How To Blog – Interview with Legendary Blogger Jonathan Crossfield
“To blog or not to blog” is a question many marketing managers and business owners grapple with… Sure the results can be magnificent, yet where do I find the time and how long until my blog ‘breaks through’?
Legendary blogger, Jonathan Crossfield (who also happens to be Communications Manager at Netregistry – domain & hosting company) was generous enough to answer many of these questions when we caught up in Sydney.
In this 7 min interview, Jonathan answers:
– How he got started his first blog?
– Why his blog succeeded when so many failed?
– What his breakthrough moment was?
– The level of commitment required?
– How he hit it big?
My name is Jonathan Crossfield. I’m the Communications Manager for Netregistry which also includes Planet domain, Hostess, MD Web Hosting.
Could you tell us a little about NETT Magazine?
I oversee the ‘NETT Magazine strategy’, which is probably my favourite part of the role because I just think it’s a really good magazine. It’s certainly exceeded our expectations and is up for another award this week and hopefully we’ll get that. That gives me an opportunity to write a bit more structured copy for small businesses to hopefully give them a kick in the write direction.
How did you get started with blogging?
I started blogging when I first came to work in Netregistry as a way for me to learn online marketing and business very very quickly. My attitude has always been practice is better than theory. So if I wanted to learn about SEO, if I wanted to learn about Social Media, if I wanted to learn about how to build a website, I had to get my hands dirty myself. So in the evenings, outside of work and starting my own blog, I’m making a few mistakes and building something so that when I did start writing for the magazine or advising people, I could talk from a place of experience. I know this works because of that experience, not because I have read it in a book somewhere or have been told that this is good.
How important is it to keep the topic of your blog consistent?
This is something I’ve learnt and been battling with because a lot of people have different opinions about this. Some people say a blog should be more free and loose, so if you do go off topic and start discussing something else, that’s what a blog is. It is supposed to be who you are as a person. Others of course say that a blog is more successful if you have a clear focus because people will sign up for the focus. If it’s a blog about small business they expect it to be about small business every post otherwise they might unsubscribe. So there is a balancing act and it is probably somewhere in the middle. People will tolerate an out of topic post, for example if you are posting about Movember. If they have got to know you through a series of posts, then they know that’s just your personality coming through.
What level of Commitment did you need to put in to get results?
That’s the 64 million dollar question isn’t it? It does take a while. When people come to me and say, “can you help me set up a blog for my business or my website or whatever the first thing I always point out to them is:
Your first post out there, no one’s going to read it. Your second post out there, no one’s going to read it. In fact your 10th, 20th, 50th post, you might have your Mum reading it if you are lucky. It really does take a long time for an audience to build. It is really a pebble rolling down a hill slowly gathering moss. That’s the best way to look at it. But if don’t start pushing that pebble down the hill it will never ever become the boulder at the bottom. That analogy goes off the rails there but you know what I mean.
Even when the blog isn’t being successful, even when you are the pebble, you have to treat it as if it is a success story. You have to treat it with the same passion and same amount of regular posting and so on, even though you’re asking, “why am I posting today, only two people read my last one”. You still need to put the time in because eventually it will break. I was posting three times a week, which I found to be a good sort of average. It meant every two to three days there would be a new post that was up. I got into the habit of if I was home in the evening and I knew I hadn’t posted for a couple of days, I actually started feeling guilty. Why am I watching a crappy TV show about people at the airport borders getting done with a frog in their underpants when I could be spending an hour on the PC and putting up the next post?
Links and Sharing
So, I got into the guilt mode which made me do a lot more and by design and a certain amount of luck, because you never know when it will break, I actually had a couple of posts which became popular with other people sharing them around. Then they would tell their friends and then their friends would come back and read that post and they might subscribe and would start to grow from there. About eight months after I had started I put out one story that was picked up big. It went huge. It’s got the most comments I think the blog ever has had on one post. You scroll, scroll, scroll – no one ever reads those comments. It got syndicated around a lot of other blogs which produced a huge number of links back in, where people were either blogging their own comments about the post or reposting the post on their own blogs with a link-back. So it it got a humongous amount of links. That humongous amount of links also makes your website or blog far more visible, top of SEO rankings and certain keywords. Then suddenly I had to come up with another post that all these people, who are now waiting to see what the comes next, will read. That’s when the pressure really came on. I have done it once, now I’ve got to keep that going.
What tips can you recommend to help people fast track getting their blog out there?
It does go hand in hand with your other social media strategies. I think a blog that tries to exist by itself without also tapping into Facebook and Twitter and so on is handicapping itself. But don’t wait until you’ve got that brilliant, golden piece of content before you think, “I need to get this out through twitter”. Because your Twitter following won’t be strong enough to be able to get it where it needs to go. You need to be looking at these other strategies in tandem with your blog from day one, for example, the various bookmarking sites or aggregation sites such as Dig or StumbleUpon that allow people to vote for pages that they find are interesting. A lot of blogs get tracked in through that way. But you will not be able to go into that crowd at a moments notice and say “hey I’ve got this piece of content, vote this up for me”, if they don’t already know who you are. So you need to be building up those relationships as you are building up the blog so when you have a piece of content you really think could go big, you already have the networks that can help you to do so.
Follow Jonathan Crossfield (Kimota) on Twitter
Business Blogging: If you’d like to start your own blog, so you can follow Jonathan’s tips, give Bluewire Media a call on 1300 258 394.