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How Blogging Changed One Woman’s Life (and Mine, Too)

This is a guest post from Jeff Goins from goinswriter.com.

Years ago, I blogged about a woman who was going to be evicted from her apartment. I met her while I was volunteering with a local charity one random Saturday afternoon.

Her name was Pat, and she spoke with a thick Bostonian accent and had a strong smoker’s cough. Her apartment was covered in newspapers, and she had a couple of dogs whom she loved dearly.

Pat told me if she didn’t pay her rent in a week, she’d lose her apartment and end up back on the streets. Apparently, she had been homeless before.

I didn’t know what to do. She needed more money than I had, but I got the sense that she was telling the truth. So I turned to my blog.

I only had about 100 subscribers at the time, but I told Pat’s story in a post, asking friends and strangers to consider chipping in whatever they could.

Within 24 hours, we had the money: something to the tune of $500. By the end of the week, it was closer to $1000. That’s not a ton of money to some people, but it was a matter of survival—of life and death—for Pat.

That was the first time I saw the true power of blogging: not only to get a message out there, but to truly change lives. Looking back years later, I can now see the application to online business.

Here are three important lessons we can learn from this story.

People want to help other people

What does this have to do with you? Well, if you help others, they will want to help you.

This is called “reciprocity” and is an important key to online business and community-building.

If you do good, good will come your way.

It only takes a tribe to make a difference

Do you think you don’t have enough fans or followers to make a real impact? Try again.

There were only bout 20 or 30 people who gave a donation to my “Pat fund,” but it was enough for her.

If you have a message to spread (or a product to sell), you might be surprised by how few it actually takes to get the word out (and to make a living).

As an example, I’ve noticed that a small percentage of my readers actually buy my products, but those that do are dedicated fans. So whether it’s $4.99, or $499, they’re interested.

Tell a story people can participate in

What made this giving opportunity so attractive was that people could take action and see immediate results. They got to be a part of the story.

And this is worth way more than a mere “return on investment.” They were given the gift of significance.

I saw the same thing with a recent book launch where I encouraged people to submit their stories. In a few days, I had upwards of 100 entries. Just think how much more vested in the project those people will be once it releases.

The next time you launch something, consider how you can empower people to tell their stories and be part of a larger one worth telling. Jeremy Statton explained how he uses this technique to create engaging contests in a recent post here on ProBlogger.

So, tell me: how has blogging changed your life? Share your story in the comments.

Jeff Goins is a writer who lives in Nashville. You can follow him on his blog or on Twitter @jeffgoins. His new book, Wrecked, just came out. This week only, you can get the eBook on Amazon for only $0.99.

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Comments

  1. Aqif Azizan says:

    Couldn’t agree more about the law of reciprocity. The more you give the more you get.

    Thank you Jeff Goins for writing an absolutely awesome post. :)

  2. Hey, Jeff! I just got e-mailed about when I’ll receive your book from Amazon. It’ll be another week or two, but I’m waiting for it.

    By the way, how’s Pat doing right now?

  3. This is an amazing story. I’ve seen the same thing happen when it comes to dog rescue. There’s a woman in California who has found many death row dogs a home all around the country by using social networking. It’s amazingly powerful and effective.

    Kimberly

  4. Blogging has changed my life in so many ways. 15 months ago I had no self worth, no confidence and was struggling with the diagnosis of Bipolar. In the past 12 months the little blog I started to vent and rant on has turned into a lifeline for many. I now have a future, I have made friends and most importantly I have learned that not everybody out there judges you.

    My blog and story is being featured in The Sun newspaper mag in the coming weeks, who would have thought it! Someone so weak and afraid now is the confident voice that speaks out for others.

  5. I kind of just started blogging. At least, getting involved the personal finance blogs. One of the things I enjoy about blogging is reading other blogs and learning from them. It truly is a “community” and network. I hope to accomplish something similar with my blog as I look to put on a women’s conference in Atlanta 2nd quarter next year.

    This was an amazing story.

  6. David says:

    Nice Article For A New Blogger

    THANKS
    David

  7. Andee Z says:

    This is awesome. And exactly the reason I started blogging. I didn’t want to be one of “those people” who complains about the state of the world without doing something about it. So I started doing something. And blogging about it. And now other people want to do something, too. Kinda cool how that’s working.

  8. Hi Jeff,

    Build a tribe. Blog. Change your life. Amazing what the power of a crowd united behind 1 purpose can achieve. Power tips here.

    Thanks Jeff!

    Ryan

  9. Ava says:

    Reciprocity is so important. I believe that people really do want to help each other out and make a difference.

    Thanks for the great post!

  10. Ayaz says:

    Hey Jeff!

    Well, great said that do good and you will get back as good things you and I am totally agree with you on the point as social media channel are working as same manner as you doing goods to other people face to face.

    Thanks for sharing nice information :)

  11. Johanna says:

    An inspiring post as always, Thanks Jeff! Helping others is definitely what blogging is all about, and the power of reciprocity is so strong. When I got married many moons ago, the Rector asked my young self and my hubby to be – “Now, what do you think is the basis of a successful marriage?” We both looked at one another, shrugged, and said almost simultaneously, “Give and Take.” And the Vicar replied, “No. You need to give and you give and you give and you give. Then you may receive.” I’m beginning to wonder if he was one of the first ever bloggers!

  12. MJ Monaghan says:

    As a regular subscriber of your newsletter, Jeff, it’s great to see you over on PB as well.

    Truly, what goes around comes around, karma, or what you give comes back ten-fold is as true in the blogging world as it is in real-life. And in so many situations, the blogging world IS real-life. Your situation with Pat is a perfect example.

  13. Jon Stolpe says:

    I just returned from a missions trip to Guatemala that changed my life. My blog was a huge part of making this happen. My “tribe” paid for my trip to Guatemala as well as the $8,000 required to fund the materials necessary to build a house for a family in Xenacoj, Guatemala. It was life changing for this family, for our team, and for me!

  14. Ehsan Ullah says:

    Hey Jeff,

    This is really a great message you’ve given to us here. If we help others, we’ll be helped from others. This is the way everyone should live their life. What I want to say is that you did a great work by helping that women.

    I’ll grab your new book soon.

  15. Dalia Kinsey says:

    The research that I do for blog posts entirely changed my way of looking at food. I don’t believe that I would have been able to firmly decide to transition to veganism had it not been for my blog.

  16. This is an excellent post! I am always for helping others. My mom has got on me for helping somebody that has asked for help, she said they look like a crackhead (not very kind of her) but I still helped them because like I told her – it is not my concern what they do with the help I give them; however, I know that they need my help and that is what makes God happy – so I will help them if I can. I pray that others will help me in a time of need. Love your post! Keep helping others.

  17. Jeff, I’m one of your tribe! I kind of feel like a stalker. Haha. Blogging has definitely changed my life! I originally started blogging as a way of free therapy, because I was having a really hard time adjusting to my husband’s disability (he’s paralyzed from the chest down) and the contrast of being a caregiver who cried all the time and a happily married newlywed who was also living her dream job of covering the White House. Crazy times! The way it changed my life was I went from feeling alone – to pouring my experiences out onto the blog – now I have a whole network (tribe, if you will) of other wives of guys in wheelchairs across the country who totally get it. Now, every time I travel for work, I have dinner with a friend I’ve met through the blog. I am far from being alone with all of this now! Next up: A book. I am completely overwhelmed, but at peace and I’m really excited about this journey. Thank YOU for all of your help along the way!

  18. I love to give, not for what I can get back, but simply because I love to help people. I’ve always been this way since I can remember. I’m not going to lie, I’ve been taken advantage of and used more times than I care to count. But even still, I’d rather be me than them any day. For it is far better to give than to receive. Thanks for another awesome post Jeff. Hey did I ever mention that you rock!!

  19. Lynne Hartke says:

    This summer I spent a day with my aunt, not knowing it would be her last day on this earth. I blogged about it, as part of my own processing of grief, not knowing that it would bring comfort to my aunt’s children and would be read at her funeral. The link for that story:

    http://www.lynnehartke.com/2012/06/we-didnt-know.html

  20. Raj Khera says:

    That’s a powerful story about how blogging impacts the world. Last fall, I was invited to be a commencement speaker at the University of Maryland. I posted my speech on my blog to share with friends and others, http://creating-luck.com/2011/12/22/graduation-speech-university-of-maryland/.

    Within a few days, I got a comment from a reader in Zambia who said they rarely get access to speeches with real-world experience and wanted to print copies of my speech for their grads to take. I was more than happy to share and it was warming to see that it made a difference to people thousands of miles away. Regardless of how many subscribers one has, touching one person can make a big difference.

  21. Eric Luson says:

    Blogging can really make a difference, and I hope Pat got back on track. Incredible what we can do for each other in difficult times and I hope more people can show solidarity.

    Thanks for a great story.

  22. ayesha says:

    Interesting and inspiring story!

  23. Abdul-Salam says:

    Hi Jeff,

    Nice story and good write-up.

    Blogging has changed my life tremendously. It rotates me between writing to reading and vice versa.

    The most rewarding part of blogging, to me at least, is when someone approaches you, out of the blue, when you are down, to say “Thank you, man, for your “so” and “so” article which changed my life”, or “which I’ve benefited from.”

    Imagine how one gets motivated promptly to continue blogging.

    Thanks again, for this beautiful posting.

  24. Amy Fowler says:

    A lovely story indeed, but I can’t help wonder what would have happened the next time her rent was due? Would you have repeated the process yet again, or would she have ended up in the street, only a month later?

    It reminds me of the ‘give a man a fish and he can eat for a day’ story – surely this woman needed more than money, she needed help finding a regular source of income, or even, help finding somewhere cheaper to live. Although all I know is what’s printed here, I can’t see how raising the money to pay a month’s rent would have helped at all in the long term….

    • Jeff Goins says:

      Amy, great question. It raises a more important issue: was what we were doing sustainable? Absolutely not.

      It was a messy story with a messy ending. I was young and inexperienced; all I knew was here was a woman who was DAYS away from being kicked to the curb. I didn’t have time to teach her about sustainable living.

      She had just gotten cancer, lost her job, and was about to be evicted. In that moment, all I knew was here was another human being who needed help.

      Was I really supposed to say no to her?

      I did, in fact, but then brought the need to my readers. And when people started chipping in, I was stunned.

      The next month, she DID need rent money, but by that time, public aid had started to kick in, and we were talking about other options to support her.

      By no means is this the perfect picture of providing aid for someone (that wasn’t the intent), but it was an interesting picture of how online communities can be used for offline good.

  25. Jessica says:

    Excellent post, This story inspire me alot !