Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
November 19, 200811:28 PM

#1 Rule For A Successful Blog

If you had to choose your #1 rule for what it takes to create a successful Blog, what would it be? Mine is: create real interactions between human beings.

Finding your passion is one thing. Uncovering a unique niche is another. Attempting to turn a six-figure income from your Blog might be what drives you, but what will really keep the momentum going and your readers engaged is if you create a platform to not only share your own insights and personal thoughts, but use it as a place to really connect with those readers and enable that to turn the entire Blog into a thriving community.

It's something that will take a lot of internal and personal struggle (especially if it's a business Blog).

There will be moments where you will want to self-promote. There will be instances where you will wonder if you are betraying your clients or your employer for some of the things you would like to Blog about. There will even be instances where you will want to see if you can monetize the property as your popularity and interest grows. It's not a question of ignoring those impulses, it becomes more of an exercise in returning to your roots. Always focus and cherish that first moment where you came up with the name of your Blog and published that first post in the first place.

If everything you do Blog about has an end-game of making you slightly more famous, how does that help, grow and nurture your online community? 

Without question, one of the best quotes recently about Blogging was from Hugh McGuire (LibriVox and The Book Oven). In the comments section of this Blog, Hugh said: "Don’t Blog to get known, Blog to be knowable." It's not about Blogging with a tone of "look at me, look at me!" It's about Blogging and sharing who you are, how you connect to your passion and what you think about that will (hopefully) get others excited and want to contribute, join or (hopefully) even start their own Blog.

The conversations are everywhere.

You can find some gems on Twitter and you can see some flashes of brilliance on FriendFeed. There's something warmly beautiful about a well thought-out editorial piece in the newspaper and real modern literature can be found in some of the best business magazines. Blogs fill another arena of media culture. Blogs give every individual the place, space and environment to really dig down deep or blast something out furiously. It shows a different side of an individual and how they flow into their work. It makes people stand-out and be original.

Blogs are one of the few (and only) places where words do, indeed, become real interactions between real human beings. A great Blog is personal and displays the humanity. A great Blog can move and inspire people and teams. A great Blog takes words and makes them human. A great Blog is not doing it because there is a schedule to keep or ads to sell. A great Blog is published when it is published. No sooner. No later.

What is your #1 rule for creating a successful Blog?

By Mitch Joel


Comments Comments Feed
  • Posted by Simon T Small
    Mitch Joel

    Blog on something you're passionate about. Put your passion on display for positive and negative criticism - to stir passion in others.

  • Posted by Dan York
    Mitch Joel

    Mitch,

    You know, after blogging for over 8 years, I think I would summarize my advice as simply this:

    Write about a topic you are passionate about.

    *Starting* a blog is easy. Trivial, in fact. Keeping a blog going, week after week, month after month, year after year, is the hard part. If you aren't passionate about the topic you are writing about, odds are you probably won't keep it going over the long-term. Yes, building a community around your blog... creating real interactions... that will definitely sustain you. But I would argue that to do that, you need to be interested, engaged and passionate in the subject of your blog. That subject could be a specific area of expertise or interest... or it could just be whatever topics interest you... but whatever it is I think you need to be passionate about the area. Passion/enthusiasm attracts people - and it's hard to fake.

    It also helps if you love to write... I wrote about that on my blog last year:

    http://www.disruptiveconversations.com/2007/08/so-you-want-to-.html

    Best wishes for your workshop tomorrow,
    Dan

  • Posted by Rob Cottingham
    Mitch Joel

    My number one rule: try to contribute something of value to the world...a piece of knowledge, an insight, an experience, a joke, an image, a compassionate remark. The world has more than enough blogs with people mouthing off and spouting invective. Offer something worthwhile, and you'll stand out from the crowd.

  • Posted by Rob Cottingham
    Mitch Joel

    My number one rule: try to contribute something of value to the world...a piece of knowledge, an insight, an experience, a joke, an image, a compassionate remark. The world has more than enough blogs with people mouthing off and spouting invective. Offer something worthwhile, and you'll stand out from the crowd.

  • Posted by Jay Berkowitz
    Mitch Joel

    #1 rule for a successful blog. Teach me something I can use to make money, save time, or have fun.

  • Posted by Nicky Jameson
    Nicky Jameson

    I think blogging means something slightly different for each person blogging and even for each blog. I'm not sure what my #1 rule would be because they are all interdependent. You can't have one without the other.

    I have two very different blogs, but on my first very successful (at least my audience loves it) blog I didn't blog to "really connect" I blogged to share my thoughts about a particular niche and see what others thought. Three years on my readers can carry on amazing and though provoking conversations - that i often have to make posts of because I get so many "YES" moments from them.

    I've been told my blog inspires and supports even caused people to think differently - which is breathtakingly humbling especially when people are sharing their experiences.

    My number #1 rule? Be true to yourself...and real with your audience. Always appreciate them, and tell them so. Respond and give comment love back to them. Oops, that's actually #3 rules. Sorry!

  • #1 rule for a successful blog: Write in your voice, create cause for action, ask BIG questions and LISTEN intently.

  • Posted by Dino
    Mitch Joel

    try to remember that your blog is enriched by the community of people that you are opening yourself up to.
    other blogs, readers, people that comment. they become the ecosystem that your blog is one element of.
    the truly rewarding part of a blog is the many real friends you make along the way, and for me at least, that remains the reason to keep doing it.

  • Posted by Ted Demopoulos
    Mitch Joel

    Not very often I'm the second "Demopoulos" to comment on a thread -- thanks Dino :)

    My #1 -- goals. If you don't have goals, how do you know if your succeeding (or just having fun which is fine too). Goals can be as fine grained or coarse as you want. You can have regular goals, and "stretch" or "home run" -- if everything goes perfectly goals.

    The #1 goal for my first blog was simply to experiement with blogs and see if they had any business value. The #2 goal was to reposition myself not just as a techie, but as a business dude with strong technical skills. Oh, I had fun along the way too.

  • Blog for exploration and discovery and link like crazy!

  • Posted by Creator
    Mitch Joel

    Well, I don't know if "rule" is the perfect word. I'd call it a "secret".

    I think the secret to a successful blog is to know who you are writing to and what they expect you to write and how.

    In my opinion, a blog doesn't have to be very interactive or conversational. Not necessarily.

    BTW, you speak about interactions, but you aren't that keen to answer your commenters. :-)

  • Posted by Omar Ha-Redeye
    Mitch Joel

    My number 1 rule?

    Get optimized.


    This might mean continuing to blog over a long period of time, as indicated above, because search engines like larger sites more than smaller ones.

    But it also means hosting your own domain, building connections with other blogs, and a relationship with your readers.

  • Posted by Amod Munga
    Mitch Joel

    Write. Write about what you know. Write about what you don't know. Write back to people who write to you. Write well.Write often. Just write.

    That's my number one rule for blogging.

    Number two is always type with a number 2 pencil behind your ear. You just look cooler that way. Ha!

  • Posted by Annalie Killian
    Mitch Joel

    Get really easy to learn blog software if you are a beginner, but as you grow in confidence, you will want to add features and play to make it more interactive/ include feeds, etc. Its really good if software can accommodate your growth and desire to improve your design and reader experience and you dont need to call a developer to do it for you.

  • Posted by japie
    Mitch Joel

    my rule #1:
    respect your audience by keeping your content in line with the focus of your blog.

  • Posted by Rick Jessup
    Mitch Joel

    I've been blogging for 12 years now and my #1 tip is to always write as though the world is watching. I honestly feel too many people start out fired up and don't get the stats they want and flame out quickly. Write honest and write when you have something to say, and never let a perceived lack of readership stop you from what got you going in the first place.

  • Posted by Mark Dykeman
    Mitch Joel

    Try to help your readers have a better day, even if it's something small like an interesting fact, a smile, a chuckle, or a good feeling.

    If if you do better than that, that's great too.

  • Posted by Fagstein
    Mitch Joel

    Be unique.

  • Posted by Dino Demopoulos
    Mitch Joel

    i wonder if mitch realizes the statistical likelihood of two people with the last name of "demopoulos" commenting on a blog post. in different cities, and unrelated?!

    :)f

  • Posted by Nando
    Nando

    Put your unique take on it.

    The Web is a conversation, so you're making interactions everytime. Can't help by doing it. If you're out there, that's already successful to the conversation.

    What would be real interactions, btw? You'll only have something real if you'd be real. That's to put your own take on the conversation. If that creates a lot or a few of what you call "real interactions", it doesn't matter. Sometimes it'll create none. But you have added something to the network.

    Something unique. That creates everything, including real interactions.

  • Posted by Alain Lemay
    Mitch Joel

    Underpromise and overdeliver. Works for blogs and just about everything else!

  • Posted by Rasul Sha'ir
    Mitch Joel

    I think everyone of these points are great! What I like (and what I try to do is to not just repeat the latest news flash, or a "gurus' ideas and opinion (cut and paste), and say "I agree with that" and then that's it. Weave it into your own narrative or make it a PART of or supporting your own original experience or story. I like to read about things that I don't know about, have not experienced or haven't experienced through the writers eyes.

  • Posted by Jess Sloss
    Mitch Joel

    Add value to the community/ your readers.

  • Posted by Tanveer Amin
    Mitch Joel

    Great post. On a side note, I wanted to make a small comment on your blog. Though the content is great, I think you should move the 'recent podcast' and 'recent blogposts' bars to the right hand side of the screen.

    Every time I want to read a post in my rss reader (thunderbird), I have to first scroll to the right of the screen. To me, this inconvenience is equivalent to having to type in your website each time I I want check for new content, which defeats the purpose of subscribing to an RSS feed in the first place.

    I think you should also include a link that formats each post to be 'printable'. I love keeping actual copies of great articles/posts.

    Just a few suggestions to make your blog more user friendly to subscribers.

  • Thanks for that feedback. We are going to review the Blog design and usability in the coming months and I've put your bullet-points on the list :)

  • Posted by janeashley
    Mitch Joel

    Blogs, even corporate ones, are personal. Bloggers put a lot of effort into their blogs, and many put their own personality into them. Most bloggers will be happy to correspond with you if you would like to talk about their blog.

  • Posted by David Black
    Mitch Joel

    Its hard to pick one so i have picked 2 that in my eyes relate closely.

    Firstly you need to create a blog on a subject you are passionate about.

    But also you need to give away great content. If you are doing something you care about and know a great deal on (passionate) this should happen automatically.

    I feel these 2 go hand in hand. Great post and great question :)

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  • Posted by Nathaniel
    Mitch Joel

    You should take part in a contest for one of the greatest websites on the web.

    I most certainly will highly recommend this site!

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    Mitch Joel

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