Stephane Grenier sent me a print copy of his latest book Blog Blazers a while back as a thank you for announcing the ebook version of Blog Blazers. I’ve just finished reading it and thought I’d share my review.
In the book Stephane interviews 40 of the top bloggers, asking each the same set of 24 questions. This approach has both its positives and its negatives.
On the negative side, some of the questions didn’t elicit very interesting answers. For example the majority of answers to the following questions were very similar.
Q: What makes a blog successful according to you?
A: It depends.
Q: When did you decide you finally reached success with your blog?
A: Success is a journey, not a destination.
Q: How long does it take to become a successful blogger?
A: Ask me when I get there – but at least 6 months.
In some cases the repetition of the questions was a good thing. When 39 out of the top 40 bloggers agree on something (e.g. headlines are very important) then you know you’re onto something.
The questions that I found generated the best answers were
Q: What’s your most interesting story related to blogging?
Q: What’s your most successful blog post?
While most of the interviews are of a high standard, some fall a little short. It’s obvious that a few interviewee’s just banged out a series of stock answers without putting in any real thought or effort. These should probably have been cut entirely from the book but then I suspect Stephane’s too nice a guy to go through with this. Thankfully these are in the minority and there are a number of gems in the book.
Surprisingly I found some of the best interviews were by bloggers who blog on topics I have no interest in. Manolo Blahnik of the Manolo Shoe Blog is a case in point. For instance, take a look at part of his answer to the question ‘What makes a blog successful?’
Too many people focus on building the giant mega-blog that crushes all in its path, using complete market dominance as the standard of success.
Other highlights for me were Asha Dornfest of Parent Hacks, Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror, Pamela Slim of Escape from Cubicle Nation and Patrick McKenzie of MicroISV on a Shoestring. Each provided thoughtful, entertaining answers.
What’s missing from this book is any sort of final analysis of the answers. I really hope that Stephane analyses the wealth of great information in the book and publishes the results on his blog in the coming months. This may already be happening as he’s just written a post on the 10 Most Popular Books recommended in Blog Blazers.
What made this book worth reading for me was not just the tips on blogging but the fascinating stories behind some of the most successful people in the blogosphere. If you’re thinking of starting a blog or feel your blogging is becoming a little stale, then reading Blog Blazers is a great way to take inspiration from some of the blogging greats and rekindle your enthusiasm for 2009.