Learn From The Masters
In blogging, as in no there online (or offline) business that I know of, the process is as transparent as a sheet of glass. Not only do most bloggers use software and very simple special code that is readily visible to the most casual observer. On top of that, the majority of the “name-brand” bloggers are no only open about advice on how they make money, some of them even brag about it. The keys of the kingdom are readily apparent, their lying right there on the sideboard waiting for you to pick them up and give them a try.
Here’s an excellent post of a day or so ago that lays out, to my mind, the best way to get a graduate-level education in this blogging “business” in a short time and for free. This came from Chris Garrett via BloggingTips.com. I’ve added my comments, thoughts and tips to Chris’s 10 points, because he is right on the mark with this:
My advice for anyone thinking of launching and writing a blog is to first be a blog reader:
- Sign up to Google Reader and subscribe to a bunch of blogs
If you aren’t reading … and studying the ways those who are already doing this are succeeding (and occasionally failing) then you aren’t taking advantage of a gold mine of information.
2. Find blogs on topics that interest you using a blog search such as Technorati
In addition to Technorati I find a lot of good information in both Google’s Blog Search and Google’s News Alerts services. Both of these are free and ferret out tons of information that’s new to you, even in subjects that you know.
3. Make note of what you do and do not like in design, style, approach, content, length, etc
These are two tools I find invaluable for online research, note-taking, decision making. NetVibes or yet another fantastically useful service that Google offers, Google Notebooks. Using either of these services you can keep track of everything you find, organize lists, keep annotated bookmarks, and (very cool feature) you can access your notes and links from any computer on the Internet … so no more being at the library and then forgetting what you wanted to read up on at home.
4. Decide on a niche that you would like to pursue
5. Find your favorite 10 blogs and bloggers you would like to get to know and learn from
It’s invaluable to start keeping track and making lists from the beginning. In addition to all the other common tools I find I make a lot of use from this, much less common tool, called FreeCRM. Customer Relations Management (CRM) is quite a few big words about simply keeping in touch with leads customers and following up on a regular basis. At first glance this service looks way too sales oriented, but blogging and winning readers is very much a sales process … and this tool will not only help you with basic contact information, it will lead you all the way to automated “keep in touch” messages and other people to people actions that will make you an actual part of the blogging community. There’s so much here I can really see I need a whole article or series of articles on this and similar tools. Wait one … OK, I made a note about that future series in Google Notebook, now on to point 6.
7. Notice what is successful in social media, in particular those that appeal to you and why
This is an area where I have to become more active myself. (You know I write a lot of these articles to remind me to learn more, too … I’m not a “guru” expounding on the subject to neophytes, I’m a fellow traveler on the journey). I can say this … the first time someone “Stumbles” one of your posts and your readership shoots up to ten or more times than the day before, you’;; know it. Better to be prepared.
8. Start commenting on blogs without dropping links, just start getting out there
9. Notice which posts inspire you to comment and which leave you cold
This will do more to get you moving than anything else I know. I’ve made friends, got visitors and learned as much from commenting and having my comments “peer reviewed” than from anything else so far. As Chris advices, don’t be one of those obnoxious folks who leaves comments like “Please visit my blog at www.example.com”. In the first place, standard bog comments already identify you and your bog. Secondly, nobody whose time is valuable 9which means the sort of fellow bloggers and readers you want to associate with) is going to follow blind links like that. If you can’t think of something interesting to say that might pique my interest (like, say, a post that explains the difference between piqued, peeked and peaked) then don’t bother leaving a comment there and move on to something more interesting
10. Follow links to new blogs and subscribe to them. Consider which links you follow and why, and which you end up subscribing to and which you do not.
This is one of the more valuable (and indeed the last) tip for the day. Every Saturday I try to look over my feed reader list … I used Google Reader, Bloglines and NetVibes are also good choices. Every week I click on the subscribe link to every blog I read that has something that seems I may have along-term interest. These new blog go into a folder called “Evaluate”. I sit down with a cup of coffee and … evaluate … the ones in that folder. Those that I have only read once or twice or which have failed to stay on topic I unsubscribe from. Those that look like I’ll be a long term reader I move into one of about four more appropriate category folders. A bit of housekeeping that is actually something I look forward to on my Saturday. Hope I find your blog in there soon … there’s no better time to get started.