Chess - A Smarter Way To Blog

Today I want to share with you eight phenomenal blogs whose authors managed to uncover a smarter way to blog.

Reading and watching these blogs’ progress and gain in popularity make me question myself as a blogger, the purposefulness and usefulness of my blog. They make my inner voice loud and clear: “Vivien, if you don’t smarten up and start paying more attention to your blog, one day soon you’ll wake up to only a few dozens of RSS readers of your blog, who’d stay with you only because they’re your friends and won’t have a heart to unsubscribe”. (oh, yeah, smarty pants… will you be the one taking care of my family, work and clients then?… but then there are others who have jobs and families, and somehow they do manage to find time for everything, so I guess it’s time for me to stop making the excuses and learn, learn from others, from those who found the smarter ways to blog.)

1. Become part of the blogiverse before launching your own blog

If only I could turn back the time when I started this blog, I would do exactly what Lauren Marie did before launching her very informative blog CreativeCurio. She made a name for herself by actively commenting and participating in discussions on various blogs before starting blogging herself. It looked like she was everywhere, showing up on many blogs as one of the Top Commentators. She also appeared as a guest writer on a couple of blogs, including Inspiration Bit. After only a few months she already made many friends among bloggers and everybody was impatiently waiting for Lauren to launch her own graphic design blog. So from the very first post on CreativeCurio she already had a big and loyal following. Lauren continues her lively participation on other blogs and she never ceases to amaze me with her knowledge and valuable posts on CreativeCurio.

2. Explore and be active with Social Networks

This is definitely something that I have yet to work on – my social networks. I do have accounts on digg, del.icio.us, flickr, facebook, reddit and a few others, but I never quite managed to study and use them more efficiently and incorporate to my blogging life. Brian Auer however has cleverly integrated his social networking skills with blogging strategies and turned his photography blog Epic Edits Weblog into a successful site, always sharing with his readers what are his favourite photography blogs, which Flickr photographers does he admire and brings his readers together to work on various interesting photography projects that are immediately dugg to Digg’s front page.

3. Get a clone and guest write on as many popular blogs as you can

This newcomer to the blogging scene has already managed to blow me off my seat. Skellie has launched her blog Skelliewag only in July 2007, but she already has over 1100 RSS subscribers who can’t get enough of her practical posts. Her biggest achievement though is that she’s already a regular contributor on such popular blogs like Problogger, Copyblogger, DailyBlogTips, Zen Habits, NorthxEast and several others. Skellie, could you please share with us where did you order a clone for yourself, how do you manage to be here, there and everywhere?

4. Blog for business

With today’s obsession of many bloggers to blog for money, blogs that are cleverly used to attract more business are slowly but surely securing their place in the modern business model. David Airey is a perfect example of how a graphic designer can not only find time to host a successful blog but also use it to attract more clients for his expanding business. David has certainly refined the art of advertising his design skills and portfolio by making it helpful for thousands of his readers. His tips on the creative process behind designing a logo for clients have become somewhat legendary.

5. Convey your passion to the readers

Try searching for the term “typography” on Google, and you’ll get more than 26 million results, but the link #7 would be the one and only typography site that will turn you into a Typoholic and add you to the list of over 5000 RSS Typenuts on iLoveTypography.com. John Boardley has achieved something that many bloggers can only dream of. In only a couple of months he became one of the most authoritative figures in his niche, he’s a sought after blogger whom many high ranked bloggers can’t wait to guest write on their blogs. What was so different about John’s blog? After all it wasn’t a totally unique idea, there are many typography sites online. His mind-blowing success is another proof that you don’t have to re-invent the wheel to make your mark in life, just be passionate and know how to transcend your fascination with your favourite subjects onto others.

6. Pick a catchy and familiar name with a twist for your blog and be proactive

Many bloggers desperately want to become a problogger and learn all the tricks and tips from PROs on how to monetize their blogs and make it as big as Darren himself. There were many who are preaching that content is everything, that it’s a king you have to worship. Then comes this young guy, Michael Martin, and starts convincing everyone that “Content is King of course, but does the King get the attention he deserves when draped in ragged garments?”. First he comments on LOTS of blogs, then he finally launches his own blog, with an oh, so familiar title, but adds his own twist to it and calls it ProBlog Design, where he talks how to professionally address the design of our blogs. Afterwards he pitches several articles to the ProBlogger himself and the rest is history. He launched his blog in August 2007, received his first comment from none other but Liz Strauss, and is listed on blogrolls of several famous sites including Smashing Magazine.

7. Hire professional writers for your blog

Freelancing has never been as popular as it is now. There’s lots of information online on this subject, yet there hasn’t been one dedicated site with helpful articles directed at freelancers until FreelanceSwitch was launched in April 2007. One of the blog’s founders was Collis Ta’eed who at that time was running a personal blog, but later converted it into a popular blog about blogging NorthxEast, that was put up for auction in September on SitePoint and was sold for a whopping $8,200 on October 5, 2007. FreelanceSwitch has seven Regular Writers and eleven Casual Contributors, so keeping up with daily posts is not a problem at all. They also started a Job Board for Freelancers, a Forum, and recently published a book, A Complete How To Guide to Freelance. Looks like FreelanceSwitch doesn’t need to see a light at the end of the tunnel, the entire tunnel is brightly lit for them.

8. Start posting daily tips

Just please, no more tips on blogging – Daniel Scocco from DailyBlogTips had that idea first and turned it into a successful blogging empire in less than a year. Now he doesn’t have to blog daily anymore, he’s got all those guest writers who are happy to write for his blog. But since Daniel is such a hard working guy, he started another blog, this time with DailyWritingTips, although it’s only half as popular as its predecessor. I guess bloggers don’t really like to spend much time on improving their grammar. So if you want to follow Daniel’s steps to success, then be proactive and launch DailyDesignTips (you know what? just out of curiousity I checked this domain and it’s available, so sorry folks, but I just purchased it. when will I have time to do anything with it, that’s another story) or DailyFoodTips or DailyBusinessTips – you got the idea :-)

So here you go, do you have any other smarter ways to blog?
A couple of things that I noticed with those blogs is that some of them hit it really big with their huge one hundred one or ten lists in the very beginning of their blogging career, like 101 Essential Freelancing Resources, or 110 Resources For Creative Minds, or 101 Blog Tips I learned in 2006.
And guess what was the #101 tip on Daniel’s list? Right – “create a 101 list” :-)

Another thing is that most of those bloggers are very down to earth and answer to most if not all readers’ comments. So good luck to all of you. I’m definitely learning a lot from all those bloggers. Now if I could only get rid of this terrible cold of mine and learn how to squeeze 36 hours into a 24 hours day, then I would have a better chance to try out some of the things I’ve learned in practice.

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19 Insightful Bits in response to “8 Smarter Ways To Blog”

  1. Hey Vivien, thank you for featuring me! Unfortunately there is only one Skellie at the moment but I would quite like to have a clone — I’d get a lot more done! :-).

  2. Ah you do humble me, Vivien. ;)

    To include my blog amongst Johns, Daniels, Michaels, Skellies, Laurens et al. is an honour.

    You do a great job here with your own blog, and I enjoy your inspiring posts. Where do you see yourself going with it?

  3. Haha the part about Daily Blog Tips made me laugh!

    Let me know if DailyDesignTips go forward and I might integrate it to the Daily Network :).

    Good tips though.

  4. Paul Walker

    These all sound like excellent suggestions, especially 1, 3, and 5. The only one I wouldn’t do is six. Create a catchy name, of course — but taking an already well-known blog and changing it a little seems, at best, lazy, and at worst, deceptive — kind of like the ad-farms at, for instance goooogle.com, or devices like http://www.i-fighting.com/EnProductShow.asp?ID=176

    Furthermore, would it not box you in as a blogger, bringing readers in with very specific prior expectations? Visitors to dailyDesignTips, if they’ve read the other dailyTips blogs (the whole point of making the name similar was to get these people) will expect it to be written in the dailyTips style. Now, with dailyBlogTips having a plethora of different writers, this wouldn’t be quite so hard to achieve as say, inspiredByte — but it certainly would be annoying.

  5. Vivien, what a great way to start out my day, reading this post! You are so sweet! I too am quite honored that you list me among such well known blogs! Another blogger that blows my mind is Leo Babauta and his Zen Habits blog. He seems to be all over the blogosphere! I wonder how he has time to do it all (I bet I’d find out if I read his blog, lol).

    Ha, I feel like sometimes I can’t manage it all! I feel bad when it’s been over a week since I’ve been to some of my favorite blogs (like this one) and I’m sure all my favorite bloggers have noticed my sudden barrage of comments after a long period of silence as I catch up on my reading. I really did just stumble blindly into the blogosphere. I’m so glad I did though! I’ve had a blast, thanks to people like you, John, David and Tara!

  6. You gave me so many things to think about and a list of blogs to analyze. If you ever get that info about cloning, pass it up, please. I need it.

  7. Wow, this is quite an impressive evaluation of some very diverse bloggers and their approaches. I’m quite familiar with and aware of the other bloggers on the list, and I’m flattered to be included in such a presence. You’ve really done a great job at breaking down the techniques employed by each of us, and I think we can all learn a lot from each other. Nice work Vivien!

  8. Thanks again for making me and my little blog a part of this. You’ve gone through some fantastic bloggers here. :D

    Paul – lol – Don’t worry about that, things didn’t work out like that. It was largely based on the fact that I wanted “blog design” in the title, because it would sum up the purpose of the site and it would work well for SEO. The “Pro” part was come up with later (Though definitely inspired by ProBlogger!)

  9. Oh boy. Blush.
    Thank you, Vivien. I think it’s also worth noting that so much in life is luck and blind chance. I’ve been very lucky. It feels nice to be mentioned alongside David’s blog. Talking of David, I think he’s found a niche with his idea for the logo blog. I can’t wait for that one. What’s interesting about David’s idea is that he’s taking an element (one that he’s found to be popular) from his present blog, and creating another blog with it–that’s why, in my humble opinion, it will work. I think that could also work with your Lit Bits, Vivien (I love them).

    Love the chess image, though the Queen is sitting on the wrong square–at the start of the game she always sits on her own colour (white on white; black on black).

  10. Great info. I read several of these blogs myself. Right now my biggest struggle is time. We have some new initiatives at work that are getting in the way.

    One way I would like to learn to blog smarter is to utilize social sites. I am just having a hard time with them because its just not my thing. I am making headway in forums though. I never thought I would enjoy forums but I am converting.

  11. Vivien

    Skellie, how can you write so much for different blogs and have no clones helping you? Do you blog full time? How many hours do you spend on blogging daily (including writing, commenting, pitching your guest articles, etc)?

    “Where do you see yourself going with it?”. David, that’s a very good question, the one I don’t have a complete answer to, not yet. I definitely want to incorporate it with my web design business, so in that sense I’m learning from you a lot. Then I want to be able to increase my posting schedule and make it more regular (probably to 2-3 posts per week). What would come our of this blog – I guess I’ll just take one step at a time and keep perfecting it to be an inspiring and a thought provoking place for my readers.

    haha, Daniel, that’s what I was kind of hoping for – to get your interest in DailyDesignTips. Perhaps we can even become blogging partners with your DailyTips network ;-)

    Hi Paul, thanks for your insightful comment. I agree that to have a name that’s similar with another famous blog is a quick way to advance in blogiverse, and it does add pressure and different expectations. But I think it depends on the blog and the bloggers themselves. JohnCow.com is one of such examples.
    and hmm… you made me think, what if somene does launch a blog called InspirationByte? At first I’ll be flattered, then curious to see how would they make it different from mine :-)

    Lauren, I also feel the same when I don’t have time to write for my blog regularly, or comment on others. Sometimes I worry that my readers feel cheated by my lack of regular posts, and my favourite bloggers feel betrayed by my lack of interest and participation on their blogs.
    As for Leo Babauta, you should definitely read Rory’s break down and analysis of his huge success (if you haven’t read it yet).

    dandellion, I’ll certainly pass it on to you and all my readers any info I get about getting a clone for yourself. I too desperately need one myself.

    Thank you, Brian, for digging this post. I’m thinking of hosting another group writing project soon, this time asking people to share their tips on how they use Social Networking sites to promote themselves and their blogs. What do you and others think of this idea?

    Michael, it was my pleasure featuring you in this article. I’ll be definitely keeping an eye on you and your blog’s evolution. Keep up the good job and I see a very bright blogging future for you :-) (gosh, do I sound lie Cassandra now ;-))

    John, I’m so pleased that you like my Lit Bits. I’ll be splitting them into a separate feed, once I’m done with the re-design of this blog. Good catch with the Queen piece – either the photographer never played chess, or it was taken not at the beginning of the game, but in the middle, then the Queen can be positioned anywhere. :-)
    I too look forward to David’s new logo design blog. It’ll be something that you yourself did – branched out the Typography-related articles on your Redsil blog to a new separate and a very successful one.

    Thanks, Joey. At least we have two common things with each other – I too struggle with time and social networks, but quite active on one of the popular local forums. So what do you think of another group project dedicated to Social networks?

  12. Vivien, for the social media marketing, definitely check out Caroline Middlebrook’s blog. This post on using StumbleUpon was particularly insightful for me and I’ve yet to read her comprehensive guide on Twitter. I just found her yesterday via Chris G’s blog and she has some awesome social media marketing breakdown posts. I’m surprised she’s not more popular! Her style of writing is very conversational and enjoyable to read (plus this is a topic I’m keenly interesting in). I would love to see that social networking writing project!! Please start it!

    I do not mind an irregular posting schedule. If it’s too long I start to wonder what happened to you, but if I’m unable to check my reader for a few days, it’s nice to only have 312 unread articles instead of 315 ;) I’ll check out Rory’s article on Leo. I haven’t read it yet. Thanks!

  13. Vivien, you are reminding me of my boss. We have been having weekly meetings discussing developing leadership skills while reading the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. This week he also was focusing on confronting our weekness. That made for quite a hot seat to sit in.

  14. Vivien

    Thanks for those links, Lauren. I’ll definitely check them out soon. It’s nice to read some fresh voices in the blogiverse.

    Joey, is this a good or a bad thing that I remind you your boss? ;-) Though I do think that it’s best to confront our weakness than pretend that everything is ok. That’s how we learn, don’t we?

  15. Good information here. I admire Brian too!

  16. Thank you, Lau. I can’t blame you for admiring Brian. He’s one talented, charismatic and social photographer, that’s for sure.

  17. Aw shucks you guys, you’re making me blush.

  18. Breaking all the rules of making a positive post, I will say that there is a HUGE number of “how to blog” posts this month. You are especially tuned I believe and also, from your style, a veteran blogger. I have to say this though: I hope folks move on in January to more than just how to do blogs!!! Me, I’m not sure I’m a model blogger or not. I guess hoping to be…

    john @ http://epaper.hubspot.com

  19. I wouldn’t call myself a veteran blogger, but thanks for the compliment, John :-)
    You do have a good point in saying that so many bloggers are blogging about how to blog. I absolutely agree with you on that. With this post however, I wasn’t trying to teach anyone how to blog, merely sharing with everyone the tactics employed by successful bloggers. This blog is all about inspiration after all, my goal is to provide you with some inspiration, and it’s up to you what and how you want to use it. :-)

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Hi, I'm Vivien. Thanks for visiting my Inspiration Bit. I often find myself scouring the internet looking for either answers to many questions I have or websites that inspire me, sites that I can learn from. On what topics you might ask — any topics that interest me, anything from web design to typography and art, from blogging to entrepreneurship, from programming to open source.
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When I'm not blogging, I design web sites, teach, play with my daughter and try to balance family, work, friends and a somewhat active social life on