The first time one of my favorite bloggers responded to a comment I wrote, it changed everything.
It may sound juvenile, but it was the first time I realized that online writing– just like print writing– is a deeply human pursuit. Behind our screens and perfect snapshots, these articles can feel a bit distant, cold. Their polish and perfection is at times too intimidating to approach as one of many readers.
I could go on about how blogs capture only a sliver of one’s life, or how writing, like art, is a reimagining of reality that strikes at the core. We all know that books, blogs and articles are not their creators’ whole self, only a part.
So, given the authority that we ascribe to the written word, we can forget that there’s an interactive aspect to online writing that is wildly precious. We can interact with that writing in very real ways: and provide an opportunity for the writer to interact with us.
What am I getting at here? Simply put, connecting with your favorite bloggers and writers is not only a real possibility, but an opportunity you should seriously consider.
Awhile ago, I explored why you should comment on blogs— whether you’re a blogger or not. I’d like to push those points again, and you can read it if you haven’t yet, and emphasize that this is NOT about building your blog. This is about developing a real connection with the person behind the words you read and love. Because, why not?
My biggest realization in one year of blogging
That’s right– I’m coming up on renewing simplicityrelished.com as a domain, which means a year has gone by since I switched to WordPress.org and started blogging consistently.
And what have I learned? Well, a lot of things: I’ve learned about what it means to create useful, relevant content; how to grow a platform; what the heck SEO is; the truth about marketing and selling; and how to be patient and flexible with my work.
But most importantly, I’ve learned to connect with strangers through similar interests and similar dreams. This may sound trite, but the blogging world brings together people who live far away from each other and would never otherwise cross paths.
What a reward it’s been– to receive snail mail from a blogger I admire, to chat on the phone with a blog friend, or to meet in person over coffee and encourage each other’s work.
So today I want to encourage you– whether you’re a blogger or not– to actively engage with the writers and bloggers you love. And if you happen to be a writer, it can only help you grow and improve your own work, and perhaps feel encouraged along the way.
6 Ways to Personally Connect with Bloggers and Writers
1) Subscribe to their periodical newsletter (here’s mine).
I’m really protective of my inbox (remember how I told you to delete promo emails?), but I like receiving newsletters from writers I enjoy. There’s usually an extra personal touch to these mailings that I just don’t get on their blog. The glimpse into their projects or personal lives is a privilege I enjoy, and sometimes they’ll even mention where they’ll be available for chatting or questions.
Shameless plug: I’m starting a weekly newsletter!! You can sign up using the link above, or there’s a form down below too. I plan on sending weekly encouragement, personal reflections, pretty snapshots, and other blog-related goodness. Sign up so we can stay in touch beyond this blog!
2) Ask them an on-topic question.
It’s one thing to send people “fan mail,” and another to really engage with their ideas with a thoughtful question. They’re more likely to respond to the latter– perhaps they’ll even answer it with a post or a video.
I’ve done this in the past, and you can write a respectful and casual email titled “Quick question from a reader.” This is effective, because if they’re serious about writing, they want to know what their audience is curious about.
For bloggers who are maybe less busy, this can be the beginning of a friendship! My emails with blogging friends have turned into phone calls, handwritten notes, and coffee dates. It’s been nothing but fruitful and fabulous.
3) Engage (thoughtfully) on social media.
My favorite platforms for interacting with bloggers are Twitter and Instagram. I’ve found that popular bloggers who are pretty busy– and don’t always respond to blog comments– will sometimes tweet back if I mention their posts. Other times, they’re the ones asking a question, and I’ll respond.
Social media is not the space to be self-promotional towards other bloggers– big or small– but to foster interaction outside of the blog page. So go ahead and try following their account on your platform of choice, and check it often. They might just respond to you!
4) Sponsor or guest post on their blogs.
This is for us who are bloggers and writers. The best way to get to know your favorite blog better is to ask if you can support their endeavor. Some bloggers offer sponsorships, which usually include a sidebar ad, social media promotions, and other blog-growing perks.
I’ve learned so much from sponsorships; I wish more bloggers offered them. The opportunity to interact with another writer and her readers is precious!
If you can also guest post for that blogger, even better! This will allow you to discuss your content with her, which often leads to conversations about other things.
One more shameless plug: I’m offering sponsorships on Simplicity Relished now! If you’re a blogger and are ready to grow your blog, check out the options on my sponsorship page!
5) Ask for their feedback.
Again, this is something to do carefully and purposefully. Writers and bloggers love to hear that they’ve encouraged someone else to produce great work. It’s always worth sharing your work with them.
Personal story: A while back I wrote a post on why I shrank my closet. I felt pretty happy with it, so I sent it along to one of my favorite minimalist bloggers. I wanted him to know that he inspired me to think about simplicity in creative ways, and to show him the fruit of his effort.
Not only did he respond quickly with kind words, but he actually tweeted it! I was elated.
— Joshua Becker (@joshua_becker) July 20, 2015
6) Be persistent but respectful.
Can’t seem to get a response to your emails? Sometimes people are just too busy (or they’re not great with communication). Don’t take it personally; simply allow some time to go by before you try again.
Here’s what I’ve learned about most hard-to-reach people: they admire someone who can be respectful and persistent at the same time.
During my years in college, I had to chase a lot of coattails, some belonging to less-than-humble scholars. But I continued, kept an open mind, and remained humble and respectful. And a lot of doors opened because I didn’t give up.
How to get more out of Simplicity Relished
If you’re a regular reader here, I hope you know that I am so grateful for you. I’ll be putting out a reader survey some time in the near future, to get your thoughts on the work I’m doing here.
Until then, I do hope you’ll sign up for my weekly newsletter. I’ll be sharing more personal updates there, as well as anything that you might find encouraging or inspiring. Think of it as a free boost to look forward to at the end of your week!
And, as you’ve probably noticed, I’ve started selling ads for other bloggers here (check out the awesome ladies on my sidebar!). This doesn’t change anything about the content I post during the week, but it does mean that I will be seeking to support my sponsors in any way that I can. I hope you enjoy reading their stories and reflections too. After all, we’re all here to inspire and encourage each other.