The thing about people who write blogs (notice I didn't say bloggers) is that we don't have a ton of secrets to our "craft". If you choose to follow what we do, you'll pretty much figure it out for yourself. That said, Steph Grenier has put together a book called Blog Blazers where 40 indivuduals including the likes of Seth Godin, Steve Rubel and Rohit Bhargava share their tips. I'm in it too. Here's what I said:
SG: What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?
DA: In a word—influence. Influence is the most important way I can think to gauge a blog. It’s not easy to measure influence, but popularity has something to do with it. The broader a blog’s reach, the more influence it has. The more people a blog influences, the more successful it is. It’s not about size—you can influence people in niche groups.
SG:When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?
DA: Having it featured in the print version of BusinessWeek. Here’s one of the few magazines that I admire and actually read and there’s my blog—in full color! At that point, I felt I had crossed into a different league.
SG:How long does it take to become a successful blogger?
DA: That’s like asking how long should you wait until you get married. It’s different for everyone. It took me just under a year to get some serious traction—but that’s rare. It could take many years. Or you could be blogging for 20 years and never reach the goal of “breaking through” to the audience you want. It’s something that requires passion.
SG:Who do you think are the most successful bloggers on the internet today?
DA:As far as size goes, you’ve got Seth Godin, Steve Rubel, Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble. All have HUGE followings. Personally—I’ve been influenced by Bruce Nussbaum, Kathy Sierra, and I enjoy reading industry blogs such as the Adaptive Path blog and Putting People First.
SG: Which book(s) would you recommend for new bloggers (these can range from marketing books, blogging books, etc.)?
DA: Made To Stick
SG: What is your most successful blog post ever?
DA: Creativity 2.E
SG: What's your biggest tip on writing a successful blog post?
DA: Write something that people will want to talk about. Do something that others are not. Make each post memorable.
SG: What's your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?
DA: State your opinions. Don’t try to write like a journalist. Do something different. Use visuals. Let your voice come through in the writing. Write in conversational tone vs. formal. Be true to your personal brand and if you don’t know what that is—figure it out.
SG: How important do you think are the headlines of your blog articles?
DA: Fairly important, but not as important as the content. Best to write headlines that are both enticing and informative.
SG: Do you spend any money and time on marketing?
DA: No money spent except on Typepad. I don’t market except through being myself and participating. I probably spend about 15-20 hours a week on Twitter, blogs and participating in general.
SG: What are your main methods of marketing your blog?
DA: I’ll promote links on Twitter and Facebook, but the best marketing is the content. That’s where I spend most my time.
SG: Which marketing tactic has surprised you the most in terms of its effectiveness?
DA: The visuals. People love my visuals and want them for themselves. It’s both my product, content and advertising. People take my visuals and distribute them on the Web. This eventually creates a bigger audience for me as most people can find their way to the source of the visual which is my blog.
SG:What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?
1. Find your voice
2. Do something different
3. Be true to your brand
4. Provide value
5. Only write what makes you happy
SG: What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?
DA: Self doubt will kill you. When you’ve got people commenting on your stuff or calling you out or challenging you—you have to be prepared to guard yourself from being something that isn’t you. You must be yourself first, as imperfect and flawed as that may be. You won’t make everyone happy. Most successful blogs are polarizing—people either love them or could care less. The worst blogs are bland, generic and have nothing original to offer. Doubting yourself is the first step down the path of boring.
SG: If you knew what you know now when you first started, what's the one biggest tip you'd give yourself today?
DA: Have an idea where you want the whole thing to end up. When I first started blogging I had no idea where I wanted it to go and went with where it took me. Now I’m a bit more strategic. I’m blogging to build credibility in the industry and to make my job more rewarding and enjoyable. I also like using it to help the company who employs me. I have a lot of freedom because of the blog. I would have established a vision for where I wanted to take it earlier.
SG: What repels you the most from a blog (animations, in your face advertising, etc.)?
DA: Bad Content, bad design and over-promotion. And also a lack of personality.
SG: Do you make any direct money from your blog through advertising, product placements, etc.?
SG: What is your best monetization method (Ads, affiliate marketing, etc.)?
DA: My monetization is indirect. I get lots of professional opportunities.
SG: Do you find you get more from direct monetization of your blog or from opportunities that come because of the existence of your blog?
DA: I get invited to speak at places. If I were on my own, I could make a business of that.
SG: What's your most interesting story related to your blog and blogging experience?
DA: I once wrote a post that was only a sentence long and included a visual. I asked my readers to write the post for me based on the visual. The comments were amazing! Take a look for yourself.
SG: What's the one biggest opportunity that came to you because of your blog?
DA: I wrote a very popular article for BusinessWeek called “It’s the Conversation Economy Stupid”. I was invited to write the article because of the blog. It was a great experience—I got to work with an excellent editor and write in a very different way than blogging. It was pretty cool.
SG:Any other comments or thoughts you'd like to share?
DA: Yes. Everything I know about blogging is in this slideshow
Hope the interview was helpful. For the other 39 interviews, you'll have to get the book.