I admit it. I'm a huge fan of Copyblogger Brian Clark. It's If he were in the music business, almost every post he writes would be a top 40 hit! (And, no, that's not Brian in the photo. )
Which brings me to the topic of this post... Brian talks about the similarities between blogging and jazz. Being a musician myself, it's one I can truly appreciate.
Brian begins the post by suggesting that the skills needed to become a great jazz musician are similar to those needed to become a great blogger. The key: Improvisation.
His conjecture is that jazz musicians know how to play to the crowd, changing the melody and structure of the tune to appeal to the audience. However, as it often the case, they stop playing to the crowd and start playing to each other.
Bloggers are no different. (I know I'm not.) While blogging best practices say that keeping your blog very reader-centric is an absolute must, it's so very easy to start navel gazing and talk about only those things which interest you.
But, how do you not talk about what interests you when it's what interests you that got you blogging in the first place!?!
I think it's a transitional thing. When you first start blogging, it's fair to talk about what is of interest to you... where your passions lie. (Keep in mind that, at first, no one is reading your blog anyway... and you need to have time to do that "find your voice" thing. )
On the other hand, once you've gathered a group of readers, however small, you have a responsibility to them. Accountability is now involved. It's no longer just about you.
When I first started blogging I was all over the charts, talking about anything and everything Internet marketing-related. Later, as I refined my message, I narrowed my focus to the business of blogging and how to use blogs as a marketing tool.
Guess what?! Over time I gathered a cadre of readers who shared my interest. That being said, they didn't share all my interests. Ruefully, I found that when I would go out on self-centered tangents it negatively impacted my readership.
Brian referenced a quote from jazz legend Theolonius Monk, "I say, play your own way. Don't play what the public want â€" you play what you want and let the public pick up on what you doing â€" even if it does take them fifteen, twenty years."
Hmmm... his comment reminds me of another similarity between jazz musicians and bloggers, the notion of the "starving artist."
For Monk, the imperative was to be true to his art even if that meant losing his audience. But, do you really share his view, especially if you're using your blog for marketing purposes? I think not.
I realize it's a balancing act. That's where the real artistry comes in. To be able to satisfy that inner itch and, at the same time, meet the needs of your audience is quite a feat of virtuosity.
Brian gives this advice...
"In anything you do, you should absolutely be playing for you. But it also helps if someone is listening, because they give you something to work with and make you better. To extend the jazz analogy, even an innovative artist who is ahead of his time needs to get some people into the club first. Play them a song they want to hear, get them on your side, and then take them happily to a place they had no idea they wanted to go."
I'd say, considering the size and breadth of his audience, Brian has certainly mastered the art.
PS: When I first read Brian's post, I giggled a bit. I said the same thing, though not so eloquently, back last year when the company I was working for at the time did a corporate video. (And, yes, that's me playing the piano. I told you I was a musician. Heh.)
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