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Blog Blazer Friday – Derek Semmler

Each week I am publishing an interview from the book Blog Blazers (in alphabetical order) which can be purchased on Amazon here. The interviews were all done in 2008 and the full list of bloggers interviewed can be found by clicking here.

This week the interview is with Derek Semmler of DerekSemmler.com

DerekSemmler.com

Derek Semmler
http://DerekSemmler.com

Biography:

Derek is an average person in his early 30’s working as a Senior Software Engineer that’s doing his best to provide for his family and enjoy life along the way His family is number one in his  life, although there are times when his wife might argue that blogging has taken over that spot. Outside of spending time with his family and working on his blogs you’ll likely find him on his Harley enjoying the open road.

There are three blogs where you will find Derek sharing his thoughts and opinions:

  • Dad Balance is where you will find him writing about work life balance from a dad’s perspective
  • My New Choice is where he blogs about personal finance, eliminating debt, and money management
  • Derek Semmler.com is where he blogs about life, blogging, motorcycles and just about everything else

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

Derek: Ultimately, I believe that a blog is successful when the author has a passion for the topic of the blog and has demonstrated the ability to regularly publish content for more than six months.

It is possible, maybe even feasible, to define success by traffic, revenue, or any other measurable metric.  But when you consider the number of blogs that are started each day and the fact that many of them are abandoned before they are sixty days old, I believe anyone that loves to blog and does so consistently is a success.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

Derek: I’ll let you know when I get there.  Personally, I would have to say that I reached success on the day that I published my very first post.  Too many people sit and talk about starting a blog or making money from a blog, yet they never take action.  There are many goals that I have yet to accomplish but none of them would even be possible had I not made that first post.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

Derek: That really depends on how you define success.  If you want to be a blogger that can make thousands of dollars each month, you should be prepared for it to take a considerable amount of time.  If you want to share your passion for a given topic with other people, you can become successful in a much shorter period of time.  The important thing is to define what success means to you and then measure yourself against that definition.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

Derek: When thinking of the most successful bloggers, I tend to narrow my focus to those that I read regularly such as Darren Rowse, Shoemoney, John Chow, and Brian Clark.  But there are so many bloggers that have done a masterful job of building their brand and achieving success that I could likely give you a list of 100+ names and still leave out a considerable number of successful bloggers.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

Derek: While I could easily include a list of very well known blogs such as Problogger, DoshDosh, or Shoemoney, I want to mention a handful of blogs that I enjoy reading regularly but may be a little less mainstream.

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?

Derek: There are so many great sites that I could recommend but the one site that is a must read for any blogger is Problogger.  Darren has a feature titled Best of Problogger that will teach a new blogger many valuable lessons and the archives contain many more nuggets of wisdom.  Just be careful not to spend so much time reading that you forget to work on your blog.

Steph: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?

Derek: There is so much information available on the Interweb that I am not sure new bloggers need to rush out and buy (or get from the library) books to get started.  If I had to recommend a book to new bloggers, I would probably point them in the direction of the SEO Book by Aaron Wall as it is an outstanding resource to help you learn how to build a more successful blog.

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?

Derek: In terms of pure traffic, I would have to say that my post about the exploding CD is the most successful with over 28,000 page views.  That would be followed closely by a recent post about a rather humorous typo on Yahoo! News with over 14,000 page views.  But one of the posts that I feel is my most successful in terms of the message and what it has meant to me was my post about being a better husband.

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

Derek: I’m not sure that it can be boiled down to one biggest tip but I would certainly stress the importance to write with opinion and personality.  There are so many blogs out there that you need to do something to set yourself apart.  Readers come to your blog for more than just the cold, hard facts – they want to know what you think and feel as well.

Steph: What’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?

Derek: Be yourself and let your voice be heard.  It is tempting to try and blog about topics that you think will bring in the money or score big on the social media sites.  However, when you are not blogging about something that is of interest to you and that you are passionate about, you will struggle to write quality posts that other people can connect to in some way.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?

Derek: Some might say that the headlines are the most important aspect of your blog articles, as that is what likely determines whether someone stops to read your article or not.  In terms of social media, I would agree that the quality of the headline is critical.  But if you put a killer headline on a garbage article, you will bring in a bunch of readers but they will likely only visit your blog that one time.  So while the headline is very important, don’t sacrifice on the quality of the blog post itself just to get a great headline.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

Derek: I’ve spent much more time than money on marketing my blog.  The one area that I have spent money is on a monthly membership to a personal finance news aggregrator, which rewards members with highlighted entries in their feed as well as a premium listing on their blogroll.

The time that I spend on marketing is primarily spent on doing my best to become an active member of other blog communities, including other personal blogs as well as popular social media sites.  For the blogger on a budget, this can be a great way to market your own blogs.  As you demonstrate your value to the community on other blogs, people will naturally be interested in what you have to say and follow your links over to your blog.

Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?

Derek: As I just mentioned, I would say that my main method of marketing my blog is active participation on other blogs.  The easiest way to participate on other blogs is via the comments.  Try to engage the author, as well as the other readers, with quality comments and you will begin to build a rapport that will likely translate to new readers at your own blog.

Other methods of marketing your blog can include writing guest posts for other blogs, publishing guest posts from other authors, including a signature line on all of your emails and/or forum posts, or being active on social media sites.  The possibilities are nearly endless so just try to get out there and plant the seeds for future growth.

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?

Derek: For a new blog, I really think that one of the most effective things that you can do is to respond to the comments that readers leave on your site and return the favor by commenting on the blogs that you read.  People enjoy it when they know that their comments are appreciated and it will make them feel more a part of the community.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

Derek:

  • Listen to your readers, there is a wealth of knowledge in their comments and it will help build a true sense of community.
  • Don’t obsess about your blog stats, I know it is fun to check how you are doing but limit it to once or twice per week instead of once every five minutes.
  • When you see that someone has visited your blog, take the time to check out their blog and share a few comments.
  • Do not force a post, some bloggers feel that they must maintain a set schedule of posts per day or week and will force a lackluster post just to meet that quota – post when you have something to say.
  • Be genuine, write from the heart, and always stand behind your word as nothing will ruin you as a blogger quicker than a reputation as a fake or cheat.

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

Derek: The most common pitfall seems to be a combination of burnout and unrealistic expectations.  Many new bloggers think they can start publishing a few posts and they will be on their way to earning money from their blog.  In the beginning, they may be posting multiple times per day as the excitement about their blog is fresh.  As the days become weeks and the blogger has only earned $0.42 from AdSense, they begin to question what they are doing and they realize that they cannot maintain their current pace of posts.  Eventually they lose steam and the blog falls into the pile of abandoned blogs, never to be heard from again.

Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?

Derek: I’m going to take a slogan from one of the most well known companies in our time, just do it.  Don’t spend so much time worrying that everything about your blog has to be perfect before you get started.  Let your blog be a living creature that you build and nurture over time.  The important thing is to start writing great content and building a sense of community.

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

Derek: General websites that repel me are the ones that are entirely built using Flash.  But with blogs, I really don’t think anything repels me more than just a lack of updated content and/or content that does not interest me.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

Derek: Yes, I do make money from my blogs.  When I started blogging, I was guilty of the trap that many new bloggers fall into and that was thinking that using Google AdSense was the one and only source of income.  As I have learned more about making money with my blogs, I have experimented with a variety of tools and resources to help me earn money.  Do your best to avoid relying on only one source of income and never stop experimenting to see what works well for your blogs.

Steph: What is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?

Derek: The best monetization method that I have been using would have to be private ad sales, although that was not the case from day one.  As your blog grows, you will likely find that the best monetization method will change as well.

Steph: Do you find you get more from direct monetization of your blog or from opportunities that come because of the existence of your blog?

Derek: At this point, I would have to say that direct monetization has brought me more.

Steph: What’s your most interesting story related to your blog and blogging experience?

Derek: On my personal blog, I published a post that included pictures of what happens when a CD explodes inside your DVD drive.  This post brought my first experience with making the front page of Digg and the volume of traffic was very exciting.

Not only that but I got a taste of how far a simple blog post can reach, as I was contacted by a representative of Dell who wanted to send me a free replacement DVD drive.

Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?

Derek: Within the last few months, I was presented with an opportunity to become an author at Wendy Piersall’s eMoms at Home blog writing about work life balance from a dad’s perspective.  This has been such an exciting opportunity for me to write about a topic that is very close to my heart and it would not have been possible had I never started blogging.

Steph: Any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share?

Derek: Work hard, be honest, and have fun.




Blog Blazer Friday – David Seah

Each week I am publishing an interview from the book Blog Blazers (in alphabetical order) which can be purchased on Amazon here. The interviews were all done in 2008 and the full list of bloggers interviewed can be found by clicking here.

This week the interview is with David Seah of DavidSeah.com

davidSeah

David Seah
http://DavidSeah.com

Biography:

David Seah originally studied computer engineering and computer graphics design. From he moved to the professional video game industry, working with the Internet and freelancing as a New Media designer/developer for a few small companies in the greater Boston area. As a result of these experiences David developed many skills in several useful areas, but career successes continued to elude him.

He then started blogging in 2004, to figure out more about what truly interested him, what his career path should really be. And this is when he discovered that sharing his experiences in his own words was the missing piece that eluded him in his career. And because of this discovery he flipped his priorities. Now, his goal is to meet the kind of competent, conscientious, and self-empowered people like him. He now applies his skills toward making that possible through collaboration and community building. He reports on this experience on his blog, and through the creation of various productivity tools such as The Printable CEO.

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

David: Ultimately, a blog is successful when it connects people together in a way that creates opportunity and change. That generally means reaching and influencing just a handful of the right people that WANT to create that opportunity with you.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

David: I’d say early 2007 or so. I had been blogging long enough to see that it wasn’t a fluke, and that the blog was doing a good job of representing myself to the world authentically, which has lead to other interesting opportunities. I am meeting fascinating people.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

David: If you’re measuring success by traffic, then not that long if you can maintain the blogging rhythm and post compelling original content. This increases your Google footprint. After that, it’s a matter of getting noticed by the larger sites, which will drive readers to you. If you write good content that is unique, they will find you. The rate of growth is then determined by the size of the demographic, your ability to write compelling original chunks of content every day, ease of accessing the chunks, and the perceived utility of your writing.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

David: I don’t really follow these kinds of trends, as I don’t chase after this kind of success. One person that comes to mind, though, is Virginia De Bolt, who I imagine would be the first to say she is not as glamorous as the A-Listers, but through blogging rediscovered her sense of purpose in a niche that embraces her. It’s this kind of personal success—connecting people with the right people—that I consider the most important.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

David: I actually don’t read any blogs regularly…I’m quite busy these days, and when I have time to do blog-related stuff I am generally creating a new article. When I have time to surf, I’ll check out the blogs of my “online council” of like-minded bloggers to see what they’ve been up to.

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?

David: I would tell them to check out the member sites (both past and present) that belong to the 9rules Network. I’ve been a member for quite some time, and what is particularly interesting about the group is that we’re all committed to creating a better web site experience. Browse them. Find ones that appeal to you. It’s helpful to have some kind of role model to follow.

Steph: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?

David: No specific titles come to mind. I would just tell them to get into the habit of writing their experiences in a way that makes sense to people who don’t know you or your subject; that’s writing 101. Next, suck it up and put it online. For the “how do I…” technical questions, I’d probably just tell them to check out ProBlogger or something.

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?

David: In terms of establishing thought leadership: The original Printable CEO Concrete Goals Tracker article, which put me on the map and started the entire chain of subsequent tools.

In terms of traffic: The Healing Power of Water, which got dug and sent about 100K visitors to me.

In terms of getting me recognized by a lot of cool people in the web development industry: FYI, I am Not Dave Shea.

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

David: Get to the point in the first sentence, or hook ‘em via some other means.

Steph: What’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?

David: Provide something useful to someone that hasn’t been said before, something that people can APPLY to themselves. And don’t worry about appealing to everyone; just appeal to yourself first.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?

David: Headlines give people an idea of what they’re in for, so they’re very important. I try to write them so they pique curiosity while also being search-engine friendly.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

David: No money. I do spend time on putting content out in several areas, which is in essence marketing.

Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?

David: Word of Mouth, which gets me linked on other blogs, which drives first-time visitors, which result in subscriptions or bookmarks, which ultimately drives page rank.

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?

David: Word of Mouth.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

David:

  • Make good, original content.
  • Be a real person with your own opinion, but don’t mistake opinion for content.
  • Stand behind your words.
  • Write constantly and consistently.
  • Talk to your audience in your comment area.

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

David: Mistaking content for reporting about what other bloggers are writing about instead of adding something NEW to the blogosphere.

Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?

David: Nothing actually comes to mind; the blogging experience was one of exploration and empowerment of my own process, so it was very natural and unburdened with any expectations.

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

David: Obvious commercialization.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

David: I have some AdSense revenue, enough to perhaps cover my hosting costs. My blog is a platform, not a revenue generator in its own right.

Steph: What is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?

David: I haven’t monetized my blog. I may create a separate web site for direct monetization of my writing, which is not the same as my blogging.

Steph: Do you find you get more from direct monetization of your blog or from opportunities that come because of the existence of your blog?

David: Opportunities, definitely, are the greatest benefit from my blog.




Blog Blazer Friday – David Armano

Each week I am publishing an interview from the book Blog Blazers (in alphabetical order) which can be purchased on Amazon here. The interviews were all done in 2008 and the full list of bloggers interviewed can be found by clicking here.

This week the interview is with David Armano of Logic + Emotions

davidArmano

logicAndEmotions

David Armano
Logic + Emtions
http://darmano.typepad.com/

Biography:

David is currently VP, Experience Design for digital agency Critical Mass. He has over 14 years experience in the creative field with the majority of his time spent in digital marketing + experience design. An active thought leader in the industry, David authors the popular Logic + Emotion blog currently featured in the top tier of the “Power 150” as ranked by Ad Age. David’s writing and visual thinking has been included in Forrester, Brandweek, The Boston Globe and landed him in BusinessWeek on several occasions including their “Best of 2006”.

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

David: 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.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

David: Having it featured in the print version of BusinessWeek.  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.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

David: 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.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

David: 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.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

David:

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?

David:

 

Steph: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?

David: Made To Stick

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?

David: Creativity 2.E

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

David: Write something that people will want to talk about.  Do something that others are not.  Make each post memorable.

Steph: What’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?

David: State your opinions.  Don’t try to write like a journalist.  Do something different.  Use visuals.  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.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?

David: Fairly important, but not as important as the content.  Best to write headlines that are both enticing and informative.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

David: 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.

Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?

David: I’ll promote links on Twitter and Facebook, but the best marketing is the content.  That’s where I spend most my time.

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?

David: The visuals.  People love my visuals and want them for themselves.  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.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

David:

 

  • Find your voice
  • Do something different
  • Be true to your brand
  • Provide value
  • Only write what makes you happy

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

David: 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.

Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?

David: 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.

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

David: Bad Content, bad design and over-promotion.  And also a lack of personality.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

David: No

Steph: What is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?

David: My monetization is indirect. I get lots of professional opportunities.

Steph: Do you find you get more from direct monetization of your blog or from opportunities that come because of the existence of your blog?

David: I get invited to speak at places.  If I were on my own, I could make a business of that.

Steph: What’s your most interesting story related to your blog and blogging experience?

David: 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.

Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?

David: 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.

Steph: Any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share?

David: Yes.  Everything I know about blogging is in this slideshow

 




Blog Blazer Friday – Dane Carlson

Each week I am publishing an interview from the book Blog Blazers (in alphabetical order) which can be purchased on Amazon here. The interviews were all done in 2008 and the full list of bloggers interviewed can be found by clicking here.

This week the interview is with Dane Carlson of Business Opportunities Weblog

Dane Carlson
Business Opportunities Weblog
http://www.business-opportunities.biz/

Biography:

Dane Carlson’s Business Opportunities Weblog is a premier blog of ideas and opportunities for small business entrepreneurs and is one of the most widely read business blogs. In over ten thousand posts since 2001, author Dane Carlson has proven the notion that “ideas are cheap,” and pushed hundreds of inventors, entrepreneurs and small scale capitalists towards their dream of owning and running their own business.

His website http://www.business-opportunities.biz is currently ranked #12 (as of 12/21/2007) on the Technorati list of most popular blogs by citation.

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

Dane: Reach and revenue go hand in hand.  Every niche has some way to make it pay, whether it’s through direct monetization via advertising, or indirectly by generating offline business.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

Dane: For me, success is a target, not a destination.   At one point, my definition of success was one hundred regular readers.  Then it was $5 a day in advertising revenue.

Today my definition of success is half a million RSS subscribers.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

Dane: Since success is a personal target, it depends on your goals.  Give yourself six months on the low side, though.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

Dane: I was going to write my own list, but Forbes 2007 Web Celeb 25 is a great one (http://www.forbes.com/2007/12/18/internet-fame-celebrity-tech-cx_de_07webceleb_1218land.html)

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

Dane:

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?

Dane: Darren Rowse’s Problogger, definitely. But more   importantly, every single blog you can find in your niche.   It doesn’t matter if they publish once a month or eighteen times a day, you need to read them all.

Steph: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?

Dane: I highly recommend the Cluetrain Manifesto.  Don’t bother reading most of the how to make money online books.  By the time they’re published, they’re outdated.

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?

Dane: How Much is Your Blog Worth ?

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

Dane: Always include a link to something else.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the smartest and wittiest writer in the world, the web is about interlinking.  Link to something that backs up your argument.  Link to contrarian views.  Link to related subjects.  Link, link, link!

Steph: What’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?

Dane: Post often.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?

Dane: People are lazy, and if you don’t write good headlines, they won’t bother to read your posts.

Personally, I use headlines to editorialize about the content of the blog post.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

Dane: No money, directly.  Time, definitely.

Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?

Dane: I network with other bloggers in my niche.  I also write content for print publications and try to stay on Google’s good side.

Never turn down an offer to have your content used elsewhere.

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?

Dane: http://www.business-opportunities.biz/projects/how-much-is-your-blog-worth/

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

Dane:

 

  • Post often.
  • Stay on topic.
  • Don’t apologize for not posting.
  • Post often!
  • Post often!

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

Dane: Not posting and then apologizing for not posting.

Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?

Dane: I’d have chosen a shorter URL.

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

Dane: No about page or contact information.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

Dane: Yes, via advertising.

Steph: What is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?

Dane: Direct ad sales.

Steph: Do you find you get more from direct monetization of your blog or from opportunities that come because of the existence of your blog?

Dane: Most of my revenue is generated directly via ad sales, but I also generate revenue indirectly because of my blogs.  I often do consulting, both for bloggers on blogging and small business entrepreneurs.




Blog Blazer Friday – Dan Lyons

Each week I am publishing an interview from the book Blog Blazers (in alphabetical order) which can be purchased on Amazon here. The interviews were all done in 2008 and the full list of bloggers interviewed can be found by clicking here.

This week the interview is with Dan Lyons of The Secret Diaries of Steve Job

Dan Lyon, forbes editor and columnist.

Dan Lyons
The Secret Diaries of Steve Job
http://www.fakesteve.net

Biography:

Dan Lyons has been in journalism for 25 years, with the last 20 covering high tech. He initially started at PC Week and then moved on to various other trade magazines.

Dan is now at Forbes, where he has been since 1998. He has also published three works of fiction including: “The Last Good Man” (short stories, 1993); “Dog Days” (novel, 1997); and “Options” (novel, 2007).

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

Dan: Traffic is a big deal, obviously. But I also care about who’s reading my blog. I have a great readership with lots of smart, funny people.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

Dan: I think when I had my first month when I had more than 1 million page views. That kind of blew me away.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

Dan: It took me exactly one year to hit the 1 million page view mark. I think you have to be patient and keep building the audience and keep writing even when it seems that the traffic is not growing.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

Dan: Andrew Sullivan is the best and most successful blogger, in my opinion. I also like Ryan Block of Engadget and Brian Lam of Gizmodo.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

Dan:

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?

Dan: Read Andrew Sullivan. It’s a great mix of serious essays and funny stuff.

Steph: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?

Dan: No idea. I didn’t read any. Maybe the Robert Scoble book (Naked Conversations) just for ideas on what NOT to do.

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?

Dan: I wrote a post on the day iPhone shipped – June 29, 2007. It managed to be both funny and smart, if I do say so myself. Was widely linked and passed around, even mentioned as some of the best stuff written about iPhone anywhere.

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

Dan: Write about something you care about. Don’t censor yourself. Let it rip. Write from your heart.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?

Dan: Headlines are very important. I put a lot of work into them.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

Dan: No.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

Dan:

 

  • Only do it if you feel like you can’t NOT do it.
  • Be passionate.
  • Write quickly and don’t edit too much.
  • Post frequently. At least five a day.

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

Dan: Writing about their own boring lives. Who cares? Write about something else.

Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?

Dan: Volume matters. Post frequently.

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

Dan: Boring writing.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

Dan: I get paid by Forbes and they go sell ads to run on my blog.

Steph: What’s your most interesting story related to your blog and blogging experience?

Dan: I was blogging anonymously and hadn’t told anyone at Forbes (my employer) that I was doing it. One day the publisher of Forbes wrote to me and, not knowing who I was, asked me if I wanted to come work at Forbes.

Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?

Dan: I’ve published a book based on my blog. It’s called “Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs.”




Blog Blazer Friday – Bob Walsh of 47 Hats

Each week I am publishing an interview from the book Blog Blazers (in alphabetical order) which can be purchased on Amazon here. The interviews were all done in 2008 and the full list of bloggers interviewed can be found by clicking here.

This week the interview is with Bob Walsh of 47 Hats

bobWalsh

Bob Walsh
47 Hats
http://www.47Hats.com

Biography:

Bob Walsh is a cross between blogger (47 Hats, ClearBlogging.com, and ToDoOrElse.com), author (Clear Blogging and Micro-ISV:From Vision to Reality (both published by Apress), consultant helping microISVs and startups succeed through 1-to-1 consulting on product/company blogging and product positioning and microISV entrepreneur.

As a microISV’er, Bob is the founder of MasterList Professional, a Windows personal task and project manager. As well Bob is involved with Project X which is currently in stealth mode (some details are available through his blog).

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

Bob: Depends on what you want from your blog. If you’re a microISV – or a regular company for that matter – you want your blog to be a conversation with your current and prospective customers, a source of valuable information to them about that part of the world your product lives in. It’s not about ad revenue – there shouldn’t be anything like an ad on your blog.

If you’re talking about blogging professionally, it’s all about traffic because traffic drives ad revenue and that’s what keeps food on the table. But you have to really, really care about what you’re focusing on in your blog – every week there’s a thousand “I’m going to be rich by blogging” blogs started; 990 are dead within a month.

The key to traffic is providing value to your readers. Whether that’s through finding value out there and bringing it back to your readers, sharing your experience/insight/questions, or whatever approach you take.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

Bob: 2009. Seriously, my blogs are a work in progress, and I have miles to go with each before I’d say I’ve really done what I’ve set out to do.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

Bob: Minimum of 3 months, more like 9 – Tim Ferriss is the exception that proves the rule.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

Bob: In the parts of the blogosphere I focus on (productivity, tech, marketing and digital life) Tim Ferriss, Guy Kawasaki, and Seth Godin and Leo Babauta have all catapulted to the top of the blog food chain, done so quickly, and sustain their leads through the force of their passion and creatively.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

Bob: About 400, actually. But the blogs that are on my must read list right now, the blogs I make time to read not just scan are:

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?

Bob: One blog rules: Darren Rowse’s Problogger.net. This is THE blog to read: be prepared to spend a week or so reading and absorbing Darren’s great information.

Steph: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?

Bob: Well, since you asked… Clear Blogging, by yours truly. What I set out to do in Clear Blogging is give someone who is brand new to blogging an understanding of how the major moving parts of blogging work, why they should blog, the kinds of blogs that currently exist, and just how much impact they could have as a blogger. Judging by the emails I get, and reviews, I succeeded.

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

Bob: In a nutshell, you’ve got to care about what you’re writing. Passion is what makes a blog worth reading. I’m not talking about passion as in shouting, screaming; I’m talking about passion for a subject that makes you hot and eager to write.

Steph: What’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?

Bob: First, edit what you write. Go back, make sure the spelling and grammar work, and most of all make sure your ideas aren’t getting tied up in a knot by your words. Second, find and refine techniques that work for you to keep a steady flow of words from your keyboard to your blog.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?

Bob: Not very. I know the SEO-centric people will tell you different, but I’m trying to telegraph to my readers in one line why (hopefully) the words I’ve written are worth their time, not to please Google.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

Bob: My blogs are my main marketing tools: the more I blog well, the more the phone rings and sales happen.

Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?

Bob: Commenting – with value and passion – elsewhere and creating posts that the people I want to reach find valuable. Google does the rest.

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?

Bob: Guest posts – I’ve done guest posts for several blogs, most recently Lifehack.org. Each guest post lead to a jump in readership.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

Bob:

  • Be passionate.
  • Be polite – trashing others comes back to haunt you.
  • Be pragmatic – don’t try to create perfect posts, you won’t succeed.
  • Be persistent – count on 4 months of obscurity before you get traction.
  • Be proactive – decide what you are going to blog about this week, then execute.

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

Bob: Not having a blogging plan. A blogging plan is very much like a business or marketing plan: it answers why you are here, what are you doing and why anyone will care. Not having the answers to those questions will doom a blog.

Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?

Bob: Beware of and be prepared for blogger’s blight – the strange affliction when your blogging dries up and you just don’t feel you have anything to write about. Every blogger I know of, except Scoble, has come down with this malaise, as have I.

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

Bob: Advertising in excess of the value of the blog.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

Bob: Nope. None of my blogs currently exist for that purpose. Instead, they’ve brought me sales, consulting engagements and various opportunities worth far more than advertising would have brought in.

Steph: What is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?

Bob: The only monetization I do is Amazon Affiliates – I figure if I am helping my readers by talking with them about a book, they won’t mind if I pick up a little pocket money in the process.

Steph: Do you find you get more from direct monetization of your blog or from opportunities that come because of the existence of your blog?

Bob: Opportunities by far, but then again, my blogs exist because I want to talk about, and converse with others, about those subjects, not sell eyeballs.

Steph: Thank you for taking this interview Bob.




Blog Blazer Friday – Benjamin Yoskovitz of Instigator Blog

Each week I am publishing an interview from the book Blog Blazers (in alphabetical order) which can be purchased on Amazon here. The interviews were all done in 2008 and the full list of bloggers interviewed can be found by clicking here.

This week the interview is with Benjamin Yoskovitz of Instigator Blog

Ben Yoskovitz

InstigatorBlog

Benjamin Yoskovitz
Instigator Blog
http://www.InstigatorBlog.com

Biography:

Benjamin Yoskovitz is a 10-year veteran of startups and entrepreneurship. He started his first company in 1996 while studying Psychology at McGill University. His focus has always been on technology and Web-related companies. His expertise is in building successful businesses from the ground up, as well as helping others to do the same.

Benjamin started his blog, Instigator Blog in 2006 and continues to blog regularly about startups, entrepreneurship, business, marketing and technology.

He is now also CEO & co-Founder of a startup in the recruiting space called Standout Jobs.

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

Benjamin: It depends on what goals you set out for your blog in the first place. The most common goal is to make money. A lot of people see blogging as a “get rich quick” scheme, and that’s certainly not the case. But, lots of people are making money from blogging, although very few, comparatively, are earning a living.

My preference, in terms of defining success, is based on the reach and influence you can have through your blog, as well as the opportunities your blog brings you as an authority (in whatever space you’re in.)

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

Benjamin: My blog feels like a success each and every time it brings me a new opportunity that I otherwise would not have gotten. That might be as “small” an opportunity as meeting someone new (that otherwise would have been much more difficult to reach), or as “big” as generating significant consulting and speaking opportunities.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

Benjamin: It takes forever. Blogging successfully – like being successful in business – is not an end goal, it’s a process.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

Benjamin: There are too many to name. Certainly, there are a number of bloggers that make big money, and as much as making money from blogging fascinates me, it’s not my own goal (at least with Instigator Blog.)

So, I’d say:

  • Darren Rowse from ProBlogger – He remains a leader in the “blogging about blogging” world. Lots of people have followed, but no one comes close to his success.
  • Brian Clark from CopyBlogger – He’s been my writing guru. One of my “secrets” to success has been following his series of posts on writing great headlines. That’s not exactly a secret, of course, but surprisingly few people really follow what he writes.
  • Liz Strauss from Successful Blog – She’s a force to be reckoned with when it comes to building relationships through blogging. Heck, there’s an entire conference (SOBCon) named after and dedicated to her.
  • Fred Wilson from AVC – He’s setting the mark for venture capitalists that blog, and as an entrepreneur with a startup, this is great for me. And I bet Fred would tell you that his blogging has led to many interesting opportunities.
  • Maki from Dosh Dosh – He’s had one of the most meteoric rises as a blogger in the social media/blogging/online marketing worlds. Every post is detailed and thought provoking. I wish I could write like that.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

Benjamin: I read over 100 blogs regularly, but here are 5 choices:

  • TechCrunch – It’s still one of the top resources for news on Web 2.0 startups and Internet technology companies. I also track: VentureBeat, Mashable, BlogNation and CenterNetworks which are all in the same vein.
  • JobMatchBox – This is an incredible blog on the recruiting and HR space, which is of particular interest to me because of my startup, Standout Jobs.
  • eMomsAtHome – Wendy is an amazing person and blogger. And don’t let the title of her blog dissuade you; she’s a master of Internet marketing, blogging, social media and much, much more. Wendy provides me insight and inspiration. Plus, she’s a friend.
  • Daily Blog Tips – A great blog about blogging by Daniel Scocco.
  • Cheezhead – Another killer blog about recruiting, and specifically the online recruiting world.

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?

Benjamin: I’ve already mentioned some, but here’s a list:

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?

Benjamin: Depends on how you define success. If you’re basing it on traffic, there are a few that stand out:

One of my favorites is – How-To Start a Company and Family at the Same Time. For starters, it’s quite personal, and it also uses a different format than most blog posts, relying heavily on images.

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

Benjamin: Write a great headline.

Steph: What’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?

Benjamin: This is basic advice on how to write a good blog post. But even though it’s basic, people still don’t follow it well. I try and follow these tips religiously (even if I don’t succeed all the time!)

  • Stick to your niche (you’ve picked a niche, right?)
  • Write a great headline
  • Format posts well – use images, use sub-headlines, use bold & italics and other font treatments
  • Edit content vigorously before publishing it
  • Link to other bloggers often

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

Benjamin: I don’t spend any money, but I do spend lots of time marketing. Of course, we need to define marketing:

  • Building relationships with other bloggers (start by linking to others and commenting on other blogs)
  • Using social media and social bookmarking sites (i.e. Digg, StumbleUpon, etc.)
  • Writing guest posts on other blogs (which I’ve done on Pronet Advertising and Copyblogger)

I don’t have any issues with spending money on marketing, but generally I think it’s hard to buy an audience.

I do think you should spend money on your blog design if you can’t design a great blog on your own.

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?

Benjamin: I’m still surprised, from time to time, by the eagerness and willingness of the blogging community to help other people (including me.) The concept of “reciprocity” is still strong within the blogosphere.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

Benjamin:

  • Write great content (Ha! That’s a huge tip…)
  • Interact with others – You can’t blog by yourself and expect people to find you
  • Link to others frequently
  • Learn about social media / social bookmarking and how to take advantage of those
  • Build one on one relationships with authorities in the blogging world (and in your niche) before you focus on building lots and lots of traffic.
  • Make sure you have a good blog design (Yes; design matters.)
  • Register a domain name

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

Benjamin: There are a few:

  • Obsessing over traffic. It’s hard to not study your traffic numbers on a minute-by-minute basis, but try not to get overwhelmed by the lack of traffic your blog might get initially.
  • Thinking that blogging is easy. It’s not. It takes lots of effort, planning, networking, etc.
  • Not linking to other blogs in an effort to keep visitors from leaving.
  • Writing poor headlines.
  • Focusing on monetization too quickly.

Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?

Benjamin: There are two:

  • Know what you want to talk about. I started blogging without knowing what niche I’d focus on. In fact, I still don’t focus on a specific niche, but I’ve learned to live with that. It’s just the way my blog works; but I know it could be more successful from a traffic perspective if it was more focused. I write about multiple niches because I have multiple interests and my blog is designed to increase my own reach and improve my personal brand in those subjects.
  • Write better headlines.

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

Benjamin:

  • Too much advertising.
  • A crappy design
  • Lousy writing (including dull headlines)

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

Benjamin: Yes, but very little. I don’t focus on monetization since it’s not the point of the blog.

Steph: Do you find you get more from direct monetization of your blog or from opportunities that come because of the existence of your blog?

Benjamin: I make more money from opportunities that come because of the existence of the blog, without a doubt. That’s because my blog is designed to bring me opportunities beyond blog monetization.

Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?

Benjamin: My startup, Standout Jobs, can be traced back to blogging. I started my blog in an effort to build some name recognition and personal brand in the spheres of entrepreneurship and business. As a result of blogging, I went out to some local blogger meetings and other tech meetups in Montreal. I met my co-Founders in Standout Jobs at those meetings. So, by virtue of starting a blog, I ended up with more opportunities to network locally, and was able to meet the people I started Standout Jobs with. If that doesn’t show you the power of blogging, nothing will.

Steph: Any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share?

Benjamin: Blogging isn’t for everyone. But it’s one of the most effective ways for people and businesses of building authority, name recognition and personal brand. It’s one of the most effective ways at building up opportunities for yourself – locally and from all over the world.




Blog Blazer Friday – Ben Casnocha of My Startup Life

Each week I am publishing an interview from the book Blog Blazers (in alphabetical order) which can be purchased on Amazon here. The interviews were all done in 2008 and the full list of bloggers interviewed can be found by clicking here.

This week the interview is with Ben Casnocha of My Startup Life (now called The Start-Up of You)

BenCasnocha

TheStartupOfYou

Ben Casnocha
My Startup Life
http://www.thestartupofyou.com/blog/

Biography:

Ben is one of the younger bloggers in this book, being only 20 years of age. However don’t think his age has anything do to with lack of world experience. By the age of 14 he had already founded his second company, Comcate.

Unlike most other high school students who skip school to have fun, Ben was sneaking away from school for early morning flights to visit prospective clients. This is all the while captaining his high school basketball team and editing the school newspaper!

He has also been featured on CNN Headline News, TechTV, and profiled in the SF Weekly . He has spoken at Stanford University and many other business forums.

Above this, Ben has also written the book “My Start-up Life” which is full of specific and actionable advice for any and all entrepreneurs.

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

Ben: For me, it’s influence. I want my ideas to spread.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

Ben: When people told me I changed their opinion on something. That’s influence.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

Ben: Depends. It takes several months to get in the groove and attract an audience.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

Ben: I look up to Jeff Jarvis, Brad Feld, Tyler Cowen, and others.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

Ben:

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?

Ben: I wrote a popular post on “What Society Overcomplicates” – I argued that parenting and writing are two examples of things which are really really hard – but simple. And that society tends to overcomplicate both these tasks.

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

Ben: Be brief, be interesting, be personal.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?

Ben: Imported but overrated. Actual content is more important.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

Ben: Not really.

Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?

Ben: Word of mouth, commenting on other blogs.

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?

Ben: How powerful a link from a popular blog can be.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

Ben:

  • Be it on for the long term
  • Write for yourself as much as for others
  • Be personal
  • Write well
  • Have fun

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

Ben: Give up after a couple weeks since they feel no one is reading it. It takes time!

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

Ben: Posts which say, “I haven’t posted in 10 minutes and received 20 emails about whether I was still alive. Yes, I’m still alive, just really busy!” If you’re too busy to post, then don’t post. Just don’t talk about how busy you are.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

Ben: Some off advertising.

Steph: Do you find you get more from direct monetization of your blog or from opportunities that come because of the existence of your blog?

Ben: Definitely related opportunities. By a HUGE factor. Most of the monetization is indirect.

Steph: What’s your most interesting story related to your blog and blogging experience?

Ben: I traveled through 20 countries overseas and in many big cities stayed with readers of my blog. Stayed in their house, that is. A wonderful experience.

Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?

Ben: The platform I have because of my blog probably helped convince a publisher to offer me a contract to write my book My Start-Up Life.

Steph: Thank you Ben for your time in taking this interview.

 




Blog Blazer Friday – Asha Dornfest of Parent Hacks

Each week I am publishing an interview from the book Blog Blazers (in alphabetical order) which can be purchased on Amazon here. The interviews were all done in 2008 and the full list of bloggers interviewed can be found by clicking here.

This week the interview is with Asha Dornfest of Parent Hacks

Asha Dornfest

parentHackLogo

Asha Dornfest
Parent Hack
http://www.ParentHacks.com

Biography:

Asha Dornfest is the founder and publisher of Parent Hacks, a site devoted to parents’ scrappy, real-world tips and product recommendations.

Starting a blog was a natural outgrowth of Asha’s background in writing and technology. Before the Web was in popular use and well before kids, she and her husband Rael started a “Web design” business. In the early 90s, if you knew HTML, you were practically a Web designer by default. From there, Asha went on to write several computer how-to manuals, including “For Dummies” titles about Web publishing.

After her kids were born, her interest and writing inspiration turned to parenting, not because she felt a sense of expertise – in fact, just the opposite. Parenting was the first endeavor Asha undertook in which “reading the manual” had no effect, and, in some cases, made things harder. She started Parent Hacks as a place where parents could find those priceless tidbits of “worked for me” parenting advice one usually stumbled upon by chance – stuff that rarely showed up in the “expert” parenting manuals lining her bookshelves. Along the way, she discovered a generous and smart community of parents all of whom understand that when enough of us throw a bit of wisdom into the pot, it gets easier for all of us.

Asha is the mother of two children (an eight year-old son and a four year-old daughter), and the wife of a charming and brilliant geek. They live in Portland, Oregon.

Interview:

Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?

Asha: Traffic, reach, and revenue are all metrics that can be measured so they get a disproportionate amount of attention. They’re important numbers. Absolutely. But even though I’m working on ways to make those numbers grow, I don’t actually think they are the most important indicators of success. Nothing like leading with a cliché, but I’ll do it anyway: a successful blog (or publication or business) improves the lives of its readers. That may mean supplying a time-saving tip, saving readers money, or making them laugh. Whatever…if a blog improves the lives of its readers, they’ll keep coming back, and when they do, the traffic, reach and revenue will follow.

Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?

Asha: Reached success? Hmmm, I don’t think success is an end point, really. That said, I’m thrilled with my readers’ level of enthusiasm and involvement. I’ve always enjoyed the role of community facilitator, and I feel like that’s what I’ve become at Parent Hacks. It’s more than a one-way blog…it’s a conversation.

Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?

Asha: There’s no way to quantify the time it takes, although folks in it for the long haul certainly have an advantage. Parent Hacks is one of those unusual cases of a site taking off almost as soon as it launched (disgusting, I know.). I wish I could take all the credit and say that it was my brilliant forethought and subtle design, but serendipity played a big part.

Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?

Asha: My role models are Leo Babauta, J. D. Roth (Getting Rich Slowly) and Merlin Mann (43 Folders). Each writes a highly-engaging blog with a distinctive voice. Each built authoritative blogs because they wanted to improve an aspect of their own lives, and then share what they learned with the world. That generosity comes across in every page. None of these writers rests on the laurels of a “successful site;” they’re always looking for ways to give readers useful, well-written content. While each of these writers earns revenue from their sites, and is open about it, money never feels like the purpose of the blog. The bottom line is almost too simple: I like each of these people a lot.

Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?

Asha:

Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?

Asha:

Steph: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?

Asha: I find that books on blogging generally lag too far behind the info available online. On the other hand, marketing books, with Seth Godin’s books standing out in particular, are good reminders that our blogs are, indeed, worthy of great content AND good promotion.

Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?

Asha: Hard to judge, really. The post I’m most proud of is the one in which I shared the story of an American grandmother stationed in Iraq who collected toys and distributed them to children she met there. I encouraged Parent Hacks readers, along with all the bloggers I knew, to spread the word and donate toys, and we managed to create an incredible toy drive. People were so happy to be able to do something positive in the face of a terrible situation.

Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?

Asha: Economical writing. Follow those journalism rules — lead with a strong hook, and only write as much as you need to. But don’t make it so sparse that it feels impersonal. Readers should never wonder if there’s a person behind the blog. Bonus tip: if you’re funny, use humor. If you’re not (be honest), stick to useful.

Steph: What’s your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?

Asha: Good writing counts. Connect with your readers.

Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?

Asha: Exceedingly important, both for time-challenged RSS subscribers and for a good showing in search engines.

Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?

Asha: No money (except a few hundred bucks on business cards and a great logo), but I should spend more time. I’ve really focused on community-building rather than on expanding the audience.

Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?

Asha: These would be my main methods if I spent the time I should on marketing: reaching out to print pubs, swapping posts with other sites, and just reaching out to people whose work I admire — that’s something I do naturally because I’m so interested in how people do things. I toy with working the Diggs and Facebooks of the world, but I never stick with it.

Steph: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?

Asha: One thing I’m terrible at is analyzing my stats and testing my site improvements. As soon as people start asking me these sorts of questions I start stuttering. The quality that has likely made Parent Hacks as successful as it is — my focus on content and community — may bite me down the road, because I don’t do anything with the pile of Google Analytics data I’ve got right in front of me.

Steph: What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?

Asha:

  • Read Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style.”
  • Open your eyes to the world…soon you’ll be following every observation with “I’ve got to blog about this.”
  • Email your readers. If you don’t have any, email writers you admire (briefly, they’re busy). Jump in!
  • Don’t neglect your life offline.
  • Get your own domain name.

Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?

Asha: Trying to affect a cynical, snarky blog persona. I can’t STAND authors who throw around the negativity in an effort to appear intelligent or edgy. Come to think of it, I don’t like people who do that in real life, either.

Steph: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what’s the one biggest tip you’d give yourself today?

Asha: Get help.

Steph: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?

Asha: Bad writing.

Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?

Asha: Yep. Advertising (through Federated Media, Google AdSense and Feedburner) and Amazon Associates affiliate fees.

Steph: What is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?

Asha: Depends on the time of year, but my Amazon earnings have had the biggest growth curve.

Steph: Do you find you get more from direct monetization of your blog or from opportunities that come because of the existence of your blog?

Asha: I’ve gotten lots of offers (paid blogging jobs, book projects, etc.) as a result of my blogging, but I’ve turned almost all of them down in order to focus on my site.

Steph: What’s your most interesting story related to your blog and blogging experience?

Asha: Once again, the Iraq toy drive that happened as a result of a Parent Hacks post. It is so humbling to think that there are little children in Iraq, many of whom are orphans, that have toys, clothes and supplies as a result of my spending a couple of hours writing a post and emailing people from the comfort of my dining room. I don’t relate this story to pump up my self-importance, but to point out the amazing connective power blogs can have.

Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?

Asha: The chance to collaborate on a book with one of the most well-respected pediatricians in the country.

Steph: Any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share?

Asha: I just want to thank you for including me in this fascinating project! I can’t wait to hear what your other interviewees have to say. I still have so much to learn.

Oh — one last rah-rah. I just want to encourage folks who want to write anything to start blogging. For us extroverted writers, the isolation that comes with writing is often the most difficult part. While blogging still happens behind a computer, it thrusts you into a fascinating community of people, many of whom may even become friends.




Andy Brice Offering ISV Training Course

Andy Brice of Successful Software and PerfectTablePlan is offering a course for ISV’ers over the weekend of Nov 23-24, 2013. I don’t normally post endorsements like this on my blog here but Andy is a great guy and I know his course will be very excellent. What’s really good is that he’s limiting the classroom size to only 10 people for the session so that he can give the attendees more individual attention and focus. It’s much better than a larger session with dozens of people, you’ll be able to meet and talk to Andy directly. His experiences and success as an ISV’er is very valuable.

It will be held in Alexandra House which is located in Swindon, England. I understand that this will most likely make it more difficult for most of my readers as the majority are located in North America, but for those of you over on the across the pond, I do recommend it.

The course is for ISV’ers, so if you don’t know what ISV means then it’s probably not for you. However if you’re familiar with the term then you really should attend it. It includes 2 days of classes. He includes lunches and snacks, parking, wifi, etc. And best of all he includes a 1 hour follow-up phone consultation per student. For me personally the last part, the phone consultation, is probably the most valuable part of the course. Andy really knows his stuff when it comes to everything ISV related, so I strongly recommend anyone taking the course to absolutely take advantage of the follow-up call. I have no doubt it will be worthwhile.

I’ve known Andy for some years and I can tell you he really knows his stuff. I don’t normally do recommendations here, but I know Andy will do an amazing job of the course so I’m making an exception today and recommending his course. For example although I founded LandlordMax over 10 years ago and know Adwords very well (I even wrote an ebook that is almost a third about Adwords) yet I still engaged Andy for assistance in our Adwords campaign because I trusted his knowledge (and we’re no lightweights when it comes to Adwords). I reached out to him, not the other way around. I’ve also interviewed Andy in 2008 for my book called Blog Blazers to which you can read Andy’s interview here. Basically I can tell you he knows what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur successful.

One last comment, I’ve noticed a lot of programmers/developers out there who think that starting a software company is mainly about programming, but it’s not. In most cases, more of your time is spent in other activities outside of programming. You need to understand about a lot of other things for a business to succeed. A great programmer does not make a successful business. Probably the most under appreciated aspect of business by programmers is the value of marketing and advertising. It’s very important! Along with a number of other business related items most programmers tend to ignore, it can make the difference between success and failure. And this is one of the reasons I think a course like Andy’s will be so worthwhile to ISV’ers. Andy is going to show important tools that are needed for success that go beyond just programming!

You can find the details and information for the course here. Enjoy!




 
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