I’m speaking in July at CAST 2009 on how to market yourself as a tester. One of my beliefs in this regard is that everyone should be writing, if for no other reason than it forces you to really think about your ideas. For most people, this is achieved easiest by blogging.
A couple months ago I stumbled on a review of Blog Blazers by Stephane Grenier and asked for a copy in order to do my own review. Stephane kindly agreed and I’ve been hauling it around ever since (and using its content for my own work; properly attributed of course).
Blog Blazers follows the pattern of ‘X questions with’ that can be seen here or here with the targets of the questioning being successful bloggers. How do you define success? Well, that is part of the interesting aspects of the book. Overwhelmingly it is ‘I could quit my day job’ but there are also the ideas of ‘influence’, ‘respect’ and ‘marketing’ get some space as well. This for-profit bias is not that unsurprising as the sub-title of the book is ’40 top bloggers share their secrets to creating high-profile, high-traffic, and high-profit blog.’
As the sub-title suggests, the book is broken into 40 chapters with one blogger answering questions per chapter. I really liked this format as it made for easy reading while waiting for the bus or whatnot. I also really liked the layout with a picture of who is answering questions right in the masthead of each chapter. (I kinda want to explore this layout in Beautiful Testing…).
To succeed, a book like this needs two things: good questions, good answerers.
First, the questions. Each chapter is based on the same set of questions. Here are my favourite ones:
- What makes a blog successful according to you? Is it traffic, reach, revenue, etc.?
- What is your most successful blog post ever?
- What is your best advice in regards to content and writing for bloggers?
- What are your quick and short five best tips for blogging?
- What is the most common pitfall new bloggers generally fall into?
The fact that I can have favourites hints at one of the downsides of this book. By halfway I found myself skimming chapters, skipping over questions I wasn’t interested in.
The respondents are also equally strong, though again, heavily weighted to people who could be defined as ‘professional’ bloggers. My copy has the most answers underlined in David Armano, David Seah and Derek Semmler, likely because they under-emphasis the monetary aspect of success.
On the whole, if you starting to blog, especially if you think you want to do it for a living, then Blog Blazers is a great book to pick up. It won’t teach you about how to use WordPress or other blogging platforms, but it will give you a peek inside the heads of people who have done this for awhile and have spent some time thinking about it. It has already helped refine some of my thoughts on blogging and is referenced a couple times in my CAST paper.
With a cover price of under $20 (in both USD and CDN), I think it is correctly priced, but I suspect it could be found for even less online. Say like from Amazon.