Book Review: Engagement From Scratch!
Engagement From Scratch! is a classic tale of learning from other peoples’ mistakes. Thirty professional bloggers prove that hindsight really is 20/20. And you can benefit from their advice thanks to Danny Iny.
I was pretty pumped that I was asked by FreelanceSwitch to preview this book. I had previously written a review for this site on Danny Iny’s online marketing course through his business, Firepole Marketing. I thought Iny’s product was really interesting and provided a lot of great tools, so I was interested to delve into Engagement From Scratch!
The premise is simple. Iny asked 30 bloggers from the very big (Brian Clark of copyblogger.com and Guy Kawasaki) to the up-and-coming (Onibalusi Bamidele from youngprepro.com) what they would do if they had to build a following all over again.
The overarching themes these bloggers shared were pretty straightforward, and nothing you probably don’t already know, such as:
- Be yourself.
- Comment on other blogs thoughtfully.
- Create great content.
- Know who your audience is.
- Find or create your niche.
- It’s not the size of your audience that matters, it’s how engaged they are.
- Write guest posts for other bloggers and have them write for you.
As I read through each essay, I’d nod my head, take some notes for this blog post, and read on. And I listened. I finally listened.
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There is no point in trying to build an engaged audience unless you really know why you are building it in the first place (thank you, Danny Brown, for putting this so eloquently). Brown talks about having a “laser-focused understanding of who your audience is and what you want from them.”
Most of these bloggers started their blog with no real clue what they were doing. It was an experiment. They wanted to talk about what interested them and were hoping someone out there would listen. They learned what worked and what didn’t, and many of them changed their approach all together to reach their goal. As Stuart Mills of unlockthedoor.net wrote, “If there is no audience, there is effectively no blog.”
Unfortunately, there is no one set path for blogging success—what works for you won’t work for someone else. But if you have the basics down (see the bulleted list above) you’ll be that much stronger out of the gate.
Put Into Practice
My husband or mother could have told me that it would be a good idea to pitch one of my blog posts to other bloggers who I thought would be interested in reading it, and I would have shrugged them off. However, when Anita Campbell of bizsugar.com suggested it in her essay, I thought ‘that’s a great idea!’ Sometimes it just takes an expert to make the light to go off in your brain.
I actually put that into practice the very next day on one of my blog posts for RealMaineWeddings.com, and it worked! A wedding photographer had created a how-to video on creating holiday cards with digital photos on Pinhole Press and I sent them a link to the blog post via Facebook.
They immediately posted it to their Facebook page and retweeted my tweet to their followers. One of their PR managers even sent me an email thanking me for publishing the post about their products. One thing led to another and they agreed to donate a few of their products for giveaway on my blog. It really does work!
The advice in this book is also going to change the way I handle monthly email newsletters for a couple of blogs I work on to strengthen the message as well as offer content my subscribers can’t find on the blog. Half of the bloggers mentioned how important a strong, compelling email newsletter is, and gave me ideas on how I can entice new subscribers.
Thumbs Up And Down
One of my favorite essays in this book was written by Natalie Sisson from SuitcaseEntrepreneur.com. Her Step-by-Step Audience Building Checklist was one of the most useful two pages in this whole book. Seeing what she aims to accomplish each day and week was fascinating, and I liked seeing which programs she uses. Plus I really like checklists.
One of the best nuggets in this book comes from Iny himself…
A loyal and strong audience is much more than just an audience—it is a living and breathing entity that ties real people together.
On the down side, I couldn’t help my eyes from rolling when several of the bloggers used the cliché “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Cliches are a real turn-off for me as an editor. And I could argue that 25 essays in this book would have been enough. I felt the info was getting redundant by the end.
I was also surprised that only seven of the essays in this book were written by women. I thought there should have been at least one female voice in each of Iny’s six sections.
Share and Share Alike
I’m going to take some advice from this book and ask for a call to action. Share this post with people you think would find it interesting. Get your own copy of Engagement From Scratch! and share that, too. It comes with a goodie bag of extras, like worksheets, templates, and access to exclusive teleseminars, webinars, and coaching calls.
Danny Iny is giving the digital edition of Engagement From Scratch! for free, and half of the profits from hard-copy sales are going to the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. Warm and fuzzies all around.
Until midnight on December 1, 2011, anyone who buys the print version will also get some extra bonuses, starting with two full-length PDF format eBooks by my co-author Sean Platt: “How to Twitter” by Tracy O’Connor and Sean Platt and “100 Blog Post Ideas That Work” by Sean Platt. You’ll also get a free Photos.com Web Plus 5 Image Pack.
All you have to do is buy the print version of the book, and email your proof of purchase to Danny (danny (at) firepolemarketing (dot) com), and he’ll send the bonuses straight over.
Also, half of the profits from these special offer book sales are committed to the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). As a special offer during the launch100% of profits from book sales will go to the NFTE (until December 1 at midnight).