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Day 1: My Blogging Secrets

June 25th, 2007

blogging secrets - don't tell anyone!I’ve fretted over doing this series all weekend. Not because I’m letting out my secret-sauce secrets, rather because I think that many of you will walk away and think … uh, ya, I knew that a long time ago. So, to quote Andy Sernovitz in one of my favorite presentation quotes, please, “lower your expectations:) :)

Those of you who are here for career-related information, and couldn’t care less about blogging, realize that I’m a huge fan of blogging for personal branding. I think that most people should have a blog and work hard to use the blog as a tool to quantify who we are – our breadth and depth. So hang in there this week as I share some things that have helped in the last year with JibberJobber, which can also help with your own personal brand!

Today’s secret is all about relationships. Sorry to go old-school on you, but there is no way around it. There is no voodoo, no Harry Potter magic, no wishful thinking. It’s old-fashioned relationship stuff.

I have a friend who said recently “why ask others to promote your blog, digg, stumble, blog about it, etc? If you focus on the content then the traffic you want will come!” I agree that content is huge, and key to building a community of readers and participants over time, but I do think that you need to market your blog. The low hanging fruit in blog marketing is registering in Technorati and other places like that. I paid $1.99 for a service that would register the JibberJobber blog to over 30 blog engine things. I say this is low-hanging fruit because it’s easy (you just fill out a form), it’s fast, and you only have to do it once. But the value is also low — everyone can do it, and I can’t think of any benefit that I got from it. Maybe you’ve had different experiences with this, but for me it was something to do once and then not revisit.

When I started last year I knew no one in the employment/career space. I actually didn’t know much about this space, thinking all coaches operated in the same way (no way), and all recruiters operated with the same MO (no way). I would look for bloggers in the employment space and try and get on their radar. I wanted them to know who I was!

You have to remember, I was a nobody. JibberJobber could have been a “fly-by-night” operation for all they knew, and most important, no one knew me! The only thing I could do is spend time trying to show that I was authentic, and here to stay. Here’s what what I did:

  1. Find a blog that is in my space.
  2. Find a recent post that I could contribute to… intelligently! If I can only say “Right On! Your blog rocks!” then I would NOT leave this comment and I would move on.
  3. Leave the comment, and check it for tone, message, etc. My signature back then was simply “Jason Alba.”

Some additional thoughts:

  • I would not leave controversial, contradictory or mean comments. I respected the fact that this was their blog, they had their own readership, and I wanted to help them look good. Seems like common sense but I’ve seen others try this tactic and counter every single post they leave comments on. Sure you can be controversial but I think it’s far more effective to be controversial in your blog rather than in a comment on someone else’s blog.
  • I would bookmark the blog in a special bookmark folder. Firefox allows me to open all my bookmarked sites in separate folders, so when I start out my day I could just open all the blogs I’m following in their own tabs. I tried to use RSS readers but I was more interested in the comments/discussion than just the first paragraph of the post (or even the entire post). So I had to see the original blog post, not a feed.
  • I would follow-up every single day to see if the conversation moved forward. I didn’t want someone to follow-up on my comment, especially with a question to me, and miss the opportunity to respond.
  • I would regularly explore peripheral networks where I could identify blogs I liked and did the same thing on these. Some primary networks that I identified include recruiting, resume writers, and career coaches. Peripheral networks included associations, leadership and management, branding and marketing experts,

I figured that each blog had between 10 to 100 readers (obviously some have much more), so each comment I left would put my site in front of another 10 to 100 people. This was a really interesting exercise for me as it really helped me understand the landscape of the employment space, understand what thought-leaders where thinking and reading, and helped me get “one more subscriber” to JibberJobber. While we have thousands and thousands of people who have subscribed over the last year, I still consider each and every subscriber as a victory, a hard-won customer. You can learn more about this tactic from Paul Allen’s post The long term cumulative impact of guerrilla marketing.

In addition to leaving comments on people’s blogs, I would:

  • Link back to blog posts as much as I could. I don’t do it as much now just because it takes a lot of time, but linking back to another blog post (it is best to do it in this order: If possible, a specific blog post. If that doesn’t work out then a blog. If that doesn’t work out then a website, but this is more for Google page rank than getting on someone’s radar) is key. And, in the spirit of relationship building, it’s a great way to give (bloggers love it when you link back to them).
  • Join various e-mail groups. I blogged about this here, and still regularly contribute. You should know what lists you should be on (there’s got to be at least one that is right for you!)

watch how I manage relationships with JibberJobberAll of these activities helped me start a relationship with someone. The key, and perhaps the hard part, is to continue and nurture the relationship. The reason this is key is because getting on their radar doesn’t do much for your blog or business or brand. But once they blog about you, link back to you, etc. then they endorse who you are to their readers, and you expand your audience. Endorsing you once is cool. Doing it regularly, over time, is the bomb. It’s not easy, and many times you have to take the initiative and nurture a lot. But it is worth it, big time.

Go to JibberJobberI use JibberJobber to manage blogger relationships. I tag the person as blogger which allows me to pull out my blogger contacts and see when I last communicated with them, what action items I have pending, or send out an e-mail announcing something to all these special contacts. You can see a 1 minute 33 second video on tagging here (this is a free feature), and a 2 minute video on how to get the best of tagging here (this is a premium feature).

Do you proactively manage relationships like this? How?


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35 Responses to “Day 1: My Blogging Secrets”

  1. Jason,
    Thanks for the link love! Also, I wanted to add something about to promote or to not promote your blog. It’s true that good content is the basis of anything you do. If people find your blog but don’t stay long because it’s not worth reading, it doesn’t matter how well you market it.

    However, there are always two audiences when it comes to anything online. There are people, who care about the quality of writing, ideas, your opinions, personality, expertise, etc. The other audience is a search engine. It cares about keywords, how your site is coded, who links to you, etc. Both are important.

    When you register your blog with blog search engines, make sure you know what keywords you want to ranked for. Make sure to include them. Do some keyword research (free tools like inventory.overture.com help) to see what people are searching for. Vary the keywords.

    Add keyword phrases to the title of your blog. For example, yours is “Jibber Jobber blog.” I’d put keyword phrases that relate to what you blog about too. After all, how many people search on “Jibber Jobber blog”?

    Also, change the meta tags of your blog (keywords and descriptions).

    Looks like I’ve made an entire blog post on your blog! Hope this is helpful to building relationships with both people and in the search engines!

    Best
    Janet

  2. Thom Allen says:

    Jason, great first post. I love being able to subscribe to comments on a blog post. As you said, it allows me to see if the conversation is moving forward. For example, I subscribed to your Blog Birthday post comments. I was curious to see what others said but I wanted to see it via email/RSS and not have to visit the site often.

    I have about 30 such comments feeds in my reader. As the conversation dies or is closed I remove the feed from my reader.

    You also make a great point about comments getting in front of 10-100 people. That draws a lot of potential traffic to your site. I have also found the MyBlogLog widget draws traffic to my site. every time I visit the a site with the widget installed it adds me to the Recently Visited list. I have received a lot of traffic that way too. But the comment posts are much more targeted.

    Jason, how did/do sites that are competitors of yours respond to you interacting with their readers?

  3. Jason Alba says:

    Janet, thanks for the additional information! Great stuff, as usual :)

  4. Jason Alba says:

    Thom, excellent point on the subscribe to comments option – I totally agree. As a matter of fact, I consider not having the little “e-mail me when someone comments on this post” option a sin.

    Great question on the competitor sites. To be honest, I don’t leave comments on my competitors blogs. There are two that I watch and have e-mailed them offlist but never on their blog. I kind of think it’s bad fashion to advertise my stuff on their blogs, so have just stayed away.

    It’s interesting to note that I have positioned JibberJobber to be a complement to other services. So I don’t compete with coaches, counselors, job boards, resume writers, etc. I have wanted the tool and the blog to be complementary to what they are already doing, and that has proven to work so far. With exception of the two competitors, and some excel spreadsheets and spiral notebooks, there aren’t really competitors that I can find online. At least, if they are, they don’t blog.

    ALso along these lines, I have since started to leave a new signature:

    Jason Alba
    CEO – JibberJobber.com
    .. self-serve job security ..

    I’ve been trying it out, and with different tag lines. Putting a URL in the comments makes it really easy for readers to just click over to my website, and the tagline makes people curious.

    Sometimes I’ve hesitated before putting the signature on the comment, especially when no one else is, but I figure it’s better to risk than pass up the chance, and if someone says they don’t like that then I’ll make note of it and leave the signature off for later comments.

  5. Jason,

    I like this idea: “I would not leave controversial, contradictory or mean comments.”

    This is the subject of a recent post of mine, about how it’s easy to write attack posts, which get a lot of attention. But in the end, nobody wants to read a complainer blog.

    More: http://www.damniwish.com/2007/06/bitch-moan-post.html

    Keep up the good work!

    Andy

  6. When bloggers complain about a company (Vonage, Westin) we get great feedback, tons of comments, and lots of attention. It\’s ego-building, lots of fun, easy to do, and makes your blog popular. Readers pour on the positive reinforcement when you…

  7. Pete Johnson says:

    As I learned from Scott Allen (and am writing about later in the week), the post signature is huge. On one techie site in particular, I got 10x more traffic when I went from this:

    —Pete
    http://nerdguru.net

    to this:

    Pete Johnson
    HP.com Chief Architect
    Personal Blog: http://nerdguru.net

    The second one even got me an unsolicited email from the editor wanting to know if I wanted to write a case study based on HP’s web architecture, an opportunity I wouldn’t have dreamed of otherwise.

    Pete Johnson
    HP.com Chief Architect
    Personal Blog: http://nerdguru.net

  8. Jason Alba says:

    Andy, I think some people *do* want to read the controversy sometimes, but I can’t read it all the time. It’s fun sometimes, I like to stay up on current events, and I get ideas on what not to do from posts like this, but it really does wear me out.

    Another aspect (I haven’t read your post yet) is that I don’t want to attract the crowd that likes all the negative stuff. I want to build a smart, proactive community. There are other places for whiners and complainers to hang out, I don’t want my blog to be known as that kind of hangout. Thanks for dropping by again :)

  9. Jason Alba says:

    Pete – excellent! This is a great testimonial on the signatures in comments. I’m sure that you’ve picked up a number of readers just based on (a) leaving smart comments and (b) the lure of your signature. Shoot, who wouldn’t want to know and follow the Chief Architect of HP.com??

  10. Liz says:

    First of all…happy Blogging Birthday Jason! Second, thanks for the great tips…very helpful. I liked Pete’s tip too and I am going to take his advice right now!

    Liz Handlin
    CEO, Ultimate Resumes LLC
    http://ultimate-resumes.blogspot.com

  11. Jason Alba says:

    Awesome Liz! That’s a great signature because I can tell exactly who you are, what your specialty is, and a link right to your website. Very cool.

  12. Meg says:

    Hi Jason

    Whilst some of these ideas may be intuitive, it’s the putting it all together in a coherent and ordered way that makes the whole (post) greater than the sum of the parts (tips).

    No lowered expectations here. Well done!

    Meg Tsiamis
    Top 100 Aussie Blogger
    Dipping into the Blogpond

  13. Jason Alba says:

    Good point Meg, thanks for pointing that out. I was scratching my head this morning wondering how to make this be a really, really cool post and not sure I did it (had to rewrite a number of parts!) but you are spot-on :) Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post!

  14. [...] Continuing the week-long series of my blogging secrets to celebrate my one year blog anniversary, today is about being “on-brand.” As I mentioned on Friday, one of the decisions I had to make was what my brand was going to be: Was I going to be Jason the unemployed guy so I could relate with my audience (but then… what if I got a job???) or Jason the wildly successful internet entrepreneur (so you can feel safe about using JibberJobber because it isn’t going anywhere!)? [...]

  15. Paul Wilson says:

    Jason- I was excited to read this post, and look forward to the week. One thing that seems quite elementary, but you do it well, is to respond to ever comment made. I am surprised how many bloggers do not do this simple courtesy. I have found that I am more apt to leave comments when I know that the author is going to respond (which brings me back to the blog for future posts).

    As for my signature. It’s probably a little too much but it does help. ~Paul W.

    Paul Wilson
    work: Oracle Consultant
    blog: http://www.MyMarketer.net
    news: http://www.thelatest.at/yahoo
    profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/mymarketer

  16. Jason Alba says:

    Good point Paul. Funny you mention this because I feel like the last couple of months I’ve slacked off on it. But you are right, there’s nothing like leaving a brilliant comment on a blog and then never getting any response from the blog owner.

    I think your signature works fine – it’s easy to read and even though there are three links I can choose the one that I’m most interested in (I’m more inclined to check out your blog but others might be more inclined to see your LinkedIn profle).

  17. Darlene says:

    Jason, this is an excellent post! Thanks for sharing your tips! I truly believe I have great content on my blog, but finding the readership has been difficult. My focus these days is getting out and marketing my site. I love the things you have shared!! My expectations are HIGH!! I know that no matter what is shared it will be valuable! Believe that!!

    Lastly, I love the new signature block. I must say, it is time for me to create one!! I will look to have one before the end of the week! In the mean time this will do!

    Darlene McDaniel
    Career Coach
    http://www.interviewchatter.com

  18. Maggie says:

    Hi Jason,

    Thanks for all the great info! I’m curious; so if you didn’t provide a signature in those early days (leaving comments for others), how did you get traffic to your site if you just signed it Jason Alba? It seems that the links post signature would make a big difference?

    Thanks again!

    Maggie Lang
    Corporate Rockstar: Corporate Culture Truthiness
    http://corprockstar.blogspot.com

  19. Jason Alba says:

    @Darlene – Thanks :) I agree, you have an excellent blog… I heard someone at the SOBConf2007 say that it takes about 18 months to “arrive.” So perhaps just doing all the right things, consistently, over time will get you where you want to get? Nonetheless, I know there are tactics to get on the fast track, which I’m sure 80million other bloggers are looking to incorporate. It will have to be fluid but never skimping on quality will keep you golden, imho.

    With regard to the signature block, a suggestion – change “career coach” to something catchy (like Maggie’s “Corporate Rockstar” !

    @Maggie – Comments weren’t the only thing – check out Day 3′s post (I’m starting it in a few minutes) which I think was HUGE for getting traffic. Specifically, I *hope* that my comments were smart enough where people would think “I want to get to know that guy!” … but really, I think the honest answer for your question is “I don’t know.”

  20. Maggie says:

    Darlene, I agree with Jason; you have a great site and I’ve actually linked up to it in mine as I found much of the information on it greatly valuable.

    Going on the name of your site, how about “Career Guru / Master / Expert Extraordinaire” or something to pique curiosity? Just a thought. :-)

    Thanks again, Jason!

    Maggie Lang
    Corporate Rockstar: Corporate Culture Truthiness
    http://corprockstar.blogspot.com

  21. [...] Day 1 was on relationships, Day 2 was on branding. [...]

  22. [...] This week, Jason Alba is doing a series of posts about his blogging secrets. This is a great guide for how to effectively build relationships and your personal brand with your blog. [...]

  23. Scott Allen says:

    Thanks for the reminder, guys, to follow my own damn advice!

    One thing I think worth mentioning is to make your signatures appropriate for the context. For example, Pete and Jason have it relatively easy here compared to some of us. Jason, your blog is at your business, and you run one business (that I know of). Pete has the strong co-opted brand and then his personal brand.

    It’s a little trickier for someone like me, with three blogs (so far), a book, a Fast Company column, and a couple more things going on. If I even tried to link my three blogs, a) it wouldn’t get past most comment spam filters, and b) it would look tacky. So I choose usually just one, occasionally two, things to include depending on the context. If I’m commenting about LinkedIn, I link to Linked Intelligence. If I’m commenting about entrepreneurship, I link to my About.com site.

    In this case, I’m…

    Scott Allen
    Coauthor, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online

  24. Wow – I’m so glad I stumbled onto this comment thread. These insights are incredible! I’ll have to admit, as someone who’s been blogging for years in the confined personal-life-friend zone of social networking sites where I was merely there to connect to people who already knew me, really digging in and getting my professional blog going has been a daunting process. I’ve had my domain name purchased since January, but just figured out how to get it mapped to my blog so I could start promoting it without having to give one of those “change your bookmarks, please” posts that I don’t particularly appreciate.

    Anyway, these are great ideas. Though I’ll have to admit, for someone who’s in that 20-something, just starting zone, figuring out what to call myself is a bit tricky. I’ll try a few out here and if you are enticed by any to click over to by blog, leave me a comment so I’ll know what worked! And thank you, kind-and-more-experienced bloggers, for sharing your ideas and insights. I think it’s up to bloggers with authority to help cream-of-the-crop ideas rise to the top of the blogosphere, especially in light of all the junk out there. Keep sharing!

    Tiffany Monhollon
    Aspiring Entrepreneur and Author
    20-Something Career Ladder Climber
    Personal Branding Consultant
    http://www.littleredsuit.com

  25. Scott Allen says:

    > …figuring out what to call myself is a bit tricky.

    Hey… you’re the personal branding consultant — what would you advise yourself to do if you were your own client?

    You know it’s funny, but sometimes we really don’t put our own skill sets to use on our own problems. I constantly catch myself doing something I tell my clients not to do, or even more often, not doing something that I tell my clients to do.

    I have actually set a reminder for myself in Outlook for every Monday morning that says, “Are you following your own best advice?” Amazing how much that one little thing has helped me!

  26. Michael Carruth says:

    Jason,

    What was the site where you ” paid $1.99 for a service that would register the JibberJobber blog to over 30 blog engine things”

    Thanks!

    M

  27. Maggie says:

    Tiffany, Scott has a good point; “Hey… you’re the personal branding consultant — what would you advise yourself to do if you were your own client?”. The thing that stuck out at me about your post was “insecurity”. It’s not that YOU are insecure but your writing reflected such. Always remember that a blog, comment or posts that you put out there are reflections of who and what you are. If you want others to turn to you for advice or guidance, always make sure that you come across as knowing what you are doing in this cyber world. You don’t want to be known as saying “hey, hire me/retain me/etc.” when in reality you yourself are unsure of what you’re doing. “Fake it til you make it”, you know? I’ve interviewed hundreds of people in my career so far and the handfuls I’ve hired have all displayed that trat (of faking it til you make it). I write a lot about that in my blog, but I will submit this … who do you want to take advice from? Who would you like to hire? Who would you like to follow? When you can answer that question and confidently state “ME!!!”, then you are ready. You already have the humility, now go get the assertiveness! :-)

    PS) “Exciting Entrepreneur” would be more fitting than “Aspiring” …. just a thought. Put out there what you WANT to be already, not what you currently are. Assume that the present is NOW. Who wants to hire an “aspiring” entrepreneur versus an “exciting” one? :-)

    Best of luck,

    Maggie

  28. Tiffany says:

    Scott and Maggie,
    Thanks for your thoughtful insights. Those are definitely important ideas to keep in mind. Thanks for taking the time to comment back.

  29. [...] Day 1 is about relationships. The post is about long term work, with things like commenting in selected blogs and link love. All with the aim of building relationships and making your blog (and yourself) known. [...]

  30. [...] of another year of blogging, I’d like to share those 5 posts with you (again).  Enjoy! Day 1: My Blogging Secrets – it’s all about relationships, with your readers, other bloggers, [...]

  31. Hey Jason, great article. I’m new to the blogging world and am thinking about creating a couple new blogs about other areas of interest that I have. How much time do you spend building relationships? I work full-time and am involved in a few other major efforts outside of work. How do you find time to really connect with the people that visit your blog, and how do you find time to write creative, interesting, and informative articles that will keep people coming back to hear you?

    Jon Pinney
    Life Insurance Marketer
    http://www.termlifeinsurancedigest.com
    Rockstar
    http://www.jonpinney.com

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