Book Review - Clear Blogging by Bob Walsh
At my place of employment, I'm getting more and more questions about blogging. What exactly is it, how do you do it, what do I need to know, and can I blog within the company? If I had my way, I'd buy about 25 copies of Clear Blogging: How People Blogging Are Changing the World and How You Can Join Them by Bob Walsh and start handing them out. This is a perfect mix of details, concepts, and guidelines, all packaged up in a very readable (and enjoyable) format. I even picked up a few gems myself...
Part 1 - Revolution in Progress - Please Make Noise!: Why Blog?; Hooking into the Blogosphere; Getting Started
Part 2 - Building Your Blog: What Do Good Blogs Share?; Building Your Personal Blog; Professionally Blogging, Blogging Professionally; Building Your Company Blog
Part 3 - Secrets of Influential Bloggers: Power Tools for Bloggers; Successful Blogging; The New Fourth Estate; Adding Podcasting to Your Blog; Monetizing Your Blog for Fun and Profit; Building Readership
Part 4 - Blogging Towards the Future: Blogging from the New Front Lines; Welcome to Your Future;
From the technical perspective, he covers how to start a blog in a few of the mainstream offerings... Blogger, Windows Live Spaces, and TypePad. Keeping in mind that these packages can change on a weekly basis, he is clear and concise on how to create the blog and post content. Even if things change, the concepts are pretty much the same, and you can follow along. But fortunately, he doesn't spend a lot of time on the "follow the menus" material. It's the other stuff that is so elusive to explain to newcomers. What makes a good blog? Who's going to read it? What do I write about? And of course, can I make lots of money at this? :) Parts 1 and 2 are the foundations for just about every question I've been asked lately, and Walsh covers it all with a flair. If you could convince rookie bloggers to read and understand things such as voice, audience, and consistency, the long-term success rate of their blogging would rise dramatically. I've made a number of the mistakes that Walsh cautions against, and it would have saved me a few hairs had I known this all three years ago. And if you're not a newbie blogger? Part 3 goes into what I call "power blogger" mode, and discusses more advanced topics like how a blog can generate income, and how you can add podcasts to your blogging repertoire. You don't *have* to do all these things, but they are directions that are worth considering. Again, reading this first before diving in could mean the difference between stepping up to the next level and alienating your audience.
There were a few things that drew me to this book. One is the writing style. I enjoy conversational writing that isn't afraid to have fun and be a little edgy. He definitely fits that criteria, and he's not afraid to offer up his own opinions alongside the facts. The second thing involves the interviews. There are a number of question/answer sessions with big name bloggers, those who have defined the field and who are leading the pack. Learning from them what works and what doesn't is invaluable towards improving your own writing. And finally, each chapter ends with a "Your Action Task" section. It's the "call to action" to actually take the next steps to apply the chapter's material and do it yourself. That focus on practicality and "do it now" drives the reader along and should make for some successful blogging efforts.
If you've been getting the blogging questions coming your way because people know you do that blogging thing, point them towards this book. Between your explanations and the material here, there shouldn't be much left over that your questioner doesn't understand. And I'll venture to guess they'll even have fun getting there...