Chris Brogan is CEO and President of Human Business Works, an education publishing and media company helping professionals become the best they can be. His book “Trust Agents” co-authored alongside Julien Smith, is a New York Times Best Seller, and the duo also went on to write “The Impact Equation”. When Chris isn’t busy speaking or working on his next project, you can find him blogging about social media, business, and more. In fact, Advertising Age ranks his blog number three in the world for social media/marketing.
When did you first get started blogging? In what ways has the landscape changed since then?
I started back in 1998 when we called it journaling. There weren’t comments. There wasn’t RSS. And more people wrote about a passion instead of tried to write to get attention only.
The design of your site is pretty fantastic. I’m a little jealous actually. Is great design important, or does the saying “Content is king” ring true?
Great design IS important. It’s the equivalent of an Armani suit and a Rolex vs a backwards ball cap and a tee shirt. Design actually triggers trust opinions.
What are some of the biggest mistakes bloggers make?
Bloggers write far too often from the opinion that others want THEIR opinion and not useful information, and MOST bloggers end posts horribly, without any good resolution or next action. Endings are most bloggers’ problems.
How did you, and do you go about building your community? Do you think you’d still be where you’re at today if social media didn’t exist?
My community came about from my hard work commenting and promoting others. The more you shine the light on those who are giving you attention, the more they feel like they’re part of your story, and thus, they share. I’m doing this now with a test Twitter account to recreate the experience, and I can tell you that we all still want the same currency: head pats.
Are there any must have tools, apps, or resources you’d recommend bloggers get hooked up with?
I was going to say no. The answer is: mobile responsive design. If your site isn’t flawlessly beautiful on a smartphone and a tablet, stop blogging. No one will care in a week or two. Mobile responsive design is a MUST, not a nice to have.
With the explosion of video, and growing popularity of podcasts, a lot of people say it’s important to diversify with the type of content you’re putting out there. Do you agree or disagree?
I disagree. I think, instead, that you should choose the medium you’re best suited to using, and that you should work it to your best advantage. I happen to LOVE podcasting and am a writer by trade, so I use two media more than the others, but work with what you love and what helps you best tell the story. People who pick up the new tools just so they can establish a beachhead there have really boring versions of what others are doing.
Monetization is a often a slippery slope. When should I monetize? How should I monetize? Those are just a couple of the questions. What would you say to people wanting to make money from their many hours of effort? Is there a right and wrong way to monetize?
Monetize right out of the gate. It’s crazy how many people build passion projects, share them with passionate communities, and don’t feel okay with pointing out products or services that might improve the experiences of people in those communities. The RIGHT way to monetize is that. Love your community so much that you offer them certain products or services that you feel will improve their experience. Take money just to make money and you’ll fail.
You blog on a very regular basis, and I think I remember reading somewhere that you try and write 2,000 words per day. With so much going on in day-to-day life, how are you able to stay on track? Also, what is your advice to those suffering from writer’s block?
I write 2000-4000 words a day. As far as staying on track, it’s a habit like anything else. If your habit is to write prolifically, then you’ll do it because that’s what you do. If you’re rewarded for your habits, then you’ll do it even more. Right now I have two mainstream book deals, plus am writing a new version of a previously successful course I sell. Between all that, blogging, plus my newsletter, plus answering interview questions, that’s a lot of typing. But that’s how I make my money and that’s why I can answer this question from the beach.
One thing you and I have connected over is our battles with depression. You don’t seem to have a problem opening up about your personal life, least to an extent. How can people step out of their comfort zone in sharing more relatable stories, stories that, at the end of the day, allow us to develop a deeper connection with our community?
This is a really challenging thing, but I have a reasonably good answer for you. I don’t just talk about depression. I talk about the fact that depression isn’t an excuse. Depression is a “yes, and” experience. I’m depressed AND I have a responsibility to do the work I am supposed to do. That’s the trick of it. It’s important that people don’t see depression as an excuse. It’s something you have to deal with. Not suck up. Just deal with. But showing my vulnerabilities and then showing my ability to stay mentally tough and accomplish all that I do is a great way to power up my community to succeed. But only if people pay attention to both A *and* B, and not just “it’s okay to be depressed.”
Where can people follow you and check out your stuff?
Easiest is to go to chrisbrogan.com, but what I most want you to do is go there and sign up for my newsletter. It’s the best work I do every week.
Photo credit: KGS
Mike Stenger is a writer with a love of all things technology.