Many people have asked questions about how I write my blog entries. Some think that I am simply copying and pasting from my books. Others, ironically, have asked when I’ll publish my blog entries in a book!
I’d like to explain what I’m doing for many of my entries. It starts around 10 pm when the kids are asleep, Boston Legal is recording, and I’m home from playing hockey. (This process starts later if the Olympics are going on–seven hours a day of high definition TV hockey!–or I played in a late game.)
- Look through my books and find a topic that I’d like to blog about–let’s say, building a community.
- Take the subhead/bullets and use them as the starting point for the entry. (I never copy and paste from my book’s manuscript.)
- Spend two to three hours writing the “body” of the entry–that is, the introduction and text in the bullets.
- Send the draft to my buddy Thomas Kang who provides a reality check, makes suggestions, and copyedits.
- Go to iStockphoto to find a picture that illustrates the entry.
The result of this process is an entry like yesterday’s post, “The Art of Building a Community.” To show you how it started, this is the text from the manuscript of The Art of the Start.
Foster a community
In the late 1990s, a group of business people and community leaders started an organization called the Calgary Flames Ambassadors. They were Flames fans who were alarmed by the prospect that their National Hockey League team might move to another city. According to the chairman of the group, Lyle Edwards, “The ambassadors ran around Calgary and twisted arms so that people bought more tickets.”
Circa 2004, the group has fifty members, and they don’t have to help sell tickets anymore. To join the Ambassadors, you have to buy a season ticket and pay $100 Canadian to the Ambassadors organization. That’s right: these evangelists pay for the privilege of proselytizing the Flames by greeting fans at games, promoting community outreach, and conducting social events.
The goal of recruiting evangelists is to build a community around your product or service. Examples of companies that enjoy well-publicized communities include Apple, Harley Davidson, Motley Fool, and Saturn. These communities provide customer service, technical support, and social relationships that make owning a product or service a better experience—as well as twist arms so that more people buy a product, service, or tickets.
Surprisingly, most companies react to the formation of communities after they appear, and their reaction is: “Never heard of them…you mean to say that there are groups of customers who get together because of our product?”This is sub-optimal if not downright stupid. Having seen how some companies have benefited from the spontaneous generation of communities, you should pro-actively cause one to exist:
- Identify and recruit the “thunder lizards” of your product or service. These are the customers who are the most enthusiastic about what you do and who are willing to serve in leadership positions.
- Hire someone who’s sole purpose is to foster a community. This is your internal champion for the needs of the community; he evangelizes evangelists and fights for internal resources. As you achieve success, build a department around this person to institutionalize community support.
- Create a budget for community support. You won’t need much, and the intent is not for you to “buy” a community. But you’ll still need a budget for the community to hold meetings, print and circulate newsletters, and maintain an online presence.
- Integrate the presence of the community into your sales and marketing efforts and your online presence. For example, your Web site should provide information about the community including instructions for joining it.
- Host the community’s efforts. This means letting members use your building to hold meetings as well as digital assistance such as operating an email listserver, online chat, and bulletin board on your Web site.
- Hold a conference. No one loves electronic communication more than I do, but face-to-face meetings are important for communities. At these conferences, community members can meet each other as well as interact with your own employees.
Per dollar, building a community of customers and evangelists is the cheapest method to create and maintain a brand, so don’t screw up by waiting for a community to form on its own.
There are several things to take away from this discussion:
- Hopefully, you think that my blog entry is better than the original book passage; after all, I should have learned something in the last three years.
- I’ve written eight books since 1987. In those twenty or so years, I’ve pretty much covered all the topics that I thought were important–or knew anything about. There’s no way that I can write a blog with only new topics unless I write a different kind of blog–ie, (a) Guy’s rants and raves or (b) Guy acts as your newsbot. Don’t hold your breath…I’m not a 6 o’clock news reporter nor Howard Stern. My goal is to write the equivalent of documentaries or feature stories.
- If you bought the book and see a similar blog entry, then I think you should be thinking: “I’m lucky: I got this years earlier.”
- If you read the blog and are thinking about buying the book, then I think that you should be thinking: “It’s great that I can get all of Guy’s writing in one place–fully indexed and illustrated.” Plus, if you buy the book, you can see the results of my book cover design contest which, all modesty aside, is one of the most clever ideas I ever had.
- There are about 100,000 copies of Art in print. This means a lot of people haven’t read it yet. :-)
Written at: Atherton California, watching Finland beat Italy.
I read The Art of the Start and I’ve noticed you cover similar topics on your blog. However, it seems that what you post in your blog is updated, and a bit expanded.
The book was a great read though, as is your blog.
Man two to three hours! is that like everyday? That’s commitment to your blog man. How long will you be able to keep it up?
I just bought the book and then came across your blog in the last couple of weeks.
I value having the book as reference that is a bit more portable. For example, reading it at night while my 9 month old sleeps next to me so my wife gets some time to herself in the evenings.
However, I’ve found that because the blog entries are more ‘updated and expanded’ that I pick up your book less frequently and get more excited about the new blog posting for the day.
A proofreader for a blog post?
Wowsers, that’s taking it to the next level.
Says the gal who is lucky to remember to spellcheck.
I appreciate your blog. It is clearly very thoughtful (multi tasking while waching the Olympics – impressive!). I notice a lot of what you talk about is aimed at corporate development. Any chance you might focus an entry on sole proprietorship? Tiny business models?
Perfect timing to write about some recent thoughts.
1. Your blog provides(almost) too much information – there is just an incredible amount of practical, useful, real-world advice within just about every single one.
2. The personal touch (& the obvious amount of time it takes to write) is not just amazing, it’s inspiring. When it’s 8pm & I know I have to work on my second business, I can no longer use the worn out excuse of ‘too tired’!
3. I hope you do turn all these wonderful entries into a book – at the very least the top 100 a year… I’d buy it to save all this cutting & pasting! …. or give it away on ChangeThis & introduce another 100,000 peeps/day to your ideas?
4. Keep it up. And when it gets too much to write 2-3 hours every night – take a day off. No one will mind!
5. Australia just won their 3rd ever gold medal! It’ll never win one in ice hockey though…
6. Smittie, I’m with you on filmloop – but thanks for the reminder to watch & learn (& be surprised). Had forgotton to do that.
Yes, Guy, your posts are always informative and inspiring. In fact, you’ve motivated me to start work on a book too. In my case, the blog entries precede the book. Do you ever have copyright concerns in terms of your blog entries?
The blog and the books compliment each other very nicely. And as others have mentioned, the personal touch is what makes it even more special. Even on my hardest, most hectic days, I know just by spending a few minutes here, everything seems less hard and hectic than before.
(I was in the arena/stadium, north section, desperatly waiting for the Italians to wake up. They didn’t.)
Actually adding your blog content to a book isn’t a bad idea. Add them to the next edition of The Art of the Start!
Cool! Can you buy me a hockey souvenir? XL jersey or shirt. Any team other than US or Canada–I can get those here.
Ebay has lots: http://snipurl.com/CCCP_jersey (I am not associated wth ebay or this auction)
As with your reference to Art there are two things to appreciate here:
1. The content and as always the appreciation is in the eye of the beholder – and clearly there are many people who appreciate you sharing your thoughts
2. As also with art you get a better understanding and appreciation of the art when you start to understand the artists creative process.
Thank you for sharing this with us.
As for publishing check out http://www.blurb.com/. An interesting way to publish blog content.
Guy, don’t sweat it. I’ve read a number of your books (since coming across Macintosh Way many years ago now) and recognise many of the topics. But I am still very interested to read your current take on them. If anything, why tackle so many points at once? Seth Godin’s blog is very good in that way.
“a lot of people haven’t read it yet”
Your book isn’t available in Indian bookstores and it’s prohibitively expensive to ship via Amazon all the way to India. I searched all of Bangalore for it last week without luck. All of Seth Godin’s books are available, why not yours? I’m sure there are many eager fans like me waiting to get their hands on the Art of the Start in India.
Excellent – thanks for that clarification
Having recently witnessed Guy spend four hours writing a post from the back seat of my car on the way to Stockton (and back), I can attest to how much effort Guy puts into these blog posts. Keep it up Guy, I find them hugely valuable. Although I do have one complaint: you are setting a standard for frequency of meaty blog posts that the rest of us can’t possibly match!
Those of you who know me know that I like to follow certain people and really try and learn from them. One of the people is Guy Kawasaki (his blog and a specific great overview of what he is doing)
Your book has been sitting on my desk for a few days (I read it straight through in two sittings). Now, reading through your blog for the 2nd time, I clicked on the link to the cover design contest.
In all this time, it never occurred to me to look at the other side of the cover!
If you’re interested: high praise, comments and advice can be found on my blog.
I like your website.
blogging for more readers or other reasons
Last year I wrote up my best tips for getting more traffic to your blog, and those tips will get you to a certain level of readership. The rest of the way is going to be more about your own street cred (and web buzz), promotional efforts, and personal …