Thursday, May 07, 2009

Review: 279 Days to Overnight Success

JP and I have been having a little bit of a conversation about 279 Days to Overnight Success in the comments.

At a simplistic level, 279 Days describes a strategy for building your blog in such a way that you can make a living (or at least a side-income) from it.

Is it the sort of thing you'll be interested in? Well, that depends on what you want:
  • Do you want lots of people to read your blog?
  • Do you want to sell stuff that you've created?
  • Do you want to build a community of people interested in the same topic(s) as you?
I've recommended it to two people so far: Jenni (because she's interested in creating stuff people want to buy) and Morgue (whose ideas about small group action deserve a wider audience).

There's quite a lot I like about this manifesto. First off, it encourages you to think about why you're blogging - I've had to do a bit of that over the last year (and came to the conclusion that I just want to enjoy it - more fun, less profundity).

Second, I absolutely agree with the philosophy that if you're going to try and make money off your blog, do it with your own creations, not Google ads. As part of that, 279 Days describes the process of listening to your audience and discovering what they want. I find the process of finetuning the balance between my writing needs and what people who comment here say they want to be really fun.*

* Actually, JP, based on an earlier comment of yours, look for quite a bit more TV reviewing to show up here in the near future.

279 Days also mentions some other principles I agree with:
  • Figure out your writing style
  • Commit to a publishing schedule
  • Know why people should read what you write
  • Ignore vampires (critics who try to vapourise your will to write)*
* I've had a couple of these over the years, and I've had to figure out a couple of ways to deal with them.

This is not for every writer. The desire to expand your community - whether or not you intend to make money from blogging - isn't for everyone. But there's enough good stuff here that I have to recommend it.

Questions, JP?

(BTW, JP's blog is one of my top five reads on the internet: literate, thoughtful, funny meditations on growing up and parenting. This is a perfect example.)


Anonymous said...

Gosh, you're a very nice fellow. Thanks. Questions? Not really. I agree with what you say. 279 Days has been useful to me because it has made me think about my blog more critically, and has started me down the path of sharpening it up a bit. I'm really following some of his steps because I would like people to read my blog, not because I think it will ever make money. Which leads me to a question.

Do you think that successful blogs have to become a bit impersonal in order to have a wider public read them?

debbie said...

Thanks for the link. The Forster/Potty training post was brilliant.

hix said...

I recently re-read the marker's comments for a bunch of my university essays. I discovered I have a tendency to not answer the question that was asked. So here's the question:

"Do you think that successful blogs have to become a bit impersonal in order to have a wider public read them?"

Hmm, I guess you're talking about writing to a wider audience, rather than just your style of writing.

... Let me rephrase: You can have your own personal style of writing, regardless of how big your blog is.

As your blog gets bigger, I've seen self-censorship occur about what you choose to write about. Particularly in scriptwriting blogs, where people don't want to offend current or prospective employers or funding agencies.

I think people will read highly personal blogs, but my first instinct is that they won't connect with you as often or give you as much feedback as they would if you were writing a more generalised blog.

So yeah, I think successful blogs do have to become a bit impersonal in order to have a wider public read them. But only slightly; blogs like the Simple Dollar (which I really like) nearly always draw things back to the author's real life.

That's my initial reflection on it. I'll mull it over.

Chris Guillebeau said...

Thanks so much for the kind review! I'm so glad you found the manifesto useful and worthy of greater attention.

All the best,