By almost any measure, Chris Brogan is one of the most successful bloggers in the world.
If you are new to the blogging game and thus unfamiliar with Brogan’s work, here’s a link (hint: look who’s #2) that provides just one quantified example of the esteemed reputation that Brogan has built over the last decade. He has built this reputation based on his ability to use, and teach others how to use, “social media and both web and mobile technologies to build digital relationships for businesses, organizations, and individuals.”
Simply put, attending a Chris Brogan presentation for a blogger like me would be akin to an aspiring quarterback attending a Drew Brees lecture on football. Chris Brogan talks the talk because he’s walked the walk, and this morning I want to share a few of the lessons I took away from last night.
It should be noted that Brogan’s presentation last night was part of an even put on by the Dallas Social Media Club. Thus, much of what Brogan discussed was more social media/PR/enterprise focused than what we typically discuss here. Still, the lessons, tips, and thought processes that Brogan describes are no less applicable for a first time blogger than they are for a seasoned PR veteran.
Below are a few of the lessons that stood out to me and what they mean from a blogger’s perspective. This is by no means an exhaustive list so please use the comment section liberally to amend what I’ve included here.
Social media is not copy, it’s copy and questions
As stated, Brogan’s discussion was more geared towards social media (and, even more specifically, social media marketing), but the takeaway here is very applicable for bloggers.
Successful blogging – assuming that building an audience and driving traffic are measures of success for you – is not just thinking about something that is interesting to you, typing the words, hitting publish, and moving on.
Successful blogging requires you to get to know your audience, to anticipate what they will expect from you, to understand what they appreciate about you, and to really care about providing information that fulfills a need – whether that need me informing, entertaining, enlightening, etc.
The only way you can do this is to ask questions and care about the answers. And if you don’t know what questions to ask, no problem; that’s when you listen.
Which leads me into the next lesson…
Listen and talk about other people’s stuff more than you talk about you and your own
I know that this can be difficult for many of us. Blogging and social media makes it very easy to fall into narcissistic habits and thought processes.
What we all need to remember as bloggers is that the way things go in the real world is often exactly how they go in the online world. So think about it this way: do you like hanging out with and talking to someone who just blabs about themselves all of the time? I’m going to go ahead and guess probably not.
Think about trying to do more of the following:
- When you blog, don’t always blog about yourself.
- When you are promoting your content on Twitter and other sites, make sure promote other people’s content more than you promote your own.
- When you want to send a link to someone suggesting that they consider possibly linking to you on their blog, read something they’ve written and show them you appreciate their work before asking for a favor in return. (I need to start doing a lot more of this one personally.)
- When you read a good blog post on a site other than your own, leave a comment and help be a catalyst for their conversation. (Again, something I need to start doing more of personally.)
Now, some people might scoff and say that it is not really being selfless if you’re only doing it with the expectation of getting something back in return later.
Which leads me to the next lesson from Chris Brogan that I was reminded of last night…
2 parts helping, 2 parts connecting, 1 part selling
Ultimately, none of us would be online blogging or participating in social media if we didn’t attain some level of personal utility or satisfaction from our activities. So every action you will take as a blogger will in some way be imbued with a certain level of selfish intent.
What is important, I think, is the proportion of your intents. Brogan provided a very simple way to break it down that made a lot of sense to me:
- 2 parts helping
- 2 parts connecting
- 1 part selling
So if you think of your intentions as a five-piece pie, only one of those pieces (20%) should be driven by selfish intent.
Conversely, two of the pieces (40%) should be driven by a genuine desire to help other people whether it be your readers, other bloggers, or your niche/community as a whole, while the other two pieces should be driven by a genuine desire to connect, whether it be connecting with your readers, other bloggers, or even to ideas.
You can also think about it very simply in this sense: pay it forward.
- Do you want your readers to leave comments? First make sure that you are creating thought-provoking content and that you are taking the time to ask your readers questions. Then, respond when they do comment.
- Do you want other bloggers to comment on your stories? First make sure that you are commenting on theirs.
- Do you want people with high-authority social media accounts to promote your work? First make sure that you are a) putting in the time to create your own high-authority accounts to promote others, and b) at least promoting them as much as you can with the social media audience you do have.
- Do you want other blogs to link to you? First make sure that you are linking to other blogs.
And these last few bullets lead seamlessly into the next lesson…
“It’s important to be there before the sale”
Even in a 40-40-20 scenario, in which 80% of your intentions and actions should be geared towards an external result not solely focused on your promotion or success, there is still 20% of you intentions and actions that are focused on you. And that’s okay. Just make sure that it’s the last 20% and not the first 20%.
If you throw your first blog post online tomorrow, don’t expect readers to just start commenting immediately. You need to put the time into creating compelling content and showing readers the conversations on your site are worth participating in.
If you want to begin to grow the profile of your blog by getting links from influential blogs in your niche, don’t just email one of your links to that site’s editor. Link out to them a few times. Email the editor and tell him or her that you appreciate their work. Start to build a relationship.
You don’t want your introduction to include an ask. If there is going to be an ask – and it’s okay if there is – it needs to come down the line once your intentions have been established as being not solely focused on yourself.
Facebook fan pages look douchy
Do they have their place? Sure, in the right situation with the right strategy. But I got a good chuckle out of hearing Brogan say this because, as many of you know, I’m not a huge fan of Facebook.
If you’re going to create a fan page, just make sure it has a legitimate purpose beyond narcissism and that you do what Brogan said that he did when creating and using a fan page for their book: talk about other people.
Come to think of it, when you boil it all down, don’t be douchy is a pretty apt and succinct guiding principle when it comes to having success online as a blogger or a social media marketer.
One of our goals here at H2B is, obviously, to help you and your blog reach its potential in all of the many different facets of blogging. Eventually, for your blog to truly reach that potential, it has to be about far more than just the words you type into your posts.
Networking, socializing, and infusing your blog into the fabric of its niche are important if you want to become a blogger with some level of impact and influence. And there are no more tried-and-true strategies for getting yourself on this path than asking, listening, helping, and connecting.
I trust that Chris Brogan would agree.
I cannot hit publish on this post without taking a quick moment to thank everyone responsible for last night’s Dallas Social Media Club event. Chris Brogan’s presentation was obviously the highlight, but it was also great to have the opportunity to network with so many people who are at the forefront of the social media revolution.
In the interests of paying it forward, please indulge me for a quick moment while I provide a hat tip to the Dallas SMC by way of promoting the sponsors for last night’s event:
* – Chris Brogan photo credit: New Media Creative
Jerod Morris is a blogging and social media junkie who helped found How-to-Blog.tv so he’d have a repository for all of the blogging and social media information constantly swimming around in his head.
When he’s not blogging here, Jerod is the Director of Blogging and Social Media for Orangecast, the managing editor for both Midwest Sports Fans and Corporate Compliance Insights, as well as an avid user of Digg (jrod4040) and Twitter (@jerodmsf).
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