Ten Lessons From Four Months of Blogging: Part I

My decision to start blogging started with a desire to publish a book. I went the traditional route and spent about a month writing a book proposal, and submitting query letters to agents.

I got lucky and landed a phenomenal agent. He told me he could sell my proposal to a small publishing house now, but would prefer to market it to one of the big publishing houses later.

I agreed.

His advice was that while I had a solid idea and credentials, I lacked a platform. A platform is essentially a bully pulpit to transmit ones’ ideas. As part of this platform-building, he encouraged me to start a blog.

Since I am a numbers guy, I instantly focused on quantitative measures of performance. In the blogosphere, one can use monthly page views as one proxy for a blog’s success. In the process of building my blog and finding ways to increase traffic to my site, I learned the following 10 lessons in the first few months.

For what it’s worth, here they are:

Getting Attention

  1. Leverage the media to drive traffic to your site
  2. Title for search when you search for a title
  3. Leverage social media as a distribution platform
  4. Take advantage of the news cycle
  5. Leverage your personal and professional networks
  6. Posts follow a Pareto, not a Gaussian, distribution
  7. Use multiple media to engage your audience

Convincing the Audience to Stay

9.   Generate unique and interesting content
10. Build a community

Over the next few weeks, I will address each of these topics in detail.

These lessons have been helpful for me. I hope they are helpful to you as well.

About Sean Patrick Hazlett

Finance executive, engineer, former military officer, and science fiction and horror writer. Editor of the Weird World War III anthology.
This entry was posted in Blogging, Business, Education, Mathematics, Media, Predictions, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Ten Lessons From Four Months of Blogging: Part I

  1. Nobody says:

    By the way, the most concise summary of the US energy policy I encountered until now

    Voters want cheap gas. They also want things that are antithetical to cheap gas, like “energy independence” and environmental purism. Rather than choosing between conflicting goals, politicians offer happy talk and boondoggles to reconcile these opposites. That’s how we got Mr. Obama’s electric-car subsidies, Jimmy Carter’s “synfuel” disaster, and Bill Clinton’s now-forgotten 80 mpg family-car project.

    Source: WSJ

    • Nobody,

      Thanks for forwarding this link!

      • Nobody says:

        Frankly, the mess the US is making of its energy policy makes me think that the US political system has simply turned dysfunctional. We can debate what can or should be done, but it’s pointless because the system can no longer produce solutions

        • Nobody,

          I think you are right on. The left has the right long-term solutions, but the wrong short term solutions. The right will keep the US sustained in the short term, but provoke a more serious energy crisis in the long-term. Neither side advocates a purely pragmatic energy policy.

  2. Scott Erb says:

    Yes, you are a numbers guy — you proved that in your car purchase analysis! I presume your book is going to be about energy? Is it going to have an international focus? Is it going to mix geopolitics and national security with energy policies and economics? If you’re going to do those things I could imagine using it in my world politics class, which would sell at least 60 or so copies a year 🙂

    • Add all of the above and throw in some politics and you have it!

      Thanks also for the market validation!

      I am contemplating doing a self-published first edition to prove to publishers the book will sell. If I go this route, you will be one of the first people I send a review copy to, 😉

  3. pino says:

    In the blogosphere, one can use monthly page views as one proxy for a blog’s success. In the process of building my blog and finding ways to increase traffic to my site, I learned the following 10 lessons in the first few months.

    This is GREAT! I’ve often wondered how “other people” do it. How they see “managing” a blog. I’m anxious to see your perspective!

    • I am hoping it starts a good discussion about best practices. I’ve definitely learned a thing or two by reading your, Moe’s, Pino’s, Scott’s, Vern’s, Nobody’s, and even Ben’s site. I just hope I can discover something no one else has yet (though this is doubtful).

  4. Pingback: Ten Lessons From Four Months of Blogging: Part I (via Reflections of a Rational Republican) | Brucetheeconomist's Blog

  5. Moe says:

    Well Sean, I’d say you’re doing pretty damn well already. I like the idea of putting search terms into headlines.

    I do a crumby job with categories and tags and wish I could just start over. But that’s an area I plan to work on over the summer. Maybe I can find a way to make global changes from one category name to a newer one. Doing it manually is daunting.

    I’ll look forward to the book!

    • Moe,

      I am doing my best. Now I am just trying to adjust my blogging to my new job. I spent Saturday and Sunday writting posts to last until this Saturday and am trying to get a beat on next week’s as well. If I wait during the week, I fear my quality would suffer.

      The great thing about blogging is it can be quantified, which gives one a good sense of progress.

      • Moe says:

        Been meaning to point you to an article in the Atlantic Monthly Dec 2010 issue. “Why the Future of Clean Energy is Dirty Coal” by James Fallows. You may have already read it, but if not, definitely up your alley.

  6. pino says:

    Getting Attention

    Just discovered that getting listed on the North Carolina Senate President Pro Tem’s “Daily Press Tips” helps too. Just set a new single day record!

    • Moe says:

      pino – Is that basically putting yourself on a press distribution list? Did you just contact the Senate office to be added?

    • Pino,

      How did you pull it off and more importantly, what was your page count?

      Inquiring minds would like to know.

    • pino says:

      pino – Is that basically putting yourself on a press distribution list?

      I’ll forward both you and Sean the release.

      Did you just contact the Senate office to be added?

      Yes and no.

      Understand that North Carolina is part of the old south. There are tons and tons of conservatives down here who still harbor generations old hatred of the Republicans from the North. As such, we have the phenomenon of a conservative Democratic party. Kinda.

      For the first time since the 1800’s, Republicans control the Senate and the House. Republicans are itching for positive commentary.

      I have an acquaintance. He knows the Senate leader and he knows that I blog conservative stuff. I have the opinion that anyone who would publicly comment on pro-republican material would get linked; they send out a daily update. He and I discussed several topics and found this one where we agreed.

      How did you pull it off

      I just asked what topics he felt the local news wasn’t covering fairly. Then I offered to post on a mutually agreed upon topic. I don’t wanna preach about the evils of gay marriage; I support it. But unemployment benefits? I’m good with that.

      what was your page count?

      A modest 324 as of right now. Which represents a 30% increase in my previous best [and I had to trick Sean into even THAT number 😉 ]

  7. Jennifer says:

    Thank you Sean! This was really helpful information.
    –Mrs. Doug Bardsley (ha! ha!)

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