A Guest Post by Chris Brogan from Human Business Works
I started my first blog back in 1998, when it was called journaling. It was on some Geocities site whose name I no longer remember. From there, I moved to Tripod, and then to Blogger, a quick side-step into another platform or two, and then WordPress. Along the way, it went from being a place to share my fiction, and then my self-improvement efforts, and there were a lot of other iterations, too.
Maybe more of interest to you: it took me 8 years to get my first 100 subscribers, and I can say without a doubt that blogging was what made me most every dollar I earned from 2006 until present, in one way or another. It also landed me a New York Times Bestselling Book. Want to hear more?
My First Biggest Discovery
In the beginning, I wrote for myself. I wrote about myself, too. And I gave my opinions on this or that. Guess who cared? Only me.
My first big discovery was to be helpful. The more I could create material that was useful to others, the more it would be rewarded by people visiting more, interacting more, and checking in more often to see if I had anything more to help with.
That same process of learning how to be helpful led to my course, Blog Topics: The Master Class, which was a much more structured and premium version of what I had accumulated for skills. In fact, learning how to help gave me the idea to create courses that would add value to professionals in lots of different subject areas. Which, of course, led to even more success.
How To Get More Readers
The predominant advice out there is to guest post (like I’m doing now!) and that’s not wrong. But what I’ve come to learn is this: the more you interact with people on their sites and where they are, the more people will flow back to interact with you. Not the “big names.” Connect with the up and comers. That’s part one. The second part is that you have to practice the “B Strategy.”
- Be Helpful (already told you that).
- Be Human
- Be Interesting
- Be Everywhere
The sketch is this: most blog posts I’m sent to read end up being boring, too short, not especially helpful, and feel like they were written as a chore. Does that sound like the way to attract readers? I think not.
Build the Newsletter Subscriber List Early
I’ll tell you the most surprising (and depressing) revelation of all my years of blogging. Though my blog has attracted a lot of opportunities, if I intend to sell something, my blog isn’t actually very effective. My beloved newsletter has only about 29,000 subscribers on it. Compare that to my 200K unique monthly visits. Now, get this: I get 10x more sales activity (by volume, not %) from my newsletter. So, 10x less people get my newsletter, and I sell 10x more there than via my blog.
If I could go back and change one thing early, it would be to create a valuable newsletter earlier. Get mine to see what I do to make it valuable.
The Best Part of Blogging
When I met Darren Rowse for the first time, it was in the presence of Brian Clark (Copyblogger) at the first BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas. It felt like magic, because the three of us had been writing successful blogs for a little while. Both Darren and Brian were more successful than me (still are), but we had very different approaches. Here’s the list of what I love most about blogging:
- It lets me build business my way.
- It empowered me to meet smart people.
- It lets me help others in a scalable way.
- It affords me a place to earn leads based on my thoughts.
- It enables a campfire around which a community can gather.
I won’t be closing down my blog any time soon, even if it’s supposedly dead. Again.
Some Lessons For You
Here’s some advice on the way out the door:
- Never write super long posts like this one.
- Never write self-referential posts like this one.
- Don’t approach guest posting as an opportunity to stuff your links into someone else’s blog, like I did.
- Don’t lecture people on what to do like I am doing.
Oh, and break the “rules.” Do whatever serves your community best. That’s what got me this far (15 years and counting), and that’s what will get me to my next level. See you there?
Chris Brogan is the president and CEO of Human Business Works, a publishing and media company providing courses, books, and live education to professionals like you. He wishes he were Darren Rowse.