Meeting your audience

One thing about blogging, is that you don’t really expect to ever meet anyone who reads your posts. Given the huge geographical spread, anything from Western Samoa, to Bhutan, bumping into someone who has read or commented on a post seems highly unlikely, unless you specifically arrange to travel to meet them.

Even in a small place like Beetley, it is not something to be expected. Given that I write a lot about the area, I always doubt that many locals would bother to read my blog. After all, they live here, they have seen the things I photograph, and know the places I write about. So I have always seen this blog as offering more to those further away, keen to see a different view of life in other parts of the UK, or in a different country, with a culture and lifestyle divorced from easy-going meanderings in Norfolk.

Not long after starting this blog, I did meet up with a follower. We followed each others blogs from the beginning, and after building up trust, and exchanging personal emails, the lady blogger invited me to meet for coffee in a nearby town. It turned out that she only lived an hour away, on the edge of Suffolk, so we met in the middle.I had seen her wedding pictures, and sent her some personal photos too, so we both knew how to spot each other. We decided to invite each other’s spouses along, as that seemed the right thing to do. For one thing, she was half my age, and for another, we had no way of knowing if the other wouldn’t turn out to be some kind of crazy person on the day.

Despite the potential embarrassment, and wondering what we would say, face to face, the meeting went well. We all chatted easily, and the time passed very quickly. She said that I was exactly as she had expected me to be, and I felt the same. We hoped that we would have more meetings, perhaps even socialise on a regular basis. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Her husband was a US Airman at one of the big bases here, and they were posted back to America, where they now live. She did start a new blog, featuring her ex-pat experiences in North Carolina, but didn’t keep it going. A new life, a young son, and lots to do, resulted in less and less posts, and loss of contact. Still, it was nice to meet a fellow blogger at last, in person.

Late last year, I wrote a post about the local woodland, and called it ‘The Shrinking Countryside.’ A few weeks later, I was walking with Ollie close to the river, when I stopped to allow two ladies to pass. One of them said, “You must be Beetleypete, I recognised the dog.” She went on to tell me that she had been confused about access to the woodland mentioned in my post, and had looked it up on the Internet. Finding my article, she read the explanation of what was going on, so that cleared it all up for her. She wished me good day, and continued on her way, leaving with, “Keep it up, you are doing a good job.” It was a satisfying encounter, and nice to know that local people did indeed read the blog, and not only that, it provided answers for them too.

Last week, I was paused at the riverside, waiting for Ollie to complete a frantic round of sniffing. I spotted a couple standing by the wire fence on the other side of the water. This meant that they were walking on Hoe Rough. They seemed to be trying to catch my eye, and eventually shouted “Hello.” The distance separating the two banks there is only around twenty feet, so an easy conversation was possible. They told me that they had spotted Ollie, and realised that I must be Beetleypete. They wanted to let me know that they had been reading the blog that very morning, searching for walks in the area. As a result of their research, they had decided to walk from Holt Road across Hoe Rough, ending the circular tour at their home in the village. I told them about other walks mentioned in this blog, and they said that they had already done some of them, and enjoyed the photos too. With a cheery wave, they set off, and I once again felt pretty good about being a local blogger.

After three and a half years, and almost 900 posts written, it seems that I was wrong. Having only ever managed to meet three of my readers, I discovered that local people do enjoy this blog, and that they get some ideas and inspiration from it too. If you are ever in the area, let me know. I would love to meet more of you.

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39 thoughts on “Meeting your audience

  1. I suspect it ‘s the same with blogs as with books. A lot of people might enjoy reading them but most wouldn’t think of leaving a comment. It must be a great experience.

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    1. It is nice to meet someone who is complimentary about your writing and photos. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so enjoyable, if they had told me they hated the blog!
      Thanks, Olga.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  2. Like you, I’ve met about three of them, they are based abroad and when they came home, we had an eyeball. There were no awkward moments, it was like we’ve known each other for a long time.

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  3. Unfortunately, I chose one of the hottest days of last summer to visit my friends in Beetley, with the result that I stayed safely indoors and out of the sun. Otherwise, I would most certainly have looked out for you and waved! (On my return, I was very tempted to write the Beetley equivalent of ‘Yes, I remember Adlestrop…’ – the point being that I had seen almost nothing of it except my friends’ living room! Your blog has shown me so much more!)

    Having previously been part of an internet church, I have met several friends that I made online and it has always been a joy to do so. Two in particular have ended up becoming close friends. One of these blogged one day about chopping up her old sofa with a chain saw, so when we finally met, we were both very clear about which one of us was the potential murderer 😉 Eventually, we were to travel to Texas together to spend a couple of weeks with the other friend – a once in a lifetime opportunity that I am so glad to have had.

    A lot has been said about internet friendships being somehow lacking because of the absence of face to face contact. I don’t subscribe to this view. My grandfather corresponded for years with a penfriend in Hungary and never even questioned the possibility that this was not a ‘real’ friend. Again, they eventually met and there were no real surprises. What we communicate through the written word is no less ourselves than what we communicate through other means. Indeed, sometimes it can be more honest because we are not influenced by visual cues or the other’s tone of voice – something that has both advantages and disadvantages.

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    1. Thanks, Ros. I agree with what you say about correspondents and Internet friends. I regard them as highly, in many cases, as friends I know and meet face to face. Not having the natural differences like regional accents, culture, and physical appearance to consider enables us to be completely honest online, and in letters.
      If it isn’t so hot the next time you are in Beetley, we will look out for that wave!
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  4. Pete, you may have secretly become something of a Norfolk celebrity! I doubt I’ll ever have an opportunity to visit the U.K. (and perhaps that’s one reason why I enjoy your photos so much), but if I ever did jet across the pond, I’d definitely want to meet you in person. I also have an unused umbrella I would give you as a gift.

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    1. I think I would say ‘oddity’ rather than celebrity, David.If you ever get over to Norfolk, I would be delighted to show you around my ‘blog haunts.’ We would each have an umbrella too…
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  5. I’ve never met someone from my blogging adventures, however it is so nice to chat with them via comments. There are so many nice people out there and it gives me hope. Though, a lovely chat across the river or over a fence during a nice walk is indeed wonderful! I’ve noticed that more and more people don’t talk. Even in my neighborhood it is a rarity one might spy a person taking a stroll much less to be able to strike a conversation with. So sad…I guess that is why I enjoy so much walking with any number of my five dogs. They may not talk back, but they sure act like they understand every word! 🙂 Have a beautiful day! Koko

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    1. Thanks, Koko. having a dog around here is the fastest way to get to meet people, as there are so many dog-walkers. Even if they are unaware that you are a blogger, they will still almost always pause for a chat. I am sorry that it isn’t the same where you live, but that’s the way of it in big cities here too.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  6. Several years ago I met a follower here in Tampa. She lives in the Netherlands with her Dutch husband and two sons as an expat. We all met at a local restaurant for a tapas lunch and good conversation. It was nice for the old man! We still read each other. Regards

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    1. I am enjoying hearing about other bloggers meeting up. I assumed that I would not have been the only one, as I had heard some stories of some meeting in Spain, as well as Australia. It’s a great community, ti has to be said.
      Regards, Pete.

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  7. What a nice post, Pete – and nice encounters, very encouraging, indeed!
    We will meet too, I’m quite sure. 🙂
    We will give you a shout when we are in your near, you know, the blue dye thing and the next time you are by the coast, please pop in for a cup and a bone.
    Have a lovely weekend,
    Dina & Klausbernd and the girls Xx

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  8. Social media is fascinating…I ran into a business colleague who I hadn’t seen in a few months – he told me how much he enjoyed my burger posts…I asked why he never acknowledged reading them or left a comment and he said’ “oh no, I don’t do that!”

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  9. Wayne’s Journal had a starting and ending point and spoke of places few will ever go. Some of my friends followed it as did some relatives. Their comments were always welcome, but there were not many. Perhaps they did not know what to say. The most gratifying comments came from the relatives of men mentioned in Wayne’s Journal, children learning about their fathers and mothers and grandchildren learning about their grandfathers and grandmothers. Their comments were the most precious of all. Even though it might not be always apparent, what we write sends ripples through time and the fabric of human experience. Keep up your good work.

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