Do you love books?
Okay, now explain that love in relationship to these two different scenarios:
1) You are sitting in your home office surrounded by all of your books.
2) You are browsing in the library, surrounded by the county's books.
You love your own books, don't you? You sync with a book's idea or theme. You buy it. You read it. But you just don't read it, you romance it. You write notes in it. You fold its pages. You highlight its text. You write notes to the author in it. You picture yourself as the leading character (that wasn't Paul Allen in Bill's garage, it was you. "No problem Willy, go ahead and give your money away, I'll watch the store").
It's not like you actually wrote the book's content, but the book is yours and the material just morphs into your conscious. Okay, now watch this...
You love other people's personal Web sites. (I hate the term blog. I only used it above to get cuddly with Google). Why? Because you connect, you relate. Instead of going to the library to enjoy another writer's essay, you collect it and place it on a shelf on your own site. Then you can romance it. You can write in it....
The following is from David Armano's most excellent Web site, Logic + Emotion. David writes about a book in which the 40 top bloggers (the book's term), share their writing secrets. IMHO, David's secrets (he's one of the top 40 writers), pretty much sum up what one has to do in order to be a successful writer. The writing in red below is where I have marked up this book.
The thing about people who write blogs (notice I didn't say bloggers) is that we don't have a ton of secrets to our "craft". If you choose to follow what we do, you'll pretty much figure it out for yourself. That said, Steph Grenier has put together a book called Blog Blazers where 40 indivuduals including the likes of Seth Godin, Steve Rubel and Rohit Bhargava share their tips. I'm in it too. Here's what I said:
SG: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?
DA: In a word—influence. Influence is the most important way I can think to gauge a blog. It’s not easy to measure influence, but popularity has something to do with it. The broader a blog’s reach, the more influence it has. The more people a blog influences, the more successful it is. It’s not about size—you can influence people in niche groups.
SG:When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?
DA: Having it featured in the print version of BusinessWeek. If you were to ask me, David reached success the first time I read his material, cause it influenced me. Here’s one of the few magazines that I admire and actually read and there’s my blog—in full color! At that point, I felt I had crossed into a different league.
SG:How long does it take to become a successful blogger?
DA: That’s like asking how long should you wait until you get married. It’s different for everyone. It took me just under a year to get some serious traction—but that’s rare. It could take many years. Or you could be blogging for 20 years and never reach the goal of “breaking through” to the audience you want. It’s something that requires passion.
SG:Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?
DA:As far as size goes, you’ve got Seth Godin, Steve Rubel, Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble. All have HUGE followings. Personally—I’ve been influenced by Bruce Nussbaum, Kathy Sierra, and I enjoy reading industry blogs such as the Adaptive Path blog and Putting People First.
SG: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?
DA: Made To Stick. I'd probably throw Tribes and Beyond Trend in here.
SG: What is your most successful blog post ever?
DA: Creativity 2.E
SG: What's your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?
DA: Write something that people will want to talk about. Write something that you care deeply about. Do something that others are not. Make each post memorable.
SG: What's your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?
DA: State your opinions. Don’t try to write like a journalist. Do something different. Use visuals. Egads Dr. Seuss!! If only I could do this!! Let your voice come through in the writing. Write in conversational tone vs. formal. Be true to your personal brand and if you don’t know what that is—figure it out.
SG: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?
DA: Fairly important, but not as important as the content. Best to write headlines that are both enticing and informative. If you want Google to find you, think about those headlines.
SG: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?
DA: No money spent except on Typepad. I don’t market except through being myself and participating. I probably spend about 15-20 hours a week on Twitter, blogs and participating in general.
SG: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?
DA: I’ll promote links on Twitter and Facebook, but the best marketing is the content. That’s where I spend most my time.
SG: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?
DA: The visuals. People love my visuals and want them for themselves. Amen brother! It’s both my product, content and advertising. People take my visuals and distribute them on the Web. This eventually creates a bigger audience for me as most people can find their way to the source of the visual which is my blog.
SG:What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?
1. Find your voice
2. Do something different
3. Be true to your brand
4. Provide value
5. Only write what makes you happy
SG: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?
DA: Self doubt will kill you. When you’ve got people commenting on your stuff or calling you out or challenging you—you have to be prepared to guard yourself from being something that isn’t you. You must be yourself first, as imperfect and flawed as that may be. You won’t make everyone happy. Most successful blogs are polarizing—people either love them or could care less. The worst blogs are bland, generic and have nothing original to offer. Doubting yourself is the first step down the path of boring. Funny, I was just about to include this thought in the point on the five best tips. I have had some very BIG time personal Web site writers comment about how brave I was to try different stuff like RadioBack. Heck, I'm not brave. I am very comfortable however, with all of my imperfections and flaws. At least to the point where I recognize them and try to improve.
SG: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what's the one biggest tip you'd give yourself today?
DA: Have an idea where you want the whole thing to end up. When I first started blogging I had no idea where I wanted it to go and went with where it took me. Now I’m a bit more strategic. I’m blogging to build credibility in the industry and to make my job more rewarding and enjoyable. I also like using it to help the company who employs me. I have a lot of freedom because of the blog. I would have established a vision for where I wanted to take it earlier. I've been trying to do this for over ten years of Internet writing. And it is exactly why David is where he is and I am where I am.
SG: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?
DA: Bad Content, bad design and over-promotion. And also a lack of personality. I love voice and good design!
SG: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?
SG: What is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?
DA: My monetization is indirect. I get lots of professional opportunities.
Do you find you get more from direct monetization of your blog or from
opportunities that come because of the existence of your blog?
DA: I get invited to speak at places. If I were on my own, I could make a business of that.
SG: What's your most interesting story related to your blog and blogging experience?
DA: I once wrote a post that was only a sentence long and included a visual. I asked my readers to write the post for me based on the visual. The comments were amazing! Take a look for yourself.
SG: What's the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?
DA: I wrote a very popular article for BusinessWeek called “It’s the Conversation Economy Stupid”. I was invited to write the article because of the blog. It was a great experience—I got to work with an excellent editor and write in a very different way than blogging. It was pretty cool.
SG:Any other comments or thoughts you'd like to share?
DA: Yes. Everything I know about blogging is in this slideshow
Hope the interview was helpful. For the other 39 interviews, you'll have to get the book.