A couple weeks ago, on a whim, I went to my local comic book store to play in a tournament. The blog I’m trying to build up is a gaming blog about a collectible card game. I thought it might be a good idea to meet people in my niche face to face.
The card game can be played online. I usually play online to save gas and time. However, I gained a lot from going to that tournament. Here are some benefits that I experienced from doing offline networking and marketing.
I discovered fresh topics to write about.
During the tournament, people conversed. Since I was new, I went there mostly to listen. As I listened to the conversations, I heard many topics being discussed. Many of these topics were things I had not thought about. I took a couple mental notes, which I’ll use as the basis of future blog posts.
I realized the potential of future blog posts.
I had two things I wanted to write about before I came to the tournament. Yet I wondered if my audience would be interested in them.
During lulls in the tournament, I brought up both topics. Based on the players’ reactions, I could tell that the first topic was not something they were interested in. However, the second topic generated a bunch of questions and they wanted to learn more about it.
Based on this information, I can tell the first topic probably won’t generate much traffic and interest if I write about it. However, the second topic should be a hit.
I made new friends and some turned into readers.
I met some great people including people that live closer to my place. We exchanged numbers, instant messaging info, and email addresses. I emailed them about my blog and some of them have started reading it. I’ve setup an appointment to practice with one of them. After our practice sessions, I have more to write about on my blog. I even sold cards to some of my new friends.
I had a lot of fun.
If you’re anything like many bloggers, you started blogging in your chosen niche because you love your niche. And nothing really beats the personal, face to face interaction with other people who also love your niche.
As humans, we are social creatures. Sure, we want to earn money through the internet. But nothing adds enjoyment to our experience as real life conversation with other people. It’s why people go to conventions and conferences on their own dime. Yes, they go to learn information, but most convention goers will tell you that the most enjoyable parts were networking and meeting other people.
Have you ever tried networking and marketing offline? How was your experience?
Jay @ Advance,
Good point about corporations. Bloggers can learn a lot from traditional methods of doing business
I agree about your point about traffic. I don’t think you’ll increase your traffic significantly, but it does provide a foundation for the slow but steady growth that comes from word of mouth.
If your business model is based on page views and raw traffic volume, then marketing offline probably has low ROI.
Part of my business model is selling products and that means I need traffic that will convert. And marketing face to face adds trust to the sales process, which means if those visitors go to my blog, they are more likely to buy.
Corporations have long understood the value of trade shows. There’s no reason bloggers shouldn’t take a page out of their playbooks (if on a smaller scale). I have a hard time figuring out how you can significantly increase your blog traffic by meeting twenty people at a time, so from a marketing perspective I remain skeptical, but I definitely feel you on the “new ideas” front.
Back in my hay day of covering everything WordPress, I attended WordCamp Dallas which was a conference centered all around WordPress. It’s interesting because people knew each other through the blog, but didn’t know who I was face to face. I ended up meeting some people who really enjoyed reading my blog. Asides from feeling like a rock star, I got to meet with a bunch of people within that niche and it was a blast. Wish I could do it more often but economics right now don’t allow for that.