5 Ways Starting a Blog is like Starting a Band

I thought of this post the other day, but after reading Dan Schawbel’s post on “Learning How To Build Your Brand from Rock Bands,” I felt compelled to postpone more important work (see: school) and fledge this concept out.

1.) If you are a blogger you have to have a unique niche, perspective, etc. in the same way that a muscian needs a unique sound.
There’s thousands of blogs out there about social media marketing. There’s thousands of blogs about sports. There’s thousands about losing weight, training your pet, making money, talking about celebrities, etc. But there’s only one Chris Brogan, Deadspin and Perez Hilton.

When you start a blog you need a unique niche, perspective, approach, etc. Either that or do something better than anyone else can (and sometimes the best aren’t the most popular). Lil Wayne’s sound is very unique. Colbie Caillat blew up MySpace because she had a different sound. Brian Clark writes about how Kurt Cobain was entrepreneurial in creating his own sound.

I don’t know what there is more of, blogs or muscians, but what I do know is that to become successful is starts by being different (and maybe that means better), in which case you still have to be found.

2.) It’s very tough at first, unless you’ve already established yourself.
Just like muscians, there are very few brand new blogs that just come out of nowhere. You might think that new band you just heard on 94.5 is brand new, but chances are they have been playing dive bars, frat parties, and other gigs for a few years hustling their asses off to get on the radio.

The same goes for new blogs. If a brand new blog rises quickly to stardom chances are it is an established blogger’s newest project. If you are just starting a blog you cannot anticipate having 100 subscribers within a couple of weeks any more than a band could anticipate selling out shows days after starting the band. The point is be patient and be persistent. Keep grinding, and take marketing into your own hands.

Some bands might go around their local community putting up flyers and doing small gigs for free hoping to get the word out. As a new blogger do the same. Reach out to other bloggers, and offer to do a guest post or something that adds value to their tribe. In return you might get a couple of new readers. Often times if you stick around long enough to get the ball rolling, it will gather steam, especially if you are doing the next item on the list.

3.) You have to provide great content in order to get evangelists, and you need evangelists.
You need people that are passionate about what your write, the same way a band needs people to be passionate about their music. These people, the ones that really embrace what you’re doing, the people that you are providing immense value to their lives, chances are they will become your advocates and endorse you, helping your blog to spread.

Look at what advocates have done for Apple. How do you get these evangelists? You write great content, you play great music, you put on a kick ass show. A lot of bloggers make the mistake of not writing their best stuff at the beginning of their blog because they know they do not have an audience yet. They want to save their best stuff for when they attain more readers. That’s a mistake.

Do you think bands play medicore music hoping they get some fans so they can play the really awesome stuff ? Start writing your best content from day one, you can always re-visit it. It is important because those first posts show someone casually stumbling by that you have a lot of potential. Maybe they do not remember you until they stumble by again and say, “Oh yeah, he wrote that cool post about how starting a blog is like starting a band.” Now you’re two for two in their book and you might have a loyal reader.

4.) The more relevant places you are the better.
If a band never goes on tour, their fans have trouble relating to them. If you are a blogger and you never leave your blog, people will think the sole reason you are blogging is for yourself, and while you should be passionate about what you blog about, your content needs to impact other people, and you have to care about the people your content impacts. Go to where they are, whether that’s Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, FriendFeed, LinkedIn, etc.

Most great bloggers attend conferences, they connect with other great bloggers, and they connect with their fans. When people meet you in person, or you take the time to answer and e-mail or chat with subscribers on Skype, they start to see the real person behind the blog, and chances are you will resonate with them a lot more.

Here’s a secret too. If everywhere I go online I see you, whether or not you’re creating great content or contributing to the conversation, I still think to myself that you must be working hard. Dan Schawbel and Ricardo Bueno are two people that seem to be in every mybloglog widget of every page I visit during the day. It’s absurd, and I know for a fact both of those guys are always hustling. I can relate a lot more to a band that tours all over, gives frequent interviews, shows up in publications, etc.

When you are a big shot you can do your own thing, until then, be where your fans are. Make an effort to connect and let them see the real you.

5.) You have to care about your fans.
One of my favorite musicians, is Randy Rogers. To this day my favorite concert ever, if you want to call it that, featured Randy sitting on a stool, his fiddler on a stool next to him playing songs for a crowd of about 150 people. They were taking song requests, drinking a few beers and having the time of their lives. In the crowd that night, Cody Canada (lead singer of Cross Canadian Ragweed) and Wade Bowen. They both went up and played a song each as well.

All three of these musicians have come a long way since then. They make a lot more money now and all get solid airplay, at least in Texas. (Both Randy and Cross Canadian Ragweed get plenty of national airplay as well). I bet if you asked them, they might say there most fun times were those first concerts as well. The point is, they were having a great time, but they were there for us, playing songs we were requesting. They cared about their fans, and you have to as well if you want your new blog to succeed. You have to listen to your tribe and provide the content THEY WANT to read. You have to add value to THEIR lives.

My goals with this blog are to provide a unique voice to social media marketing, relationship marketing, and how these two impact generation Y, and the sports industry (sometimes). I don’t have a ton of subscribers, and I’m not on any big important lists, but I’m going to remain patient and persistent, keep writing the best content I can, go where all of you are in an effort to connect, and most importantly give a shit about you.

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I purposely left this list relatively short because I want to hear what you have to say. What are some other ways starting a blog is like starting a band? Are you just starting a blog? If so, what’s the link so I can check it out? If you’re one of the fortunate bloggers to have already been through these beginning stages, what did you do to become successful?If you enjoyed this post consider subscribing via RSS feed. Also, if you’re reading I would love to get to know you. Feel free to connect with me via Twitter (@ryanstephens) or LinkedIn.

  • You know what’s great about Chris Brogan? As big a name that he is in social media, he never makes it about himself. When you meet him in person, he makes it all about you and the people around him. He makes other people the center of attention.

    The tough thing about building a blog is that you battle against the excitement of starting something new. You get so excited that when you talk about it, it”s always “me, me, me.” And that doesn’t work. Then, you get so impatient because your numbers aren’t growing and so all you want to do is talk more “me, me, me.”

    There’s no doubt it’s going to be tough. But if you’re patient, and you take a genuine interest in others the way Chris Brogan does. You start to build evangelists…your blog starts to grow. Make the conversation about your fans (in all the ways that you suggested) and you’ll find that you’re starting to gain traction. All you need is one fan. Next thing you know, you’ll have two…then three..then four and so on and so forth. But make it about other people. Chris is the perfect example of someone who’s amassed a following by doing just that.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    @Ricardo – Do you think Chris would ever want to go on a double date with us? I mean I know he’s married with kids and all, but I think we share the same affliction for his talent, and perhaps moreso than that, his compassion for others.

    I love that you bring up patience and it’s something I always preach when consulting others on starting a blog. You don’t see the ROI in a month (unless you’ve already built a huge personal brand ala Darren Rowse). Chances are you don’t even see it in a years time.

    I am just now starting to approach the tipping point for my blog and it is important for me to keep carrying the momentum forward. The blog is almost a year old now and consulting opportunities are really starting to roll in, as well as advertisement opportunities. We’re about to start having fun at RSM.

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  • I love your analogy here. I feel that blogging does let a lot of people become “rock stars” in their own right. I mean to be honest, the only musical talent that I have is ringing the door bell.

    Actually, in college I learned how to play the guitar so that I could get the ladies. I would leave my dorm room open and start playing the guitar. It’s like a magnet bro.

    But anyways, blogging is the social media person’s outlet to express themselves through an art. People can say that anyone can play an instrument, but few people can become rock stars. Likewise, anyone can create a wesbite and write, but few people will be able to reach gary-vayernchuk status.

    Great post!

    Jun Loayza

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    admin Reply:

    @Jun If you only knew how bad I wish I could play guitar without all the practice of course. I spent a couple of weeks trying to learn one song in college and I never could get it. Music is NOT my talent.

    And you’re so right about reaching Gary Vaynerchuk status. Most of us will never achieve that point, but if you do things the write way, write consistently engaging content and reach out to other bloggers and your readers there’s no reason to think you can’t become a thought leader in your field.

    Thanks for the comments guys!

    [Reply]