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Book review: “Problogger” by Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett

Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett have created a fantastic resource for bloggers with their 2008 book, “Problogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income”. The title promises a lot, but the text reminds us that you need certain habits, discipline, and inclination to make a living off of blogging (and chances are, having more than one blog running at a time.)

I have a great deal of interest in the topic of blogging (and making money from it). I have had a blog in one form or another since about 2004, and they were always ad-free until this year. Since I began the BluLob.com blog this February, I decided to include ad space because I have been working very hard on creating good and useful content.

The “Problogger” book is the result of Rowse’s and Garrett’s many years experience in blogging and earning a living at it, and it is titled after Rowse’s Web site ProBlogger.net. They begin the book with compelling personal stories. Each of them began a blog many years ago. And then two. Or more. Each eventually discovered that the money coming in was enough to quit his regular job.

The book contains very valuable information about all kinds of aspects related to blogging. I’ll briefly outline them below.

Niche Blogging
Garrett (who seems to do most of the writing) and Rowse recommend that you pick a narrow topic to blog about rather than posting everything under the sun. This gives you the opportunity to acquire a focused and loyal audience. When you blog about too many disparate topics, readers are less likely to come back, and write comments, time and time again. This chapter includes suggestions about finding a good niche that will attract a large, loyal following.

Setting up Your Blog
Here you will find advice on choosing a blog platform and a domain name, and installing and enhancing your blog. I use WordPress hosted on my own Web site, but there are many other options. This chapter provides thorough and solid information that jibes with my own experience.

Blog Writing
This chapter is about drawing an audience. Even an old pro like me (ha ha) can learn something about writing for blogs. This chapter helps you identify what information in your niche might be useful and unique for readers. Included are tips for formatting your posts, writing a title that draws readers in, and writing your opening line. I have bookmarked and highlighted the topics called “How to Use Titles Successfully” and “20 Types of Blog Posts”. Also included is advice on how much and how often to write, and writing a series.

Blog Income and Earning Strategies
Ah, yes. The money. Here we learn about the business side of blogging. There are many factors to consider: whether to run ads from day one, or wait until you have an audience. Whether to run a service like Google Adsense or to find your own advertisers (and how to do each). Many other income sources are detailed here as well, including writing freelance for other blogs. Good stuff.

Buying and Selling Blogs
I can’t imagine ever selling my baby, but the buying and selling of blogs apparently happens frequently. This chapter deals with the business aspects of it, as well as how to win over an audience when you take over someone else’s blog.

Blog Networks
The idea of a blog network was new to me. B5media.com is given as an example of one. This chapter addresses the pros and cons of writing for a blog network. I chose not to, because I don’t want any question of who owns the copyrights to my writing. This section is also very informative about how to get a job with a blog network, and how to start one of your very own.

Blog Promotion and Marketing
“Build it and they will come” is a little too passive if you want to make money. I learned a great deal from this chapter about how build readership by contributing to – and engaging with – social networks like Facebook and Twitter. I have become more confident about plugging my blog articles in an informal and compelling way.

Secrets of Successful Blogging
Hmm. Many I shouldn’t spill the beans. These are secrets, after all. Okay, okay. Here’s a summary: Garrett reviews a number of highly successful blogs that are making a great deal of money. He and Darren did a lot of research into what makes them work so well. This chapter shares the highlights of their findings. Garrett explains tips like, “Define your blog’s mission and articulate it in a benefits-led way.”

Creating Something Worthwhile
Finally, Garret and Rowse give pointers on how to learn about your audience, being remarkable, and making your blog useful. I hope I am doing all of that here at BluLob, but I plan refer back to this book many, many times to keep me on track.

Overall, this book was very timely in my life, when I am leaving teaching and going back into freelance design and blogging for a living. I am now a big fan of Garrett, Rowse and ProBlogger.net.

Your Feedback
Have you read this book and have something to say about it? Do you have any questions? Please leave me a comment below!

I am not being compensated by this book’s authors or publisher for this review. It reflects my honest opinion of, and experiences with, this book.

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