Blogs occupy a large chunk of many people’s days. They start off in the morning reading the latest posts of several blogs they keep track of. Often, these blogs are read for information, entertainment, and new ideas. Millions of people are now blogging, reaching out to unheard-of audiences, and acquiring numbers that television executives and publishers would love to have a piece of. In fact, that’s why many tech-centered television shows invite bloggers on to talk about what they’re doing, and why publishers are signing up bloggers to write books about their sites.
As a blogger myself, and as a professional writer, I’m very interested in learning how to blog better. I also want an idea of how to figure out exactly who my audience is and what they want.
I received Stephan Grenier’s book Blog Blazers because he had noticed my Amazon.com reviews and was impressed enough to send me a copy to review. I initially started doing book reviews for Amazon simply to keep track of what books I had read. That was before the site started keeping track of all my purchases and letting me know what I had bought so I wouldn’t buy it twice.
I ended up becoming a top 500 reviewer at Amazon. Then started blogging here, specializing in book reviews. From that I figured I might as well start hosting my own reviews on a book review blog. That’s how Bookhound came to be born. Over the past year-plus, my book review site has garnered a lot of attention — and I’ve gotten a lot of free books to review.
Grenier blogs as well and his premier site for non-specialty readers is Follow Steph. As it turns out, he obviously had a lot of the same questions and goals in mind as I do. He picked out 40 of the top bloggers and asked them questions about their sites.
Those questions include: what are your best tips for writing a successful blog post, what are your main avenues for marketing your blog, what was your most successful blog post ever, what are the most common mistakes new bloggers make? All of these are questions I am interested in.
Thankfully, there were a lot of answers that were the same, so I felt certain I was on the right track. Also thankfully, these blog creators went off on tangents and talked about more information than was required by the questions. I learned a lot of information in a very short time. I also learned about possibilities I hadn’t even entertained before reading the book.
The whole book is set up as a series of Q & As between Grenier, himself, and 39 other bloggers. One of the downsides to the book is the fashion these templates play out. The questions are repeated in the same order each and every time. Readers who have to read every word may find this approach tedious, but I used the questions as place holders and skimmed them to figure out which answer I was about to read. That layout makes the book and much faster read, and I was able to get to the information I really wanted.
This is one of those books that serious bloggers will keep on their shelves. I know it’s staying on my shelf. I took notes as I read through the book, jotting down what I felt was pertinent information and also blogs that I intended to check out. I was surprised at how much was there, and I was also surprised to find out how disparate the blogs can be.
As an adjunct professor in the professional writing program at the University of Oklahoma, I’m surprised at how many of my new graduates are getting job interviews and being asked if they blog. Corporate America is beginning to realize how valuable writers are and how many different ways writers can be employed to enhance limpid web sites and create new reasons for people to visit those sites.
The real dream, though, is to create an independent web site that will eventually attract millions of readers and generate an income that will allow the entrepreneur to become his or her own boss. Stephane Grenier’s book is compact, easy to read, and filled with information. It’s written in a style for laymen, yet has enough information to attract an experienced practitioner. And it may be the book that moves bloggers up to their greatest successes.