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What I’ve Learned about Blogging From Robert Scoble

Robert-ScobleToday’s guest post is from Chris Garrett from chrisg.com.

In my last guest post here I listed some things we can learn from Darren’s blog. This time I am going to look at a blogger who many would like to emulate, if only for the fame, blog celebrity lifestyle and cool geek toys he gets access to. For todays post I am going to look at Robert Scoble. Now before I get slated for name-checking an “A-Listers A-Lister” let me explain why I find him interesting. Robert Scoble on the face of it does many inadvisable things, he …

  • moved URL – a sure fire way of losing readers is to move domains
  • lists his cell phone number – how many crank calls must he get?
  • has a feed addiction – he reads way more feeds than any human being should consume (although I think I am catching up)
  • publishes a link blog – we always say add value to be successful yet here is a famous blogger just posting links?
  • is pro-Microsoft - enough on its own to get flamed in some areas
  • name-drops – sometimes reading his posts is like looking at the cover of a celebrity magazine “so and so says” “I just met” “talking to” “over dinner with” …
  • has a horrible design – design? What design? – his template is, well I wouldn’t say ugly … but … pretty basic. Surely he has access to a decent designer? I guess you can say it is clean. Could be worse.

So he is not perfect by any means. In fact as he said himself, he does many of the things that make people unsubscribe from your feed. He is doing something right though, he is an A-Lister after all. I don’t think anyone would dispute that. What can we learn from him?

  • Network – be a hub and a connector. Robert seems to spend as much time having lunches with movers and shakers as he does blogging and speaking. Blogging is as much about relationships as it is writing. To succeed you have to have great content, of course, but it also helps to be well connected.
  • Monitor the news – You might not want to handle the quantity of feeds that Robert does but keeping his finger on the pulse of the blogosphere certainly pays off dividends. He is always right there with the big stories.
  • Scoop – As well as reporting on the news it also helps massively if you can create it or scoop it. While at Microsoft many people turned first to his blog for the latest scoops on what Microsoft was up to. Using his unparalleled access to top industry names he’s still on top of the news.
  • Unique, interesting links – Link to great stuff that others haven’t noticed. One of the great things about Roberts link blog is that it doesn’t just replicate the popular Digg and del.icio.us stories – he has his own sources. If you are linking out to the same old stuff people won’t need your feed cluttering up their reader. Find fresh and exciting new stuff though and your readers will reward you.
  • Nobody is perfect - Many bloggers try to project an image of perfection. Admit when you are wrong, there is no harm in it, in fact it could do you a world of good. I believe part of Roberts success in helping Microsoft repair their relationship with the public was Roberts willingness to admit when mistakes had been made, personally or by the company. This builds trust.
  • Be transparent - Another trust building quality is a willingness to be transparent. If he could talk about something he would. Where a spin-doctor would have gone into overdrive his attitude was “What do you want to know, I will tell you what I can and what I don’t know I will find out”. You never felt he was hiding anything just to protect the company.
  • Keep it real – You can tell Robert is human. He doesn’t tow the company line, speaks his mind, gets emotional and never resorts to weasel words. As the front man for Microsoft it would have been tempted to create just another PR mouthpiece but on many occasions he was as critical of the company as any other commentator. As an A-Lister he could throw his weight around and let it go to his head, a real turn-off. He writes with a human voice and that helps people warm to him. Some bloggers are so concerned with perfection their writing becomes robotic. Loosen up, write like you speak. Yes review and correct spellings and grammar but not to the extent where you choke all the warmth out of your writing.
  • Little and often – Some days Scoble posts a lot. Darren has commented a couple of times about the dangers of misjudging posting frequency. Some readers are put off by too much content too fast. I believe why it works for Robert is, like Seth Godin, he posts little and often. Small bite sized 15-second posts work well.

I guess the main lessons to learn from Scobleizer are to network well, use those connections to stay on top of movements in your niche, and link to good stuff, first. For corporate bloggers especially, be as real and transparent as your company will allow and your customers and readers will appreciate it. Those lessons can be applied to any subject area. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from being the Scoble of your niche.

Read more from Chris Garret at his blog chrisg.com.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Steve James says:

    Whoa, I thought we weren’t allowed to call the top bloggers A-listers? Man, this can change in an instant! :-)

    As easy as it is to pick at Scoble, he really just doesn’t change, which is admirable. I mean, he he even added little ol’ me as a twitter friend. I’m still riding that high…

  2. George says:

    Really nice post Chris. I like the way you pointed out the way Scoble breaks some of the so called “rules” of blogging and has a big following. Kind of shows how important it is to be unique.

  3. I guess I am slow to pick up on the rules :)

  4. Brad says:

    I’ve been thinking of moving to a new domain, but am afraid of doing so due to linking issues. Have anybody here had good/bad experiences switching domains?

    Thanks

  5. Hello Chris, You made me very happy. I came to know 2 good bloggers. One is, of course, Robert Scoble. Now i will go to your blog. Thanks!

  6. Great article! It’s good to know that even the professional ‘A-list’ bloggers can make mistakes too, and still be as successful as they are.

  7. Googlaxy says:

    How many feeds does he read? Someone can tell me?

  8. Wow!

    You’ve just got me to subscribe to Robert’s blog. Did not know so much about him.

    Networking is the key word I would say behind Scoble’s success. Definitely everything else is not undermined.

    Great homework Chris.

    Cheers!

  9. JennDZ says:

    Another set of really great tips…just one big question? How does one get so well connected??

  10. Dean Power says:

    congratulations on writing a really good post. shattering the illusion “the perfect blogger” probably makes many people feel more comfortable, it certainly works for me. for anyone who has’t seen it yet scobleshow is robert’s video blog which is just an amazing way to stay in touch with web 2.0 developments.

  11. 1dollar says:

    Maybe it’s more the guy’s personality as said higher on it’s networking that gave him this success.

  12. James says:

    I’ve always wondered why it is such a popular blog. Mostly because I never took the time to check it out.
    Great post, it got me to check out Scobleizer finally. I spent too much time there.

  13. After viewing his painful and unforgetable last blog post – (he will be off for a week) – it is unlikely he will be leaving any more cell phone numbers in the near future – nor will any other popular Bloggers

    However, the design of his blog is user friendly, non distracting and fast loading – which for some, is all that is needed.

  14. Melanie says:

    Good advice esp “Loosen up, write like you speak.” Very important!

  15. Piedmont says:

    re #4 Brad

    It really depends on how established the site is and whether you think your subscribers would follow you (it’s a WAG). I see you’ve got 299 inlinks per yahoo which is something, but a couple good posts at your new domain and you could replicate that fast. Also, you could put a 301 (http://www.webconfs.com/how-to-redirect-a-webpage.php) on the old site and transfer much of that page pank. I’ve had great success with that (it really did in my case transfer not just my page rank, but my Google search traffic as well). If you have any questions about any of that feel free to contact me at my link. Good luck.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] There is an interesting post from Chris Garrett as his guest post in Darren Rowse’s blog. He noted some tips and tricks that lead Robert Scoble to be A-List blogger. I guess the main lessons to learn from Scobleizer are to network well, use those connections to stay on top of movements in your niche, and link to good stuff, first. [...]

  2. [...] My last two posts at ProBlogger focused on two successful individual bloggers, Darren Rowse and Robert Scoble. While we can learn a great deal from observing individual people, for this post I am going to look at examples of a particular type of blog; the Focused Niche Blog. [...]

  3. [...] Scoble on WordPress.com Honored: What I’ve Learned about Blogging From Robert Scoble by Chris Garrett features WordPress.com’s own Robert Scoble. [...]

  4. [...] Scoble on WordPress.com Honored: What I’ve Learned about Blogging From Robert Scoble by Chris Garrett features WordPress.com’s own Robert Scoble. [...]