The Surprising Old-School Secret to Blogging Success (2012 Edition)

The Surprising Old-School Secret to Blogging Success (2012 Edition)

Reader Comments (124)

  1. I so much agree with “ass in the chair time”. If you ain’t got content–it ain’t goin’ to happen.

  2. When I started blogging I didn’t own a computer, so I did all my writing from an internet cafe and college library.

    Being around actual people helped me with my mood, creativity, and somehow even my focus when writing. Go figure.

  3. Hilarious, Sonia, and so true. Thanks for reminding us of the need for a little balance in our live.

  4. Absolutely – sad to see how “old school” skills of socializing are disappearing with the advent of social media.

    I also do a lot of eavesdropping at the supermarket, the gym or school events. I watch how people interact, listen to conversations. I’m sure my grandmother would be appalled. But it helps you find out what people are thinking, especially outside of your immediate circle.

  5. Ha ha, funny. It also makes me feel kinda sad though.

    I know I’d do well to rebuild my “IRL” social life, but… I’m just not sure how. And I’m really dreading that real estate guy. Ew. I can see him now. O.o

    Thanks for the kick up the butt though, and have fun at SxSW.

  6. Sonia, please don’t make us wait an entire month for another “funny” posts. Just as humor–used properly–can make for more powerful advertising, it can also make for more insightful blogging. Your post is Exhibit A.

    Have fun in Austin, and be sure to take in some great music.

  7. Absolutely classic. I just watched another video preaching the same thing. She mentioned the idea of “Social Media is a bridge to where the real relationship is built, in person.”

    I’ve been networking off line for 14 years and in the past 4 years moved more into online networking (Call it social media). Our online social skills represent (Or reveal) our offline social skills. There is no real balancing act, it’s really all just quite “normal” human interaction.

    But then that’s the premise of this article isn’t it? What is normal?

    Good back to the basics article.

  8. Excellent points, Sonia. The irony is pretty astounding: It seems those most adept at social media (in terms of Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, blogs, location tracking, etc.) are equally inept with real social interaction.

    It’s sad, really, to see the shrinking dynamic range of our lives. Because of our quest for personal comfort and way too much time sitting in front of some sort of screen, the difference between our highest highs and lowest lows continues to get smaller and smaller. That’s a shame.

    So listen to unamplified music. Change your own oil. Buy someone a drink. See someone naked in real life. Repair something. Watch a carpenter. Talk to someone older than you. Talk to a little kid. Walk somewhere. Go to a bakery. Sit by the lake. Go to a huge sporting event. Find the tiniest restaurant. Savor a hug, a handshake, an embrace. You get the idea.

    While bloggers definitely have a “give give give” mentality online, it’s equally important to GET a few more meaningful things out of life.

  9. Brilliant, Sonia! I am being honest when I type LOL. 😉

    I usually try and hit networking meetings at least once a month, and several kinds. I belong to the Downtown Women’s Club (, as well as the Society of Professional Communicators ( On top of that, I try to get out to my writer’s group and a Spanish meetup group (porque no tengo mucha otra oportunidad a practicar espanol). But I always have a million new blog ideas – or story ideas – from the experience.

    Excellent advice!

  10. Hey Sonia, enjoy yourself at SXSW! Truth be told, I actually thought it was a guest post by someone else (I skipped the top section and it’s early in the morning).

    This post is a great reminder to all of us about getting our butt off the chair and go build some great relationships with other like minded people who share great ideas and interests with each other.

    I don’t 100% buy the idea that you have to put stuffs on Facebook to be official (think relationship status), we’re all real human beings, so anything is official when it becomes official in REAL LIFE.

    There’s also a caveat: as much as building relationships is important, spending 80% of the time networking and not doing work is not going to cut it. The work part is something that most people don’t want to talk about, but it’s the thing that will get you to your dream.

    Time to strike a good balance…but don’t we say this all the time?

  11. Thank you for reminding me to get out there. I need to stop banging my head on the wall for content and get out a find it. Great ideas don’t always fall from the sky! 🙂 I love the funny stuff by the way, too much somber stuff in this world.

  12. Ass in seat time is always the key. Ass in gym makes me stronger. Ass in driver’s seat makes me faster. But we take it for granted many times.

  13. Sonia, love this. I think this ties into a bigger issue that social media is still grounded in basic social skills, the old-school kind. The questions about how to succeed in social media are the same ones you would, and probably have already asked yourself about your day-to-day social life.

    Thanks for the read,


  14. Dang. I guess conversations with myself don’t count? How ’bout kids? Cat? Sonia, say it ain’t so. A month is a long time in my world.

  15. FUNNY! Love this post for so many reasons, thanks for making me laugh first thing this morning.

    While I love my “ass in the chair” time, I’m loving doing in-person networking as fodder for my current blog series on non-profit/for-profit partnerships.

    Funny…sometimes when you get out there and “Meet” people, content finds you!

  16. I’ve been spending waaay too much time with my ass in my chair, staring at glowing rectangles. Fortunately, I’ll be traveling next week, so I can relearn basic social skills, haha.

  17. Social media hasn’t killed practices, but it sure is making them evolve into something else. Its true that face to face conversations aren’t happening as much, but they still have their place. It definitely helps to do both and brings in more conversations. Thanks for this reminder!

  18. Sonia, you’ve really described my lifestyle. I spend at least two hours each morning at Starbucks, “doing business” on my laptop. Most of my current batch of offline friendships began when a coffeehouse regular, after seeing me day after day, would stop and ask, “Whatcha writing?”

    “Working” (i.e., blogging) at Starbucks offers the best of both worlds!

  19. I do a lot of offline networking anyway but I managed to combine the two recently. I went to the Like Minds ( social media conference along with Chris Brogan and met a real person. This real person did a strange thing – she asked me to work for her. With no online contact at all. Amazing.

  20. Point on, Sonia. I’ve had that same moonshine tan going on myself and also been fortunate enough to add a Twitterbutt using my “ass in chair” skills.

    Thank goodness I came to your same conclusion a couple months ago and decided I needed to get out and socialize more. I’d realized how hard it was getting for me to think of anything to write about and as I read other blogs or tweets I saw that people were actually talking about stuff they did in this thing called a life.

    Now I take at least 3 days/wk to get out with friends, talk, move, and share stories. It’s hard to break the ass in chair routine sometimes, but I always come back with a better attitude … or at least some sort of attitude…that makes for good content.

    It was my sincere intention to attend SXSW, had a sponsor contact me & negotiations were agreed to. Unfortunately, sponsor bailed 8 days prior to the event. Now every time I see it mentioned I get a little po’d. The networking and face to face interaction with all our virtual friends would have been awesome. (Note to self: always get signed contract & payment at time of agreement)

    That pasty white face of mine just turned green with envy. Enjoy your week of Austin sunshine! Can’t wait to hear all your SXSW stories!

  21. I try to limit myself to no more than 1 or 2 worthless “great post” comments a year, but this had to be one of them!

    Not only great lessons, but had me laughing out loud as well. Tough to balance those as expertly as you did, but I guess that is why you are who you are…

  22. Sonia

    Ass in chair – love it as my chair is supporting a mighty nice ass imprint as are shoes getting some nice feet imprints from getting out and talking. It is a balance that we forget sometimes as we get wrapped up in the social part of social media and find ourselves missing a whole lot of daylight. There is a strong online community but there is also that community offline that likes to see us sometimes.

    Posts are born out of discussions and how we interpret the discussions. I find that talking with people sparks so many ideas as people are more apt to ask questions when face-to-face.

    Enjoy the conference and come back soon!


  23. I’ve been following you for a year after finding you on Twitter, but I think this is the first time I’ve come to your blog as you come every day by email.

    Today’s post really hit home. Since joining the blogging world, I have met many like minded writers and historians. Our conversations have led me to new ideas and resources and my writing has improved. More important, I have found what I’m writing about thanks to your tips on content.

  24. OK, this blogging thing is asking way too much of me now. Friends!?!? Conversation!?!? Parties?!?!? Isn’t there an easier way to get the message out there? Please make sure your next post is about keywords, or guest posts…or something.

  25. I’m blown away by this novel idea. Imagine actually having a conversation face to face with another human being. I am not sure that I am up to that anymore. My wife is sure that I am not. However, I think I’ll give it a go. Maybe as Sonia says, I’ll learn something. Heaven forbid!

  26. Other people can *see* me lurking near them? Shit Sonia, why they hell haven’t you mentioned this before? Or maybe you did and I was busy trying to find Uma Thurman on Facebook.

    Have a ball at SXSW – wish I was there to share a margarita.

  27. Sonia – fantastic advice for those of us with blogger’s ass. LOL. Great having coffee with you and can’t wait to get out again and see that big orb in the sky. Try and keep Brian in line at SXSW! Good luck with that.

  28. This post is GREAT! Laughed my ass off (the one that was stuck in the chair). Wish I could make it to Austin and get some solar radiation with y’all. I’m betting you’re a fun group to hang out with. Have a blast, and thanks for the laugh (and the message behind it – I do need to get out more).

  29. I loved this post and whole-heartedly agree. I spent the day walking with a friend, having tea with more friends and lunch with a different group. I did get great feedback and ideas from each “meeting”. Now for some serious “ass in the chair” time!

  30. I think I get it. What you’re referring to is kind of like video blogging, but without the camera and at some point you’ll have to stand there and be “video blogged” at. When you get a hold of this concept others might join in, you say, like some sort of advanced Skype conference call. Interesting.

    Have fun at SXSW. I’d love to have gone, but I’ve already set up the Twitter list to follow what’s going on (and I’ve heard rumors that a lot of advanced “video blogging” will probably be going on as well, so…).


  31. This was one of those “Funny-But-True” posts. I’ve noticed this quite a bit lately, so I’ve consciously tried to create some new habits. Instead of sitting on my butt sending e-mail to the dude in the office next to me, I get out of my chair, walk 20-30 steps and speak to him face-to-face. I no longer send e-mail or text messages to my brother. Instead, I call him on the phone. This had something to do with “tone,” something I seem to be the only person on the planet who thinks e-mail doesn’t have! Sometimes it is just better, even more intellectually stimulating, to have a conversation, rather than typing a response. Thanks for writing about it!

  32. Is it possible to spend the better part of a week in Austin and not have some really funny things to write about. Please don’t wait a month to share.

    Enjoy SXSW.

  33. That was very funny Sonia, but scarily true. I’ve become quite a hermit. Haven’t seen some friends ‘in the flesh’ for years. I have a very rare party night tonight – in just a couple of hours actually – where I’m sure your post will be playing on my mind. I’ll try practicing some Social networking 1.0 .. if I can remember how.

  34. Great post. Keep the funny ones coming!

    My online life has led to great IRL conversations because of Tweetups – arranging IRL events via Twitter. Many are in pubs and bars, but I’ve also gone to a corn maze and we are planning a macaroni and cheese tweetup (where everyone brings their version of mac & cheese for comparison).

    Tweetups bring together such a great combination of people – different ages and occupations, including “that real estate guy” who didn’t even bring up his job til well into the conversation and didn’t pressure me in the least. The one thing we have in common is that we are really friendly and like to get out and meet people.

  35. I completely agree with the idea that the more time you focus on your blog the faster and bigger it grows. I have seen that occur time after time.

  36. Sonia, I am a real life “old school” middle grades math teacher that just had the pleasure of “laughing my ass off”. I love to write and hear lots of stories from 12 year olds. Too bad I don’t know how to “Blog my Ass Off”, too! I just happened to “twit” into you tonight. If you guys need ideas, visit middle schools or email Have a great time on or off your ass where ever you are! Oh! It feels so good to say “ASS”!

  37. Thank you so much….you made me smile and laugh.
    Sometimes I do not think I do much of that either.

    Have a great trip and thanks again.



  38. How so true. Shows the power of effective meaningful conversations & their ability to generate new ideas & ideas ‘do follow’ even if others ‘no follow.’ lol

  39. I’m lucky in that I go out Snowboarding almost everyday (during the winter). It helps give me inspiration because I write about it.

    I love this post. It just goes to show how an otherwise boring subject matter can be brought to life by great writing.

    I can definitely relate to sitting in front of my computer for lots of hours though. “Facebook friends” tend to be a little fickle for my liking.

    Might have to go out and find an unsuspecting passerby to “engage” with. Hopefully I don’t get arrested…

  40. I would add to that; have a conversation with someone who is not a soical media guru, blogger, marketeer or pr. Talking to real people gives you even more ideas….although they will inevitably end up on your blog !

  41. I didn’t realize how much time I spend talking to my dogs until I read this. I’m still laughing…the dogs are concerned about me. Guess they think I’ve truly lost it…or maybe they are hoping I’ll finally get out of my chair and take them for a walk.

    Have a great trip! Looking forward to your next funny post.

  42. Blogging success = being a person.

    Pretend that you’re offline. You would formally introduce yourself to someone, right? Hold the door open for a stranger. Do favors. Be pleasant.

    When online remember to deal with people, not things.

    A great take on successful blogging.

  43. Funny. I have been reading copyblogger for the past few days and it inspired me to re-do my blog with a central theme, good headlines, good content. I’m at least TRYING. So I wrote my first REAL article today and I was in my pajamas until 2, sitting behind a computer, ass in chair. I guess that’s the reality.

  44. I get a bit over typing all the time but have been able to have conversations with fun people all over the world thanks to Skype. A lot of people ask me for blogging advice but I prefer to give it over the phone. I give my fingers a break and actually have a real connection with someone. It’s exciting. I hope you manage to have just the right number of margaritas and have a brilliant time:)

  45. I love the tone in this post. It gives me the “for your information…” kind of attitude. I would love it if it wasn’t for some bad childhood memories.

  46. Overhead at bar tonight: “Isn’t it funny how social media people have no social skills?” Heh.

    You all are giving me nonvirtual smiles, thanks. 🙂

  47. I agree with you completely. It is funny because I just finished writing a post and I had no idea where the direction was going at first.

    I already have a topic for my next post because I just finished having a conversation with someone on twitter and a topic just dawned upon me.

    I definitely think if you have nothing to post you probably should step away from your computer. Most likely that particular post will just be fluff.

  48. ““conversations” actually predate the internet”

    I used to like this blog, but now you’ve resorted to lying to get traffic, I’m not so sure any more. 🙂

  49. Hi Sonia,

    Enjoy the conference!

    I live in Brisbane, Australia, and it’s been very rainy and overcast here for the past 4 weeks…easy to fall into the basement-blog-funk for sure…

    This arvo (gotta luv australian slang) the sun came out, so my ghostly pallor is now on the mend…hope you get to enjoy Austin sunshine!

    Proud to say I’ve generated some brilliant opportunities in the past few days through actual conversations with real contacts…

    Sad to think social networking might one day replace social interaction…

    Write On!

  50. Runners know it’s put in your hours. Writers know it’s put in your hours.

    If you don’t put in your hours, you can’t take your shots.

  51. All so true; have skimmed through the many comments here.
    I am wondering,however, if this is partly a generational thing. I am very much a computer and blog -o-phile, but I am older (could easily be a grandmother), but still working very very hard. I stare at the computer screen maybe 10hours/day. BUT I also do lots of face to face interaction; for work and for my own social life. I write real, snail-mail letters. I make phone calls. I have lunch dates with friends. One of my objectives in making friends through the blog world IS to eventually meet them face to face.
    So, my question still stands: do you think it is the younger generation, brought up on “the screen”, who don’t reach out as much socially, or maybe because of that, are more socially “inept”?

  52. I like the funny posts! Hate to wait a whole month! Have fun @ SXSW – go see Jay Nash in concert while you’re there – he freaking rocks! (And isn’t too hard on the eyes either!)

  53. A great giggle, but so very true. It’s all too easy to become glued to the ‘puter and forget about the real people. All the more so if you happen to be task-oriented, rather than people-oriented.

    But then, it’s not totally a phenomenon of the internet age. Was a time when “ivory tower academics” would happily hole up with their books and forget about the world. Personalities don’t change, just the vehicles through which they are expressed.

  54. Really dude, I have also experienced that blogging doesn’t succeed by merely “ass in the chair”. Thanks for the new suggestion. I will work them out.

  55. I loved your post! After spending way too much time getting myself way too burned out w/all that “AIC” time (in my former corporate days it used to be “BICs”–Butts In Chairs :), your take on actually getting back out into the real world was a much needed reality check. Thanks!

  56. Ass in chair time reminds me of how traders are treated: the more time they spend in their chair, the more money they’re supposedly making. Obviously, this doesn’t cut across most other industries…

  57. Amazing article, brings back the memories of school and I really liked the way you have linked old memories with blog writing and to work on.

    Listening is very important if you want to grow.


  58. Nice connection of new ways of communication with the time tested principles of communication and listening.

    I have a couple friends that I have met in person after knowing more about them from blogging and social networking.

  59. Funny thing Sonia, I’m conducting a workshop this weekend for real estate investors called the Language of Investors: conversations, Confidence and Cash. Too many people are busy getting online and off track. The best deals are done face-to-face! Technology serves us best when it brings us together, not keeps us holed up. I think I’m going to do a 20% and take a walk, you never know who I might run into!

  60. I totally agree with the concept of just getting out there and *doing* what you’re blogging about. Having recently begun a new blog of my own on a topic I am incredibly passionate about I am finding I have so many article ideas, plus years of videos and photos too, that I have more content than I know what to do with 🙂

  61. New York is just recovering from a massive storm. Although my business puts me “out there” with the public, I still spend a great deal of time at home blogging. When the power went out – so did my capacity to work at home. I found myself going back to a coffee shop with bandwidth that I had frequented last summer. It helped to be with others while working.

  62. My chair gets sick of my ass…

    Lately, I’ve been stumped on topics and I didn’t realize that it was helping me until now, but I’ll get out and talk to people and boom, I’ll usually have my next topic.


  63. I just got this brilliant theory – the talent of bloggers is directly proportional to the size of their bottoms!

    I’m going to run out and stock up on Doritos…

  64. hysterical — are they putting something in the water up in Denver? Can you send some south? I could use the inspiration.

    — from Colorado Springs

  65. Great post, Sonia! I just noticed this was actually from a year ago – and a year truer. As funny as it is scary….It reminds me of a story a friend told me about his teenage daughter and her friend sitting next to each other in the car and texting each other, instead of actually turning their heads and speaking. Scary stuff!

  66. Amazing! This blog looks just like my old one! It’s on a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

  67. Right on Sonya! Love this post. Another great thing about being out and about and relating face to face with people: you get to find out if they seem interested or are falling asleep like they might do reading some of the blog posts out there! Thanks for shedding a humorous light on the subject! Gotta run! Places to go and people to see!

  68. This post is tremendous! It’s easy to get caught up in your life online. Need to remember to take a step back and mix with the real world for some inspiration.

  69. Brilliant, blogging is all about having a conversation, and really nice tone to this post, very conversational.

    Hope you all have a great time in Texas, and do you have any plans for a party somewhere in the UK?


  70. Excellent post! I am a big believer in real time, F2F encounters. Though I teach online, I do so via Skype for a next-best-thing-to-live experience. And when my first book comes out, I’m going to largely hang up the internet hat for a while, and take to the road, meeting all the wonderful people I’ve gotten to know through their blogs and FB and the like…at bookstores and book clubs and other venues that just can’t be reproduced virtually no matter how we try. Thanks for sharing this take.

  71. Sonia, When you make me laugh I do two things–1) pee my pants and 2) get value from the post. 12 years online, I thought in person networking was dead. I only wanted the convenience of online partying. I get your point now, and will leave the cave pretty soon. .

  72. This is hilarious! Really dry! But also true…the next generation will be born speaking binary and with chips as brains I expect, if we keep up present habits…

  73. Thank you for acknowledging that the personal touch is alive and well. We need to remember that you go online to go offline. That is, you may make acquaintances online but if you’re in the same geographical area, pick up the phone. Talk to another human being and even meet face-to-face, if possible. When I worked at an agency I did it myself, but isn’t it ridiculous that people in adjoining offices will email or IM each other instead of just poking their head in the other person’s office to have a chat?

  74. Some of my best blog writing has been hashing out conversations with friends and acquaintances about a specific subject. This was great information to use when considering future blog posts. Thanks!


  75. Is there an app that? Wait a minute, that means more time in chair and the point here, which is well taken, is to interact with people, in person. I do like this. Who knows, might even get inspired to write better.

    • HI Sonia,
      It’s weird, I’m honestly looking forward to your new email!! Normally I just automatically delete all the emails subscribed over the internet!

  76. It seems talking to people face to face is such an alien thing to do these days. I’m perhaps a bit anti-social at times but I still prefer talking to people directly myself. You gain a better understanding/personal connection when your talk face to face.

  77. Sonia,

    Thank you for contributing this wonderful post. As usual, your ideas are right on the mark.

    There are three kinds of personalities: the extrovert, ambivert and introvert. So, one size does not necessarily fit one and all. The introvert can be just as creative as the extrovert and ditto for the ambivert. It is really a matter of finding out what floats your boat and what sinks your boat. What can you do right now to stay afloat?

    The introvert can be creative holed up in his/her basement and plugging away on the computer screen. Going on solitary walks can work for him or her. Pursuing other solitary activities can lead to the eureka moment or creative breakthroughs. In contrast, the extrovert may need to bounce ideas off other people, and the ambivert would be lodged somewhere in between these two extremes.

    Even so, your point is well taken and much appreciated. Sometimes, it helps just to talk to other people. After all, we are human beings and therefore social animals. On the other hand, there is such a thing as too much socialization.
    Look at the life of celebrities in LA. They get sick and tired of being in the spotlight and want to build a tiny log cabin in Montana and pursue the solitary life just to stay sane in an insane world. The paparazzi won’t leave them alone, poor things. Personally, I can keep the creative juices flowing without the unwanted attention and I can do just fine. Cheers.

  78. I think the most important thing for bloggers to do is get comfortable with pushing out their content on social media channels. Sometimes people worry about inundating their friends’ user feeds with posts they don’t want to see, but you have to keep your blog’s audience in mind. Social media is the best way these days to drive traffic to your site, so it’s important to go all out on it.

  79. Completely LOLLED. Thank you for reminding me that there really is nothing quite like meeting some real people! I wish blogging was what was responsible for my ‘tan’ but being a redhead, I probably wouldn’t suit seeing the light of day anyway 😉

    Cheers! Jess

  80. Wow! Isn’t there a better way to make our blogs more interesting to readers? if i go by this, I never thought that going to my favorite convenience outlet will be a lot easier if I walk a meandering mile instead of just walking across the road where it stands.

    I go by the KISS principle all the time – keep it short and simple.

  81. WordPress has revolutionized the ease and power of what a website (or blog) can do and be! Love wordpress and Genesis theme rocks!

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