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Actively Trudy

Actively Trudy

Duncan Riley> In the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of emailing and talking to many bloggers. Some stand out from the crowd. Trudy W Schuett, Blog Herald contributor and judge of the Blog Herald Chistmas Blogging Awards is one person who I’ve grown to admire as a blogger and champions of values in the blogosphere. Just before Chirstmas I had the pleasure of doing an email interview with Trudy. Never short of a good word, what follows is my email interview with Trudy Schuett.

Trudy, you’ve become a prolific writer of blogs, what motivates you to post and/ or write so many blogs?

I love this form! Next to book-length fiction, this is my favourite kind of writing. More people are reading my work than ever before, even when I worked in hard copy. I have a lot of interests, and they’re so disparate it would be a real mess if I tried to get it all in on one place. Blogs give me a way to reach out to a variety of audiences.

I’m finding lately they do sometimes converge, and that’s big fun! Last weekend I did a guest blog gig at Dean’s World, which was entirely different from any blogging I’d done before.

Twenty years ago (circa 1986) I was writing press releases as a volunteer for small, private charities – on an electric typewriter. Sometimes two weeks would elapse from start to finish. The cost back then of sending out 100 press releases was about $50, and that’s just for materials and postage. For one message that is likely to be ignored at a rate of about 95%.

Today, the thing that takes the longest is the writing. You can update your blog in minutes or seconds; relying on the RSS feed to alert all interested parties. You could have a blog for two years at Blog City for about the same money. Plus, nobody has to lick any envelope glue.

Find anybody’s how-to and just do it! Wayne Hurlbert’s Blog Business World has ongoing tips and hints. I’ve got a piece I wrote last spring, but there are a lot of them out there. The biggest mistake many bloggers make is in not
putting in the time. The second biggest mistake is relying on one thing, say SEO, to be enough. You need to have several different aspects of promotion working, and work them all the time. The best thing you can do for yourself is to be active in the blogosphere. It’s like being active in any community – after you’ve been around for awhile, you’ll begin to be known.

The thing most bloggers forget is to let offline friends, relatives, and colleagues now about the blog. You can now, at least in the US, get 1000 business cards made up at many office supply stores for under $20. Keep a stack of these with you at all times, and hand them out liberally. Don’t use self-printed cards – they look unprofessional and can cost much more.

You would have seen some of the recent debate on blogging for money at the Blog Herald. What’s your take on the whole issue? Would you blog for money, and if so why?

Let’s dispose of the “would you” question straight away. I have a “Professional Blogger for Hire” notice on some of my blogs, and have used my search for paid work as a case study at Of course I would blog for money, no question. For me, this is no different than any other kind of freelance writing, and I’m still open to some offers. I’m getting uppity about the kinds of offers I’d accept, though.

As far as the cash question in general, it’s like anything else – if you can afford to put in the time, the money, and be a hobbyist, then go for it!

Blogs are only a vehicle, like paper. You can write poetry or use it for your grocery list. You can keep a blog just for a family who is separated in geographic terms to keep in touch. You can be an essayist, a novelist, or report the news. You can use these things for money or not.

Even the finest artists, sculptors, and writers have electric bills and other expenses, and very often they make money pursuing their craft. So there isn’t any reason why bloggers should be any different. Having no money associated with a project does not necessarily assign it nobility.

Through our friends the Mackays at the God Blog, we know Bruce Aiken, the Grand Canyon artist. He’s of the opinion that you have to promote your work, and put a monetary price on it, because that’s the way society understands value. I can agree, because I’m always asked, “Do you make any money off that Internet stuff?” My family and friends didn’t start paying any attention at all to my work until I started being able to announce that yes, I do on occasion make a few bucks doing this. Unlike some I’ve encountered, though, I recognize there is a lot of work behind it. You can’t just post some blather every couple of weeks and think you’re going to get a book deal.

It may not be feasible to make money directly from blogs but because of them. My view of
blogging is that it’s much the same as the 1849 California Gold Rush. A few miners struck it rich; most lost their shirts, and some their lives. The people who really made out were the storekeepers, the hoteliers, the wagon makers. This is not even to mention the tailors. Is not Levi Strauss the best-know tailor in history? He got his start during the Gold Rush era.

What’s your advice for new bloggers entering the blogosphere?

‘€¢ Have a clear idea who you’re going to be writing for, and why.

‘€¢ Don’t expect to get people to read your stuff if you’re not prepared to tell people about it, which is just another way of saying you must promote.

‘€¢ If you feel promotion is beneath you, then any potential audience you might draw is likely to be put off by your egotism anyway.

‘€¢ Choose your software or bloghost carefully. It’s very hard to move once you’ve discovered what you’ve got doesn’t fit your needs. There are myriad complex technical issues. Trust me.

‘€¢ Don’t ever short your readers on quality. Always give them the best you’ve got. Your readers can spot the difference between sloppy writing because you don’t care, and honest mistakes because you’re new to the field. Dan Gillmor is right …They almost always know more than you do.

‘€¢ Read The Cluetrain Manifesto. It’s available online, and also at your library in hard copy. It’s required reading if you want to do the best you can with your blog. Doc is the only one of the authors of this now-basic work who ever replied to my e-mails, which also answers the question why I think Doc Searls is such a big deal.

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‘€¢ Be Patient, Persistent, and Passionate. Building a readership takes time. In this climate, give yourself two years, or 24 months. You are not Robert Scoble, who managed a huge audience within weeks of his launch. When you launch, tell everybody you know in the way you can. You’ll need to start acting like the rest of the bloggers very soon, even if you happen to know 2000 people and they all check out the blog. You have to keep those readers coming back with your passion, and allowing them to rely on you by your persistence. (Whew! I think I’m channeling Wayne there! Scary! ;>)

My most important and last two points are:

‘€¢ Never forget the Internet keeps everything.

‘€¢ You cannot ever know who’s watching. Behave yourself.

So what’s next for you?

Since my dad passed away in early November, I’ve had a long month of coming to grips, as they say. I did want to mention that during that last week of Dad’s life, when we were running back and forth to the nursing home, I’d have maybe two minutes a day to download e-mail and check my aggregator, in case relatives or friends were trying to make contact. So I just read the Blog Herald in that time. No way could I get to my 200+ blogs. For me, your coverage was important, because that’s all I had. I was able to still feel engaged in the blogosphere and I’m glad for that.

All of my online friends were so helpful that it made me proud to be part of the blogosphere. I am humbled by the pure class and sincerity of my fellow bloggers.

I’ll continue to maintain the other blogs, but I’ll also be teaching at the New Communications Forum come January. It’s a how-to-write session, which is right up my alley. I love teaching, so for me
this is hardly work at all.

The best thing is that I’m working with Alan and Ceri at Blog-City, and Wayne Hurlbert on a program that will be a big help for bloggers in the US, UK, and Canada. All I can really say right now is that it will aid professionalism in the online community.

Here are all of my blogs:

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