SOBCon08 – Biz School for Bloggers… A report, part 2

Amazing that it took a whole blog post to cover the first day of SOBCon08, but it did. Friday was great. The boat ride stellar. And the conversation even better.

Seeing Lorelle first thing Saturday morning started the day off right. Got a chance to speak with Easton Ellsworth a bit, catching up on family and the like. Truth is I talk to Easton almost weekly. I did get to have breakfast with David Dalka and Phil Gerbyshak. We mostly talked shop – not blogging shop, but business shop – niche marketing and expert positioning. In other words, what problems do you solve for whom.

Business School was the theme of SOBCon08. The idea was born from watching lots of bloggers getting traffic and tons of comments, but making no money. This year’s SOBCon was going to bring business people and bloggers together so that business owners could learn about communities and using social media while bloggers could learn solid business practices.

Anita Bruzzese of 45Things kicked off the morning. She gave a great talk about managing your online reputation. Her advice: Remember “whatever you write has your name on it and you must be willing to stand behind it.” Her talk sparked a great conversation afterward that I was really getting in to. If only more time.

Next up was the Copyblogger himself – Brian Clark. Brian opened with “forget blog. be an entrepreneur rather than a copywriter.” He had me with forget blog.

What Brian did really well was remind us that a blog isn’t in and of itself a business. What we actually do to make money is our business. So he encouraged everyone to consider a business model showing us that a business model is not:

  • Your revenue source
  • Your traffic strategy
  • Your blog

What a business model is, rather:

  • The right product or service (for) the right target market (at) the right price.

That sentence above is the key to having a successful business. Brian knows it which is one of the reasons why Copyblogger and Teaching Sells is doing so well. There’s more, of course, but this was the key point that I felt was most important to take away form Brian’s talk.

One note on Mr Clark, somehow he managed to leave Chicago without us having a good chat together. Not sure how he managed that, but he did. That’s all right, I’ll pin him down next time.

After Brian, Lorelle VanFossen led a discussion and exercise to help everyone find the ten words that would describe what you do as a business owner. That was her main point – you have to be able to describe what you do to people who may be interested in language they understand. I’d go a bit further and say that you need to concisely show that you can solve their problems. That’s why the conversation can be so valuable before you get to talking about what you do.

Next came Chris Garrett of fame. Chris and Darren Rowse just released a book called Problogger: Secrets of Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. Haven’t finished it yet, but from what I’ve read it’s really good. Make sure you get a copy.

Chris’ talk called, More Bang from Your Blog, covered a lot about workflow. He says, “you have to have a work structure” to be successful at blogging (and at business). His workflow consists of Learn / Create / Communicate / Promote. Workflow – both for you blogging and your business – is something I spend a lot of time with clients working on so I couldn’t agree more. There’s so little time, why not make the most from it.

Somewhere in here we had lunch and I spent a nice time talking with Stephen Smith from Productivity in Context and Jared Goralnick from Technotheory. Jared and I shared in great converation around business building, marketing and business growth. Then we mingled a bit chatting with a number of people – most whose names I just can’t remember. Sorry.

Back to the presentations…I next got my socks blown off by David Bullock. Obvious this guy knows what he’s doing when it comes to business development, business growth and metrics. David was one of the business owners who was there to learn about social media. And boy did he get a dose of it. His S.T.A.R.T. Formula is a solid business development model:

  • Strategy – what’s the overall story and how does your overall story match the overall story of the marketplace?
  • Tactics – planning – how are you going to do what you need to do to grow your business
  • Action – doing the plan – you’ve gotta actually do something to make the tactics work for you.
  • Results – you’ve gotta know what results you want from your actions and whether or not your site or business can gain those results.
  • Tracking – pay attention to what’s going on – most often missed by small business owners. It’s more than just site statistics. It’s knowing what you expect from your marketing, for instance, and being able to measure effectiveness.

David also had what may have been, for me, the most power-packed quote of the whole event: “I want to own a space not own a channel.” He and I talked about this afterward. Be a great conversation piece in the comment box.

Funny thing is that Chris Brogan followed David – which was a perfect blend. Following David’s business-minded presentation, Chris offered an opportunity to for us to think of businesses as being people (sound familiar?). His overall message was to differentiate your community from your marketplace. In community it’s about the people and how you connect with each other. Ultimately it’s about people doing things freely for each other. Marketplace, though, is where you sell things. Chris suggest keeping them separate. How, invite community into your marketplace, just don’t turn your community into the marketplace. Let people have both.

We started running long on time so Liz Strauss’ presentation was cut a bit short. The key element I took from her was, “Know the difference between traffic, readers and customers.” I’d say know who each are, why they’re at your site and how you can meet each of their needs.

Wendy Piersall ended the day with an emotional, spirited and high energy presentation challenging each of us to be great; great as bloggers, great as people, great as business owners. As she says, “what right do you have not too?”

That ended Saturday’s main events. There was still Sunday to go – and don’t forget Saturday night – which I’ll write about later in a piece about selling.

Reading through all this, are you beginning to get the idea that blogging is not, in and of itself, a business? Rather, blogging is a way to interact with your audience, increase your reach and inform about your business. In other words, a blog is a method for marketing.

I see way too many business owners confusing their blog for their business. Perhaps it’s because they put so much time into it – I’m not sure. Yet it’s important to consider that a blog is something that serves an overall business, helping the business reach its goals.

So how is your blog serving your business? Are you selling products and a landing clients from your blog? If so, what have you done to make yourself successful?

(note: images from bjmccray, ChrisCree & DWakeman on Flickr)

Reader Interactions


  1. Jared Goralnick says

    Dawud, it was great meeting you at the conference, and look forward to following up on the topic of business consulting online.

    You’ve put up a great review of the conference–I echo all your thoughts here on how much there was to take in!

  2. Stephen Hopson says

    I very much enjoyed meeting you even if we didn’t have much time to chat. That will change next year or if through the grace of God our paths cross earlier.

    Anita had a good point about how much more time we need so that all of us have time to meet one another.

    P.S. VERY NICE design. It’s great. who did it?

  3. Andrea_R says

    Hmmm… well, in my blog I write tutorials in a hopefully easy to understand manner. 😉 Prospective clients can see first off that I know what I’m talking about and I do have the knowledge & experience I say I do. This way, they are confident even before hiring me that I know what I’m doing and can do the job. It lets them know that if they feel something is over their head, that it’s *okay* and I’ll take care of it for them and they don’t have to worrry.

    So yeah, it’s great marketing. 😀

  4. Jared Goralnick says

    I’ll jump in on Stephen’s question–Dawud is an awesome designer and does offer that service to his clients. It does rock, doesn’t it!?

    He didn’t pay me to write this ;-), just wanted to reinforce any praise for good design when I get a chance.

  5. Anita Bruzzese says

    I appreciate the kind words about my presentation. The best part was then I got to just sit and listen and learn for the rest of the day…and night. What an amazing experience — I still can’t quit thinking about it. Next time, we need to make it a SOBCON

  6. Anita Bruzzese says

    (Okay, sorry about that…cat just jumped on the keyboard and I didn’t get to finish my thought because one of his paws hit “submit”.)


    I was saying that next time we need to make it a SOBCON week so we all have time to talk to everyone about everything!

  7. Joanna Young says

    What I took from David was slightly different:

    “Own *your* space”

    A line that works on so many different levels: internet, business, life.

    He really was an inspirational speaker – made me feel full of energy and can-do possibility. Challenged us but also valued the skills we already have.

    Listening to him would have been worth the trip on its own.


  8. Dawud Miracle says

    Really enjoyed our conversation as well. Love to continue it sometime in the near future.

    So I’m guessing that your blog is also converting readers into prospects and prospects into clients?

    I’m with you. It’d be great to have at least four days. I really enjoyed your talk. I think reputation is often overlooked. I was really getting into the conversation that was sparked afterward. Maybe continued someday around a few cups of tea.

    I did my own design. Still a work-in-progress as I’ve more to add.

    Let’s be sure to stay in touch. Call anytime. And if there’s anything I can do for you, just let me know.

    Thanks. Appreciate your comments. I enjoy design. Yet I know design needs to serve your business, your clients and your overall marketing plan.

  9. golfshop says

    in my blog, its more of information and news letters.
    the money? i figure that i’ll make money if i try to sell some stuff that people who visits my site would like.

  10. @Stephen says

    Great summary! I took away a ton of info and strategery that I am still poring over. I concur with Joanna, this conference had value that far exceeded its price.

  11. Dawud Miracle says

    Art MD,
    You’ll have to come next year.

    I loved his talk. Not only inspirational and informative, but motivational as well. Much of what he talked about is what I do with my clients – helping them clarify, develop and grow their business.

    Own ‘your’ space – I agree. The key is to know what ‘your space’ is.

    That could work. And it could not. If you really want to use your blog to grow a business and make money, I’d suggest having a clear plan. Begin with understanding what you do so that you can know what who you can serve.

    Tell Liz and Terry. Not that they should raise the price as I know they want the value to far exceed the cost. I would agree – it has two years in a row. And how many events can you say that about?

  12. Michael says

    As I read these articles I find myself so small :). I Started my blog just two weeks ago and I am so inexperienced. It just makes me envy You 🙂
    Especially this S.T.A.R.T. formula gave me few thoughts.

  13. Dawud Miracle says

    I’d definitely suggest a lot of it. There’s some great stuff that was shared at SOBCon. Perhaps we’ll see you next year?

    Don’t worry about being small. All of us started with one post.

    Rather, focus on a highly defined niche that you’re blog’s about. Combine that with your passion for the topic and you’ll have a lot of what you need to thrive.

    And let me know if I can be of any help.

  14. guitar teacher says

    I blog in support of my business (a brick/morter business). Given that anyone can read, and judge, based on my blog, I always have to keep in mind who the audience is.

    I try to keep the posts cool and topical, without ever going over the line.

    So far, the blog has been very useful in generating new students.

  15. Import TradeLeads says

    I would like to say thanks for link.Another benefit is business development. This can be more cost effective than taking several separate trips.That’s one interesting niche. I wish there’d be more that tackles different specific fields like science and financial articles.

  16. Bec says

    After reading your material, I think I misunderstood what a promotional blog is really all about, will have to rethink my strategy I think…, so thanks for eye opener

  17. Pradeep Ahirwar says

    I have my own blog and it’s also approved by Google but am not getting paid yet though I know I need to register my blog with adsense first.But can I register blogspot blog with adsense, please could you guide me on this. I will be grateful to you..


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