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The Power of Real Life Interactions as a Blogger

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.

Meetup-2Image 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.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. As blogging is very new to me I have only built few relationships with other bloggers. But those that I have, have been very rewarding experiences. I’ve yet to meet them in person, but I can imagine it being a great experience.

  2. Bobby Rio says:

    Completley agree with the third point.. we recently put on a retreat weekend, and the readers we met in person have become much more loyal, and are now eager to help us.

    This year i plan on attending as many blog conferences i can, as well as heading out to Austin for SXSW

  3. Face to face interactions do tend to solidify a relationship for sure. Sometimes it is hard to gauge a persons “tone” when they are writing. I often wonder if people mistake my “humor” for sarcasm? Eventually I would love to attend some blogging conferences. That type of “meeting” is always motivating.

  4. The friends I have made blogging have been unbelievably great. I can’t believe how fortunate I have been with my relationships to other bloggers. The one person I regret not getting to know more thus far is you, Darren.

  5. I guess this is what it boils down to. More than any social networking sites, with blogging you get to meet people who are actually interested in the stuff you are writing about and so the quality of these relationships tend to be great.

  6. Bash Bosh says:

    Very interesting article Darren. Thank you for sharing this with us! I also think it’s really important for all bloggers!

  7. I think this is kind interesting. What happens if it is a complete failure and only a few show up? Some of those people that showed up may blog about it and then people might think more badly of your blog.

  8. Doug C. says:

    Some of us don’t get the opportunity to meet with such people in real life. That’s where the computer can be a useful tool in such interactions. Personally I wouldn’t mind a little more ‘meet-up’ on the Web. It seems nine times out of ten when I do contact someone with a question or request I never hear back from them. I can get better feedback from the wall in my apartment.

  9. emdoozie says:

    Great Post. I am actually planning to attend my first live blog event @ BlogOrlando in Florida. I am excited to meet some new people as well as network and form some lasting relationships. People are always our greatest asset and meeting people in person is so much more powerful then just on the web.

    -doozieUp
    http://doozieUp.com

  10. Workplace says:

    I guess it’s only important when you already have a popular blog or website.

  11. Ganesh says:

    I agree that real life interactions are quite powerful. But I feel that it is sort of impossible in this present world. That’s why we have blogging and instant messaging to interact with each other. I can say that real life interaction with other bloggers are not possible for some.

  12. Shae says:

    Where I live in the So. Cal. desert, there seems to be a lack of, mmm, not technical know how, but the willingness to adapt to it. Would love to even be able to meet-up with other bloggers in my area in all genres.

  13. Dash says:

    Blogs have a branding disadvantage over magazines and newspapers. The high cost of paper is a barrier to entry that leads to higher credibility.

    To counter this brand disadvantage, leading tech blogs like Techcrunch.com, Readwriteweb.com, and VentureBeat.com have started doing conferences that bring virtual fans into real life settings. Further, these conferences have become highly profitable. But they do require a lot of work to organize.

    Innovation never rests. Good luck with your walk-a-thon.

    -Dash
    http://tEarn.com/ – tEarn Exitmercial Network

  14. IT Freak says:

    Well, I’ve made quite a few friends online. Met just a handful of them. But I’ve got to admit that I haven’t met any of my online blogger friends. Partly because they are not in my country. Others are my only online friends. Never planed anything like to meet in real life though. Never thought of it.

  15. WD Favour says:

    I couldn’t agree more with your second point…
    I’ve not met any of the bloggers I’ve become acquainted with face to face, but we’ve corresponded via email and I know it has made me more interested in reading their blogs. In fact, I even particpated in a blog carnival just because a co blogger I met in the blogosphere was hosting it! And a relationship is beginning to build up.
    Now I sure have inspiration to encourage a meet up of my blogger friends in the area that I live.
    Thanks once again for your insightful observations.

  16. Sid Savara says:

    “I guess it’s only important when you already have a popular blog or website.” (around comment 7 or 8)

    I respectfully disagree with this sentiment. I think it is actually even MORE crucial to a less popular blog or website. Every day, people have millions of other blogs and articles to read – but I guarantee you that having real life interactions with a blogger will take you further in getting links and attention than anything else.

    I very recently watched an interview with Tim Ferris by Derek Sivers of CD Baby. Tim specifically mentioned in person meetings with bloggers at South By Southwest as critical to promotion and success of the 4 Hour Work Week. It is towards the end of the interview, where Derek asks Tim why he did not outsource his promotion.

    If there was ever anecdotal evidence that in person interaction is superior, I believe that interview provides it.

  17. impNERD says:

    It should also be noted that real-life interactions are important at the very beginning phases of blogging. If you have a non-computer techie relative or friend, ask them what they think about your website. Can they easily navigate? Can they easily scan your articles?

  18. Kristi says:

    Meeting another blogger in real life gives a sense of trust, like now you know they are a real, caring person. It is hard to meet all your readers in person, in which case photos and videos of the author are better, more personable representations than avatars and graphics.

  19. All good points. One that I’d personally add is the discussion that often leads to ideas for new posts. For me, I find that when I talk about topics I blog about with like-minded bloggers, I’m constantly learning, and taking on new views of my own subjects. Makes for great future posts :)

  20. I went to the BlogHer conference in August. It IS weird at first, but it certainly deepens the connection. People still have a strong need for face-to-face interaction.

  21. Shwen says:

    Having had first hand experience of exactly what you talk about, I have to agree wholeheartedly with your post. In fact, I just returned from the 2008 New Media Expo recently and wrote a post with a very similar sentiment: http://tinyurl.com/6dk9rm

    I’m looking forward to doing more of the same at Web 2.0 NYC next week. Thanks for your great post!

  22. Ryan McLean says:

    I like how you mentioned that it can be hard for your spouse. I am getting married in exactly 6 weeks and I find it hard sometimes to teach my fiance about what I do.
    She is learning slowly but sometimes she gets frustrated that I work so hard on my blog because she doesn’t know what it is.

    Real life meet ups sounds great. At the moment my blog is not big enough for this. But maybe in a year or two when it is (and when I am making enough money to travel) then I will do it.

  23. jhay says:

    It’s always nice to meet fellow bloggers in person. It gives you a deeper connection to the blog, its content and more importantly it’s blogger.

  24. violet says:

    Isn’t it interesting that in a virtual world filled with blogs, social media, social networking sites etc that we still want (sometimes need) that face-to-face interaction to actually connect with one another?

    I think its especially great that you want to meet your readers. To me that shows sincerity and interest in your readers. Lots of other people could learn from this.

    Violet

  25. Steve says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I actually blog a little bit in reverse. I know many of the readers of my site as friends and networks first and blog readers second. I love writing a new post with particular people in mind, looking forward to their comment/opinion when I see them next.

    I’m slowly begining to use my blog to reach out and connect with people face-to-face and I’m loving the new conversations which are taking place (including your good self, Darren!).Anyways, great stuff and thanks for the continued advice.

  26. Steph Auteri says:

    I love that you’ve mentioned this, Darren. I came to blogging via an interest in magazine writing, and my enthusiasm for it has far surpassed my enthusiasm for other forms of media. Mostly it’s because of the interaction involved…the ability to receive instant feedback and forge interest-based connections. It seems only natural to take those online relationships and bring them into the “real” world.

    I have attended several NY Bloggers meetups, and it’s such a joy to spend an evening with others who are just as into blogging as I am. Just as my eyes glaze over a bit when my husband starts rattling on about web coding, I’m sure my friends’ eyes glaze over when I start talking blogging again. In addition, I never fail to find new readers for my blog through these events, or create some sort of online partnership.

  27. darren,

    first I want to say, I love your blog, I love your newsletter, it is
    the only blogging “blog” that I read each and every day…You have taught me almost everything that I have learned about blogging.

    I am not a professional blogger at this time, but, I do write a blog..and may want to do a more professional blog at some point in the near future.

    One of your subjects in the past week or so, was about grammar, punctuation, etc…being really important to your message. Today while reading your blog…I noticed this sentence fragment, which I believe is what is known in the grammar world as a DOUBLE NEGATIVE…”( none of the founders of b5media didn’t meet for a long time)”

    and is the perfect example of how grammar affects a reader’s understanding of what you have written. My question is:

    did the founders meet before establishing b5? or not? The double negative usuage makes that unclear….when the purpose of that fragment was to elucidate, by example.

    and this is fairly essential for comprehending what you have written today…

    and this post also contained this fragment…

    “just ask my wife V who was completely freaked out by how much people knew met at a meet-up she came to in NYC last year)”

    I am not sure if you meant: ” how much people [ I ] knew met at a meet up…” or ” how many people I knew at a meetup….
    although we had never met in person”?

    and this sentence had me stumble as well….but, it did not
    effect my understanding of the point you were making in your post.

    we all make these grammar mistakes, when we are rushed when posting, perhaps our hearts are not totally in what we have written. I certainly have done it…because, when we read over our own writing, WE KNOW WHAT WE MEAN…we wrote it….and even if we are careful editors, well grammar does happen.

    But, when you are reading a blog of someone that has gained authority in a particular area….and you see how grammar does affect your understanding and lengthens the TIME it takes to read the post….it underscores the importance of YOUR earlier lesson….grammar, punctuation, etc… ARE vitally IMPORTANT to getting our messages across in the manner WE MEAN, than we may wish believe.

    so I want to thank you, for making that mistake today ….because it underscored YOUR earlier lesson,
    for me, not just as someone who blogs my own message, but someone who READS others messages to learn how to blog.

    smiles to you and many thanks,
    deborah

  28. I have set a goal to attend BlogHer next year; It sounds really fun, exciting and inspiring!

  29. Karen says:

    Would love to go to BlogWorld & Godblog….but since I’m not able to – look forward to your pics and would love to see video of the events….are you aware of any that will be posted?

  30. Darren Rowse says:

    thanks deborah – sloppiness on my part with those ones :-)

  31. DennisSC says:

    That’s one thing about blogging. Your readers are also potentially your editors and/or proofreaders.

    Social interactions might be impractical for those of us who don’t have enough readers concentrated in any given place, but it’s obviously invaluable in any field. That’s the point of book signings or politicians going door to door. It’s a cliche, but the truth is it really works.

  32. CoolProducts says:

    If you show the readers that you really do care about them, their thoughts, ideas, etc. you’ll never know the possibilities and benefits that may fall into your lap. Your ideas are very good ways of achieving this.