Interview With Liz Strauss - Successful Blog

07/11/2008

Blogging101 So you want to blog. So you read some blog posts. So you talk to some blog-gers. So you read some tweets which confuses you even more. Blogging might not be brain surgery but it is a new way to communicate. Rather like hemlines up this season and down the next .. blogs are in continuous twirl. However, like your little black dress, there are some classic fashion rules that will never go out of style.

In my in-box this week popped an eMail from Liz Strauss which included a copy of her new eBook The Secret to Writing a Successful and Outstanding Blog An Insider’s Guide to the Conversation that’s Changing How Business Works. Liz packs this 68-page eBook with practical advice and how-to tips. In exchange for the $ you might spend on a few appletinis ($29) you'll own a "little black dress classic book" that will not go out of style .. on how-to blog for business.

Liz kindly agreed to answer a few questions and let us in on a few of the secrets of successful blogs. Her interview turned out to be a mini road map that addresses the why-what-hows of business blogging.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Who is Liz Strauss?

Liz Strauss:Liz_strauss_2_2 Liz works with businesses, universities, service professionals who want to attract customers who love what they do. She's also a huge fan of Toby Bloomberg. Sidebar: Liz is much too modest. Among her accomplishments .. she is the author of one of the most popular business blogs Successful Blog, creator of the highly successful conference SOBCon and in the nicest use of the word .. a Nice person.

Toby/Diva Marketing: What lessons can we learn from traditional print when it comes to writing blogs?

Liz Strauss: In education publishing, we talk about reluctant readers -- kids who come to the task of reading without much past success. It's hard to keep them engaged. Online, we're all reluctant readers in that we're not patient with navigational barriers that get between us and what a blogger is trying to say.

To serve both audiences, write shorter paragraphs, include subheads that signal what's about to come. That lets the reader see that he or she only has to read in small chunks. Lists are good. So is conversational text -- it engages the brain more actively than formal writing does.

And design is important. People do judge a book by it's cover and people decide whether to read a blog by how "easy and friendly" it looks.

Toby/Diva Marketing: That said what makes blogging different from traditional print communications?

Liz Strauss:: In print the writer has a conversation with the reader, but the reader isn't there to participate. Then the reader picks up the finished work and has a conversation with the writer, but again the conversation only goes one way. With a blog, the process starts when we hit "publish." Writer and reader meet and discuss ideas and the ideas change.

Toby/Diva Marketing: One of the push backs I hear about blogging is "I don't have time." In typical Liz fashion .. you don't hold back. You go over the top suggesting that people post not once a week .. not three times a week .. but once a day. Taking resources into consideration what are some of the benefits for writing that frequently?

Liz StrLiz_strauss___thesecrettowritingcovauss: Just so you know, what I tell new bloggers is to be consistent, write once a week, once every ten days, every day, every hour, but keep it the same. Readers and search engines respond most favorably to consistency.

Now about writing every day . . . people think that they have to put out a finished magazine article that takes hours and would pass any language teacher's scrutiny with high grades. Your teacher is not reading your blog. Blogging is about one idea per blog post, hopefully layered with a personal perspective.

The benefits of writing every day are that we become better communicators, better thinkers, better at learning how to use words to convey meaning. We get a voice that has power and substance. We learn to write the way we learn to play a guitar . . . any guitar teacher will tell you to practice every day.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Okay you've convinced us that blogging is worth the investment. Would give us some Liz Strauss tips on how to write effective, authentic posts?

Liz Strauss: Blog your experience. The Internet is full of information.

The unique offering on your blog is you.

Blog what you know about what you read, saw, or experienced and let me extrapolate how it applies to me. Write as if you were talking to me personally. Get it all down on paper before you change a word. Then go back when your idea is out of your head and where you can see it. Read what you wrote and take out all of the words that you don't need.

To find those extra words, read aloud what you write -- where you trip when you try to say things is where you need to look.

Toby/Diva Marketing: To wrap this interview can you share a few of Liz Strauss' Special Secrets to being a super successful at social media conversations?

Liz Strauss: Listen. Ask questions. Be interested in the other person. It's always about them.

Toby/Diva Marketing: Liz's email signature line reads - Be irresistible. I think we can agree that Liz lives the words she writes.

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Comments

Hi Toby,
You sure don't need any help finding your voice. I hear you in every word. It's always a pleasure to read what you write. . . . a few appletinis! I'm gonna have to remember that!

Thank for the lovely and conversation.

Posted by: Liz Strauss on Jul 11, 2008 4:04:32 PM

Please add "gracious" to the growing accolades for Liz!

Posted by: Toby on Jul 11, 2008 4:36:51 PM

Thank you so much for this post. As a new blogger it is great to get some expert advice as to how to make my blog great and have a better connection with my readers. Sometimes we can get overwhelmed with trying to keep up with all the other bloggers out there but this post helps keep our blogs original and personal.

Posted by: Mei-Li on Jul 12, 2008 2:44:23 AM

This was wonderful! I love your comparisons of blogging practices to style too!

Some other tips (from my experience):

Use Google KeyWord Tool to seek out hot keywords in your area. Tag your post appropriately with those keywords.

My blog is very personal - on being a dating single mom - but most of my traffic is coming through Google and then another good chunk through other blogs.

So I also leave tons and tons of comments on blogs in my genre.

And then stirring the pot - with those ideas - is always a good way to earn great links back and more traffic.

Thanks again for sharing some of your secrets Liz!

Posted by: Ms. Single Mama on Jul 15, 2008 12:29:53 PM

Thanks for taking the time to post this great interview! I love the info you put on this blog. Here is an interview with Rich Hanks (http://mshare.net/news/mshare-news-04102008.html) that I recently watched. It talks about the power of blogging and word of mouth marketing.

Posted by: Shell Smith on Jul 15, 2008 3:40:58 PM

Great interview and very helpful, since I'm preparing to create a blog myself! I'm a first time visitor to Diva Marketing Blog, but I will be coming back frequently! I enjoy your blog and your writing style, Liz! So chic! :)

Thanks!

Posted by: Cortera on Jul 18, 2008 12:34:09 PM

"We learn to write the way we learn to play a guitar . . . any guitar teacher will tell you to practice every day." - So true. And as a Guitar teacher and a blogger myself, I would add to this by saying to try and blog a consistent amount of time and a at a consistent time every day. I usually have a set time each day (in the morning) that I blog and I find that that affords me the luxury of not being available during those times.

Thanks for a great interview and a great blog.

Lyle

Posted by: Lyle Robinson on Jul 18, 2008 3:15:20 PM

Great interview! I've been a fan of Liz Strauss for a couple of years and she never fails to amaze me with her ability to get a conversation going, online and off. Her book is changing how I and many other bloggers blog - and communicate - the purpose of our blogs, in truth. Thanks for helping reveal a little more of the magical person behind the blog.

Posted by: Lorelle on Jul 19, 2008 11:55:07 PM

@Mei Li - agree. being true to yourself is the secret of successful blogging.

@Ms. Single Mom - thanks for your kind words - blogging & fashion - why not :-) thanks for sharing some of your 'secrets.'

@Shell Smith - appreciate the resource.

@Cortera - good luck with your blog. hope your adventures are as much fun as I've had with Diva.

@Lyle - love the analogy between blogs and guitar. my fav uncle hy was a jazz guitarist http://tiny.cc/unclehy thanks for another great idea - to set aside a consistent time to write.

@Lorelle - love your description of Liz .. magical person!

Even on another's blog Liz creates conversation and great inspiration. Tossing pink boas to Liz and y'all!

Posted by: Toby on Jul 20, 2008 10:48:39 AM

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