with passion. Include how you feel about a topic.

I started it off earlier in this podcast talking about trying to understand the feelings of your readers. Also understand your own feelings and allow yourself to feel something about what you’re creating. I love the quote from Robert Frost who says, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader. If you’re not willing to go to a personal place, it’s unlikely your reader will either.”

One little trick that I will add, that I found helps me (I even did this yesterday), is to write while you’re listening to music. I don’t do this all the time, but sometimes, if I’m not really feeling engaged with what I’m writing about, what I do (and this sounds a bit corny, I know) I’ll find some really atmospheric, emotive movie soundtrack type music.

On Spotify, there’s a whole collection of this type of music that I’ve bookmarked and I go back to. What I find is if I put it on, it’s violins in that type of thing. If I put on, it gets me in the mode and it makes me feel something. I encourage you to give that a go.

If you’re not feeling you’re really projecting yourself into your writing, if you’re not really feeling anything as you’re writing, pop on some music that gets you going, maybe a bit of Eye Of The Tiger, or maybe it’s a bit of a movie soundtrack music. I don’t know what it is for you, let me know in the comments of this show notes. Do something to get yourself into that place.

If you get yourself into that place when you’re feeling something, you’re much more likely to make that connection with your readers and create something that makes them feel something. I would love to hear what deepen this personal connection for you. If you read a blog and you feel a deep connection to that blogger, if you listen to a podcast and you feel really strongly connected to that podcaster, or if you get readers telling you that they feel really strongly connected to you, I love to hear what brings that about for you in the circumstance that you’re in.

You can go to problogger.com/podcast/127 and let me know in the comments there. You can also tweet me at @problogger and I would love to hear what it is that builds that connection with you in your circumstance.

Thanks for listening today. I do hope that you found this helpful. Please share it with anyone else who you think might be finding it useful as well. I will chat to you at episode 128.

You’ve been listening to ProBlogger. If you’d like to comment on any of today’s topics, or subscribe to the series, find this at problogger.com/podcast. Tweet us, @problogger. Find us at, facebook.com/problogger. Also, it’s ProBlogger on iTunes.

This episode of the ProBlogger podcast was edited by the team at Podcast Motor, who offer a great range of services including helping you to set up and launch your podcast, as well as ongoing editing and production of the podcast that you produce. You can check them out at podcastmotor.com.

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?

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