Review of Beyond Blogging

Beyond Blogging: The Secrets to Blogging Success is an ebook (actually two) that sells for $47. It was written by Nathan Hangen and Mike Cliffe Jones, and has been receiving quite a bit of attention in the blogosphere, in large part because it contains profiles of successful, well-known bloggers and online personalities. Their goal is help you understand what made those bloggers successful, and how you might be able to achieve similar results:

Blogging can help you get that book deal you’ve always wanted, and in this book we will show you how it can be done. You can create an empire of big or small money making websites so that you can help people and make money doing what you love. Turn it all on auto-pilot and you’ve figured out how to make a living while spending more time having fun. That’s really the dream, isn’t it? Most of us want to find a way to make money without having to sacrifice personal or family time. We want to be able to take trips, spoil our wife and children, and slow down and enjoy life. We’ll show you how to do that.

The book profiles 15 high profile bloggers, including video blogger and wine merchant Gary Vaynerchuk, world traveler Chris Guillebeau, new media expert Chris Garrett, social media superstar Chris Brogan, the breathtakingly candid career blogger Penelope Trunk, six-figure blogger David Risley, money-maker John Chow, Mashable founder Pete Cashmore, marketer Shama Kabani, young entrepreneur Michael Dunlop, career renegade Jonathan Fields, original problogger Darren Rowse, Internet video star iJustine, self-improvement guru Steve Pavlina and copywriter and master online businessman Brian Clark. I was already very familiar with many of these bloggers before I read the book, but a few of them (especially Kabani and Dunlop) I didn’t know at all. While I had heard of iJustine and Cashmore, I didn’t know the details behind their stories.

These are all people who, one way or another, make a lot of money (and usually their living) from their blogs. Many of these bloggers make money the conventional way — they run ads, have affiliate links and sell content. But some of them (most notably Penelope Trunk) use their blogs as platforms on which they have built non-blogging businesses. The profiles are fairly detailed and lay out how these individuals got started blogging, their successes and failures along the way, and how they ended up making money. The book also includes a series of key lessons derived from those bloggers. A second workbook has forms to help you work through key questions for your own blog.

So, the question is, does it live up to its promise of showing you how to make money and do what you love? Yes, and no. Some people will read this book and say to themselves “I already knew all that.” Others could benefit greatly from it (assuming, of course, that they applied what’s in the book). And many, including myself, fall somewhere in between those extremes.

Who should not buy this book?

It’s not for you if you:

  • Are already deeply familiar with the above-mentioned bloggers and their practices
  • Have already immersed yourself in blogging best practices and have extensively read the advice and tips on sites such as Problogger, Copyblogger and DavidRisley.com
  • Are looking for detailed technical information and step-by-step instructions
  • Are not interested in making your blog into a serious business platform

Who should buy the book?

It is for you if you if you:

  • Are not familiar with these A-lister bloggers and their stories
  • Are new to blogging and haven’t immersed yourself in best practices
  • Are committed to making an investment of time (and maybe some money) in your blog in return for building a real business of some sort
  • Are committed to an “authority blogging” approach — NOT a ‘make money quickly and easily by blogging’ approach

Is it worth buying?

If there’s one place the book falls short, it’s in the ‘here’s how to make money and still have lots of personal and family time.’ Though some probloggers may eventually achieve that goal, the profiles in Beyond Blogging make it clear that most of these folks have worked very, very hard for quite some time to achieve their success. Once they pass certain income levels, they may be able to hire others, set-up some things on autopilot and slow down a bit, but getting there required a lot of time and energy. However, let’s be honest: If this was easy, everyone would be doing it, and no one would be making hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars annually through these online platforms.

But if you are truly interested in building a real business (whether a blogging business or an offline business) using online media, Beyond Blogging is a great primer in the key practices involved in doing that.

If you want a fast-start on the authority-blogging practices — creating authoritative content, building a strong brand and leveraging that over time into an income-producing business — without having to slog through hundreds of individual blog posts and interviews, then this book is for you. There’s lots of good advice and tips that, if implemented seriously, will help you to earn back what you spent on the book, and a lot more.

If you’re interested, here’s my affiliate link: Buy Beyond Blogging. The authors do offer a money-back satisfaction guarantee, so your risk here is pretty low if you’re still not sure but you think it might be for you.

If you’ve read it, please share your thoughts in the comments below.