Five reasons why I blog and my eight blogging recommendations


I have been asked the question – “Why do I blog?” twice recently – once by a reader of this blog from as far away as New Zealand.

Great question and one that I had to ask myself before I wrote this post. So here are my reasons (Listed in the order by which I got started on this path).

1) Get good at writing – I wanted to improve my writing skills and get better at expressing my opinions or thoughts on topics. I started off on very random topics to begin with. Even to this day, I re-read my posts on this blog and rewrite portions of it to improve my writing skills.

2) Single store for good resources I find or for my product management experiences – Services like del.icio.us were interesting at first, but got unwieldy at best after I had too many links stored there. I have come back and searched my own blog to find posts I have written myself or find other articles I referenced in my post. I know it is here when I need it.

3) Write about something I am very passionate about – product management – Identifying market problems, solving them and shipping products that solve them is what I enjoy the most at work.

4) Market myself – Let the world know that I exist. I get a great sense of satisfaction when I see other product management bloggers reference my posts in their blogs . I have also got recruiting calls lately asking me if I would interested in pursuing some job opportunities and they tell me they found me via this blog. Definitely a good feeling when others think you know something that is valued.

5) Share and learn – I enjoy reading other’s blogs, sharing my experiences via comments on other people’s blogs or my own blog posts and seeing traffic coming in from the blogs that I comment on. You can never stop learning and what a great way to do it when you can get advice from some of the smartest and experienced product managers around the world.

So what are my recommendations for new bloggers based on what I have learnt along the way – (btw, this is my third blog – I got locked out of my first blog – it is a long story, my second one was on Vox and this is the one that has been in existence the most)

1. Start slow – It is easy to go gung ho when you get started and then lose momentum and interest immediately after (exercising comes to mind). Get into the habit of writing new posts at least once a week, then get to twice a week and so on.

2. Pick a good name for your blog – “Just because you build it, they will not come” – people need to find you. Having a good name that reflects what you write about and what a lot of people search on will help since it will be in your blog’s URL and search engines give a lot of weightage if the term is in the URL. Here are some of my blog’s old names before I settled on the current name of “Software Product Manager”

  1. Gopal’s random ramblings – you know how well that went
  2. Bazaar Buzz – I knew something was wrong when I was writing about product management and most of the people visiting my site were searching for “farmer’s market” or “Bazaar”.
  3. gopalshenoy.com – Unfortunately my name is not that famous that I can expect a whole lot of people to search my name in Google

3. Don’t blog in a vacuum – I used to just blog here and do nothing else. Then I started reading other blogs and commenting on other people’s blogs and sharing my perspectives and then I saw increase in traffic. Make sure your URL is visible in your comments and if applicable (and only if applicable) reference your blog post. If the blog you are commenting on is popular, those who find your comments helpful will likely visit your site. But don’t ever spam just because you want to bring traffic to your site.

4. Be genuine and share your experiences and knowledge – Be genuine, write from your heart (do not make it corporate speak), know what you are writing about. It is OK to be wrong about something (remember the learning part), admit if you were wrong and how you have learnt from what someone else has said.

5. Make friends among bloggers and get them to link to your posts from theirs: Pagerank matters. Just being on other blogrolls does not help (in fact, many of the blogroll links may have the nofollow tag and hence search engines completely ignore them). You want others to reference your post in the text of their posts. Write something good and useful so that they can reference your posts.

6. Return the favor: When you find some good posts on other blogs, write about them and link to their posts. There is nothing that says that every post has to be your own. If you find a good post, make your readers aware of it and write a small blurb which will get them to read that great post as well. It is all about sharing with others great things you find. But, don’t ever plagiarize.

7. Search engine optimize your blog: This is something I have not fully done yet (have done some) because I am still using the vanilla wordpress.com service and not wordpress.org service and hence have not fully exploited all the things I could do with the latter. But it is important – again you need to be found by others. SEO is an ongoing thing.

8. Generate new content – Your readers (and search engines for that matter) like new content. To make sure I have enough to write about, I jot down things as I come across it. When I have more time some days than others, I write more than one post and schedule it (wordpress allows that) so that I will have new content showing up on my blog on a regular basis. Like everything else, get into a habit of doing this. If you truly enjoy blogging, it will be fun and not a chore.

I hope this answers those who asked me the question and thanks for asking. If anyone else has other reasons why they blog and more tips for bloggers, please share with us.

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12 Responses to Five reasons why I blog and my eight blogging recommendations

  1. danmurray01 says:

    Great info, I’ll be coming back

    Dan Murray

  2. Decent post. I wish I had more time to comment though. 🙂

  3. davemikejohn says:

    Great ideas – everyone who is beginning to blog should read this.

  4. subrataalpha says:

    A free e-book from Seth Godin on blogging. Extremely Seth, extremely readable
    http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2005/09/whos_there_the_.html

  5. Excellent summary to which I would add:

    1) don’t blog as part of a corporate initiative UNLESS the CxO will be blogging. Companies that blog will always fail unless the driver has the power to “make it so”
    2) for every post I put up on our blog, I have 3 more in the can ready to come out. If something newsworthy happens I post it immediately — pushing all scheduled posts out from there.
    3) My blog must have 3 posts a week, which means I need 6+ new posts a week. That’s more than I would recommend for most blogs but its a very specfic blog (www.loftwareblog.com and it’s about GS1 and healthcare) but it’s a global topic, so coming up with that much content has proven easier than I had suspected because I didn’t restrict content to a single country.
    4) Have a personality on the page. Blogging is not PR. If you write lifeless prose, stick to press releases and forget blogging.
    5) be informative. Be knowledgeable. Be fresh and engaging.
    6) Have fun but don’t do comedy unless you’re a blogging comedian.

    Great blog BTW!

  6. gopalshenoy says:

    Chris,
    I don’t think I agree with your first comment. CxO needs to be made aware of the fact that there is a blog and to get their blessing but it is not necessary for him/her to blog. As long as some of the employees commit to blog so that fresh content that adds value to the audience gets generated, it should be just fine. CxO are very busy and I would expect not many of them to blog regularly.

    I loved comment 4 – if all you are using a blog is to do product talk and not about how customers can get better at what they do, then it is going to be perceived as nothing but marketing BS by customers. I don’t know if you know about Hubspot , they have some great tools for small businesses to do social media right.

    Gopal

  7. Casey says:

    What software package would you recommend to someone who is interested in starting a blog?

  8. gopalshenoy says:

    Casey,

    I have tried vox and wordpress and like wordpress a whole lot better and hence would highly recommend it.

    Gopal

  9. Gopal,

    I made the comment about CxO support and really shouldn’t have put it that way, that the CxO needs to be a blogger. That’ll be a rare animal indeed.

    I should’ve said “full support” from the executive team or CEO because a good blog is going to get some attention and some of that attention will not be positive, regardless of the topics you choose to blog about.

    Thx,
    Chris

  10. gopalshenoy says:

    Chris,

    I totally agree. This is what scares the companies most – what if they receive negative comments via their own blog – the fact that these conversations are happening anyways and the blog helps them to know about them and act upon them is still a tough sell.

    Gopal

  11. kiran says:

    Good thoughts about blogging.Thanks.

  12. Elisabeth says:

    Excellent blog post. Picked it up off the comments from Six Pixels of Separation (Mitch Joel). Having only recently started blogging (2 months), I have to say that your advice is bang on. And yes, it did take me FOREVER to get started but: that’s me. I am a “scaredy cat” and, like you, couldn’t find a name that I liked (I eventually did and I’m happy with it.)
    Considering that my blog has the word Passionate in its title, I agree very much with your comment about passion: if you are not passionate about the subject, don’t bother!

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