Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Book review: Blogging for Fame and Fortune

I wrote a review of Blogging for Fame and Fortune by Jason R. Rich. The review was originally published in the Technical Communication magazine (for the Society for Technical Communication) Volume 57, Number 1, February 2010. I have a few more reviews already published that I will also post here.

Blogs are a popular, inexpensive form of entertainment. Blogging for Fame and Fortune addresses starting a blog with the intention of building a large audience, which can be a means to fame or fortune. For Jason Rich, “the term blog... includes traditional text-based blogs, photo blogs, audio podcasts, vlogs (videobased blogs), and webcasts” (p. 1). As a technical communicator, you probably know most of this information. But if you’re brand-new to blogs and are just looking for a starting point, this book could be your Blogging 101 textbook.

The information in the book divides into three major sections: starting a blog, achieving fame and fortune, and lessons learned. Each chapter contains an almost overwhelming amount of tips and warnings, some of which are useful. For example, the chapter about driving traffic to your blog includes how “to add functionality that allows your blog’s visitors to submit your blog entries to Digg” (p. 168). Digg is a Web site where users submit and vote on Web content.

Over half of the book is about starting a blog. You find a review of what you need before you start blogging: the format and the appearance. Rich explains the hardware, software, and blogging services needed to start your blog, as well as creating content, for example in vlogs.

Rich’s specific lessons on gaining fame and fortune really come down to marketing. His suggestions boil down to two actions: tell people about the blog, whether through e-mail or social networks or some other means; and use search engine optimization (SEO), including key words. To use SEO, Rich suggests using the online tutorials available through each search engine.

To show lessons learned, Rich first describes mistakes to avoid, such as “not taking into account how your blog will impact your personal and professional life outside of cyberspace” (p. 204). His final chapters offer interesting interviews with people in the blogging service industry and famous bloggers. The advice from famous bloggers is to work hard, be unique, and have good luck. Perez Hilton says he became famous partly because “I was one of the very first bloggers doing what I was doing” (p. 237).

The book is not perfect. I find the writing repetitive. For example, Chapter 7 includes “Nine Tips for Utilizing SEO to Generate Blog Traffic” (p. 121), and Rich covers SEO again in a later chapter. There are also a fair amount of typos. I recommend skipping directly to the information you want instead of reading the book over to cover.

As a current blogger (http://www.the-jerks.com), I find most important such marketing ideas as make friends on social networks, update your status when you post, and use SEO.

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