Day 3: My Blogging Secrets

June 27th, 2007

shhh!  Don't tell anyone about this secret!For those of you that come to this blog to see career stuff, personal branding, networking, job search and all that, hang in there! This entire week I’m sharing some of my common-sense secrets that went into my blog marketing strategy for the last year, in celebration of finishing one year of blogging. Plus, I’m a big advocate of blogging to help quanitify a strong personal brand, and some of the information here might be helpful to you, as a professional, as you learn more about what goes into blogging :)

Day 1 was on relationships, Day 2 was on branding.

Today’s secret is to blog with an abundance mentality. This is pretty easy in the blogosphere as we commonly say things like link love (which means, I link out to your blog or website, sharing my viewers with you), transparency (where we put the interests of our readers before our own pride (hm, how’s that for a quick definition?)) and authenticity (where we are not fake, because our readers are too smart and will read right through any fakeness). So the environment is right, but how do we do it? I’ll share how I’ve done it in the last year.

The idea behind the abundance mentality is that you believe there is enough to go around, so don’t hoard. I found it’s critical for me to have an abundance mentality, and equally important, to think (hope) that other bloggers have an abundance mentality.

The very first big thing I did that really pushed my comfort level on the abundance mentality was the blog carnival from last year. I loved it – it was a great question, the responses where incredible, and instead of making it a flash-in-the-pan thing I extended it over five days, really highlighting the participants, sharing link love, introducing one to another, etc. I know that many of my participants (and readers) learned of other bloggers during that time and many developed their own relationships. I was very pleased to have been a part of all that relationship building. Here is day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4 and day 5. If you do something like this, my only advice is to go over the top.

The next big thing that I did was to create my You Get It award. Honestly, it started out as an experiment, somewhat gimmicky. But I put my heart into it and it has grown over the last few months into something really, really cool. The proof of how cool it could be came in November when I awarded it to Heather Hendricks, the only non-blogging winner. My good friend Carl Chapman commented on how PETA should be taken of her resume and all hell broke loose. Actually, here’s the cool thing. There are over 40 comments on that post and (a) they are incredible, though provoking comments, and (b) they are by industry leaders. The debate is hot. This is when I realized I was onto something.

Quick sidenote here – how did those 40 comments get there? When things where heating up I encouraged people from both sides (recruiters (or, hiring managers) and personal branding experts) to get their colleagues involved. Some of them, like William Arruda, weren’t regular blog readers, but he came and commented (at someone’s request) and just having him comment there added credibility to my blog. Get people involved – like Guy Kawasaki is doing with his Truemors site. He is allowing people to have a voice and direct where this site goes, and relinquishing that power to the user is huge (and makes truemers more fun to read).

Another huge abunance mentality thing is to share lots of link love. I’ve talked about this before but here’s why it’s so interesting. When you link out to someone else’s site you are essentially endorsing them, and recommending that your readers go somewhere else! Ah, in the olden days of internet it was practically a sin to have your readers go somewhere else. In fact, I still read about sites that are very jealous of their links out, and only promote interal links. My position is this: if you are good enough, they will come back. Share your wealth of information with your readers. It’s all about providing value to your readers. You can’t be the smartest guy on the planet, and there are fountains of information that you go to… share this with your readership and they’ll come back to you because they know you are going to be an excellent source of information and knowledge leads.

crotchety old boss yellingSilly sites that don’t link out much are justified (I guess), but I don’t share their same philosophy. I picture a crotchety old manager yelling at writers saying something like “don’t let our readers know there are other things to read! Keep them here! HERE!

A really good example of an uber-successful blog that links out all the time, it’s what they are all about, is TechCrunch. According to Technorati, Michael Arrington runs the fourth most popular blog on the planet. What do they do that makes it so successful? Link out. 99% of the posts are about non-techcrunch things (the other 1% announces things like parties and get-togethers). So This powerful site is sharing lots of Google Juice (their PR is 8/10). Of course, there are lots of bloggers that do this, this is just one example of the abundance mentality + link love = success.

Note that I’m not saying to try and clone TechCrunch, because you can’t (and there are too many clones). Also, I firmly believe that you need to have your own opinions and value-add to a story, not just link out to other stuff all the time and have “me too” posts.

Okay, this is way longer than I like. One more point.

You have to believe that others have an abundance mentallity and are willing to share YOU with their readers. I’ve done this plenty of times, and have even allowed a few comments that I’ve thought “man, they are fishing for eyeballs!” But here’s what I mean.

When I did the blog carnival last year I made a list of “heavies” that I wanted to have as contributors. I e-mailed them and said “hey, I know that you don’t really blog on career stuff but all of your readers have careers, and think about issues like this. I think it would be great if you participated in the carnival.” I probably got about 20% of the people I hit up that absolutely don’t blog on career stuff to actually participate. One was Seth Godin. I still have people say “man, that was so cool that Seth wrote something for your blog!”

Seth is human. Seth is not a god. He is very approachable… but I had to make the first effort and communicate with him. I didn’t “meme tag” him (that is, link to him and say “I hope Seth participates”). I found his e-mail, shot him a note, and from that I got a response to post in the carnival.

I put together a list of folks and methodically worked on building relationships. Point is, you have to take the initiative. Figure out how to write a really good e-mail, similar to what a PR professional would write to an editor when pitching a story. And then send the e-mail! Start the relationship! All of these A-listers really are human – I know – I’ve had e-mail communication with a few of them. They are just normal (albeit probably richer than most of us) folks. Here’s a hint though, they really appreciate authentic, honest communication. Keep it real with them. But my point is, go into the relationship thinking that they have an abundance mentality also.

Finally, speaking of relationships, I could not manage all of these relationships without JibberJobber. I’ll shamelessly plug it here since, well, it is my blog :p Go get a free account, you can manage more than 250 network contacts with log entries (“I e-mailed Michael today about xyz”), action items (“need to follow up in three weeks”), and much more. If you need relationships to help move you forward, you need to get an account in JibberJobber. Yes, it’s even for people not looking for a job.

Does this surprise you? Do you have an abundance mentality on your blog? What can you do to show more of an abundance mentality?

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6 Responses to “Day 3: My Blogging Secrets”

  1. Pete Johnson says:

    This is my favorite one so far, Jason.

    I enjoyed the carnival as a reader but struggled how to copy it for my own use. Love that “all of these A-listers really are human”. They weren’t always A-listers, it’s easy to forget that.

    Now, I have some thinking to do . . .

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

  2. Paul Wilson says:

    Jason- Thanks for writing on the abundance principle. One very important aspect concerning this principle deals with information. If you are an expert and are blogging then share what you know.

    You think this would be obvious in the blogosphere, but how many SEO blogs do you know that openly share their SEO expertise. Most of them share just enough fluff to show that they are an expert, but rarely do you have a post with the real meat and potatoes.

    This has been the number one lesson that I’ve learned in the last month. I received more traffic on my eBay post, that openly shared my techniques and secrets, than any other post I have written to date. Believe it or not, it also generated more interest in my consulting then any other post.

    I think we worry that if we share all our expertise on a given subject that we will undermine our expertise. Instead what we really have done is place ourselves above our competition, and open up many more opportunities. ~Paul

    Paul Wilson
    blog: http://MyMarketer.net
    profile: http://linkedin.com/in/mymarketer

  3. Jason-

    I came in too late for the carnival, but looks like a great idea and implementation!

    One of things I’m struggling with in my blog, is a resistence to just post to interesting stuff, without sounding my own voice. It feels lame (to me – I’ve done it a couple of times) just posting and saying “look here – it’s great!”. Itry to voice an opinon a bit more than that.

    Is it just me? Should I loosen up and spread link love, with the risk of losing my voice?

    Thanks for the post,

    Gil

  4. Jason Alba says:

    @Pete – thanks – I wondered before I started this project how it would have been accepted – so far so good. It’s interesting how different people take away different things, too. But hey, I’m just happy that I’m making people think twice about certain things :p

    @Paul – Totally, totally agreed! I have the luxery of not trying to sell something on my blog – it all started as a complement to JibberJobber and my hope was that it would serve as a strong marketing arm. I can see SEO peeps having a hard time divulging all of their tactics and strategies online, though, because the DIY crowd wouldn’t hire them. Perhaps they wouldn’t hire them anyway.

    Also, perhaps people don’t share because (a) they don’t want others to steal their ideas, or (b) they don’t really know what they are talking about and exposing too much in a public forum (blog) is a great way to get called on the carpet :)

    @Gil – The carnival was fun. I even posted about two people that got let go right after participating!!

    Great question on the type of content to include. I don’t think there is anything wrong with linking out. Scott Allen does it on LinkedIntelligence, Jeff Barr (Amazon evangelist) does it on his personal blog, Trent Hamm does it on The Simple Dollar… it can certainly be a good thing. But you don’t want to look like a cheap splog. I’d recommend checking out those three for their style, and then go for it :) I would “loosen up and spread the link love” (especially to blog posts, remember) and keep your voice.

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