Interview with Darren Rowse on Building a Better Blog
Last week we published a post about Darren Rowse’s new ebook, titled 31 Days to Build a Better a Blog. I asked Darren if he was willing to answer to a small interview giving more details about the book to our readers, and he agreed. There are some interesting points, so check it out.
1. Do you believe that any writer can benefit from having a blog?
I’m always a little hesitant to make sweeping statements and claims about blogging and how it’s the best tool for every person – but I do think that a blog is a fantastic tool that most writers should at least consider.
There are a many reasons why I think blogging is a great medium for writers – three that immediately spring to mind:
1. Profile, promotion and branding – I know in writing my own book with Chris Garrett that having a blog was a big advantage, both in landing the book deal and in promoting the book once it was launched.
My blog (and Chris’s) built our profiles, credibility and authority on the topic we were writing about. This in turn led to Wiley approaching us with a book deal. It also meant that when we launched the book, we already had an audience ready and waiting to buy it.
2. Idea development – one of the things I love most about blogging is that it enables me to grow in my own understanding of the topics that I write about. This happens as I research, develop and write up posts, but also as readers respond to what I write in comments and on their own blogs – extending and deepening my ideas.
3. Practice – one of the best ways to improve as a writer is to write – particularly in a public forum where you know people will be reading and interacting with your ideas. Regularly publishing your writing on a blog is a great way to grow your writing skills.
2. What feedback did you get from the “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” project?
The reaction to 31DBBB was amazing on a number of levels. Firstly, I was overwhelmed by the numbers of bloggers signing up. Within just a few weeks we had 13,000 participants, which showed me just how many bloggers felt that they needed an injection of fresh ideas and inspiration for their blogs.
The main feedback I initially got from participants was simply that they felt energized, inspired and equipped to improve their blogs.
However, as the initial 31 day period progressed I began to hear stories of bloggers seeing real and significant improvements in their blogs as they took the tasks seriously. Some reported significant rises in traffic, others reported deepening relationships with readers, others yet reported that the quality of their posts were on the rise.
The other two things that I heard time and time again from readers was:
1. The pace of daily tasks wasn’t right for everyone. Some wanted to do it faster, some wanted to take their time and slow it down.
2. People wanted it all in one document either on their own computer or to print out. They wanted it all in the one place so they could keep digging back into it over time.
It was these last two pieces of feedback that motivated me to develop the content into a workbook.
3. Why do you think most bloggers procrastinate when it comes to improving their blogs?
There are a number of reasons.
1. For some it is simply that the blogger doesn’t know what to do. They start of with loads of ideas and energy, but in time lose steam, inspiration and ideas. Many bloggers get to a ‘bloggers block,’ where they simply don’t know what to write or how to move their blogs forward.
2. For others it has more to do with discipline. Just like many aspects of life, successful blogs are something that you need to dedicate time to. Getting into a rhythm of blogging can be hard – particularly when life is full of other competing interests.
3. The other reason is that many bloggers have one or two particular aspects of blogging that they love and are good at, and which they do to the point of excluding other aspects of building a successful blog. For example, some bloggers love designing their blogs so much that they end up sinking a lot of time into continually tweaking how their blogs look, at the expense of actually writing content.
For others the obsession can be SEO, networking with other bloggers, writing a particuar type of post, adding and playing with blog tools…. the list goes on.
None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but when you obsess over them at the expense of other activities, you can end up being distracted and ignoring some important aspects of your blog.
4. What is your favorite task out of the 31 listed in the workbook?
Tough one – I actually really enjoyed writing most of them and got quite into doing the tasks for myself over the month.
Some of the “writing” focused tasks were great to watch participants do, but two of my favorites were Day 11 where I share a technique for coming up with 10 (or more) blog post ideas, and Day 18, where participants develop a ‘Sneeze Page’ for their blogs (a type of page that can drastically increase page views on a blog and increase reader loyalty).
5. Is the “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” workbook useful for people who are just getting started with their blogs?
The workbook is designed for people who have blogs but who need a kick start for one reason or another. This might be a new blogger who doesn’t quite know what to do after setting up their blog, a blogger who has been at it for a few months who loses his way, or a more advanced blogger who simply has run out of steam or has hit the dreaded “bloggers block.”
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