I’ve been chatting to Andy from Easy Bake Weblogs (affiliate link) for the past week or so via Skype and am really enjoying chatting with another problogger who knows his stuff. Andy comes at his blogging from a slightly different direction to me – he’s an experienced blogger who is making his blogging related income a little less directly than I do from blogs. Where my income is largely through advertising on the actual blogs that I run Andy has a variety of other income streams including design work, tele-seminars and an e-book.
Today I was chatting to Andy about his ebook (its information page is here) and asked what its focus of – and two seconds later he’d generously sent me a copy for my thoughts and review. I’m really glad that he did because I have really enjoyed reading it over the past hour or so.
I’ll say up front that I’ve never been a huge fan of e-books – maybe its because I had a bad experience with the first one I ever got, or maybe I’m just tight, but my opinion of them has never been great. I’ve heard too many stories of people forking over substantial amounts of money only to get a 30 page document with large typeset with information that you could find anywhere on the net for free.
So you can imagine my suspicion as I sat down in my local cafe this morning to take a look at the Easy Bake Weblogs E-book.
I’m happy to report that my suspicions were off the mark in this case. Let me share how I found it:
For starters Andy’s book is 139 pages long (including appendix) – its well laid out – it is easy to read and its original material and not copied from someone else’s site.
Easy Bake Weblogs is an E-book about blogging that is set out into five sections.
Part 1 – A Who-Log? A Web-What? – What is a Blog? This section is a good basic introduction to blogging with a history of blogging, an introduction to the anatomy of blogs, trackback, and some of the advantages of blogging. As an experienced blogger I didn’t learn anything new here but its a chapter I wish I could carry around in my back pocket to give to some of my friends who want to know what a blog is.
Part 2 – Blogs and Business - In this section Andy begins to unpack some of the useful ways that blogs can be used by businesses and individuals wanting to be a bit more entrepreneurial with their blogs. He examines some questions of whether to have a website or a blog, an email newsletter or a blog and a discussion forum or a blog? He gives some examples of businesses and business people using blogs and gives some hints at the future of blogging. Once again it was a chapter that didn’t personally stretch what I know but a chapter that I think would be useful for newbie bloggers or pre-bloggers – especially businesses wanting to get into the medium. Its definitely something I’ll have in the back of my mind next time I do a business blog consultancy.
Part 3 – Creating and Publishing your First Weblog – This is where the useful stuff happens in the book in my mind. By ‘useful’ I’m not saying its useful for everyone reading this review – but specifically for the many readers of ProBlogger who are:
• trying to work out which blogging tool to use
• thinking through how to set up their first blog
• wanting to start a fresh with a new blog
Andy’s ‘gift’ is the ability to walk new bloggers through the set up process of their first blogs using the TypePad system. He first talks you through some of the different blogging tools out there with their advantages and then chooses TypePad (with good reason) as a blogging tool that is idea for his readership. This is a good tool for those he’s aiming this blog at (those wanting an ‘Easy Bake Blog’) because its so easy to use and set up yet its versatile enough to be able to individualize.
I’ve never used TypePad (I have used its big brother MovableType) but having read these sections of Andy’s E-book I’m actually tempted to start one and feel as though even I (a complete non techie type) could do it.
Part 4 – Advanced Techniques – In this section (and the last one) Andy outlines all the basics of setting up a blog, posting, uploading pictures, and using most of TypePads features including tweaking templates, profiles, using bookmarklets and remote posting.
Part 5 – Promoting Your Blog – Lastly Andy turns to ways of getting your blog out there – finding readers for it. It is another good introduction to blog promotion looking at syndication, blogrolls, stats, pinging etc. Nothing too new for me here but I’ve been exploring this stuff for over two years now and could have done with this section when I first started!
Appendices – There are some useful things hidden away back here including a bonus chapter on an introduction to RSS feeds and News Aggregators.
My Recommendation – So the big question always is – Is this E-book worth it?
As per usual I’m going to answer with an ‘it depends’ response. I’d suggest you take a look at the title of his book before you get your credit card out and ask yourself the question – ‘do I want or need an ‘easy bake weblog’?’
I know for a fact that some of the readers of this blog will and should answer this question with a resounding YES and that this E-book would be a perfect starting place for them. This is a book for people who fit into one or all of these categories:
• If you don’t have much experience with blogs or websites
• If you want to test out whether blogging is for you but you want to do it well (you can always upgrade and/or convert your blog to a different or more professional system later on once you’ve tested it)
• If you want to use a system like TypePad for your blogging (which is a professional, cheap but not free option that is pretty easy to use)
• If you want to start a new blog and have never used TypePad before and are not confident in getting it right by yourself
• If you like following simple well thought out processes and instructions
I know that this blog also has a lot of readers who are ProBloggers in their own right already. One just has to look at the last poll I ran to see that some of you are earning good money from your blogging and the current poll to see that many of you already have multiple blogs with substantial experience in the medium already. I suspect that if you’re in this boat that this is probably not a book that you’ll learn too much from. It might be helpful if you want to learn how to use TypePad or if you’re looking to see how Andy explains some of the basics to others – but its not really an ‘Advanced’ users book.
Some of you will no doubt leave a comment below that goes something like this:
‘isn’t all this information already available for free on the internet?
This is a criticism that is almost always made of e-books and it is a valid one. I’m sure a lot of what Andy has written here is available out on the web for free (some of it on this website) – but what you’re paying for here is Andy’s collation of this information into a single, logical, well thought out piece of work. Andy has filtered out a lot of the rubbish that is ‘out there’ and provides a comprehensive unit of work on a topic all in one spot. If you’d rather do the research and spend hours finding it yourself I’m sure you could do that – but if you’re after an ‘easy bake’ option save yourself some time and shell over some dollars on this ebook.
If you’re interested in it you can get more details on the different packages Andy offers here.