Have you ever experienced being very connected to a blogger?
For me, there’s been several times over the years where it’s felt like a blogger is talking directly to me through their writing and/or podcasting. Some content creators just seem to have that sense of who is on the other side of their content and the ability to draw their reader/listener/viewer into (almost) a conversation in the way that they communicate.
A personal example of this is a podcaster called Rob Bell, who every time I listen to him, it feels like he is directly talking to me. This is probably because he has a similar background to me and he’s talking on topics that I’m interested in but it’s also in his personal and engaging delivery.
Whether or not you have ever had this experience, I think it’s really interesting and important to examine what these content creators do to create this connection to them. Certainly some people have a natural ability for creating this personal connection. But for the rest of us, I think there’s some learnings that we can adapt and use ourselves to create a more personal experience for your blog’s audience.
What I want to share in this article is 11 tips for creating that personal connection, techniques that I’ve observed from other content creators and things I’ve tried myself and have worked with my audience.
1. Tell Personal Stories
Storytelling is a very engaging technique – people love stories and the more you can tell your own stories the more relatable you will become. The stories you tell don’t have to be very personal heartfelt stories (although they can be), but any story that shows you’ve had some experience with the topic you’re talking about creates a powerful, relatable connection in your reader.
Here’s 14 types of stories you can tell on your blog.
2. Write Like You Speak
Everyone’s style of writing is going to be a little different, but for me, I find that when I write in a conversational style I am a much better communicator. If you’ve heard me present at a conference or listened to my podcast, you’ll know that I speak in a very conversational tone. And I’ve found that when I use this style of writing I get a lot more feedback – blog comments and emails from my readers – than when I have adopted a more formal, authoritative “professor”-like tone.
For more about how to write like a human, listen to this interview I did with Beth Dunn.
3. Use Personal Language
This is just a little tweak to the way you write that makes a big difference to how it’s received by your reader. Anytime you can use the word “you” in your writing or presentations is a very powerful thing. For example, the title of this blog post is “11 Tips to Create a Personal Connection with Your Audience” rather than (the depersonalised) “…. an audience…”. This tweak immediately makes your reader think about their own experience and makes it personal rather than theoretical. As soon as you start addressing your reader personally, they start applying what you’re saying to them and their own situation and making it specific and particular.
4. Picture Your Reader
When you start picturing your reader/listener/viewer rather than just typing words on your computer, speaking into your microphone or presenting to camera, you will immediately personalize your message, delivery and style. A very useful technique to bring your reader alive is to create a reader avatar and then have that avatar present in front of you when you create content for them.
Here’s How to create a Reader Avatar for Your Blog
5. Address Real Reader Needs
One of the things you will identify as part of creating your reader avatar is what their needs are. Of course you can draw upon your own experiences, issues and problems with your topic, but you should also be asking your readers questions to find out what issues they have. You could set up a survey (if you have a big enough audience), ask questions on your blog, on your email list or via social media to find out what your readers’ needs, challenges, dreams, motivations are. The more you understand what your readers need, the more you will know who they are (and they will know that you know) and the more you’ll be able to address their specific issues.
6. Write About Your Readers Feelings, Fears and Dreams
When you get feedback from your readers on what their needs are, you will get ideas for topics to address but just as (if not more) importantly, you will also get a feel for what they’re feeling. You may need to read between the lines of your audience’s responses.
For example I asked my audience in relation to blogging:
- What’s your biggest dream?
- What’s your biggest challenge?
I put all their responses into two word clouds (one for “Dreams”, one for “Challenges”) to identify what themes were coming out. Yes, there were topics like “Traffic”, “Content”, “SEO” but there were also feelings like “Fear”, “Afraid”, “Scared” that were shared in the context of the topic: eg “I’m scared of SEO”. By unearthing these feelings I was able to write with more empathy and weave into my content an emotional connection with my audience.
An example of content I produced as a result of this was a podcast episode about Dealing with Imposter Syndrome.
7. Go Off-Topic from Time to Time
On my two main blogs ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, I rarely go off-topic, but if you look at my Instagram or Twitter account, also on my Podcast and my newsletter, you’ll see that I go off-topic and include more personal mentions of other things besides blogging and photography. These off-topic mentions can create more resonance and relatability with your audience.
8. Use Multi-Media
Use different types of media to humanize yourself. If you’re just writing you can write in a personal tone; but if you add a photo of yourself your audience can see your face; when you use audio they can hear your voice; video animates you as a person and people can see your body language, pick up on your energy, enthusiasm, your sense of humor… and live-video can ramp up the things by adding audience interaction and engagement as well. Granted, all these things aren’t for everyone (some of these things are scary for people to do) but anything you can do to personalize your message is going to help.
Here’s what happened when my wife, who started blogging anonymously, began to share more of herself with her audience: How Posting a Humble Selfie Grew Traffic, Shares and Comments on a New Blog.
9. Attend Events
One of the most powerful things I did in the early days of my blogging was to attend events that were relevant to the topics of my blog. This may require some time and investment if you’re attending in-person events, but there are also many online meet-ups and events these days. Attending relevant events and interacting with people will help you understand your readers’ needs and how they might be feeling. Even if you don’t meet any of your actual readers, you will be meeting people like them and this will tell you a lot and help you to create more personal content.
10. Work on Interaction
A reader once told me at an event that she had been reading the ProBlogger Blog for many years but never felt any personal connection. It was only when she joined the ProBlogger Community Facebook Group and left her first comment that the blog really came alive to her and felt a more personal connection to me because she did something. A lot of your readers will be very passive – they’ll read/listen/watch your content but not say anything.
Anytime you can get people to: like something; leave a comment; join a group; send you an email; subscribe; vote in a poll… it gets them a little bit more engaged and to put themselves out there and as a result it becomes a more personal experience for them and they become more connected to you. So call people to action! And when they do interact with you, it’s really important you acknowledge their interaction and respond to them. Even if you interact with a small group of your audience, other people in your audience will see that and feel included too.
11. Create Content from the Heart
One of the best things you can do in creating content is to allow yourself to feel something about what you’re writing or talking about. Writing about topics that interest you is one thing, but writing about subjects that you feel something about takes them to a whole different level. Not every post you produce needs to be an emotional, from-the-heart piece. But do allow yourself from time-to-time to tap into your emotions – whether it’s an angry rant, a sad or uplifting story. Allow yourself to feel something and to express this emotion and you will create a deeper connection with your readers.
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.” – Robert Frost
One example of my own content that went there was when I talked about the humiliating wake up call that changed my life and my blog. It came from the heart and I got so much response from that.
If you’re not willing to be personal with your readers, they won’t be personal with you. They take your lead. It’s so important to model what you want from your readers and for you to create the personal experience and connection with your audience that they are looking for from you.
Now, it’s your turn… Tell me what you think. Have you seen examples of bloggers creating a personal experience with their audience? Have you tried any of these techniques (or others) yourself? What happened?
Creating more personal connection is one way to build community with your audience. For more ways to go beyond engagement and unlock the power of community ProBlogger’s Build Community Course will help you transform your casual group of readers into a mob of raving fans.