Yesterday I announced on Digital Photography School that I was planning on running a short Photowalk while I was Las Vegas for Blog World Expo (you’re welcome to join in). The post was to gauge if any of my readers would be interested in coming along.
To this point over 40 people have responded – almost all of them saying that they’d like to come.
Image by Jeff Bauche
While the majority of a bloggers interaction happens in a virtual sense with readers – the few times that I’ve gone out of my way to set up ‘real life’ meet-ups with readers have been really quite powerful experiments.
The two most vivid examples of this happened last year in New York when I held ProBlogger meet-ups. While they were fairly small events when compared with some of the big tech blog meet-ups that happen – on both occasions the evenings were fruitful on numerous fronts:
1. Deepening Relationships – many of those that I met in these face to face meet ups in New York (as well as some that I’ve met face to face at conferences) have become quite good friends. There’s something about meeting someone in person that seems to firm up a relationship.
2. Fruitful Partnerships – while it’s definitely possible to go into business with someone that you’ve never met (none of the founders of b5media met for a long time after founding) I’ve found that face to face meeting with people seems to increase the likelihood of working relationships emerging. The majority of people that I now work with on different projects are people that I’ve met in real life. It isn’t that I don’t trust virtual relationships – it’s just that the real life interaction makes it easier.
3. Reader Participation and Loyalty – when I think about the bloggers that I’ve met in person, I realize that I’m more avid as a reader of their blog than perhaps I was before we met. As I read their blog I have a face and voice to go with it – and a tangible experience with the person to tie me to their blog.
I know not all bloggers are able to hold their own meet-up just for their readers due to their location, their inability to travel or even just that they don’t have enough readers in the one spot – however meet-ups are not the only way to meet potential blog readers in real life. Local blogging meet-ups, one on one meetings with other bloggers in your area and conferences all present great opportunities for the type of reader interaction that I describe above.
It feels a little odd to step out of your ‘virtual interactions’ at first (and it can be even weirder for your spouse to see these interactions, just ask my wife V who was completely freaked out by how much people knew about me at a meet-up she came to in NYC last year) but it can be a lot of fun and well worthwhile.