Q&A: Writer Jeff Goins on Growing a Blog Community

June 4, 2012

With so many blogs out there about writing, how do you differentiate yours if that’s your topic of choice?

Jeff Goins does it by creating quality content. I only subscribe to a few newsletters about writing, and his is one of them. That’s why I invited him here today — to tell us how he grew his blog community, how he turned his blog into a book deal, and more.

Writer Jeff Goins

Writer Jeff Goins

Jeff and his wife just had their first child — and I absolutely love that he shared that experience in his newsletter. Those personal bits are so important in helping us get to know bloggers as people.

Oh, and it’s also vital to note that Jeff does have a day job; he’s communications director for an organization called Adventures in Missions. So it IS possible to successfully grow a blog while working full time!

Welcome, Jeff!

TTW: What was your life like pre-blog? Can you briefly walk us through how you got to where you are now?

Jeff: Well, I've been blogging for six years, so I can't really remember. I imagine I had a tan and got outside more often.

But if you mean what was life like before THIS blog, it was quite a bit different. For one, I didn't consider myself a writer. It took a somewhat bold declaration of faith before I started acting like a writer. (I wrote a short eBook about this process called, You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One).

What's your upcoming book about? How did you land the book deal?

Wrecked is about the life we wished we lived, the life we're afraid to live.

It's about a life of radical sacrifice and selfless service — and how we find fulfillment in the midst of pain and suffering.

It's a guide to growing up and giving your life away. I draw from my own experience of struggling as a missionary and 20-something, weaving in themes of faith, adventure, and commitment.

It will resonate with anyone who struggles with living an extraordinary life while dealing with everyday responsibilities.

It seems like your blog grew rather quickly in terms of subscribers and traffic. Can you share one or two of your top techniques for attracting and keeping new readers? What has worked for you?

Sure. Here are two:

  1. Say something worth listening to. In other words, pick a fight. Stand for something.
  2. Make it easy. If you want to build a newsletter list by collecting people’s emails, don’t make them dig to find it. Have a few different places on EACH page where they can do whatever it is you want them to do.

You've said before that plans are overrated. How did you come to this conclusion and in what ways has it affected your writing and your life?

Someone once said that goals (you could exchange the word “plan” for “goal” in this context) are premeditated disappointments.

I don't believe in goals. I believe in living intentionally according to your values, but beyond that, we don't know what's going to happen. Life is a story; the moments we don't plan are the most exciting ones.

I would rather live my life based on habits and values I believe in than setting a bunch of arbitrary goals. The latter leaves you disillusioned. The former surprises you and still ultimately leaves you with a story worth telling.

What's your strategy for your newsletter? Do you offer content that's different from what's on your blog, or repurpose blog posts? Why?

Yep. Sure do. My strategy is always this: add value.

If I'm saying stuff I've said elsewhere, I don't see the value in that. And people seem to really appreciate that. So I keep doing it that way.

What are your own goals for the rest of the year re: platform building?

I'm releasing the book in August, so I hope it gets into as many people's hands as possible.

Honestly, at this point, I'm not that concerned in getting a larger platform. I just want to help the audience I've built, so I've got a lot of fun things planned, including an online writing course.

Your Writer's Manifesto ebook is quite popular. What prompted you to write it?

One feeling: frustration. I was frustrated with myself. With publishers. With the status quo. And I wanted to start over — to write first for me.

Apparently, a lot of other people feel that way, too.

Just as you offer tips and guidance for writers today, were there any blogs, books or individuals who inspired you when you started your blog?

Yep. Some of my favorites are Copyblogger, Zen Habits, Michael Hyatt, and Seth Godin.

You clearly have a passion for helping other writers discover and be confident in their voices. Where does this passion come from?

I've always been that way, I guess. It's just fun to help people. If I can help you solve a problem, you've actually helped me.

I think it's part of my life calling, so it really is a pleasure to be a resource and coach to others. Plus, I've been the recipient of generosity, so it only makes sense to pay it forward.

Thanks for joining us, Jeff! Best of luck with your book.

Anyone have questions to add?

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    5 Replies to “Q&A: Writer Jeff Goins on Growing a Blog Community”

    • Jeff, THANK YOU. Can’t wait to get your new book. I love the way you write and live and inspire others.

    • Thank you for doing this Q & A with Jeff! We are building up our own blog in hopes of publishing a book on a decision making process to help women uncover their unique path that God wants them to live. It has seemed daunting at times to get blog readership high, and social media numbers higher than yesterday. But, day by day by providing quality content and sticking to what is in our hearts and not by what someone says we should write, we are growing rapidly. Thank you for your words of encouragement and tips.

    • Julia says:

      I need to get better about picking fights. I’m still a too careful. Thanks for sharing all this great information, and I, too, am looking forward to Wrecked.

    • This is so good. Love it! I can’t wait to read your new book, “Wrecked”.

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