How to Blog Successfully: Community, Content, and Commerce

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I was asked to discuss ways to become a successful blogger for my recent presentation. When deciding how best to approach this subject, I knew I had to dig all the way back to my beginnings. I needed to reconnect with where I started from… specifically the feelings of inspiration I had from the moment I sent my first email. Having done this Internet thing for so many years now, I’ve learned a trick or three. Most people will tell you that having good content is the key to becoming a successful blogger. I’m here to tell you that that is only 1/3 of the equation.

Community. Content. Commerce.

You don’t have to be perfect to start doing something. The tools are out there to help you get going. Don’t worry about fancy setups or expensive equipment. It’s not about that. If that’s what’s holding you back then you’re holding yourself back. It’s NOT the technology’s fault.

I’ve long explained that community is inside of each of you. Your interests are wherever you go. Your blog could be an extension of that. Community, though, is not separate from commerce and content. They all flow together. If you lose focus on any of the three, there’s a larger chance you will fail.

There are definitely times you should listen to your community, but you are ultimately in control of your direction. The people who follow you will tell you when something isn’t working right, trust me on this. They will be quite loud about it. If you listen carefully, though, they’ll also tell you when you’re doing things right. They will tell you simply by retweeting your links, by commenting on your posts and by just communicating with each other.

You WILL have detractors. Screw them, though. Think of it this way – for every person who hates what you’re doing, there will be hundreds or thousands of others who love things just the way they are. Don’t let that naysayer stop you from being YOU. Don’t live your life (not even on your blog or social media outlets) for someone else.

One of the key things to remember when you are creating content that it doesn’t really matter what you’re saying, or what your intentions are. It’s all about how people react to what you’ve done, and how they project themselves onto you. You need to keep that in your head at all times. If someone becomes upset over something you have shared with them, that’s on them. Your content is only genuine if YOU are genuine.

Your blog is your nexus point. Every piece of content you create should flow directly back there. I consider Leo Laporte to be a good friend. I admire the work he does, and think that he’s extremely smart. However, I had to shake my head in amazement recently. He wrote a blog post talking about how Google Buzz had let him down. Content he had created was just – gone. It was no longer anywhere to be found. He commented that he should go “back to the blog.” My counter to that is simple “Why did you ever stop?” Your blog is yours. You own that. You own the content you create. No matter how many other sites you belong to and create content for, it has to come together into one central place. That nexus should be your blog.

You are already a success. How you measure your success is up to you.

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