Ask Steve – Blogging Questions

I received a number of blogging-related questions, so I figured I’d handle them all in a single post.

What blogging software do you use?


What do you use as your primary RSS feed reader?


Did you use a template for your blog design, or is it custom?

It’s custom. I didn’t want to copy what everyone else was using.

How much income do you earn from your blog?

Currently about $9000 per month and continuing to rise.

What do you think of Technorati?

It’s an interesting service for bloggers, especially for tracking links to your blog and for determining your blog’s relative ranking (in terms of link count). However, my personal experience is that it’s the most buggy online service I’ve ever used. Consequently, I’m disinclined to trust its accuracy, including the famed top 100 list. For example, the link count for my blog’s Technorati listing will usually go for more than a month without updating, so most of the time it’s way off because about 20 new incoming links to my blog are added every day. Technorati support told me this is a known bug and the link count is supposed to update daily. But it’s been like this since last year at least, even after repeated support emails to them. I even emailed David Sifry about it. If it’s been a known bug for that long, why the delay in fixing it? There are many other sporadic bugs I’ve encountered on their site as well — this is just one example. I’ve heard other bloggers complain about Technorati bugs too, sometimes swearing it off after getting no resolution. But hey, you get what you pay for, right? Overall I still think it’s a neat service, but I don’t rely on them for accurate information, especially with respect to blog rankings.

What’s the best advice you can give to other bloggers?

Think of blogging as a means of self-expression. It’s a way to inject more of yourself into the world. If you have something of value to offer, blogging is an efficient (and free) way to deliver that value. Don’t think of blogging as a way to get something but rather as a way to contribute.

Imagine yourself on a stage before an audience of a million people. You have the mic for as long as you want. What would you say? Would you start spouting marketing gobbledegook? Maybe if you want to get boo’ed off the stage. Would you blab on about what you had for breakfast this morning? Zzzzzzz. Figure out what you’d say to that audience (for real), and you’ll know what to blog about. Then go do it!

How do you maintain focus when building your blog?

Figure out the focus for your life, and blog about that. What is so fascinating to you that you know with a high degree of certainty that it will still fascinate you 20 years from now?

I could have started other blogs on a variety of topics that interest me like computer programming, health, or public speaking, but they aren’t deep enough passions that I’d still want to be involved 20 years from now. After a year or two, I’d probably be bored with those topics.

Don’t confuse your medium with your message. Blogging is just a medium, one of many creative outlets available to you. Root yourself to your message, not to any particular medium.

If you don’t know what your message is, then figure that out first before you start blogging. Or you can blog about the process of discovering your message.

What was the #1 traffic-building tool you used to grow traffic?

My honest answer is creating content that genuinely helps people. Word of mouth was my #1 marketing vehicle. Most of my traffic growth came from unsolicited links on other people’s sites. They stumbled across my blog, liked what they read, and told others about it. Now this happens every single day. Every once in a while, I get a mention on a high-traffic site, but my traffic is very decentralized. It’s really the summation of thousands of links on low-traffic blogs that adds up.

I think a lot of it has to do with intention. Writing a helpful article with the intention to build lots of traffic is not the same as writing a helpful article because you genuinely want to help people. I’ve done both. Invariably I get the best long-term results when I write without thinking about traffic-building. If the content is good, the traffic will come. Now I pretty much ignore the traffic-building potential of an article and simply focus on sharing helpful ideas and insights.

If you had it to do all over again, what would you have done differently with your blog?

I would have started at least a year earlier.

This entry is part of the “Ask Steve” series. See the original Ask Steve post for details, or view the Archives (July 2006) to peruse the entire series.