The great thing about blogging is connecting to other bloggers and building relationships. What about extending these relationships and meeting your fellow bloggers… offline.
There a lot of web services or online communities such as MyBlogLog or Blog Catalog that will help you connect to your fellow bloggers and blog readers. While this is an effective way of connecting to other bloggers we often tend to forget that we can meet people offline as well. Meeting your fellow bloggers can be interesting for various social and professional reasons.
Cory Doctorow revealed that the editors from Boing Boing never met once in the first six years of their existence. I have never met my fellow Blog Herald contributors either but we connect through commenting. Meeting your fellow bloggers or commenters offline is not necessary for maintaining relationships but it can be fun and interesting.
Where to meet your fellow bloggers? Popular places to meet your fellow bloggers are at social media or blogging conferences, WordCamp or local blogging meetups. I recently met Holland’s most famous female blogger at a discussion panel we were both invited to. Even though I don’t read her blog and she doesn’t read my blog we had a great chat about blogging and our blogging experiences. It was great to talk to her about how she started blogging and how her blog became so popular that she was asked to write a novel by three different publishers!
Yesterday I attended the New York City WordPress November Meetup. Even though it was a very small meetup with only a few people I really enjoyed and valued it. Why can it be valuable to meet your fellow bloggers?
A variety of people. Even though we were with only a few people, there was a huge variety in level of expertise and meetup intentions. One attendee had not even started blogging yet and came to the meetup to see if WordPress was the right tool and how to get started with blogging. Other people had been using WordPress for about a year and had become expert users looking to share and exchange tips.
Diversity. At meetups you meet people you would generally not meet. In online communities such as MyBlogLog or Blog Catalog you center around communities. The people in these communities will often share the same interests and blog topics. Meetups are a great way of meeting bloggers outside of your blogging interests and blog niche.
Recommendations and tips. While talking about our experiences with WordPress and blogging someone would often say “I know a great plugin to do that” or “Have you tried this particular solution yet?” While WordPress offers a great forum for all your WordPress related blogging questions it sometimes takes a while before your question get answered.
Direct feedback and conversation. Meetups revolve around direct feedback and face-to-face communication. No more waiting until someone has approved your comment or replied to your comment or forum question.
General chat. Blog posts are usually on a specific topic and the comments on the blog post relate to that topic. Meetups revolve around general chat where any desired topic can be addressed. If you want to have a general chat with a fellow blogger you can leave a comment on a general page, such as the about page, or send an e-mail but not all blogs allow for such general contacting. The advantage of a meetup is that you can ask all the questions you have always wanted to ask.
Exchange experiences. Meetups are a great way of talking to your fellow bloggers about your blogging experiences. We talked about WordPress, WordPress MU, WordPress themes and plugins and lots of things that are related to blogging such as coding, scripting and photo-editing.
Off-topic chat. The phrase “I think we are off-topic” occurred very often during the meetup. I did not mind at all as it points out that blog software is heavily connected to other software. If you want to upload a picture on your blog you will very likely first use a photo-editting program. Blogging is about more than writing alone.
Have you ever met fellow bloggers offline? I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments.
Anne is a New Media Lecturer at the University of Amsterdam. She participates as a blog researcher in the newly found Digital Methods Initiative of the University of Amsterdam. Anne also writes about blogging and academics on her personal blog and the collaborative Masters of Media blog.