Liz Strauss is the creative mind behind the Successful-Blog. This is quite an appropriate name considering the huge readership of the blog (it is also ranked 1,835 on Technorati). In my opinion the secret of her success comes from her understanding that blogs are based on conversations and relationships. Anyway, I guess you will learn more from her own words, check it out:
1. When did you start blogging and why?
Well, Daniel, a friend was working at a company that was thinking about starting a blog about kid’s science. She wondered whether that would be something I’d be interested in taking on if they went that direction.
One Sunday afternoon in July of 2005, with the thought of seeing what it would take in time and energy, I gave a little thought to starting a writing blog. I researched the writing style of an author whose work was no longer in print — to see whether anyone had come along to replace him. I had always thought of him as a “best friend in a book.” I spent a few hours on Amazon and I couldn’t find anyone who even came close to the kind of reviews that his out of print books got.
So I decided pick up where he left off.
I was out to build a place where people who wanted to defrag their brains could go. It would be place away from cell phones in elevators, and working lunches, and the noise of the real world. It would be by the old white oak tree on the riverbank in the backyard where I grew up. Anyone could come there to get out of the world.
2. Did blogging change your life in any way?
Blogging changed my life, and it does every day. Writing is thinking out loud. Blogging is thinking out loud where other folks think back.
I have three blogs. I have a business built around them. I have world of relationships that grown from the comment box — people I’ve met in person, people I’ve talked to for minutes and hours on the telephone. Through the conversation I’ve had on my blogs I’ve learned about business,
relationships, the world, and the people who live in it. Even more than that, I’ve sorted what I authentically care about and I’ve learned that listening is the most important communication skill, listening to other people and listening to myself.
3. How many hours per day do you dedicate to blogging and how do see that number changing in the future?
I’ve never really been one to separate my work from the rest of my life. I am a writer. I write. I am a talker. I talk. I am creative as a wife, as mother, as a writer, as a blogger, as a strategist, as a problem solver. Do I count the time that I think about what I’m going to blog? Should I count the time that I read fiction to give my mind room to breathe so that I have more ideas? I look in my refrigerator and it sparks an idea about how customers think . . . is that part of my blogging time or not?
I live inside your computer… I’m always blogging. No I don’t see that changing in the future. I’ll still be talking then too. [smile]
4. If you could give 3 pieces of advice to someone starting out, what would those be?
Notice how everyone who is successful is unique. Be the best YOU you can be — you can’t possibly be a good me.
Choose to blog about what you always talk about — that one subject that you find endlessly interesting. If you are fascinated by something let it show. If you let it show, other folks will be too.
Breathe. Know that the Internet has no eraser. Your children, your grandchildren, your future spouse, your future boss, and your future enemy will see what you write eventually. Speak the truth with your head connected to your heart. Always leave the other guy a place to stand.
5. It is not uncommon to see over 200 comments on your blog posts, how did you manage to create such an vibrant community?
I love my readers. I know they’re intelligent, and incredibly cool. I like being with them, and we have only one rule — be nice. What good is a relationship, if you’re not?
6. Regarding promotion, what has and what has not worked for you on the past?
You know, I’m trying to think. The only words that come to me are that I tried too hard. I don’t think about promotion much anymore. I think about what kind of blog posts my readers like to read, what kind of blog posts I write well, and what kind of information or experience I have to share that might be useful.
7. Can you name 3 must-read blogs?
Besides my own? [smile]
You know, really, I’m on a quest not to take any blog that seriously… the universe got on pretty well without us and it would again. I try to remind myself of that every day, because it’s easy to get caught up in the drama.
But if you want to know blogs that I enjoy… every day the answer is different. It’s always the last ones I read. How about if I give you three that I’ve discovered recently and like a lot?
- Alister Cameron
- How to Save the World
8. What are your predictions for the blogosphere in 2007?
Funny, I just came to a conclusion this morning . . . this will be the year when some things solidify. After 2007-08, big changes will be fewer and further between. Changes will start happening around the blogosphere rather than in it. The MSM will start to look even more like it. Blogs will evolve this year, but things will level out a bit by the end of 2008. A stability will settle in probably by the first or second quarter of 2008, if not even sooner. I’m usually conservative.
Those are my predictions at this minute. I could be totally wrong and as with everything, the truth changes… you know, I’m typing right now, but I might not be when you read this…
Thanks for the awesome interview, Liz!