Join our Facebook Community

Why I Wrote the Kind of Book I Hate

Posted By Guest Blogger 29th of November 2011 Featured Posts, Social Media 0 Comments

This guest post is by Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing.

We all have pet peeves. Things that annoy us. Products that we would never spend money on. And things that we swear we’ll never do ourselves.

But sometimes, fate turns the tables on us. That’s what happened to me, and that’s why I ended up writing the kind of book that I usually hate.

Writing a book

Image copyright moshimochi - Fotolia.com

It’s all because of Derek Halpern. And Ana Hoffman, and Corbett Barr, and Brian Clark. Here’s what happened.

Building an engaged audience, from scratch

I’ve dabbled in the online world for a few years now, but my current blog is less than a year old.

Just like everyone else, we started with nothing—no traffic, no subscribers, and no followers. We had no post history, no comments, and no search traffic.

We had to build an engaged audience, from scratch.

But we didn’t know how, so we tried things. We ran PPC ads, but it was too expensive, and the traffic didn’t stick. We tried SEO, but that was taking too long to get results. We started tweeting, but nobody was really listening.

We were basically trying to learn by trial and error, and while that can lead to some really great and robust learning, it also takes waaaaay too much time for you to be able to build a business around it.

Then I realized something: I could outsource the trial and error!

Outsourcing to the world’s top audience-builders

When I say the word “outsourcing”, you usually think of people working for very low wages in developing countries.

You think about tasks that require a lot of repetition and systematization, like data entry, backlink building, and other dull and tedious tasks that we don’t want to do ourselves.

That isn’t the outsourcing that I’m talking about.

No, what I had in mind was a lot bigger.

I was going to outsource to the very best audience-builders in the world. They’ve already done the trial and error, right? I just needed to find out what they had learned.

I made a list of the top blogs that I read, and the top audience builders that I follow. Some were huge, established names, like Guy Kawasaki and Brian Clark, and others were much earlier in their audience-building, but were clearly bringing something special and unique to the table; people like Jk Allen and Stuart Mills.

I read what they wrote, and I watched what they did. I listened to their podcasts, attended their webinars, and took careful notes along the way.

Pretty soon, some patterns began to emerge…

Patterns of audience-building

The patterns that I started noticing were pretty simple. Here’s what most successful audience builders do:

  1. Have a clearly defined objective.
  2. Write great content.
  3. Put it on sites that people are actually looking at.
  4. Stay focused.
  5. Gather and share information that your audience wants.
  6. Build relationships.
  7. Express gratitude.

Simple enough, right?

Well, I wrote all those posts (which were all published here at problogger.net) while putting the same best practices to work for our blog, and the results were spectacular.

In less than a year, our traffic and subscriber counts have grown by several orders of magnitude, and today I’m recognized in much of the blogosphere as the Freddy Krueger of Blogging.

Something was still bothering me, though…

What about the other ways?

While observing what the audience-building superstars were doing, I didn’t just notice the patterns—I also noticed what seemed to be exceptions to the patterns.

There were lots of very successful audience-builders who did things very, very differently, and it worked for them.

So … was I doing things wrong? No. I was getting great results, so of course I wasn’t doing things wrong.

Then … were *they* doing things wrong? No, they’re getting great results, too.

So what was going on?

No one right way to build an audience

That’s when I really understood what I had already been told so many different times:

There is no one right way of building an audience.

There are lots of ways, and mileage will vary depending on your circumstances, experience, background, and personality. What worked for one audience-builder won’t work for another, and what worked for me might not work for you.

So, how do you know what to do? I mean, if you’re reading this, then you’re probably trying to build your own audience, and you want to know how to go about doing it. Am I saying that I can’t tell you, because even if it did, it wouldn’t help?

No, that’s not what I’m saying at all.

The patterns that are right for you

When I was watching all of those audience builders, I didn’t just notice the patterns of what was working—I noticed the patterns of what would work for me.

You could watch the same people do the same things, and notice different patterns—the patterns that will be right for you.

Why?

Because that’s what our brains are wired to do—notice the things that are relevant to us, and filter out the rest. But in order to do all that, first you need to see enough people doing enough things to actually notice the patterns.

That’s when I realized that I was going to write a book. And not just any book. This was going to be the kind of book that I hate.

The kind of book I hate

We all have books that like more, and like less. Some people like reading about philosophical discourse, some people like popular science, and some people like post-apocalyptic serialized fiction.

Personally, I like the kind of popular science or business book that delves deep into something and draws insightful conclusions. Some of the authors on my list of favorites include Malcolm Gladwell, Chip and Dan Heath, Steven Pinker, Clay Shirky, Marcus Buckingham, Dan Ariely, and others.

Their books are fascinating, and they all run hundreds of dense pages of thorough analysis and conceptual exploration.

None of them write books that are collections of articles or perspectives by various authors. I usually hate that kind of book; I find that they don’t get into any real depth, and you end up with a couple dozen articles all telling you more or less the same thing.

But I wanted to write a book that would give people the road map that they need to build their own engaged audiences. And to create this road map, I knew that I would need a lot of guides to point the way.

So I reached out to all the audience-building superstars that I had followed, and I asked them one simple question:

“If you had to build an engaged audience from scratch, how would you do it?”

It took a bit of time, but then the answers started rolling in. They were rich, and thorough, and many of them surprised me. They were even more diverse than I thought they would be, and every single one of their perspectives was useful and valuable.

The ironic thing is that I usually can’t stand this kind of book, but in this case, I think it’s the best book I could give to anyone who is looking to build an audience. The coolest part is that it isn’t even all that self-congratulatory of me to say so, because even though I “wrote” it, only about 10% of the 239 pages of great ideas were written by me!

But enough about the book. What’s the lesson here for you? Actually, there are two of them.

Lesson #1: One peak, many paths

The first lesson is the lesson that I learned when I set out to write the book, which is that there are many paths up the mountain, and many ways of reaching the peak.

This lesson comes with good news, and bad news.

The good news is that just because someone built their audience in a certain way doesn’t that you have to do the same; there are lots of other ways up the mountain, which means that you never run out of options. As long as you’re committed, and keep on exploring, you’ll find a way.

The bad news is that there isn’t any step-by-step plan that you can follow verbatim to get really great results; the bad ones just won’t work, and the good ones will have to be modified to fit your skills and situation.

The only way to find your own path is to study the paths that so many others have taken, and then chart your own course.

Lesson #2: Sometimes what we hate isn’t so bad

The second lesson is that you shouldn’t make blanket statements about not liking something, because every situation is different.

I don’t like reality TV, unless it happens to be about martial arts. My wife doesn’t like eggplant, unless it is pureed and cooked. And I don’t like books that are collections of articles, unless it’s the best way to share all this information about how to build an audience.

So don’t get too rigid about what you like and what you don’t—instead, think about what will work best to help you achieve your goals. And then go do it!

Danny Iny (@DannyIny) is an author, strategist, serial entrepreneur, expert marketer, and the Freddy Krueger of Blogging. Together with Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark and Mitch Joel, he wrote the book on how to build an engaged audience from scratch.

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
Comments
  1. Nice information. Your book seems great too.

  2. writing is always a good thing to do because it helps to express the creativity of the mind :-)

  3. Inspiring and at the same time hillarious,writing a book or doing something you hate @that is no small fit,Good one.

  4. “One peak, many paths”

    Not only is this true for audience-building but this also applies to our daily lives too.

    Thank you Danny for taking the time and effort to write this.

    It was very helpful, so much so that I’ve bookmarked it for future reference.

    Yours in gratitude,

    Musa

  5. Danny
    I think your “Patterns Of Audience Building” is great. This gives you a structure to follow while still allowing for customization and originality
    Thanks
    Mark

  6. Every time I read this blog, I get motivated to the core. I thinking building an audience is all about wining your readers’s trust. That would definitively keep them coming back; just like what problogger does..Great post Danny!!

  7. I enjoyed this article. One peak, many path. Simply true.

  8. Well, a very light-hearted look at the trials and tribulations of trying to start and build a good blog. My formula has been simple: put my head down and just keep writing about the stuff I love and, hopefully, have someone visit once in a while day!

  9. Just got my review copy of your book in the mail, Danny. Thanks for the extra (giveaway) copy. That’s a great example of how to build a relationship with someone. Looking forward to reading it AND talking with you next month about it. In the meantime, I’ve decided to add that extra copy to a prize package I’ve put together for my “Is it Soup, Yet?” branding contest. Folks can enter to win simply by nominating their favorite small biz brand and telling us WHY (http://thewordchef.com/2011/11/branding-contest/). I plan to aggregate the nominations into some guidelines for cooking up tasty branding early next year. No recipes, tho! You and I both know that the best paths up the mountain are the ones we create ourselves (after careful study of the terrain).

  10. I would normally hate those types of books too, but it seems like a good idea when you’re bringing in multiple expert authors to share their viewpoints.

  11. Excellent article.I really enjoyed your article.Thanks!!!

  12. Danny, let me tell you honestly, I got your book in the mail today…

    And I haven’t put it down for the past two hours!

    Seriously, it’s amazing, anybody reading this post and contemplating checking it out anyway they can, DO IT, Danny is a super smart guy and this book is an obvious labor of love, I seriously will be reading all the way to the end and I don’t doubt that I will have the whole thing finished by tomorrow.

    Keep killing it Danny!

    • I’m really flattered, Greg – I feel so lucky to have had the support of so many wonderful contributors to the book… with people like that on my side, how could it NOT have been amazing? :)

  13. Nice article Danny. I really like how you tied your previous posts together into a cohesive set of tips (for further reading!)

  14. Yeah, really great post. Thanks! And I enjoed first lesson ;)

  15. Building an audience from scratch would require a lot of hardworking. I look forward to have a look at your book. I’m sure there would be a lot of useful information in it that would break the wall that stands between new blogs and the audience.

  16. Very good message: Sometimes what we hate isn’t so bad :-)
    Thanks for sharing!

  17. This post just convinced me to buy your book; I look forward to reading it!

    Seriously, I’d been waiting for someone to address the “from scratch” angle. I’ve read a lot of great material on how to increase traffic and engagement, but that assumes you already have visitors! Hopefully in a year or so I’ll be able to send you a success story about how your strategies helped me :-)

  18. I’ve been building my audience by acting like a loon. Mixed results so far.

  19. Great lesson! I think there are so many ways you could build your traffic and so many angles to write about. I think that pushing against change allowed you to see that you able to do things that you don’t like but they help bring you success. There is nothing wrong with that. Congrats!

  20. Jamie says: 12/01/2011 at 5:36 am

    Great and timely info. My blog is less than a year and I’m still struggling. But you may have changed that! Paying it forward.

  21. This is inspiring, and I absolutely love the way you wrote this post.

    My eyes couldn’t stop. One sentence and idea lead to the next and I think the execution of this was perfect.

    It’s funny because I am considered your audience, and I became a fan of your work and writing through other websites and this guest post. I even downloaded your recent eBook.

    Great work Danny. This is very valuable insight.

    • Thank you, Paul, I’m flattered and humbled by your words.

      I wrote the post (and the book) for people like you, and people like me – it’s the advice that I wish I had received before starting to grow my own audience.

      I hope it helps, and I look forward to hearing about your successes! :)

  22. Awsome info i love it thanks alot could not stop reading and i dont like reading much lol thanks alot.

  23. Writing a book is never exactly easy. No matter how you approach it, a great deal of time and commitment is required. Nevertheless, seeing a book through to completion need not be a grueling, laborious task. If you approach the process with a thought-out plan it, it can actually be enjoyable.

  24. Terrific article, Danny.

    I’ve just downloaded the book 2 days after I was supposed to because of always being so busy. But it’s on my desktop now, just waiting to be read! Congratulation on you hard work and can’t wait to read about all those great ideas for traffic :)

  25. Danny,
    Your book is well-written…I always have a love-hate relationship with books…But your writing is really very inspiring..thanks for sharing this lovely one with all of us….

  26. Likewise, good audience builders make sure that the site’s content is single-minded in the sense that it should deal with a series of inter-connected topics. This way, site visitors don’t get confused with the site’s objectives.

  27. Great insights really. Turning something you hate into a content.

  28. sometimes, what you think is not the best will the become the best sooner or later in no time…

  29. Why would you deal with something you hate? For profits? If we hate things, shouldn’t we ignore them. Profits are born out of love.

  30. Let me summarize this whole article for you:

    To make money.

    The end.

  31. ‘The Freddy Krueger of blogging’? Ha ha, I like it, great post. I can totally relate to this as I have also ended up doing a few things I hate.

  32. Great Post Danny – I recently downloaded the book. I am looking forward to read it. I have already read a few of the bonuses and I really like them – They are very informative. – Mitt

  33. I’m on the fence here.

    I’d say that it’s better to do things your own style. I can understand doing if it is NEEDED, but isn’t that a pit we put ourselves in? There are so many things we could say we NEED to do, and that it’s the only way, but at the end of it, things will stall if you’re not up for it.

    Writing a book is different, I agree. There is no step by step system, only a vision and the perserverance to make it come true.

  34. “One peak, many paths”
    One goal, yet many ways to reach there. This is a an idea that many don’t understand, just because “he” made it this way, doesn’t mean that “you” have to do the exact same thing.

    Nice post.

  35. Great Blog. Its got to be stick (engaging) to work. I think that is the key right? I have seen many bloggers go with controversy and believe its the way to go. It has to be sticky in some way, shape or form. Engaging is the way to go in my opinion, controversial has too many valleys, and not enough peaks!

  36. Danny, you know how I feel about you bro. I haven’t put it down and it’s super packed with valuable information that will benefit anyone interested in learning how to do it right. Thank you for sharing and this post totally rocked!

  37. I really enjoyed reading your book. It’s really an eye opener for me as a writer.

  38. Ya I too am beginning to think that I need to do the kind of job I hate.

  39. I could not agree with point 4 more. Stay focused is really good advice regardless of what you are trying to achieve in life. Far to many people forget that to achieve naythign you rally must stay focused on what you are doing and concentrate on the task at hand

  40. Hey Danny,

    I totally agree with what you did about writing a book that you hate. You will have ideas about the book you love lot to write about..However, you will definitely have ideas about the books you hate to write as well and that’s why you hate to write them. So basically, doing something you love and something you hate both can make profit for you depends on how you approach them. Seriously, great post from you Danny. Impressive..:)

  41. Danny, it’s AWESOME to see you every where!! keep it up=)

  42. That’s the thing. You can’t just copy what someone else has done. Everyone is going to try and do that. You have to think about the principles that made that person successful and modify it a little.

  43. I agree with you. What works for some may not work for all. Two people can achieve the same result by utilizing two very different methods. I think trial and error and really thinking about your audience.

  44. Patterns of audience-building was particularly interesting and full of good tips, I though. For example, something as simple as expressing gratitude. It’s so easy, but too often people forget to do it. So, in that vein, thanks!

  45. For A good Traffic, We need to write something we hate, for the people need!

  46. sometimes people love something we hate, that is the fact

  47. Starting out is hard. Thanks for the great article

  48. I too am a lover of martial arts television shows. I dislike all other reality shows especially the Kardashians.

  49. It’s nice to know a big names like you started from scratch too. I hope this gives some hope to the entrepreneurs just starting to play the game (for example meh bleh).

    Keep up the good work, you are inspiring me for years now.

  50. I think it’s important in the best practices you listed that these people are genuine. A lot of times with social media you never even know if the newest friend request is even a real person. People want authenticity and you shouldn’t be afraid to show it. Your last statement is the most important, “Then go do it!” Thank you for your insight, I am on my way to pick up the book now!

A Practical Podcast… to Help You Build a Better Blog

The ProBlogger Podcast

A Practical Podcast…

Close
Open