A guest post by Barrie Davenport.
If you look at recent posts on Problogger, you will find a plethora of practical and useful tools and ideas for creating a blog, growing a blog, and making money from a blog. Like me, you have probably read and absorbed as many of these pearls of blogging wisdom as your brain will allow. However, as bloggers, we sometimes get so immersed in the business of blogging that we lose sight of what should be our primary focus in blogging — serving people.
There are many valid, self-serving reasons to blog. We all want to make money. We want the satisfaction of creating something that others read and having our ideas appreciated by thousands. But if you boil down the motivation for blogging to its essence, you come to understand that we each have a unique gift, and we want to share that gift with others.
There is tremendous emotional and spiritual satisfaction in that act of sharing and serving. If you’ve ever gotten a comment back from a reader remarking, “Your latest post helped me tremendously, and I can’t thank you enough for sharing that,” then you know what I mean. Suddenly, it all becomes personal.
And isn’t that what life is supposed to be anyway — personal? Being connected with others, even in the blogospohere, is what provides the uplifting and rewarding satisfaction that gives life depth and meaning. The truly amazing part about serving others through blogging is that these efforts will propel your blogging into the stratosphere of success. Look at Darren as an example. Or Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, Mary Jaksch of Write to Done, or so many other wildly successful bloggers. They give and give and then give some more. Their ability to give and connect with people has created real relationships that are mutually beneficial and deeply satisfying.
Many people start blogging because they are introverts and may not like interacting with people in a traditional work or social setting. Others (like me) enjoy connecting with people any way we can, and the internet provides a huge pool of potential new friends. Either way, it does take attention, effort, and careful tending of relationships to be a successful blogger.
6 Ways to add a Personal Touch to Your Blogging
Here are some ideas to help you reach out and touch your growing community of readers and fellow bloggers.
1. Be Sincere
Making connections and building relationships is not going to serve you or others if it is just a means to a financial end. You must believe in the inherent value of serving and of what you have to offer. Your sincerity and passion must shine through in everything you do, or people will see through you. You may not make a lot of money in the beginning, but you are building a treasure of trust and respect with your readers and fellow bloggers. That is worth its weight in gold.
2. Always Serve Your Reader
In every idea you develop, in every post you write, in every comment you respond to, serve your reader. Give them something valuable and immediately usable. Give them more than they expect. Awe them with your gifts. Look at all of the free information, ebooks, and advice that Darren gives to you, his valued readers. Here’s an article I wrote for Write to Done on how to serve your reader.
3. Connect with Bigger Bloggers
You already know that this is a way to build your blog. Solicit guest posts, ask them to Twitter something, comment on their blogs. But what about reaching out to them as one human to another? Write them an e-mail congratulating them on a success or letting them know how they inspired you. Make contact with them with no ulterior motive except to reach out. Offer them something useful with no expectation of something in return. Be real and friendly but not gratuitous.
4. Connect with Blogging Peers
Bigger bloggers always started out as smaller bloggers. Treat all bloggers with equal respect, because you never know when someone’s small blog will take off and become the next Problogger! Communicate regularly with other similar-sized or smaller bloggers. Share ideas, frustrations, and resources. Blogging forums are a great way to do that, but one-on-one contact is even better.
5. Arrange Virtual Meet-Ups
If you’ve been communicating on-line with other bloggers or readers, arrange a meet-up through Skype or some other phone or video conferencing software. Hearing someone’s voice and seeing their face immediately makes the relationship more real and personal. It’s the substitute for the business lunch or golf outing! Through these more personal interactions, you are building friendships and networks of people who will support you and you them.
6. Arrange In-Person Meet-Ups
Connect with your readers and other bloggers who live near you and organize a dinner or meeting. If you are traveling, arrange to get together with people you have met through your blog. (Of course, be safe about this. Meet in groups or very public places.) Nothing can beat an in-person, face-to-face meeting for true relationship building. Life-long friendships can be developed with people in wonderful cities all over the world.
7. Attend Blogging Events
Darren has already discussed, the social media conference to be held in October in Las Vegas. I plan on attending this event, as do many of my network of blogging friends. This will be my first in-person connection with most of them. Attending these events offers so many opportunities for learning and for networking and socializing with bloggers. These events could be considered Relationship Immersion courses where you have the opportunity to build many great connections in a short span of time. If you haven’t already, please check it out.
8. Always Be Kind and Professional
This is worth repeating though I know it’s intuitive. Communicating through a computer makes it very tempting to say things that we would not say in person. As a blogger, you are still a business person, a real person who has integrity and a reputation. If you receive a snippy e-mail or comment, resist the temptation to lob a snippy response back. Be kind, gracious, ever-professional. Don’t gossip about other bloggers or undermine them on a public forum. It will serve you well in the long run, and you will serve as an example for those who read your blog or who look up to you as a blogger.
9. Share Your Connections
Unlike any other business I know of, blogging is the most mutually supportive and interactive. When bloggers help and support each other, they are creating a larger network of connections and potential readers. Isolating yourself or hoarding your connections doesn’t help you — in fact it undermines your growth. I serve as the editor for The Daily Brainstorm, an aggregate blog that links to a large pool of other blogs (including this one). Every contributor benefits from the readers driven to the blog. It is a great group relationship where everyone benefits.
If you want to build your blog, read everything Darren writes on Problogger about how to do that. But also, take a good look at how he conducts himself, what he gives away, and how he connects to people. Follow his example, not just as a blogger but as a person. Find other blogging mentors to emulate and connect with. Don’t hide your real, flesh and blood self under a bushel. Reach out, connect, make friends, share, be of service. If you do all of these things, blogging success can’t help but find you.