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 Andy Brice of Successful Software
Andy Brice is the founder of the software company Oryx Digital Ltd. He is also the creator of the software called PerfectTablePlan (sold by Oryx Digital Ltd.), a table seating planner for weddings, banquets and dinners. In addition to this Andy writes a blog about developing and marketing software called SuccessfulSoftware.net. He makes his living from the sales of his software product PerfectTablePlan through his company.
The blog SuccessfulSoftware.net was originally a sideline to his main software business however it has since generated significant interest and traffic from the community. On it you will find many useful and interesting articles, especially if you’re a small independent software vendor (ISV).
Steph: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?
Andy: It depends on what your objectives are for your blog. But obviously readership is important. I don’t think there is much point writing something if no-one else reads it.
Steph: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?
Andy: I don’t think I have reached that point yet. Getting lucky once doesn’t count.
Steph: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?
Andy: Ask me again in a few years.
Steph: Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?
Andy: Amongst the thousands of people blogging about software, I would guess that Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood are the most successful, in terms of readership and influence. They have very different styles, but their blogs are always very insightful, well written and entertaining. Although you could argue that Joel On Software isn’t strictly a blog, because it doesn’t have comments.
Steph: Which five blogs do you regularly read?
Andy: I track about 30 different blogs in my RSS reader, nearly all related to software development and marketing. It’s tough to single out a few. But three that stand out for me are:
Steph: Which websites would you recommend for any new bloggers starting to blog?
Andy: None really. Blogging is far too incestuous as it is. Just write about things that you care about that you think other people will care about.
Steph: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?
Andy: I haven’t read any books about blogging, so I can’t comment.
Steph: What is your most successful blog post ever?
Andy: I wrote a minor investigative piece showing that many software download sites were giving out bogus awards to get back links. I think every software author who submits to download sites knew this was going on, but I proved it by getting a page full of awards for a program that didn’t even run (it was a renamed text file). I hoped a few hundred people might read the article, but the response was quite overwhelming.
It made it to the front page of Digg.com, Reddit.com and Slashdot and even got a mention in the Guardian newspaper. According to my WordPress stats it has had 157,000 hits in the three months since I wrote it, with 53,000 hits on the peak day. I hope that the article will make some small contribution to ending this ugly practice.
Steph: What’s your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?
Andy: Write well. Don’t listen to people like me who got lucky once.
Steph: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?
Andy: I think the headline is important to draw people in. But they won’t stay long if the rest of the article isn’t well written.
Steph: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?
Andy: Not really.
Steph: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?
Andy: I include a link to my blog in my email signature. That’s it.
Steph: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?
Andy: Too much commentary and not enough content. Try to write something interesting, rather than comment on something someone else wrote.
Steph: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?
Andy: I don’t run ads on my blog and I always try to make clear any interests I might have.
So far I have managed a free t-shirt from Eric Sink, $10 in e-junkie referral fees and 2 additional sales of my PerfectTablePlan software. I don’t think I will be retiring from writing software any time soon.
Steph: What’s the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?
Andy: Writing a blog takes a lot of time and effort. I think most people who write a blog hope for something in return for their efforts. One of my goals is to raise the profile of the consulting side of my business. But I currently don’t have any time to spare from PerfectTablePlan, so it’s a long-term goal. Also I like writing. It’s nice to be able to sound off about things you care about.
Steph: Any other comments or thoughts you’d like to share?
Andy: Register your own domain. Don’t rely on a blogging service to provide one for you. It is very cheap, convenient and easy to use a free service, such as WordPress.com. They are also very well set-up to handle the inevitable traffic spike if you get ‘slashdotted’. But it does come with its own risks. WordPress can shut down your blog without a warning, without a reason and without any right of appeal. It happened to my blog not long ago. Apparently it was an honest mistake on their part and they restored full access. But if they hadn’t, at least I would have been able to redirect somewhere else from SuccessfulSoftware.net.