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
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).
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?
- 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.