Book Review: Blog Blazers

I just finished the book “Blog Blazers” by Stephane Grenier. My three word review: “Not too shabby.”

I have to admit this book wasn’t exactly on top of my “to-read” pile. I’m not usually a big fan of blogs/books about blogging, podcasts about podcasting, etc. – it’s all too meta for me. But Ian Landsman was offering a free review copy on his blog, and I’m a sucker for free books, so I gave it a shot.

“Blog Blazers” consists of 40 interviews with popular and successful bloggers, including Andy Brice, Bob Walsh, Dharmesh Shah, Eric Sink and Jeff Atwood. Stephane asked each person the same questions, including:

  • What defines a successful blog?
  • Do you have any tips or advice on writing?
  • How do you market your blog?
  • What is your best monetization method?

Because each interview followed the same form it became a little monotonous to read in one sitting. I could only take about ten at a time. Many of the answers were repeated by several of the interviewees, which was a bit boring, but the repetition confirmed that their advice is probably good. Or they’re all suffering from groupthink, but I’ll go with the first reason.

As I read the interviews I asked myself, “So what? Will this change anything I do?” I came away with these thoughts:

  • Original content vs. commentary: try to write as much original content as possible, as opposed to just commenting on others’ content. For instance, don’t write book reviews. 🙂
  • Use your own domain, instead of or That’s next on my to-do list.
  • A lot of bloggers get found through StumbleUpon – I haven’t used that in a long time, maybe it’s time to check it out again.

Nothing earth shattering, but it’s a lot of good blogging advice. The book also included a number of blog(er)s that were new to me, some of which are now in my RSS reader.

My favorite quote was from Eric Sink. When asked “How long does it take to become a successful blogger?” Eric answered, “The time varies so much that any answer would be incorrect. I’ll just say this: Some things are not under your control. Persistence is.” (emphasis mine)

Becoming internet-famous overnight probably ain’t gonna happen – the best way to develop a good blog is to be persistent about writing good content.

So there you go – it was a decent read, well worth a trip to the library, and maybe even purchasing if you want advice on building your blog.

Why bother with RSS?

(cut-n-pasted from my reply to a “Business of Software” forum question)

I resisted using an RSS reader for quite a while, mainly because it was “the new hotness” that I didn’t see any use for.

What made me start using it?

I read a fair number of websites, and I like to know when something new shows up. So I used to check each website every day and scan it for new content. Slashdot. Anything new? Yup, read a couple. Joel on Software. Anything new? No. Paul Graham’s rants. Anything new? No. Steve Yegge. Anything new? Yes, read it. You get the point.

The “load page – see if anything new” loop was getting tedious, especially since frequently there was nothing new to read, so loading the page was a waste of time.

Enter RSS. I chose NewsGator Online, subscribed to the websites/blogs I like, and *bam* – all the new content comes right to me, only one website (NewsGator) to load, no wasted time.

Well, unless you count the time I spend reading stuff on the web as wasted time, which might be accurate.