Seth Godin is a natural born marketer for whom marketing is like breathing, he just does it. His seven books have all achieved best seller status, despite the fact that he gave them away free as well as selling printed versions. “The book is nothing but a souvenir. A keepsake of the ideas I give away for free. A tool that you can hand to a co-worker.” Three years ago, Godin brought blogging into the mix and makes it supremely simple to buy his books from his blogs. But that’s certainly not their main purpose.
Blogging since January 2002, Godin has two current blogs, Seth’s Blog and the fascinating Liar’s Blog, which supports his new book, All Marketers Are Liars. He blogs, he says, because ” It gives me a quick, effective way to share and spread my ideas.” His blogs are the “GoTo” blogs for “giving people tools they can use to get their co-workers to shake things up.” He says he “tries hard to write stuff I’ll be happy to read next month. It’s so easy to post something, you can get carried away.”
Pointer: The More You Give Away, the More You Sell
“This is the ironic part,” he says. “The less I try to make money, the more I give away, the less I try to sell, the better I do.” He has no business plans for the blogs, doesn’t know how many readers he has or how many subscribe to his RSS feeds. He reads trackbacks on his blogs “because it helps me evolve ideas to the next level.”
“What I’m really trying to do is almost through trial and error discover ideas that want to spread and offer those ideas packaged in ways people will want to buy them. This varies from free idea that is one paragraph long to ideas that cost money because I have to get on a plane and deliver them.” Currently, he says, he’s debating whether or not he should just write e-books and not bother selling printed books any more.
Pointer: Blogs Are Far More Effective Than Print Magazines for Spreading Ideas
Pages about Godin’s books on Penguin’s site link to a book sales page from which a determined reader could find Godin’s blogs, but they could certainly use better integration.
Godin started blogging “primarily started because it kept me from having to write a book every time I had an idea. Since I stopped
writing for Fast Company a year ago, I find the blog is far more effective than the magazine ever was for putting my ideas out there. I am not doing this because I want to make more money. I blog because it is gratifying to see my ideas spread.” He says he spends five minutes blogging and “23 hours of thinking. The rest is free time, often for sleep.”
Pointer: People Hate to Feel Tricked into Buying
Why no business plan for the blogs? “I don’t want anyone to buy my book and end up feeling that they were tricked into it. So the more I can tell them about my ideas, the more they know what they are getting if they buy my book.” (Attend Godin’s book launch party and get a free copy of the book.)
Blogs are read differently and read more widely than print, Godin says. It’s easy for people in media other than TV to forget how not widespread most media are. For example, it only takes 10,000 books sold to make the New York Times best seller list. Freakonomics has sold less than 50,000 copies but it’s on best seller list. A magazine with a circulation of one million might be actively read by only 100,000 people. People chose to click on and read blogs, he notes, so they are read more closely than traditional media.
Pointer: Blogging is in a Weird Interregnum
“We are in a weird interregnum where we are in between stage where people trying to figure out where blogging is going. If you focus on money making you are focusing on blogs as media properties. Right now, “blogging is like being on Larry King or something — you don’t expect to get paid for it, because it’s such an efficient way to spread your ideas.”
Godin’s advice to bloggers just starting out: “The biggest advice is, ask ‘why?’ The world doesn’t need another blog. But if you have a mission, a goal, a thing you’re trying to accomplish, a blog may be a great way to get there. The giant stumbling block is this: when faced with the new and the uncertain, many people slavishly follow the rules. If you follow the rules, your blog will not only be boring, but it won’t help you reach your goals.”