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How to Grow Your Blogs Readership Through Offline Events

Over in Third Tribe this week there was a discussion in the forum about using speaking opportunities at offline events to help grow your email newsletter list. Leon shared how he used MailChimp’s Chimpadeedee application to collect email addresses after a presentation. I’ve not used that app but it reminded me of a time that I did something similar when I was starting out 6 years ago at an event I spoke it.

You might think you can’t do this because you never speak at events – but the reality is that 6 years ago I didn’t get invited to speak at places either – so I volunteered to speak at a local community event. Here’s the story I shared in Third Tribe about it.

I think too many people forget about ‘offline’ as a way of growing their online. I’m a big believer in leveraging current networks and opportunities, whether they be online or offline.

For me when I was just starting out I did something similar – I did a free workshop at a local library on how to use a digital camera. The library did free workshops run by local people every Thursday night so I volunteered.

At the end of the session I had arranged for the library to have one of their computers online and available and had a place where people could leave their email address to be contacted with more tips/updates.

There was no mailchimp app back then but it worked a treat and I had 20 out of 30 people sign up. To this day 3 of them still contact me from time to time to say hi and to let me know that they still subscribe to my newer photography blog 6 years later!

Keep in mind – this was 6 years ago when my first photography blog was in its infancy – 20 new readers might not sound like a lot but when you’re in the early days they’re invaluable (from memory I only had 100 or so people reading the blog at the time so it was a 20% increase) as they each have their own network and over the years that follow could bring along hundreds of others (not to mention all the pages they might view over the coming years).

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. Josh Garcia says:

    Hey Darren,

    That is so true, can’t forget that we can build our business offline. I’m constantly promoting my blog and services at local business events. It’s powerful because you are there face to face and builds instant trust.

    Have a great weekend…
    Josh

  2. Darren, this is a fantastic tip and I see the importance of networking off line. There are a couple of different venues that have a sign up for volunteers.

    You can bet I will be signing up for them today.

    Enjoy your weekend!

    Steve

  3. Casey Head says:

    This is key! Especially when you’re an authority blogger like Darren, there is no better opportunity to prove your knowledge to someone than in a one on one or small group setting.

    In my field of political activism, ability to network with other people and get them engaged is the primary deciding factor for success. It is so common to exchange business cards and contact information while discussing an issue, that when I get someone’s contact information, I immediately follow up with “Can I add you to my mailing list?”

    There person almost always says “Sure.”

  4. Anterpreet says:

    Ya right, we can’t forget our real life friend networks. They can help us a lot

  5. This is even true for niche blogs that don’t cater to a business audience. I’ve got a gaming blog, and use get together events to connect with my readers and meet new prospects!

  6. I’m not sure my country Singapore had this sort of event where you can volunteered to speak. I’m also afraid that some people might not be able to accept what I had spoken, although he or she had a choice of whether or not he or she accept what I had said.
    It’s kind the hard to find, but I will do as you suggest and go out to my community center to see, if there’s a chance of this sort of event.

  7. David says:

    100-1,000,000!…

    :]

  8. Rebecca says:

    This is a great point. I often preach “relationship marketing” as a way to make connections, and the best way to forge a new relationship is actually in person, with a handshake. I spend so much of my time sitting looking at a computer that I often forget human interaction would be just as effective as retweeting an interesting article. Thanks for the reminder.

  9. One thing I’ve done with great success is to print out copies of some of the more relevant blog posts in my archive to speaking engagements. I put them into a big 9×11 envelope (I don’t bind them together because this impedes copying and further distribution) along with a postcard containing a call-to-action (sometimes it’s an ebook offer, other times just an enticement to subscribe to the blog).

    At the end of the talk I tell people that there are additional articles and resources available, but that I’ve got only X number left. This real scarcity effect works to get the articles into the hands of participants.

    There is a blurring of the online/offline boundary. Each day that boundary becomes fuzzier.

  10. Steve says:

    Every way possible should be used to grow your mailing list. Particularly in the early days. a 20% increase (even if it is only 20 people) is always a great gain.

    Not to mention the loyalty factor. People you meet in person are much more likely to be extremely loyal. As you mentiones a few even contact you 6 years later!

  11. Treacle says:

    This is where I want to go with my blog next…offline events and interacting with people in meatspace.

    BlogHer and CurveNY (a lingerie tradeshow) were my first steps in doing that. Now I’d like to see about presenting at a small conference or doing some local events in my area to keep the momentum.

  12. Darren,

    You are so right. Sometimes we all try to beat each other up over the same readership, when there is an entirely different pond of people out there, just waiting to see the value in what you have to offer.

    There are many other ways to get offline subscirbers as well, through your business cards, faxes, contact brochures, even your voicemail could include a pitch to have people sign up for your email list.

    I still remember the first person that signed up to my list 3 years ago, someone from the UK. I was so happy, because I had an “international” following, since I am in the U.S.

    Even today, I still write my daily posts picturing that I am talking to just that one person, trying to give him the best content possible so he doesn’t hit the dreaded “unscubscribe” button.

    I guess it worked, because he’s still on my list, just like your first customers. You can’t create a list of 10,000 customers without getting that first one, or the first 100.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Milionaire

  13. Building a relationship with our readers is so important. We are fortunate to have a real studio for local readers to drop in and chat with us about fine art printmaking and up-coming projects—this is our favourite part of what we do.

    For years we have offered offline seminars and events, and making that personal contact has been a real strong hold for our business. We always collected email address (the old fashion way in a book or business cards) and this really helped get our reader numbers up when we launched our weblog.

    It’s easy to get wrapped up in online marketing, so thanks for the reminder that we should commit to some studio tours and educational events this fall!!

    Always a great post. Thanks Darren!

  14. Eric says:

    I don’t go many places myself though I agree with Joshua there, so many ways you can build up your list using offline methods.

    Your phone is one that could be used very well if you don’t have business cards.

    You can also bring up your blog in conversations that are leading in that direction with certain people.

    I actually am a regular player in the web based game Cashflow and talked with someone on there and made a connection and now that person is on my list as well.

    It also helps to offer something of great value because no one is just going to sign up for no reason at all.

  15. Max says:

    I didn’t even think about it… To build your list offline… That is so fantastic. I always go to events and there is so many people, all are interested in making money. So it’s gonna be next what I’ll do. Will get as many as possible people to opt in. I just got an Idea how to do it. Let’s say when i attend a network marketers meeting I could easily do few hundreds brochures with my free e-book cover photo and content on it saying something like: Get free report now on how to achieve your success in network marketing. Or something like that…
    This is a fantastic way to get people in to your list why you are not even online.

    Thanks for post!

    Max Smith

  16. Hey Darren,

    Thanks for linking back! Besides the large number of new subscribers on the list, I discovered another advantage of using offline events to grow my readership: the quality of the new subscribers is really high.

    I spoke most of the new subscribers personally, so I got a chance to really make a connection. This will hopefully prove valuable in the future.

    I can imagine you experienced this too?

  17. psychicjim says:

    I love this! Small beginnings lead to great online success. A valuable lesson for us all. Thank you.

  18. Sarah Arrow says:

    I was fascinated by this story when I read it in 3T. I can visualise a trillion uses for it, I now just have to stop blogging and start getting out.

    It is good to hear how some of the people from the original meeting are still in touch today.

  19. Mike says:

    offline event marketing is a good but a bit extra solution for bloggers to gain attention

  20. Hi Darren,
    I am a newcomer to the world of blogging having been a professional speaker for over ten years and then I moved overseas so I started blogging to keep in touch with clients and offer a new level of value.

    In my personal experience when I have presented a presentation as part of my personal development program http://www.TheWonderTechnique I get feedback from participants and since I am a bit of a stats lover I know I get about seventy percent of the audience signing up for my newsletter. This is indeed a high response and it is based on over 100 presentations. I believe this is because of the personal impact that occurs during a seminar. I don’t have seventy percent of my blog visitors signing up for my ezine but seminar attendees have in many cases been readers for years.

    If you don’t mind the business plug I have just stated a website on which I am sharing ideas about how to grow your business. One of my main focuses will be how to successfully host presentations to gain a following. If you want to share this link with your readers the new site is http://www.GrowYourWellnessBiz.com I am focusing on wellness business owners but the information is valid for all business owners.

    Thanks for continuing to write a great blog and I too years ago starting out volunteering to offer seminars at libraries!

    Continued Success to you and to all your readers,
    David

  21. jason says:

    Offline marketing is a great dynamic for a blog, and it demonstrates that we truly must use all of the weapons at our disposal.

  22. Wayne Tarken says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I use live, in-person events to develop content for my online sites. I videotape the proceedings and the interaction makes for some great content. It makes very engaging information for my intended audience

  23. Aaahhh those old days when you always thinking about to increase your readership … want to add wings to your blog …

    Love to plan.

  24. Darren,

    Come to think of it, many brick and mortar business have online site to help and it sure can work the other way around. Offline events and places to help your online site and business. Marketing never rests!

    I have to check out this mailchimp email app soon.

  25. Joshua Noerr says:

    I am a member of toastmasters and have built relationships, and blog readers, through my work with that organization. Great tip Darren.

    It’s important that we realize that our readers are not a number, but real people who are looking for value, and offline events can make it all the more real.

  26. Eddie Gear says:

    This is interesting. I think I need to come up with some ideas to increase readership.

  27. Colleeng says:

    I think this is a bit more of a challenge for someone like me. I write a review blog of movies, TV and books. This would make it opinion based, so I don’t think there’s a class I could offer to teach. I did try to take an offline approach and design book markers for my site. I left them in coffee shops and bookstores, but they didn’t seem to bring in any traffic.

  28. I have a website for moms and we always bring a giveaway with us when we attend events (last week we had booths at two teacher fairs). When women sign up for the giveaway with their name and email, we add them to our database. That way they’ll be on our list when we send out info about the next online giveaway we host.

    We’ve also hosted girls’ nights out before and linked these in-person events to a charity. We trade for the venue and food, bring in our loyal readers and have a great night together while helping a local charity (our last one benefited a group called Saving Grace which helps girls who are aging out of the foster care system).

    We LOVE our offline events and they have been a great way to let more moms know more about us. I’ve met some fabulous new women this way and many have become real-life friends.

    SM

  29. Barbara says:

    I have business cards for my blog and I give them to everyone I meet. There are a lot of people outside the blogging world that enjoy reading a good story, or informative blog, without personally having their own blog.
    Thanks Darren!

  30. I love this! Small beginnings lead to great online success. A valuable lesson for us all. Thank you.

  31. ListenToLeon says:

    I’m actually hosting a blogger happy hour in DC on Thursday, so this post was right on time! I need to get someone to collect email addresses. The last time I did one of these, I didn’t even think to do that. I just made people laugh, then passed out cards & crude flyers for my humor site.

    I won’t overlook the opportunity to actually collect info this time, instead of relying on people remembering my blog and coming to me.

  32. First you should consider volunteering to speak as a way to grow your readership and build authority. Later the invitations to speak and get paid for it will come, giving you a chance to sell books or courses etc.

    To the Singapore person – yes there are chances to speak in Singapore. In fact, the island is small enough and densely populated you could make a lot of good contacts. Good luck.

  33. Krystle says:

    You’re right. Bloggers often face their computers 24/7 and forget that the “outside” world also offers a lot of opportunities for them to gain more audience.

    Great article. Thanks for sharing your experience!

  34. Preeti says:

    Yea, off page matters. I am all agree with you Darren. Social networking is very smart and strong tool to get desired and explore the world community.

  35. Carolee says:

    I teach journal writing classes at a local adult ed center. I always share what I do online.

    I am now friends with many of them on facebook, and one even started a blog!

    They all said they would take a class on blogging. The center isn’t too sure because they have Internet restrictions. They teach building webpages, so why not blogging?

  36. I have definitely found so far that meeting others at jazz clubs and festivals has been a great way of growing the blog. I’ve found people I meet are more likely to make comments as well.

  37. Growing your audience offline is certainly interesting and I don’t hear it discussed that often. It really is something to think about.

    Very nifty idea collecting email addresses at a free workshop!

  38. Its great! The readership is most important for your comments. Its very helpful for me. offline events such a great idea.
    http://smallbusinessbible.org/

  39. nice, simple, effective thoughts. After I started my LinkedIn group and then website the next obvious step was to host offline events to enable people to meet others with similar interests.

    A good way is to collaborate with someone who has a big following in your sector. I did this with Lewis Howes and have 2 Sports Networking events with him in London.

    Events get the name out there and offer more to people than just reading your blog posts. I love running events (have done for 8 years+) and running the networking events and Social Media & Sport Summits has been great fun and expanded my network + reach.

  40. People are so wrapped up in online marketing that they have forgotten how to socially network offline. It amazes me how many people go to trade shows and conferences only to stick to themselves. Good post, very true.

  41. nick says:

    Great article. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    There are many other ways to get offline subscirbers as well, through your business cards, faxes, contact brochures, even your voicemail could include a pitch to have people sign up for your email list. At last love this blog small beginning and at the end give the information…

  42. John says:

    Nice tip but have a question : Is it a new trend in this business to attract offline customers.

  43. indeed offline events are a great opportunity to get people interested and get people’s attention in your online business\blog or website, but there are some additions you can use to give you the edge in case you have competition.

  44. Using offline means to grow our blogs is something that more of us should use. Even if you’re only promoting your blog by talking to people, by consistently talking to people about things in your niche, you can show them that you’re passionate about the topics that you cover, they’ll be more likely to visit your site.

    Not only that, but they’ll be more likely to become loyal readers as you’ve actually interacted with them outside of the blogosphere too.

  45. And I think it’s mean to invest some money on some offline events. Just put the subscription box at the end of the flyers, haha I’m just kidding.