Interview: Darren Rowse on TwiTip

Filed as Interviews on November 11, 2008 6:00 am

Darren Rowse on TwitterDarren Rowse is frequently mentioned here on the Blog Herald, but it is usually due to his excellent blog ProBlogger. This time, however, it is all about his most recent venture, a blog about microblogging service Twitter. We wrote about the launch of TwiTip previously, and the blog is shaping up nicely, with a steady stream of content, as well as a huge amount of comments.

I was curious to know why Darren elected to launch TwiTip, and there’s no better way to saturate your curiosity than to ask, so I did just that. Read on for more!

Congratulations on launching TwiTip! What made you do it?

It has been a long time coming. While I registered a Twitter account months before, I started actively using Twitter on 1 October 2007. I was late to the party – Twitter had been gathering steam for a year and I’d been looking down my nose at it to that point – thinking of it as a distraction more than anything else.

In October last year I decided that my critique of Twitter wouldn’t be as good as it could be unless I started to use it – so I began to use my account. Within a few hours of my first tweets I began to see it’s power.

I continued to use Twitter and grow my presence on it over the coming months and early in 2008 began to write on ProBlogger more and more about what I was learning about Twitter – particularly as it applied to bloggers (for example – 9 benefits of Twitter for bloggers).

Around this same time I began to think about a blog dedicated to these sorts of Twitter Tips. I registered TwiTip.com in February of this year but put it in the ‘one day when I get some time’ basket.

This last week I was looking over some of the URLs that I’ve bought for ‘one day’ and realized that that if I wait for the day I have time that I’ll never start these new blogs. I decided to start with TwiTip – simply because it’s a topic I have so much energy for at the moment. TwiTip was born last weekend.

How will TwiTip tie in with ProBlogger, if it will at all?

There is some overlap of topic but at this stage I’m not really planning on too much integration beyond using TwiTip as a bit of a case study on how to start a new blog. I guess at times there will be the occassional reference on one blog to the other as the topics do overlap (as does the advice I give to Twitter users and Bloggers) but in general I’m not planning on too much integration at this point.

It certainly looks like there was an opening for a blog like TwiTip, with large amounts of comments on several posts. Did you expect that?

Yes and No. On one level I knew I had a couple of pools of readers to leverage for this launch. ProBlogger has a sizeable readership – many of whom are Twitter users. I also have a Twitter account with over 13,000 followers – so I knew that mentioning TwiTip on these that I’d be able to generate some interest.

Having said that – the response still surprised me a little. I’ve never launched a blog with more than a few hundreds readers on its first day. TwiTip launched with close to 5000 visits in its first 24 hours – beyond what I was expecting considering it was a weekend and all eyes were focused upon the election.

I’m not seeing a b5media badge on the blog, so I’m assuming TwiTip is outside the blog network. How come?

From the moment I decided to start TwiTip to the moment I announced it took less than two days. I also started it not really expecting it to be more than something I updated a couple of times a week and didn’t really think it’d be a major project. As a result I thought I’d just set and see what happened.

I will have a chat with b5 in the coming week or so and see if there’s a place for it in the network – I’m sure if traffic continues to build that we’ll be able to come to some sort of arrangement similar to what we’ve done with ProBlogger and Digital Photography School.

Nowadays you’re a dedicated Twitter follower. What are the main three reasons you devote your time to Twitter?

Only three? There are so many reasons that I find Twitter a great medium to participate in and I am finding more and more the longer I use it. Let me explore three:

1. One that I’ve been thinking about lately is how Twitter makes me a smarter person. I tweeted that the other day and a lot of my followers resonated with it. You see when you have a few thousand people literally just beyond your fingertips you have an amazing amount of knowledge, an amazing base of skills and an awesome collection of experiences that you’re able to tap into very quickly. When faced with a problem or need – the first place I go to these days is Twitter – it’s unusual that I don’t find an answer very quickly there.

This is a particularly useful thing to have as a blogger. As you’re writing posts (or even trying to come up with topics to write about) Twitter is like a dictionary, encyclopedia, fact checker and idea bank – all rolled into one!

2. Twitter has been my watercooler. I asked my followers why they loved Twitter a few months back and compiled a video of their responses. One of the recurring themes in the responses was that people said Twitter was like a watercooler for them in that it gave them a place to chat, interact, have a little fun, get the gossip….etc.

What I realized as I pondered ‘Twitter as a Watercooler’ was that it met a need that I had as someone working at home and alone. While I have family here and do have a social life – sometimes working alone can be boring and lonely – Twitter has met a need for community, connecting with people that I can relate to on a work level and a fun place just to chat about life.

3. Twitter has been a great place to reinforce and expand my brand. I’ve got a number of places online where I hang out and build my online presence but Twitter has been a great secondary place to reinforce this brand.

I wrote recently about ‘homebases and outposts’ on ProBlogger. My blogs are my ‘homebases’ but Twitter (and other social media sites) have become outposts for me. Places that I hang out but where I point people back to my home bases (or the places that I own and call ‘home’).

I’d like to thank Darren Rowse for doing this interview, and wish him best of luck with his new blog, TwiTip. Not that he’ll need it, it’s shaping out to something of a success already, isn’t it? Also, don’t miss his 1 week in case study.

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  1. By dirtybluewidgets posted on November 11, 2008 at 5:08 pm
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    I love that phrase “Twitter has been my watercooler”! Never really thought of it in that concept but the technology does really put a lot of people together in the sense of working together and offering feedback. Maybe Obama should Twitter…

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