Ever since I started in business, I’ve loved Seth Godin. He’s a brilliant marketer and a great writer. In fact, he runs one of the most popular blogs.
Over the years, I’ve read many of Seth’s books, listened to his interviews and have even seen him speak on a number of occasions.
While many people view him as “America’s greatest marketer,” there is a lot to learn from him about blogging.
Let’s explore 10 of those lessons:
Lesson #1: Blog, prune, experiment, repeat
When it comes to creating content for your blog, the conventional method is to analyze the trends, see what your competitors are doing, develop hybrid ideas and, more importantly, give your readers what they want.
Seth doesn’t do any of that.
Instead, over time, he’s developed a voice that attracts people. He’s trained himself to write a lot, see what resonates, experiment, prune and write some more until something grabs people.
He repeats that process endlessly, which takes time.
Lesson #2: Blog once a day
In an interview with Ad Age last year, Seth explained his blogging ritual.
Seth blogs once a day, and each blog post is an insight into the world of business, productivity or creativity.
It could be a paragraph long or two pages long. That’s a lot of blogging, and an incredible pace to keep up with.
How does he do it?
He writes once a day…but within that day, he could write one blog post or fifteen. He then queues up those other posts. The queuing allows him to is replace posts he doesn’t love with the ones he does love.
Lesson #3: Avoid comments and Twitter
If you could say one thing about a blogger like Seth Godin is that he is productive.
What is his secret?
Two things: he doesn’t allow comments on his blog, and he doesn’t use Twitter.
He avoids Twitter because he knows he would be very bad at it. The power users of Twitter spend an enormous amount of time cultivating a following, researching quality content to share and promoting others.
Seth says he can’t do that very well…or won’t do it.
He doesn’t do comments because he wants to avoid the rabbit holes that comments can turn into. Because rants and arguments can easily turn into a downward spiral, he doesn’t want to be distracted and burdened by them.
He does admit that comments can be good to help you clarify your thoughts and sharpen your ideas. But for Seth, it turns out to be a waste of time. Or as Seth put it, “An opportunity to stay busy while not actually doing anything. I wonder if that’s a good choice.”
Lesson #4: Don’t watch TV or go to meetings
In an interview with Georgina Laidlaw at Problogger who called Seth “prolific”, Seth said that he is prolific because he never watched television, which…and this is important…was a conscious decision he made.
He doesn’t spend any time doing it. Zero.
Instead, he blogs.
He also admits to being “America’s worst attender of meetings.” Some people do five hours of meetings. Cut that out, and you’ve just cleared away five hours to do more productive things.
It’s hard to imagine an entrepreneur like Seth never attending a meeting, but he explains in a book his publishing company has recently published Read This Before Our Next Meeting that meetings are typically used by three or more people to talk about problems they can attack.
But if you want to get things done, you only need to talk to one person…which is a conversation and not a meeting.
Seth admits to talking to a lot of people throughout his day…having these types of conversations…but he makes sure that each one accomplishes something specific.
Lesson #5: Ship or it doesn’t count
Another reason he is very productive is his attitude to ship. To get the product to market…no matter what it might be.
For example, a short-order cook gets paid to ship. They’re paid to cook hamburgers. If he or she doesn’t cook hamburgers, they don’t get paid.
The same with a plumber. They get paid to unclog pipes. If they don’t unclog the pipes, they don’t get paid.
Everyone ships for a living, including bloggers, so Seth recommends you get really good at shipping.
Lesson #6: Write like you talk
One tactic that Seth and I share in common, and which many successful bloggers do too, is the ability to write like you talk.
This is important because some creative people say they can only write when the muse strikes. But nobody needs an inspiration to talk, so you won’t have to wait for the muse to strike to write like you talk.
As he puts it, if you wake up and you can’t talk, then go see a doctor.
Writing like you talk will make your copy conversational and, as long as you can come up with thoughts worth sharing, not difficult to write. You just write down what is on your mind.
Lesson #7: Notice things
You have to wonder where he gets all of his ideas. Let me tell you. He pays attention. And he notices things.
For instance, if he sees something that doesn’t make sense to him or he doesn’t understand…he will try to figure it out. That may turn into an insight that may land on his blog.
The same applies to you. If you are going about your workday and come across a challenging situation…try to figure it out.
If you don’t have time to do it right at that moment, then jot the thought down and come back to it. You will know that you need to definitely return to the idea if you do nothing with it and it sticks with you for days.
Then, it’s worth shipping.
Lesson #8: Use your blog as a proving ground
One of the things I like about my blog QuickSprout is that I can share ideas in a contained environment to see what kind of a reaction I get from my readers. If the reaction is good, then I pursue the idea. If it’s not, then I need to either tweak the idea or drop it altogether.
Blogging is a minimal investment to see if an idea has wings. The same is true with Godin who floats ideas and watches the reaction.
Lesson #9: Make blog posts, not money
You would be wrong to think that Seth blogs to make money or promote his other businesses like Squidoo. He resists the idea that he has products or that he is trying to monetize blogging.
He’s okay if it monetizes itself, say through speaking fees or book contracts, but he believes that bloggers should truly blog for the love of it and not the money.
In fact, he thinks people get into trouble when they start to think of their blog as a sales funnel or even a product you can wrap up and sell.
In our digital world where ideas are abundant, creating something that is scarce and worth a price tag is nearly impossible. In other words, the $99 special report is neither special nor a report.
He believes that ubiquity…being everywhere…is a better strategy than trying to create scarcity.
Lesson #10: Establish what motivates you to get out of bed
As you might have guessed, he doesn’t believe people should blog to generate a full-time income. If that’s the reason you are blogging, then you don’t have a passion…you have a job.
So you have to ask yourself, “What makes me get out of bed in the morning? What am I passionate about?”
In order to be a successful blogger, you have to decide what you are passionate about. And the other question Seth says you have to ask yourself is this: “How hard are you willing to push?”
Here’s the thing about becoming the best at something…you need to make it small.
It’s a lot easier to become the world’s best infant heart surgeon than it is to become the world’s most famous scientist.
One is a narrow specialization that allows you to get really good at it through repeated practice. The other one is so broad that you will take a lifetime to get good at even some parts of it…and probably not even make it!
This means if you want to be the world’s greatest SEO blogger, then you should focus on an area of SEO like link building.
If you want to become the world’s best entrepreneur, then you need to pick an industry that you can master…like Henry Ford did with cars.
He didn’t say he wanted to be the best in transportation…he said he wanted to be the best in cars.
And that’s exactly what he did.
The last thing I need to mention is that you need a plan. Even if it’s as simple as writing two or three goals down on a piece of paper, you need to have an idea of what you want to accomplish this year and in the future.
Seth Godin didn’t become a brilliant blogger overnight. It took him years of relentlessly trying to master what he was passionate about. And you can do it too!
What other blogging-related things do you think Seth does well?