Last May I decided to start this blog as the key driver for my personal branding strategy. The idea was that, in order to attract attention, I would share my most valuable ideas and insights. My geeky side loves to teach and share, but my business side tries to prevent me from releasing potentially sensitive information that might give my competitors a leg up and negatively impact my business.
For years I had been part of that big group of SEOs and Internet marketers that enjoy great success, but don’t necessarily see the need to risk reducing their share of the pie. So in the spirit of the holidays I want to share what I’ve learned about sharing so far. If you are part of that tight-lipped group that think in the same way I did before, I want to tell you why you need to change and what is in it for you if you do.
The rewards of opening the door
After a few months of blogging and trading ideas for attention, I have achieved something that money and favors could never have bought me: a good deal of respect. It is truly humbling to see my name on the same list as some of the brightest and most talented SEOs in our industry. Amazing individuals that I’ve been reading about for years have offered me their recognition and approval. It’s tremendous, and priceless.
Maintaining and updating this blog at the quality I want to keep it takes time, which I don’t always have because of my current obligations, so I decided to sit back and reflect about the real benefits I am getting from my blogging activities.
Improving credibility and trust. This is probably the most important benefit. Trust is something that is really hard to earn. When you share your best stuff, others will expect the best from you, and reward you by spreading your ideas. It requires a lot of work, but it is definitely worth it.
Improving original ideas. Multiple minds think better than one. It doesn’t matter how good you think your concept is, others will find ways to improve upon it. I have seen this happen time and time again. My readers provide very insightful comments—angles that I did not initially consider.
Meeting on-line rock stars in the industry. When you are an unknown, some of the A-list bloggers may not reply to your comments, let alone your e-mails or pleas for links. But when you raise your profile by blogging high-quality posts consistently, they are more likely to pay attention. (It is a good practice to contribute to their blogs too, of course!)
Generating good will. When you give people your treasured stuff, they naturally feel the need to reciprocate. Many of my readers are also bloggers and I regularly find them quoting and linking to my posts. Some share their projects and ideas via comments or e-mails, and others even share improvements to the art on my blog!
Generating positive word of mouth. It’s a fact: people don’t trust you because of what you say, but because of what others say about you. Share your best ideas and secrets and your regular readers will become your passionate evangelists.
How to create knowledge worth sharing
Let me share a geeky conversation I had a few years ago with our former Lead System Administrator, Carlos Johnson, who went on to work for Skype in Estonia.
We had some technical problems due to the way we were doing the load balancing of our servers. We were using some monitoring scripts that polled our servers and if one of them went down the scripts would update the DNS entries to direct people only to the live ones. The problem with this monitoring was that it messed up our stats and was very unreliable. After thinking hard about the problem, I came up with a very simple but effective solution. I proposed that instead of doing a DNS round-robin, we should do the fail over at the DNS registrar. (How? I should probably write about this in more detail in a future post!) 🙂
When I explained this idea to Carlos, his immediate reaction was: “Where did you read about this?” To his surprise I raised my eyebrows and laughed hysterically. “Do you think that everything has already been written?” I said. “How come I still see people writing things down all the time?”
There’s a lot left to learn—and to share. Of course not everyone has secrets or great ideas to blog about, especially when just starting out. Research is what creates knowledge and if you want to know what nobody else knows (and gain a competitive advantage), you need to make it a habit to research. Study competitors, study search engines, study as much as you can, and then brainstorm. Think about practical uses for your insights, and most importantly, test. Test, test and test.
An idea is just and idea, until it is put into practice. To all my readers, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
P.S. I plan to write a few posts and schedule them for delivery, as I am taking a few weeks off for a long overdue vacation. I’ll be back next year full of energy and, hopefully, will up my post frequency even more. I expect you to raise the bar even higher on commenting too! 😉
December 14, 2007 at 7:30 am
Jeremy - As Dave cleverly says is all about "teaching to fish". If you see most of my posts, I rarely give specific examples, but you can apply the techniques to your own sites and get "the fish". ;-) Dave - thanks for stopping by.
December 14, 2007 at 7:52 am
Tis always a pleasure Monsieur B… it is always fun to look at why we do what we do in the Blog-o-Shpere. Dave - Have a Holly Jolly day... he he
December 21, 2007 at 12:01 am
Get to know your blog from johnchow.com But sometimes i think that giving specific examples are very useful for newbies. Most are like headless chickens, and they don't know what they are doing! :)
December 21, 2007 at 5:05 am
Hamlet.... I don't think AreaIdiot knows the comments are no-followed... he he... Maybe I should set the Dogs on him? he he.... damned brave man... comment spamming an SEO blog... hmmmm... ( Dave fires up Xrumer and sends to dum dums site)
December 25, 2007 at 12:13 am
Hamlet, thanks for sharing your knowledge. It is appreciated by us folk yet to have any big success with online business. Also, I expect you will get more unexpected benefits from doing so like you already found. It seems like several very successful people feel an urge to create a Blog and share some of their knowledge with the rest of us. It's a good trend I think. This will help the new generation of entrepreneurs keep the momentum going and not waste time doing unproductive and ineffective things.
December 30, 2007 at 10:07 pm
Funny I should come here and see this post. I was just looking for the link to Dave's comment. BTW, you're up for one of SEJ's awards as best seo research blog! Definitely well deserved!
January 1, 2008 at 10:58 pm
Hi Hamlet, I know it's a few weeks old, but I've just been going through your blog again after the holidays and wanted to: 1. congratulate you on yet another great article and 2. thank you for the link Hope you achieve all your goals in the new year! Thanks again and keep up the great posts
4 Reasons Why I Started Blogging
January 20, 2008 at 12:06 pm
[...] To satisfy my ambitions. Yes, I am ambitious: respect and recognition are very important to me. Do you think that’s easy to be an in-house SEO for [...]
January 31, 2008 at 7:24 am
I always find myself going back and forth with giving away too much information. On one hand I want to give my friends and clients as much knowledge as I have so that they can generate some income. On the other hand I want to keep it all to myself so that they have to hire me to do the job. While I may give away a lot of information, I'm actually hoping that people will look into it just enough to know that it is work and that there are many steps you have to take in any situation. Then I'm kind of praying on their lazyness. Much like a rebate that gets the customer into the store to buy the product but then hoping that their too lazy to fill out the rebate form. I guess it just depends on when you catch me. One day I'll give away the farm and the next I won't let you on my property.
March 4, 2008 at 10:18 am
Thanks for putting this out there. I think we can be too miserly about the info we have. You brought up great points of how sharing some info can really benefit us all. Keep up the good work.
March 11, 2008 at 6:49 am
Considering I've just started reading your blog, Hamlet, that's a great introduction and a good insight. The research and testing is something that I guess many people are loathe to do as it can be a right bind - it's got a lot to do with documenting it all too, as there's so much data that us web people have to digest and recall.