BlogWorld #2: Chris Brogan’s “Lessons Learned Over 11 Years of Blogging”


This is the second in a series of three posts about some of the sessions I attended at BlogWorld Expo, New York 2012. The full series is:

Chris Brogan has been blogging for eleven years … and has a ton of great wisdom to share.

As well as being a popular blogger and speaker, Chris has written several books. He co-authored Trust Agents with Julien Smith, and he’s written Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online and Google+ for Business.

I always enjoy hearing Chris speak, and his session “Power Up Your Blog: Lessons Learned Over 11 Years of Blogging” was no exception. Here’s what he covered.

Important: As with all my conference write-ups, this is a summary based on my notes. I’ve paraphrased what Chris said, though I’ve done my very best to represent the views he expressed accurately.

Finding Time to Blog Well

We’re all busy! Learn to write in 20 minute chunks – you don’t need a whole afternoon to write. Ignore your email, ignore social networks, and just write.

Try making a framework that helps you blog (or write) in a consistent way. This might mean having a standard structure for blog posts, for instance.

Practice can replace (a lack of) talent. Don’t worry that your writing isn’t good enough – worry that it isn’t passionate enough. Include emotion in your posts, and see how your readers respond.

Never start a post with “Sorry I haven’t written in a while.” Just get on with the post.

Aim for one or two posts per week. (Chris mentioned that he no longer blogs daily: I’m seeing more and more big-time bloggers go for fewer posts than before, and it seems that “post daily” is definitely out-dated advice.)

What to Blog About?

You can find topics everywhere.

Take plenty of photos; try thinking more visually. Using your own photos on your blog helps to add meaning.

Use your photos as prompts – you can twist them in a variety of ways.

Smells are also evocative!

Blogging Strategy

Don’t obsess over the small stuff, like what comment plugin to use. Just get on with it.

Avoid sending people away from your site – e.g. don’t put a link to your Twitter handle in your sidebar.

The hard work is getting out there, connecting with new people, and talking about their stuff. Reply to comments, as much as you can. People often feel invisible in the blogging world. Show people that you remember them.


Chris finished with two great points of encouragement:

You can be absolutely who you are and be successful.


Try really hard to be brave. Text can’t hurt you.


If you’re a blogger – or even if you’re thinking about starting a blog – what are the biggest challenges you’re facing right now? Does anything from Chris’s session resonate with you? Pop a comment below!

Thanks for commenting! I read all comments, and reply to as many as I can. Please keep the discussion constructive and friendly. Thank you!

16 thoughts on “BlogWorld #2: Chris Brogan’s “Lessons Learned Over 11 Years of Blogging”

  1. Nice, thank you 🙂 This stands out to me: “Ignore your email, ignore social networks, and just write”. I love the connection through social media, but on the days I have a creative expression or a project, I ignore all else and focus on that expression. It took me a long while to learn that focus allows the rest to be enriching.

    Also, this: “You can be absolutely who you are and be successful”. My work is my passion, and my passion is my essence…so I find this sentiment very encouraging. Your reflection on Chris’ speech is a wonderful affirmation for me.

    • Thanks Joy! I definitely find that shutting out the world and focusing helps me to write better — and faster. And I loved it that Chris said “You can be absolutely who you are and be successful” — I think we so often feel pressured to conform to someone else’s idea of how we “should” be.

  2. My biggest thing with blogging is knowing a subject enough to write something informative about it. The closest thing I have to an “expertise” is going on forever about the Hey Arnold! fandom (old Nickelodeon cartoon).

    This is why I just stick with the journal-styling about my writing process. Perhaps one day I’ll think of something, and when I do I’ll be sure to use Chris’ advice. ^_^
    lycorogue’s last blog post ..This Will Be Quick…

    • Hmm… I don’t think you need to be an expert in order to write something informative. (Heck, I hope not, I don’t consider myself a “blogging expert” or “writing expert”…!) For me, it’s about finding a topic that really interests you, and one that (at least some) people want to read about.

      But journal-style blogging is great too — often a fantastic outlet, great for writerly discipline, and a way to build up a very loyal core of readers who care about *you*. 🙂

  3. Very much enjoyed both parts of this series. I think the emphasis on authors building a platform is very important; the only thing I would add is they should begin before trying to get a trad book deal, or self-publishing. Trying to play catchup is never good.
    Thomas Derry’s last blog post ..The Horror

    • Thanks, Thomas, really glad you enjoyed these. And I’m absolutely with you on platform-building (I suspect Scott, Jim & Chris would all agree too) — you want to build that platform BEFORE you need to stand on it. And you want to hope it’s fairly solid. 😉

    • Thanks Mary. Yeah, Chris is a great guy. 🙂 And I had a fantastic time at BlogWorld … already looking forward to the next one. 🙂

  4. Ali, I’m really enjoying your reports from Blogworld!

    I’ve long been a fan of Chris Brogan, and I continue to find him real and helpful and caring. He’s right that a framework is helpful.

    I’m not sure how I feel about his advice not to include social media links in the sidebar. If I really like a post on a blog I’m visiting for the first time, the next thing I want to do is connect with the writer. I think it’s courteous to make it easy for someone to do this. I try to have all links open in a separate window, though. I can see his point, though. Would love to know how others feel about this…especially if anyone has done any testing.
    Elizabeth H. Cottrell’s last blog post ..You raise me up…

    • Thanks, Elizabeth! And yes, I have to say I differed with Chris on that piece of advice (I thought of saying so in the post, but I wanted to keep it focused on what Chris has said, rather than my two penn’orth …!) As a reader, I often want to connect with a blogger on Twitter or Facebook, and it makes my life easy when these links are in the sidebar. I don’t have any figures on what’s technically a more “effective” method, though…

  5. Ali, it is apparent that you got a lot out of Chris Brogan’s speech. I was beginning to think that note taking during speeches is becoming a lost art. I appreciate knowing Chris’s conclusion:
    You can be absolutely who you are and be successful.
    Try really hard to be brave. Text can’t hurt you.

    • Thanks, Barbara. 🙂 I got into the habit of taking lots and lots of notes during Uni … and it stuck! 😉

  6. oh 11 years is such a long time! i remember the first computer i ever bought was 11 years ago
    thanks a lot for the great tips Ali & Chris

  7. Thanks for posting your notes from BlogWorld – much appreciated.

    My two challenges are making the time to write my own content and read and comment on others’ blogs. I guess time management in general is an issue since I’m just now getting around to reading your posts that have been in my email inbox for a week or more! 🙂

    I’m creating daily and weekly schedules to help with both (I hope!). On top of scheduling time to read other blogs, I’ve set a goal to comment on at least two blog posts per day.

    • I think time management is an issue for all of us, Lisa! And I definitely find that schedules and minimum targets help me stay on track — so hope they work for you took, and good luck. 🙂

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