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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Top 10 from (to) a novice blogger

One of my former Intuit colleague's, Avinash Kaushik, shared some insightful tips that I really got a lot out of. I'm sure this may be obvious to some, but I learned from it. Here's the summary:

  1. Nobody cares about you, they care about what you can do for them
  2. Have a personality, reflect your core beliefs, be honest, have fun
  3. Blogging is a very serious time commitment
  4. Pick a subject matter you are passionate about and that you are good at
  5. Respect the intelligence of your audience
  6. Blogs need constant promotion, participation and evangelism
  7. Being “digg’ed” is great exposure but traffic builds gradually over time, one person at a time
  8. Have goals, whatever you want them to be
  9. Be nice, save your hidden agendas for other uses
  10. Nobody will read my blog
More detail can be found on his blog, here.

Robert Scoble boiled it down to two factors: (a) focus on something you are passionate about (#4 for Avinash) and (b) figure out how people are going to find you. This encompasses a bunch of tactics that I'm sure is so natural to Scoble he doesn't enumerate for us mere mortals: keyword research, SEO, link baiting, ecosystem blogs, inbound links, clear goalsetting/ a mere blogging padawan apprentice, I seek to learn the deeper ways of the Force...:)

UPDATE: And my friend and former business partner Sandeep Giri comments further on this here.


Sandeep Giri said...

A blog's success depends on how effective it is in starting conversations -- which means you either get comments like this, or someone links your post on their blog expanding on the topic -- or simply email the link around with some comments.

Why would someone do that?

Well, only if they actually care about what you write about. And caring is more of an emotional response rather than intellectual one. Scoble, Doc Searl, et al really stress on "having a voice", which happens when you combine passion and get awawy from corporate-speak, IMHO.

Scoble's point on being easy to find is also important -- but instead of going the SEO route, it is more important to find interesting conversations in the blogosphere and participate. If you are an active participator with a unique and compelling voice, the search engines are bound to pick you up.

Personally, I found it helpful to write a post outlining my reasons for blogging --

So, there -- I've commented, put a link and dropped a link to my own blog -- and now, it all depends on whether this comment is able to move the conversation forward.

elliott said...

Sandeep, you are an animal. Yes I agree that its about conversations and building community with like minded people via their blogs. I'm not a cold-hearted SEO just mining my keyword tail for traffic. But I'm thinking about creating some China-oriented blogs where I do care what the business model is for the much does it cost to create/author the content, and what benefit does it deliver (ultimately)? So then I want to understand what effort drives the biggest result. In general I agree with you (and Avinash) that content is king, and personality/authenticity is what to strive for. I've got a lot of stories about how difficult it was at Intuit for people to unlearn their corporate speak (especially marketing people, haha). Anyway, appreciate your advice on focusing on the big stuff of community, collaboration, and giving back to the blogosphere.

Sandeep Giri said...

But I'm thinking about creating some China-oriented blogs where I do care what the business model is for the much does it cost to create/author the content, and what benefit does it deliver (ultimately)? So then I want to understand what effort drives the biggest result.

Hmmm.. blog as a business model? Never quite thought about it that way. Doesn't blog serve you best more as a marketing channel as opposed to being a business itself? I doubt that (generally) you will be able to generate traffic (er, conversations), etc. in a short amount of time. As Avinash also pointed out, it takes time.

Also, it's been said that it's not how many people read your blog, but more about how many right people read your blog. People connect with you because of the relevant of your content to their life/business and as such, it can open doors to fruitful partnership and collaboration, either personal or business or both.

Think about it this way -- if you keep posting your unique voice on China-oriented business models, etc. -- and the Lord of Chinese Business World somehow happens to stumble upon your post -- which then results into a coversation, and then a business meeting, and then perhaps a big business deal -- then, a readership of one is well worth the time/effort to keep blogging. :-)

My point is -- I find it hard to justify blogging alone as a business model, and use time/effort vs payback as the criteria to whether start (or spend a lot of time on) a blog or not. It's mainly an additional, yet very effective, channel to present your voice to the market.

So -- I'd say, keep blogging as happily as you send emails, get involved in as many conversations in your space as possible, and also work all possible SEO tricks to be found more easily. And keep hoping at least one of the Lord(s) of Chinese Business will find you eventually.

(I might suggest turning off word verification -- use it if you are getting spammed mercilessly -- but right now, you want to make it easy for people to comment)