Guy Kawasaki has been tearing it up since he launched his blog, but he is wrong about a lot of his recommendations in The 120 Day Wonder: How to Evangelize a Blog. He is consistently off in tone, like 90 degrees off course.
His first point:
1. Think “book” not “diary.” First, a bit of philosophy: my suggestion is that you think of your blog as a “product.” A good analogy is the difference between a diary and a book. When you write a diary, it contains your spontaneous thoughts and feelings. You have no plans for others to read it. By contrast, if you write a book, from day one you should be thinking about spreading the word about it. If you want to evangelize your blog, then think “book” not “diary” and market the heck out of it.
Yes, by all means, think about your blog as something to be read by others, but a blog does not have to be “like a book” in order to be evangelized. A book is — generally — an object of limited length, something that has a beginning. middle, and end. And at some point, the reader puts it down: when it’s finished. Blogs, however, are potentially endless, and often do have a great deal of spontaneity: they offer insights into the person behind them. Reading Guy’s blog is like reading a book, and it doesn’t offer much of an insight into the author, aside from his workmanlike ethics. I would welcome more of the diary style in his writing, candidly. As it is, it feels like the weekly sermon from a good-spirited pastor in the chirch of marketing.
Some of the other points he makes follow the same theme, such as
“Take it from someone who’s tried: It’s tough to market crap, so make sure you have something worth saying. Or, write a diary and keep it to yourself.”No, it’s ok to share your diary, so long as you are offering useful insights to people.
Guy’s thrust is that you should somehow have it all mapped out. Fine, if you’re that sort of a person writing that sort of blog.
And then there’s a list of relatively useful information for those who maybe have had zero to do with the blogosphere before, which I guess is the case with Guy, like the seemingly obvious notion that you should start with a list of bloggers that you read for a blogroll:
4. Collect links for blog rolling. This is something I wish I had done on day one, but I was totally ignorant of this linking thing. If I had to do it over again, I would look for all the interesting blogs that cover similar topics to my blog. Then, on day one I would have blog rolled them all and ensured that Technorati pinged my blog, so that the bloggers might find out that I existed.
Just proves that Guy’s success as a blogger is the direct outcome of his success as an author, and it’s no surprise that he would recommend bookish approaches to blogging. But I believe that his recommendations are just wrong for the average blogger starting out. They aren’t published authors with experience writing best-selling books, with a folio of topics ready to be repurposed in blog post form, and they don’t have 95,000 names in a database so they can email 10,000 close personal friends about their new blog being launched.
On the contrary, I would suggest Guy’s approach only for those who are already celebrities. For the rest of the population, do it the bloggish way, not the bookish way.
- It’s more like a diary than a book. If you think it’s a book, then you will fall into Guy’s quandary: feeding the content beast. “I don’t know about other bloggers, but one of the biggest challenges I face is feeding the content beast. If you can help me feed it, I’ll gladly link to you and give you publicity.” Because it seems like a job to him, instead of writing about what is actually on his mind. After all this time, I still don’t have a clue as to what Guy is doing, day in and day out. Or who he is reading. So he sort of floats in space, instead of seeming linked to a world of other bloggers.
- It’s bottom-up, a world of people writing their daily thoughts, individuals whose thoughts and writing could influence you, push you. Get enmeshed in the world, find the voices that move you, that matter, and let that push you over the edge from writing comments into becoming a blogger. Guy missed that whole evolution, and only after launching learned about the interplay between authors and other authors, and between authors and active readers. Too bad.
- It’s not a book, it’s not a sermon, it’s a dance. There is writing going on out there, topics being broached, news breaking. The beat speeds up, you move faster, its slows, you chill. And you are not dancing alone.
- Find your voice. Takes sides, write about what matters to you, don’t give up, and sharpen your pencil every day.