A set-up to this video, if you aren’t a major geek like me: The Guild is a web series about a group of socially-awkward people who play a role-playing game together online. It tells the story of how they went from being online-only friends to friends in real life.
I have a point to make here, I promise, though it’s always a good day when I can write a post that references one of the totally geeky things I love, like The Guild.
The whole show centers around how weird it is to take online relationships to the real world. It’s something that’s definitely a concern for bloggers, just like it was a concern for the online gamers in this show. You might love to “date” my avatar, but will you love me in real life too? That is, you may love the blogger personality on my website, but the real me is…complicated.
And that’s true of anyone, no matter how “real” you are with your readers. Someone who visits your blog only gets to see a certain side of you. You could be the most open and honest blogger in the world, but until you have face-to-face interaction with readers, they’re only dating your avatar.
While you can be a very successful blogger with just an avatar connection to readers, what I want you to take away from this post is the fact that you’re going to make a much, much stronger connection to people if you get out there and do some face-to-face networking. If BlogWorld isn’t a possibility for you this year, start small with local business groups or smaller events that are in your budget. Just get out there and meet people in any way you can!
A great way to transition into this is to do some consulting or webinars with your readers. You’re still behind a computer screen, but you’re actually talking to people, so it feels more “real life.” The goal here is to get people to know you. I always feel more connected to people who have offered webinars in the past. They’re just more real to me. Videos do the same thing, so if you’re comfortable talking to your webcam, do some recordings instead of only posting text.
The line from that video that I think is most important is:
If you think that I’m not the one, log off, log off, and we’ll be done.
That’s exactly what happens when you’re nothing more than an avatar to people. With no real-world connection, it’s harder for someone to remember you. It’s pretty easy for me to say, “Meh, I don’t have time to read Blog X today, so I’ll just skip it. Maybe tomorrow.” When I feel like I know the person though, either through a real-life connection or through their videos and webinars, I feel…well, almost obligated to support them through reading their blog posts or buying their products. I’m in their circle of friends.
That’s how you want you readers to feel – like they’re in your circle of friends. It’s impossible to have a deep personal connection with every single reader, but do what you can to be approachable and available in real life. Sure, I’ll date your avatar…but I want a long-term commitment with someone real, not a figurehead.