I started blogging five years ago.
One of the most valuable lessons I've learned, though, has little to do with writing or marketing.
It has to do with forming real-life relationships.
My blog used to be about blogging and social media. One day, I decided it should be about something more: people.
I have gained so many valuable connections from online conversations.
And I'm finding that others are experiencing the same.
It started with a cup of coffee
I met Matt Appling in Kansas City. We hit it off and almost immediately became friends. We continued to get together on an almost weekly basis over the next few months.
The conversation started about blogging but quickly turned to life, family and faith.
After the blossoming friendship matured, we began to dream together. He and his wife financially supported me on a mission trip I took to Macedonia.
Our ties began to go deeper than mere tweets and blog comments.
Then I met Kyle Reed in Dallas at the Echo Conference. We had coffee at Starbucks and talked about blogging, twenty-somethings and even girls we were interested in.
It was a quick meeting, but sparked a friendship.
Since then, we've connected several more times. I invited him to Minneapolis to share at a conference. We hung out for two days in Minneapolis, spending time together investing in a friendship and working relationship.
I also met Ally Spotts in real life after making an online connection, a story that you can read if you follow either of us closely.
The point I am trying to make is this:
Blogging is about more than content
It should be about building relationships.
If we don’t build real relationships from our blogs, we can get lost in the vacuum of our own process.
If I make my blog all about me and not about the other people, I isolate myself from my peers and colleagues. In turn, this can hurt my writing, ideas and platform.
Ever since I made the shift from blogging to blog to blogging to build relationships, I've found more depth and meaning in it. I've become a better person, better writer, and better blogger because of personal interactions with real, live people.
I am not alone
I’m not the only one doing this, and my ideas aren’t always the best. I learn so much from making connections with people who have walked the road before me.
The things I worry about, stress over and get excited about are not totally unique to me. That’s a good thing. It’s nice to feel like I’m not the only one passionate about using words and story to shape culture.
Connecting with people face-to-face, especially after months of following their blogs is fun. It’s like knowing someone before you meet them. There’s a level of comfort that inspires laughter and conversation from the first meeting.
What about you? Have you seen how blogging can lead to online relationships? Share your story in the comments.
*Photo credit: Paul Stevenson (Creative Commons)