How to succeed in 2017 - with ProBlogger's Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the grand daddy of blogging. He founded Problogger 14 years ago and has stayed relevant and ahead of the curve the entire time. He’s like the Sean Connery of blogging. Here he gives us advice on what to expect in 2017.
When you were a kid could you have predicted that one day you’d work for yourself and the internet would be the vehicle in which you share your work?
When I was a kid - in the 1970’s and 80’s - my dream was to ‘be a business man’ but I don’t think I really had too many firm ideas of what that actually meant. I suspect some of my aspirations in the field came from my love of Monopoly and my idolising of Alex P. Keaton in Family Ties.
It wasn’t until I got to my mid-teens that I began to be drawn more to the idea of communications, media and marketing and began to have a hunch that I might end up doing something vaguely in those fields. But the idea of something like the internet didn’t ever cross my mind - and even when it did start to go mainstream I could never have imagined I’d be building anything on it!
You are the head honcho at Problogger - one of the original and most prolific blogger education websites - what is it about blogging and blogger education that gets you springing out of bed in the morning?
I saw my first blog in 2002 and it was love at first sight. I intuitively knew I was looking at something that had incredible power to amplify normal people’s voices beyond anything else and I just knew I had to be a part of it. I had no idea where it would lead but loved the medium and found myself telling all my friends about it and recommending to so many people to start blogging. So to start ProBlogger really was an extension of that I guess. Today - 14 years after I started blogging - I am still very passionate about the medium for a few reasons.
Firstly - I love how it continues to give normal ordinary people a way to amplify their voice and connect with others who share their world views and interests.
Secondly - I love that blogging is giving people the ability to earn an income that they may never have expected to have. While not everyone makes a full time (or even a part time) income from blogging there’s a growing number of people around the world who put ‘blogger’ on their tax returns as their occupation which is pretty cool.
Lastly - I’m a firm believer that blogging makes the world a better place. While there are times where it can get a little snarky I do believe we all benefit when we have avenues to share our stories, experiences, world views and knowledge!
So I guess for all those reasons (and the fact that I have 3 young boys who insist on it) I am normally pretty quick to get up in the morning!
I love that blogging is giving people the ability to earn an income that they may never have expected to have.
How do you decide what to publish on your blog/social media platforms? Do you pre-plan or just write whatever pops into your head?
When I started it was all very spontaneous and I would come up with most of my blog post ideas minutes before writing them and publish them shortly after writing them. Today it’s a little more considered. I have become a bit more thoughtful about the overall journey I’m trying to take my readers on. I have in mind who my reader is, what their needs are and where I’m trying to take them. Knowing this I try to map out content ahead of time - content that builds some momentum and builds from one post to another.
I wish I’d started collecting emails from my readers earlier.
This means sometimes I’m thinking a month ahead about the posts I want to write and particularly about the podcasts I’m wanting to record. Having said that - I do get spontaneous at times too. There’s nothing better than a topic that springs into your mind that you’re passionate about in the moment and just have to get out there so from time to time I’ve been known to rearrange my planned schedule to get something spontaneous into the mix.
Being the leader of a team, how do you stay motivated and keep energy levels high?
Energy levels are something that I do struggle to keep up at times - I’m a pretty low energy person. So I tend to try to hire people who have good energy levels and who are self motivated and organised. My style of management is to try to empower my team so that they know what our goals are, what they need to do and to then let them get to it. Having said that I also think it’s important to communicate your values (and to hire people who share them) and to keep in everyone’s mind the goals of what we’re doing with the blog and how we’re trying to change our readers’ lives.
Ultimately I’ve learnt that I am most motivated (and my team are too) if the work I’m doing is meaningful to me and to those I’m trying to serve. So do something that makes the world better and keep that in your focus as it’ll energise you.
What big changes do you see in the blogging world for 2017? What should we be keeping our eyes on? Any problogging tips we should be tucking into our tool belts?
Over the last few years there’s been a lot of people talking about how blogging is dead and that things like Facebook, or Snapchat, or Instagram, or Podcast are the new blogging. I agree that all of these amazing mediums are wonderful forms of communication but I still think there’s a place for blogging - it’s just that what we are now able to use blogs for has changed. For me the blog is now the home for all our content. It’s the place we can embed our podcasts, our Youtube Clips, our visual content and our written work so that our network can find it all in the one place.
When I started blogging in 2002 it was 99% written content that appeared on blogs. The other 1% was visual with small images that we’d add to our posts to make them look a little more visually appealing. Today we live in a multi-media world and blogs are increasingly reflecting this.
The danger though is that with all these social networks calling us to play on them is that we create all our content and keep it on other people’s land and as a result we need to play by their rules forever.
Facebook in the last few years has changed the rules so many times on those who use it. Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter have changed their algorithms too. They have their agenda. They will show your content to those who they wish to show it to and while all of these networks are well worth having a presence on I strongly recommend also keeping as much of the content you create for these platforms also on your blog.
Smart bloggers are leveraging the networks to build their home base and they’re repurposing their content to appear on multiple networks as well as their blog. As a result blogs are starting to act more and more as multi-media portals than traditional blogs.
Want more? Click here to read the rest of this interview with Darren Rowse in issue 6 of the Secret Bloggers' Business Magazine.