Over the last few weeks I’ve been exploring principles that are evident in many successful blogs. So far we’ve looked at Listening, Trust, Usefulness and Community. Today I want to get personal with you and share a story with you.
The Day I Was Jumped On By a Reader
Once, at Blog World Expo I was coming down off the stage after presenting on a panel when out of the corner of my eye I noticed someone moving towards me – fast.
Within a second of seeing the movement I was literally jumped upon and found myself in a tangle of arms, hair and tears – I wasn’t being attacked, but I was being hugged within an inch of my life.
I didn’t know what to do at first – I didn’t know who was hugging me but while a bit of a shock at first I could tell the person was genuine and so did the only thing I could think to do – I hugged back.
After a few seconds of hugging the person pulled away. I had expected it to be someone I knew but realised pretty quickly that this was a stranger (or at least she had been a moment or two before). She had tears in her eyes and was obviously emotional – I didn’t know why until she began to talk.
For the next 4-5 minutes my hugging assailant (a reader as it turns out) talked, almost without taking a breath. She told me about the first day she read my blog (she remembered the first post), she told me about how it had helped her, she told me about the ups and downs of her blogging, she told me about her family, she told me about my family, she told me that she’d bought my book, joined my community, bought my ebook, she just talked…..
She talked as if we’d known each other for years – I guess in a way we had…
Gradually my new friend began to slow down (and breathe) she suddenly began to become a little more self conscious. She began to blush a little as she realised how what she’d just done. I assured her that it was totally fine and in her flustered state she said:
“It’s just that I feel like I know you.”
As we continued to speak I realised that here was someone who I had previously not known had existed (she’d never left a comment or said a word on my blog in over 3 years) who ‘knew’ me – at least to some degree.
Here was someone who’d not only read something that I’d written daily for years – but someone who had watched my videos, had noted when I’d become a Dad, had seen when I’d travelled, had observed my disappearances from the blog when I’d been unwell.
She didn’t know all this stuff because she was a crazy stalker (far from it) but because I’d allowed myself to blog in a way that was personal.
Not that ProBlogger is a ‘personal blog’ as such (not in the sense that I blog about the movies that I see, the things I eat or the everyday experiences that I have) – but I inject something of myself into this blog:
- I use my real name
- I share images of myself from time to time in posts and on key pages
- I share videos where people can see my face and hear my voice
- I include details of what’s happening in my life and family (usually in passing and by way of illustrating something)
- I try to use personal language (I blog in the first person most of the time)
- I write in a style that is similar to the way I would speak to a person face to face
- I tell stories about my experiences as they relate to my topic
- I use personal examples where I can to illustrate what I’m saying
- I’ve done live streaming question and answer sessions via video
- I’ve done hundreds of podcasts, talking to my listeners and sometimes hearing from them
By no means am I the most personal blogger going around. Every day I see opportunities to be more personal in fact – but I have made a concerted effort over the years to inject something of myself into what I do. And it’s paid off.
It’s paid off not just in terms of being jumped on by strangers when overseas but also in creating the kind of site that people want to come back to, the kind of site that people recommend to others and also the kind of site that people want to spend their money on (remember my friend has bought everything I’ve released – she said she did so because they were ‘mine’).
I know being personal on a blog is not something that everyone feels comfortable with and that is in everyone’s style – but it is one thing that I’ve seen exhibited in many successful blogs.
How about you? Do you take a personal approach with your blog?
PS: one piece of advice – when it comes to being personal I’d suggest bloggers think a little ahead about what they will and won’t reveal about themselves, their family and their lives. Having some boundaries in place for personal safety can be a worthwhile thing – this doesn’t mean you’re not being personal, just that you’re being smart and exhibiting some personal safety.