June 22, 2008Filed under: Blogging Tips -- Darren Rowse @ 10:28pm
Today I’m blogging from a little local cafe that I’ve become a regular at and am watching the barista work her magic not only in making a great coffee but engaging the clientale that drop by for a takeaway coffee. As I write this there are 10 people milling around the counter, chatting, laughing, catching up on their weekends and talking about current events.
The strange thing is that none of these 10 people came in together – they are effectively a bunch of strangers – yet they’ve formed a wonderful little temporary community before my eyes.
I’ve been coming to this cafe for months now and on almost every occasion that I’ve come in there has been a line of people waiting for coffees – much like they are right now. At first I thought that it was just the quality of coffee that drew people in – but after a month or two of coming in I realized that it was the barista herself and her ability to quickly create connections.
So what can my barista friend (her name is ‘Cat’) teach us as bloggers about drawing people in, creating conversation and building community?
Passion about ‘Product’
Lets start with Cat’s core product – her coffee making. Cat can’t stop talking about coffee. Recently the cafe switched brands of coffee and on the day it happened she was so excited and talked about the coffee non stop all day. People are drawn to other passionate people.
Are you passionate about your core business as a blogger? Do you love your topic? Do you love communicating around that topic? If so – you’ll naturally draw people to you.
Cat is not only passionate about her coffee – she’s very good at making it. There are 10 or so cafes in my local area that I could pick a coffee up from – many are closer to my home than this one – but I’m happy to walk the extra distance for one of Cat’s coffees. People are drawn to quality.
As bloggers its important that the quality of your work is as high as possible. Work hard on developing your writing skills, develop a style and voice that connects with people, make your blog as visually pleasing as possible and ensure that what you blog about is more than ‘fluff’. Quality counts.
Cat naturally focusses upon those around her. The moment a new customer walks in the door she greets them, quite often with quite personal language. ‘Hi Darl…’, ‘Good morning beautiful….’, ‘Hi there (insert name)’…
Cat keeps track of what her regular customers are doing week to week and asks about family, holidays, work – she gets people talking about themselves. This happens to a point that people come in and start sharing their stories without her even having to ask.
People love to talk about themselves – they love to feel ‘noticed’ and ‘known’- they like to feel that people are interested in their lives.
Do you engage with your blog’s readers in a personal way? Do you respond to comments and reader emails? Do you make them feel valued? Is your blog more about you or your readers?
The conversation in this cafe generally revolves around customers – however Cat also is more than happy to share her own stories and life with customers when they ask also. As someone who sits in this cafe for a couple of hours at a time I feel like I know a lot about Cat, her family and her life. I know when she’s had a good weekend and when she’s had a bad one – I know when she’s been sick, I know the movies she’s seen etc.
While I don’t generally advise bloggers to get personal in every post – I do think there are times and places when sharing something a little more personal can be a powerful thing. Be willing to share a little of yourself (with appropriate boundaries) and you’ll find that others are willing to open up to you too.
Cat is one of those people that people feel quite comfortable to share a joke with on the first time that they meet her. She teases customers, jokes with her co-workers, laughs a lot and in short is a lot of fun. None of this is forced – she’s naturally this way and she lets it flow out into her work. The result is infectious – customers have a lot of fun here.
As bloggers it’s important to find a voice and style that reflects who you really are. Not every blogger needs to be funny – but if you naturally are, allow this to come out in your blogging. If you’re a thinker, let your blogging reflect that, if you’re a more emotive/feeling type person – inject that into your blogging.
One of the best things that Cat does is that she doesn’t just focus upon one customer at a time – she involves us with one another. Standing in a line can be a boring thing – however Cat has a way of introducing people to one another that is very natural – she gets them talking with each other, not just her.
A good example of this is when I came in earlier in the week and told her that we’d just had a baby – she told 10 or so other customers my news over the next half an hour.
As a blog grows it can be difficult to give personal attention to every reader that comments on your blog – however if you can create a culture on your blog where readers talk to each other, help each other, ask and answer each other’s questions – you can create a community that doesn’t centre just around you.