Good Day Class.

Today we have the honor of having Matthew Dryden as our substitute teacher (guest writer).

When I received this post from him, I had to chuckle at the title, as writing without a blog is something we’ve all done in the past.

Now, we call ourselves bloggers.

Without further ado, let’s take our seats and hear what Matthew has to say.

Matthew, the floor is yours.

writing without a blog

Now, sorry I’m running late today, OK?

Let’s just say that I hit the draft button one too many times. Today is going to be a kind of quiet as I have a bit of a writing burnout. Does anyone know what this means? No, it doesn’t mean that I’m writing – it means that I was writing last night and now I’m suffering from the consequences. I guess that’s what happens when you sharpen the pencil on both ends.

Now, what does your regular teacher normally do at this time?

What?

She introduces today’s lesson?

Ryan, get your head off the desk, OK?

Today’s Lesson

To be a successful writer in today’s world means that you also need to be a successful salesperson.

Novelists don’t just write books, they also have to sell their work as well as themselves. A perfect example of how an author successfully “sold himself” is John Green, author of Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns.

Now, before I go on, let’s just talk about blogging for a moment.

If we, the writers, are society in general, then blogging is the man. And blogging is trying to keep us down – just bear with me, OK?

We, as writers, often get bogged down with all the aspects of blogging.

It’s romantic to believe that we can just write and if we write “good enough”, then our words will be spread like a wildfire. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It has never been the case.

That being said, marketing yourself doesn’t have to be a bad thing. John Green and his brother created a YouTube channel called the Vlogbrothers and made daily videos to each other for the entirety of 2007. They continue to make video logs, or vlogs, to each other and to their large amount of viewers – which they refer to as “Nerdfighters”.

Why am I bringing this up?

When they were making vlogs to each other, they hardly ever talked about the art of vlogging, or the technical side of making videos – and so on and so forth.

This is a lesson that I think all bloggers could benefit from.

Don’t write about blogging.

The only people who really care about blogging are bloggers themselves.

If you want to go big, you have to find your own take on life or your niche (if you have one). Blogging is something that can destroy most all writers – especially those who have a nicheless blog.

Remember, if you feel weary from blogging – it’s just the man trying to bring you down.

While many bloggers and marketers worry about trying to create a brand, gather and audience, and go somewhere with their business – it’s quite often the people who don’t try the standard methods that get the audiences.

The Vlog brothers are considered the first collaboration video channel on YouTube – and they only blew up after nine months of making videos addressed to each other.

In the end, whether it’s blogging or vlogging or even tweeting…having a community is the most important thing. Having a group of peers, readers, and supporters will make all the difference in the world.

As a final example: When John Green went to release Paper Towns, he used the Vlogbrothers channel to reveal the book and offered promotional copies to prominent nerdfighters. His book debuted at #5 on the New York Times best sellers list.

John Green doesn’t talk about the art of vlogging, and the Vlogbrothers channel is the equivalent of a nicheless blog. Through quality content, perseverance, community building, and a good-humoured nature – the Vlogbrothers have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with.

It just goes to show that success isn’t always found in a niche.

Today’s Assignment

Do you think there is a difference between blogging and writing? If so, which one do you prefer?

Are you comfortable in revealing personal details about yourself?

What do you think you need to do to “blow up” in the blogging world?

Feel free to raise your hand and share your thoughts.


matthew_dryden.jpegMatthew Dryden is not only a blogger, a spoken word poet, but also a fabulous writer. Check out his blog (journal), dig through his archives, hire him, and/or follow him on Twitter.


Photo Credit: StarbuckGuy

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Look Who's Talking
  1. Do you think there is a difference between blogging and writing? If so, which one do you prefer

    The same difference between poetry and writing. I mean, writing is one of the skills you need to use when you blog, but not the only one. There are images, music, answering comments, commenting, networking and the list goes on and on.

    In one way every blogger is a self-published author and an entrepreneur; and now that I think about it, I believe it would be a good idea to teach your children to blog, to teach them one or two things about running a business

    Reader: Clients
    Other blogs: Competence / Partners
    Weekly output of posts: Productivity
    Commenting: Human relations
    Guest blogging: Human resources

    Miguel de Luis´s last blog post..Thursday Haiku: The sun we create

  2. SaraNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara — Thanks for inviting Matthew. I enjoyed reading his post very much. I also wanted to tell you that when I opened my Google reader today, your blog was one of the recommended blogs to read:~)

    Welcome Matthew,

    I agree with Miguel that blogging requires more skills. Bloggers are expected to follow a specific etiquette. For example, commenting and replying to comments. In addition, the more bells and whistles in a blog, such as video, images…all make the blog stand out more. In short, a blog usually can’t sell itself just on the writing alone.

    In my experience with bloggers, most do share personal things about themselves. That seems to be a part of blogging. Within reason, I enjoy sharing my own life lessons and reading about others:~)

    Sara´s last blog post..To Boldly Go Anger Free

  3. Using audio and video is instant communication and effective. It takes time to read a written post properly. I think a lot of bloggers don’t read posts as thoroughly as they should. Pity because the writer goes to a lot of trouble to present something of value. I want to learn how to do all the other blogging goodies but love writing. (Blogging can’t take the place of creative writing.)

    As for revealing personal information – it depends on how personal and how it’s presented.

    As for the marketing and selling (if I may comment on this) – I find it really hard to get my head around the ‘be yourself’ and the selling of a product or service. From what I can see blogging does involve manipulation if you want to be high up on the list. Can you manipulate and be yourself? Don’t have a clue yet.

    Great post – thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

    Paisley (Paisley Thoughts)´s last blog post..I Started Out In Web Writing Sweatshops

  4. Hey, I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to address your audience. This was fun post to write! I will be back very soon to answer your comments!

    Matthew Dryden´s last blog post..Running

  5. MelvinNo Gravatar says:

    great writeup. I, too believe that there’s a difference between blogging and writing

  6. You have to use words to communicate in both writing and blogging. I might go so far as to say that blogging is a particular kind of writing (journalism is another example). As a writer of fiction and poetry, the difference for me is a question of style and audience. And purpose: because, as you say, community is really the most important thing. On blogs you connect and share. When you write you are basically writing alone to an audience who will read your words later, possibly much later. The kind of connection you make is very different.

    Good food for thought!

    Jeannette from Brussels´s last blog post..4 Poetry Books that Work for Me

  7. I would say blogging is a sub-set of writing. How to get your blog to ‘blow up’? Perseverance. But it depends what the purpose of your blog is? A public forum to keep family and friends informed? Little effort required then. To monetize? Lots of SEO, which means more research. As a stepping stone for something else, like a book? Tons of networking.

    Urban Panther´s last blog post..Old fool

  8. Writer DadNo Gravatar says:

    Awesome post, Matthew! Really really enjoyed it.

    I still see blogging as opportunity more than anything, but I do love your analogy to the man keeping you down. I also agree about talking about blogging. It’s tired, and I learned that first hand with the Blueprint. That’s what reboots are for. Evaluating what you’re doing and then determining what you can do better.

    Writer Dad´s last blog post..Serial and Milk: Available Darkness – Chapter 3

  9. RibbonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi…
    I wouldn’t call myself a writer… yet I blog.
    Writing is just that… writing…
    Blogging is a myriad of things.

    …and why shouldn’t people write about whatever they choose?
    why do you feel that people shouldn’t write about blogging?

    a weblog is a tool, not unlike a paintbrush or a pen to be used to the extent of the imagination of the beholder. No strict rules, room for everyone…….. always room for improvement.

    Great post, thank you Matthew

    best wishes always
    Ribbon

  10. RobinNo Gravatar says:

    I think blogging is writing – if it uses words. Blogging’s an art form in itself, for sure, but if there are letters strung together to make those things called words, then it is writing, as far as I’m concerned.

    I liken a blog to a book – look at all the different types of books there are – little sayings books on the book shop counter, computer magazines, picture books, novels – and some are best sellers and others are given away.

    Robin´s last blog post..Wanting To Look Young

  11. Hey Barbara! Great guest you have here.

    Hey Matthew,

    I am sure you probably know my answers before I even give them.

    I am not a writer in comparison to others such as yourself. I would say I blog because I love to express myself but I am not a person that has that passion to write as part of my daily life. I do take pictures. I do get personal. I do want the communication with my readers.

    Each of us has our own reason to blog. We can call it writing. We can call it blogging. We can call it both. For me to “blow up” in the blogging world would be for me to give up myself. I would have to be willing to let go of my true identity to become a number that in the end nobody would really care about anyway. I sometimes float around reading the “successful” blogs and personally I feel as though many have lost themselves to get to that point. I have noticed that many seem to be getting more personal again. Maybe they miss the connection and bond with their readers. I am not sure what it is but I have seen a change.

    As far as Matthew Dryden…you are a talented writer that has managed to do both. You do have a great bond with all of your readers and on the flip side you have the talent as a gifted writer. I hope your blogging is a launching pad for you to follow your dream to write, speak poetry, and just be Matthew Dryden. Every once in a while one of my “hopes” come true. Maybe this one will for you.

    Thank you again Barbara for welcoming a great guest writer.

    Cricket-Tammy´s last blog post..On the plane (Part II), Mistake of One Barefoot Woman

  12. I suppose there CAN be a difference between blogging and writing but there doesn’t HAVE to be. Some blogs are not as writing-oriented as others. Some are practically novels in themselves. One of the great things about having a personal blog is that you can make it whatever you want, whatever works best for you!

    Positively Present´s last blog post..funny the way it is

  13. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Matthew,

    Welcome to the BWAB classroom. It’s great having you here today as a “sub”. I’ve really enjoyed this lesson.

    For some reason, even though I know I’m “writing”, I have a tendency to call myself a blogger, not a writer. This post is making me examine why I “label” myself that way.

    I totally agree with your statement, “Having a group of peers, readers, and supporters will make all the difference in the world.” As we gain popularity, it’s often our community members that become our evangelists. If we have won their trust and respect, they can do more for us than a well written sales page.

  14. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:

    I don’t share a lot of details about my personal life on my blog. I don’t mind if bloggers choose to do that. In fact, a few of my favourite bloggers do just that. It just doesn’t work for me.

    I don’t know what it takes to blow up in the blogging world but that also doesn’t really concern me. I have some readers but I write because I enjoy it. I hope that readers will find it useful and entertaining.

    I don’t think there is much of a difference between writing and blogging. Blogging has added benefits but they are pretty much the same thing.

    All I know is that I enjoy blogging and I plan to keep it up.

  15. Blogging is writing for the web, which involves a different writing style and of course SEO. I like that. I like that I’m good at it. As a writer I’m OK, but as a blogger I can get obvious results (such as a high ranking in Google searches), which is why people hire me to blog for them.

    Vered – MomGrind´s last blog post..Bloggers Who Quit

  16. I think blogging and writing are different. My book doesn’t have lists, keywords and isn’t optimized.

    A good book I want to savor. I don’t savor all blogs. Just like I don’t skim all books.

    I do share personal stuff.

    What do I need to do to blow up the blogging world? I’m working on it.

    Tess The Bold Life´s last blog post..77 Creative Ways to Lighten Up In Tough Times

  17. Bob FosterNo Gravatar says:

    Matthew or Barbara,

    I have a question. What is the legal and/or ethical standard regarding the use of an identical title from an already published book (or article, or blog, or….)? For instance: Matthew mentioned John Green, who published “Looking For Alaska” in early 2005 (hardcover), while New York Times bestselling author Peter Jenkins published “Looking For Alaska” in late 2001 (three and a half years prior). The books are totally different, and the authors are well known, but this sort of thing happens every once in a while.

    When I was publishing my book, I was told (several times) to search “Books in Print” to make sure I picked a title that would not interfere with an existing one. Is this a legal issue, or an ethical issue…or doesn’t it really matter?

    Also, Barbara–I really enjoy your blog.

    Bob Foster´s last blog post..UAW vs. the UAW?

  18. What do you think you need to do to “blow up” in the blogging world?

    Enjoyed this article.

    You need to write well (which includes using good copywriting skills). I’ll even go a step forward… you need to continue improving your craft. Make your Samurai sword sharper and sharper as each day passes.

    You need to be different. There’s so much competition out there that you need to offer something unique.

    And you need to have fun. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing your writing will show for it.

    Bamboo Forest – PunIntended´s last blog post..3 Awesome Ways to Spread Kindness to the World

  19. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara & Matthew.
    I really, really, really enjoyed this post. Thank you Barbara for featuring Matthew. And Matthew, thank you!

    For me the difference between blogging and writing is that when I’m blogging I feel more of a connection to the readers. When I am writing I feel more connected to myself. For myself the challenge while blogging is to balance both of these since they tend to feed off each other.

    I know what I need to do to “blow up” in the blogging world. But I’m not telling yet. Still loading the cannon. :-)

    Davina´s last blog post..Positively Breathing — 5 Ways to Say Yes to Change

  20. I’ve enjoyed following these comments.I’m going to chime in again to this link http://www.nickharkaway.com/2009/04/you-have-to-be-there/
    It touches on many of the points that have come up here

    Jeannette from Brussels´s last blog post..4 Poetry Books that Work for Me

  21. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    i think there is a difference between writing and blogging. to me a writer cares about the craft itself, sentence structure, word choices…it’s not just about a blog post, but the words themselves. a blogger seems more casual to me. they might be trying to sell something or be overly concerned with stats, key words and the back end of their blog.

    Natural´s last blog post..Mirror, Mirror on the Blog….

  22. Hi Mathew, don’t you just hate writer’s burnout.

    As for if there’s a difference between blogging and writing, sure I think there’s a big difference. Typically, to be a writer who writes novels and books, one needs to have a bit more training than the person sitting at home who wants to start a blog.

    True that might not always be the case, but I think in most cases it is. A writer usually will also have to get out of their comfort zone more and not simply sit at home and type away on the computer (they make appearances, do book signings, network with publishers, etc.).

    To “blog up” in the blogging world, I’d say I’d need to focus on really networking with popular niche bloggers in my field. Maybe do some guest posts, help them solve a problem, etc. I could also be a bit more active in social sites.

    John Hoff – WpBlogHost´s last blog post..WordPress Security: The First Thing You Should Understand

  23. Jim GaudetNo Gravatar says:

    Do you think there is a difference between blogging and writing? If so, which one do you prefer?

    Yes. Writers to me can tell stories and blogging for me is more like a mix of news, personal info, and straight up information…

    Are you comfortable in revealing personal details about yourself?

    Yes. I think I need to be the same person online as I am offline. F!@# those multiple personalities. My website is me, almost all of me.

    What do you think you need to do to “blow up” in the blogging world?

    A community. I think your blog needs to reach “people”. You have to give them something that they want..

    Excellent work BK…

    Jim Gaudet´s last blog post..Tuts Plus – Mad Skills

  24. Jim GaudetNo Gravatar says:

    BTW – You should update your Tweetmeme button plugin and then add your personal Twitter account into the settings.

    Then you will be notified of the ReTweets… :)

    Jim Gaudet´s last blog post..Tuts Plus – Mad Skills

  25. I think writing and blogging can be interchanged under the general heading of writing.

    But blogging is more immediate and real to me. Juicier!

    And Matthew Dryden will be very very famous if he keeps on. He is a very original talent. Oh, to be his age and know what your passion is. But than again, age is really an illusion and no mattter how old you are, if you have the passion for something – just go for it.

    Jannie Funster´s last blog post..The CDs Have Landed!

  26. Hey! I just wanted everyone to know that I have written responses to all of your comments, but I am suffering from a cable outage in my neighborhood. My response will total over 1000 words when finished, so please stick around! Thanks!

    – Matthew.

    Sent from my iPhone.

    Matthew Dryden´s last blog post..Running

  27. Ah com’on Mathew … don’t you want to write all those responses from a tiny iPhone! hehe

    No problem.

    John Hoff – WpBlogHost´s last blog post..WordPress Security: The First Thing You Should Understand

  28. @Miguel de Luis: Thanks for reading! I honestly don’t count responding as part of the writing process. I find that the conversation that happens below the feature presentation, be it a blog entry or video log, is separated in a way. There is something completely different that happens here, and it certainly has no place in my mind when I’m writing my entries. I agree that blogging is a genre of writing – and some people are good at it, and others are not.

    @Sara: There is certainly an immediacy that comes from comments that novelists don’t usually get – but I do feel that there is always some sort of reaction that said writer has to answer to. In fact, I would say that a writer must sell themselves just as much as a blogger might in order to promote their work. The bells and whistles of a blog certainly have nothing to do with the writing. I appreciate your thoughts!

    @Paisely: Interestingly enough, I’ve heard some YouTubers complain of not being able to keep up with their friends because they have to actually sit through their whole vlogs instead of skimming them like you would a blog. For the amount of work that goes into a well written blog entry – there is just as much (and probably more) work put into a well-done video log. They are different mediums – but my point is that they rarely talk about the technical mumbo-jumbo behind the actual making of a video log, but rather, they talk about their lives and other stuff. The one thing that vloggers have over bloggers is that they don’t feel the need to seek out “blogs about blogging”, if you catch my drift. Interesting thoughts…I think we all have to step outside ourselves when trying to promote our work, in the process – we end up focusing on the process of creating our work (hence blogging about blogging). I do sincerely believe that the more time we discuss the art of our craft, the less time we actually produce it.

    @Melvin: Short and sweet, I love it! (Oh, and I love your Butters gravatar!)

    @Jeannette: Exactly my point! We have to step outside ourselves when we’re promoting our work – especially with blogs – otherwise we end up tainting our work. I find it especially common with artists who spend a long time producing work on their medium (writers who blog) to see them talk about the art of blogging and promoting more and more and more.

    @Urban Panther: A good summary of all my points! John Green did a wonderful job with networking as he released Paper Towns – and while it may have not been required (as he was already a prize winning author), it certainly helped raise the hype on the novel.

    @Writer Dad: Ah, Sean, always the businessman! I like to keep my entries about blogging to few and far between. I feel that I have a good understanding of what I need to do, but I certainly don’t let it enter into my writing!

    @Ribbon: Interesting thought, Ribbon…my point is that there is so much more to be writing about than blogging. It’s like going to a anti-war protest, and then writing the next day on the best ways to protest instead of writing about the your thoughts and feelings on the war.

    @Robin: It’s quite a shame that most blogs are just given away. Wonderful words can be found here.

    @Cricket: Oh, Tammy! You are a wonderful blogger! I love hearing about your life, and I love that I hardly ever hear of your struggles with blogging. For you, I feel that blogging is just a tool for you to get your emotions across – and certainly not something of interest in itself. (I hope your hope comes true as well.)

    @Positively Present: I didn’t mean to play blogging up as a villain! Blogging is a wonderful way to write and reading about people’s lives (or thoughts or ideas) can be brilliant. My concern is when the artist who gets caught up with the technical side of their craft (hence: blogging about blogging).

    @Barbara Swafford: 100% true. Nothing spreads faster than word of mouth. Thanks for letting me take over your classroom for a day – even if I was running a but late!

    @Chase March: I pick and choose the details of my life that I want to share. If I don’t feel comfortable sharing something, then I either skew the truth, mix it into prose, or just not write anything at all. I find it very comforting that I am able to do all of this with any question. And certainly keep on blogging – ESPECIALLY if you enjoy it.

    @Vered: Writing the web is a great restraint to keep you stay on top of your game. My point was not to villianize blogging (as I mention above), but to point out that there is so much more to be writing about other than the art of blogging. To re-use an example: It’s like going to a anti-war protest, and only talking about the best ways to protest something.

    @Tess The Bold Life: Absolutely! I can’t wait until your ticking time-bomb of a blog blows up. Just remember us little folks once you go nuclear, got it?

    @Bob Foster: I’m not familiar with the publishing word – to be honest, I’m just a kid with a keyboard and a website. Your question would be far better directed to “Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent” (she has a fantastic blog that concerns itself with all things publishing). I think everything you said can be summed up into: “YOU’VE GOT TO BE PASSIONATE!” Savvy?

    @Davina: I believe the connection to your readers depends on how much work that you want to put into it – regardless of whether or not your blogging or writing. For me, I take my real life and mix it into my prose…so there is definitely an element of each that I enjoy very, very much.

    @Jeannette: What an interesting article, thanks for the link! I’ve bookmarked, and will definitely follow up soon!

    @Natural: Oh, Val – you got it just right. There’s so much to be dragged down with blogging – but it’s certainly nothing we need to be WRITING about, if you catch my drift. No matter whether we’re blogging or writing, there is so much more than blogging that we have to write about.

    @John Hoff: Hmm, I woke up the next day and had what alcoholics call a moment of clarity. And then I wrote this. I agree that networking is definitely something that needs to happen with blogging and writing…it just happens in different ways. In any case, these days it’s not enough just to write or blog, you also have to be a salesman to really be successful…or get an agent whose good ati t.

    @Jim Gaudet: Oh hell yes!

    @Jannie Funster: I agree with you…my point is that bloggers/writers should NOT be writing about blogging. Again with the passion! Yes! Holy writing, blogging! Holy is the passion for art!!

    @John Hoff: Well, I made it finally! Muahaha!

  29. TracyNo Gravatar says:

    I think blogging is a form of writing and just like any art form it’s open to innovation. That’s one of my favorite parts of blogging, I can experiment with different forms, add other kinds of media and just let myself play.

    I’m comfortable revealing some parts of myself, but others I tend to keep private. Interestingly enough, I’ve noticed that while I don’t talk much about my day to day life, I am extremely open about my emotions and inner workings.

    What do I need to do to blow up in the blogging world? My arrogant answer is just be myself, I’m an expert at it! Perhaps I’ll never blow up, but I think I’ll have a pretty spiffy blog that way.

    I thought it was funny that you said “Don’t blog about blogging” I had a conversation with another blogger the other day talking about how so much of our efforts seem to be designed to attract other bloggers to our blog, not civilians. Of course, I want other bloggers to read my blog but it’s easy to forget the millions of potential readers who don’t blog/stumble/digg/twitter and only use Facebook to talk to their actual friends! I want them to read my blog, too.

    Tracy´s last blog post..Where do all the millions of dead birds go?

  30. @Mathew

    In any case, these days it’s not enough just to write or blog, you also have to be a salesman to really be successful

    That’s a great point, Mathew. I wrote an article on that awhile back called, The Unplugged Entrepreneur.

    To be successful, we really need to try and get out of our comfort zone.

    John Hoff – WpBlogHost´s last blog post..How To Fully Backup WordPress Anytime With Just A Few Clicks

  31. @Tracy: I absolutely agree with you! Blogging about blogging isn’t the way to attract the mainstream audience! I’ll be over to check your blog very soon…

    @John Hoff: But…I like my comfort zone so much!

    Matthew Dryden´s last blog post..Running

  32. Hi Matthew.

    I blog because I write blurbs, and the blog environment fits that style better than the feature-length article market. (Also there is no submission process, and thus no rejection note.)

    I can share a single thought and feel good about it. No thesis statement; no conclusion — just an open-ended thought that allows others to fill in their own details. Much like looking at a painting that leads the viewer into its story but gives him room to imagine…

    I do tell little stories on myself — but only if I think they’re useful to others’ own Ah-Ha’s. My hope and driving dream is to create a coffee-shop-studio-space type atmosphere, where people connect with a thought and share their own before leaving. I want them to leave uplifted and energized to go about their own lives.

    I feature my own — and others — art work, though usually parenthetical to the point made.

    I don’t know how to “blow-up” my blog. That’s why I keep studying… :)

    Barb

    Barb Hartsook´s last blog post..Why Does an Artist Paint? Or a Writer Write?

  33. wow great info and shows that even if you are not a great writer you can still turn a profitable blog. I wasn’t the best write when I began working with blogs but found perseverance and constant reading/writing of articles to naturally improve my skills (even helped through my time at University)

  34. MikeGNo Gravatar says:

    Good point about the only people who write about blogging (or care about blogging) is bloggers. It’s like the Internet Marketing niche – it’s incredibly inbred and it’s easy to forget that there is a big wide world out there with billions of people who just want something interesting to read about … whatever they are interested in…