Day 5: My Blogging Secrets

June 29th, 2007

please don't share this :)Wow – what a week! Here’s a wrap-up:

My secret for Day 5 is be wary of technology. Yep, you heard it right. I’m a programmer, I’ve been in IT for over 10 years, I’m a wildly successful internet entrepreneur (:)), and many think I’m on the bleeding edge of technology.

Notice that I don’t have a bunch of widgets on my blog? There are hundreds to choose from, and they are very popular. But I feel that my blog is already quite busy. Plus, I don’t want my readers to come and have problems with the page downloading. Here’s the real reason:

I’m slow to adopt new stuff! Might sound funny but it’s true.

You may think that blogging is “new stuff.” I see blogging as self-publishing. That’s it. The sites to create blogs (wordpress, typepad, blogger, etc.) are just tools to use, and make it about as easy as writing an e-mail. I don’t think of myself as a great technologist because I blog … just someone that is determined to write something good each day.

I think this might be one of the more controversial things amongst bloggers. Everyone wants to put their flickr feeds, twitter widgets, mybloglog gadgets and all kinds of neato things. I’d rather help my readers focus on my words. That’s what I’m hear for – to communicate a message, not bring you to a distracting environment. I’ll never pretend to be an artistic layout and design genius like David Armano. But at least I can keep most of the clutter and distraction out of your face.

On the other side of the “technology” consideration, think about how to promote your blog. I used to chase after digg votes. I don’t anymore – I found it to be a waste of time (mostly because I don’t have a tech blog). I know the emurse.com blog does well because of Netscape votes. But I don’t have many contacts that are Netscape junkies, so I get no traction there. I want to think del.icio.us would do the trick but for some reason most of my readers (and JibberJobber users) don’t bookmark JibberJobber or this blog. So using these social methods of getting more eyeballs has not really worked for me.

Over the last few months I’ve been messing around with MyBlogLog (even though I don’t have the widget, I do have a MyBlogLog strategy) and StumbleUpon. I can’t say that I have gotten many (any?) readers because of MyBlogLog, but StumbleUpon has had a significant (did I say hugely significant) impact on my traffic.

The hardest thing about the technology is figuring out what is noise (or, a fad) and going with the winners. I have no tech advice here because I’ve concentrated more on the message and the community than the widgets. I just go really slow with this stuff – how about you? Am I wrong? Should I incorporate other widgetry in my blog?  I’ll tell you right now, if I put more time into the widgetry I’ll have less time for the content.  I’ve made my decision, what’s yours?

There you go – I hope you’ve enjoyed this week of secrets. I have – it’s really made me think more about what I’m doing and my tactics and strategy. Huge thank you to all of you who have commented as I’ve learned a ton!

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10 Responses to “Day 5: My Blogging Secrets”

  1. Daniel Sweet says:

    Yes, you’re wrong. Ish.

    The beauty of all these different technologies is that they are literally costless and take almost no time to try out. Want to see what MyBlogLog does to your traffic? BAM! It’s installed. Want to see if anyone cares about your Flickr photos (most obvious answer: NO!)? BAM! There it is.

    Adding parts and pieces to your business used to be slow and tedious. Now, it’s quick and easy. Try out something. See what the response is. Then try something else.

    The benefit to being a small business is that you’re more agile than your competition. To use a very rough example, while SalesForce.com is having 8 meetings informing 5 different teams with 6 members each trying to figure out if a partnership is going to be good for them, JibberJobber makes a call, makes a decision, and can (if not too much programming is involved) have the partnership up and running on the site the same day.

    The trick to not sinking under the weight of everything is to try one or two things at a time. Then evaluate, ditch the bad ideas, and try something else.

    Your competition will never catch up.

    That’s why FRACAT is migrating to a CMS-based site (soon – really!). I can make changes to content, layout, widgets, or anything else in seconds. Faster than any of *my* competition can keep up with.

    Dan

  2. I have to agree with you one hundred percent. I will read a blog for content and content alone. It is all about relationships and community and focusing in on my target reader. If you get distracted by all the technology…so will your reader. If you miss the fundmentals of why you have a blog, you are wasting your time. Content is king, frequent postings, she’s the queen, graphics is an exciting mistress, but the legitimate heirs to the throne are readers and in turn profits if you are business-based. I agree to try some new things piece-meal, but I do it slowly and then get rid of it if it’s distracting to my reader. Slow and steady…you know the rest.

  3. I agree to some extent. I have put on widgets and taken them off. To be realistic, my website is not going to have the traffic of the New York Times. What I am concerned about most is that it is written in an intelligent and entertaining way. For the purposes of experimenting I am actually keeping up three different blogs, one for media/entertainment where I get to play with posting youtube videos and other fun stuff regularly. On my LinktoCharlotte blog, I am linking RSS feeds from the social network site to the blog and watching how even though it is the same information it is actually easier to read on the blog due to more “white space”. My last is eWarrior blog, where I am in the process of looking for ways to link to others and actually drive a brand name, that I believe could possibly become a standard phrase one day – eWarrior.

    As Jason said, it is about the audience. In the end simple wins over complexity.

    Andy Kaplan
    http://www.ewarrior.com
    http://www.mediamensch.com
    http://www.linktocharlotte.com

  4. Walter Akana says:

    Hi Jason!

    Thanks for sharing your blogging secrets! This is an outstanding series with lots of great lessons, and I plan to revisit it. Meanwhile, putting aside the question of widgets, gadgets and other technology, you have clearly and astutely identified four dynamic elements that every blogger needs to consider.

    From my perspective as a personal branding strategist, I see blogging as a way to deliver content that is grounded in one’s unique promise of value and that highlights one’s expertise. Yet, branding happens in a community and communities are about relationships – both of which develop beyond the pages of one’s own blog. It has certainly been a big lesson for me – and reinforced by you – that seeking out others in one’s own profession (or community of practice) and commenting on their posts is equally important. Perhaps even more so …

    … which brings us to abundance mentality. It’s absolutely critical! Believing there is enough to go around advances conversations in a way that a scarcity mentality cannot. Sharing ideas in a community of practice promotes learning, creates professional relationships, and yes, it ultimately helps build one’s brand!

    Thanks again for a great series!

  5. Jason Alba says:

    @Daniel, Susan and Andrew – I’m sure this can be debated up and down… I’m just kind of slow with stuff like this and need to focus on content. But I know there are tinkerers that love messing around with this stuff and experiment… there’s nothing wrong with that. I have been to some sites, however, that are flat-out cluttered – and it’s a big turnoff to me. I’m glad there’s finally opposition to my posts, though (daniel! ;) )

    @Walter – good summary and way to wrap it all up :)

  6. I read this post on a day that my brain was ready to explode thinking about my blog (www.45things.com) and what I could do to improve it. I have made my professional reputation for more than 20 years on the written word, but the blogging world has made me feel lately as if I don’t know diddly squat. Every time I think I’ve done something right, a another (more experienced) blogger says to me: “Oh, but you should do it THIS way, or you should be doing THIS, or have you tried THIS…”
    But then you reminded me of why I became a reporter in the first place: Because I thought there were important stories that needed to be told. I didn’t become a journalist to have a blog with a gazillion hits a month, and I didn’t write a book to feed my own ego.
    I became a journalist because I believe that information is power. That people have a right to know that information in a straightforward, unbiased way.
    So, you have my thanks. I leave the whiz-bang stuff to those who want it. I’ll keep sharing my stories and hopefully helping people get a raise, get along better with their boss and maybe contribute positively to their lives.
    Anita Bruzzese

  7. [...] Blog techniques – Dan is no fool when it comes to blogging… I shared my secrets earlier this month but can tell that he has some of his own. I think one of the most important things he is doing is using blogging to increase his network, aside from that, in his blog he is giving others their own two minutes of fame with interviews, linking out to others (through the roundups), bragging of his own (which gives him more credibility), obviously the awards, most recently a Brand Autopsy contest/game, and even a fair amount of link baiting. [...]

  8. [...] This blog is immensely practical. Most of his posts give you something you can immediately put into action. Check out his blogging secrets series for an example. [...]

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