Have you ever read a book where you can’t wait to finish it, so you can start experimenting with what you’ve just learned? Your mind explodes with all kinds of creative ideas you want to use immediately. In short you are fired up!
I had one of those moments this morning. The book responsible for my “kick in the pants” is one written by fellow Chicagoan, and influential blogger, Liz Strauss. Entitled “The Secret to Writing a Successful and Outstanding Blog” it is available, via ebook, for $29.00 US. In my opinion it is worth every penny!
So, why was I attracted to this book? Well, for some time now I have been contemplating ways to elevate the caliber of my blog. While my blog content is solid, based upon feedback I am receiving, I am disappointed in my readership growth. I perceive there is much room for improvement, but am not sure where to begin. Thus I embarked on a quest to find a new formula for success.
I did not have to journey far. I have been following Liz on Twitter, for quite some time. (I recommend you follow her too) In fact, at Jeff Hurt’s suggestion, I made contact with her a couple of months ago, by telephone. I instantly liked her, and we had a terrific conversation.
At some point Liz mentioned SOBCON 2010, an upcoming conference for bloggers, which will take place in Chicago, 4/3- -5/2, 2010. In her words, “SOBCon is the think tank of the social web, where the best minds in the Internet space gather to present models, discuss insights, and determine best practices.”
Based upon the recommendation of several colleagues, and my conversation with Liz, I will be attending SOBCON 2010.
While registering for the conference, I noticed an ad for her book. The timing was perfect, being in “fix myself” mode, so I bought it. Easily, it is my “purchase of the year.” … at least so far, anyways.
What are the top learning lessons from the book? There were many nuggets of wisdom offered throughout this ebook, too many to list in this article. So, here are my “Top Five” takeaways:
Takeaway #1: Get off the podium — so true … in my efforts to provide high quality content, I sometimes unintentionally come across as a lecturer, rather than a collaborator. Ironically, I detest lecture-based presentations and embrace community-based learning.
We don’t like to be taught, but we like to learn. And learning is easier, more fun, and more meaningful when we do it in the company of friends who support us. Rather than be the “sage on the stage,” be the “guide alongside.” –Liz Strauss, SOBCon 2010
Takeaway #2: Information is all over the Internet, but your viewpoint isn’t — Once again, another trap I sometimes fall into … The information driving a topic may not be unique, but my viewpoint of it is. I believe this is a great truth to remember when writing. Regurgitating facts to readers does not stimulate much of a conversation. Sharing viewpoints, or experiences encourages it!
Takeaway #3: Let folks who read help you as much as you help them — If I leave the door open, with my writing, for people to offer constructive ideas I have started a conversation. A productive technique is to ask an open-ended question, without providing the complete answer.
Takeaway #4: Leave what you say a little unfinished — Don’t obsess with providing all the relevant information on a particular subject. It’s ok for me to leave out some details. In fact, that is a good thing, as it will provide my readers with an opportunity to add something to the discussion.
Takeaway #5: Follow up a comment response up with a question — the whole goal of a blog is to start a conversation and keep it going. Asking a question during a response to a reader’s comment invites more interaction with them. What a great concept!
I am really excited about the upcoming SobCon Conference, and to strengthening my connection with you, my fellow community members. If you are a blogger, you need to read Liz’s book. She has a wealth of knowledge, strong instincts, and a warm personality to go along with it. I know she would love to hear from you!
Question: Do these ideas resonate with you? For you bloggers, what practices have you incorporated into your writing style to keep you on track, and connected to your readers? Or, if you are a reader, not a blogger, what could I, or the blogging community, be doing better, or differently? Do tell!