Award Interview with Matt Stratton

We are proud to present  Matt Stratton who is the winner of the March BlogNet Trophy.

Hi Matt, Thanks for accepting our invitation for this Q&A.
We’ve enjoyed reading and learning more about you and your wife Carrie, and your family plans for the future.

Could you tell us from the time you started blogging, what changes have you noted in how people see blogs in terms of information they provide or in the promotion of a business?
I think that in the early days, blogs were seen primarily as either online diaries (LiveJournal, for example) or as aggregates of news blurbs (Slashdot). It was less common in those days to perceive a blog as a platform for original content. Since then, I think that the blog has really turned into much more of an egalitarian publishing platform rather than simply an extension of personal home pages or a news portal to other original content. Additionally, there’s been so much more of a feeling and understanding of “community”, aka the “blogosphere” – there’s so much more of a focus on the platform and how it can be extended, regardless of the technology that backs it.

With so many people talking about choosing domain names for blogs, what made you think of “Good Old Rock” for a Best Technology Blog domain name?

My domain name is actually mattstratton.com, which is my name :) I have had that domain since the late 90s, and as far as branding goes, it’s very easy to remember…for people who know me. My blog began as a much more “personal” site, so using my name as my brand made a lot of sense. I’m still struggling with whether or not that makes sense for the new direction of my blog as more tech-focused, but I think I will stick with it. One of my favorite tech bloggers, Joel Oleson , uses his name (in a way) for his domain (sharepointjoel.com).

The title of my blog is Good Old Rock. I will be honest – it was initially a very random decision (the name comes from an episode of The Simpsons). However, I like the way it sounds, and it is easy to remember. Of course, being easy to remember doesn’t help if the domain name does not match the title. I own goodoldrock.org and goodoldrock.net, but I’m not sure if adding those domains is going to mess with my PageRank, etc. It is going to take a little more thinking on this topic.

Many bloggers struggle to gain visibility for their blogs.  What are some of your favorite methods to “get yourself out there”?

Because my blog and domain have been in existence for a long time, I have a lot of content. This certainly helps me with my PageRank – so a lot of my traffic comes from Google searches, especially on keywords associated with hot posts of mine like “blackberry twitter client” or “how to lock down facebook”. Other than that, I have been experimenting with various methods – I participate in Entrecard, and I know I have gotten a handful of regular subscribers via that method. I also try to be active on other blogs and contribute content-rich comments on posts. And I also promote new blog posts on Facebook and Twitter. I am still working on my strategy for better “intro” content to get people to stick around after the first few sentences.
Something else bloggers struggle with is time management. How do you organize your time?
I try to write all of my blog posts for the week at once, and then schedule them out. I find it is a lot easier to find a block of two hours on a weekend rather than 30 minutes a day all week long. I am not always good about sticking to this schedule, but when I do, I find it helps my content – and my time management. I also try to have a regular posting schedule – for example, I post RSS Recommendations on Mondays, Web Wanderings on Wednesdays, Tech Tips on Thursdays…this makes it a lot easier for me to figure out a whole week’s worth of content in advance.

What advice based on your experience would you give to all the new bloggers thinking of starting their own blog?

Content is king! Don’t worry about things like SEO right away. Start by producing quality content that sets you apart from everyone else. I doesn’t have to be unique in terms of topic, but if you include your personality and point of view into your posts, it makes you different right there. I also think that it’s interesting how a lot of tech blogs will talk about very in-depth, advanced, and esthoteric concepts, where most people just want to know “How do I set up my Google Reader?” It’s not as sexy to write a post about how to configure multiple displays in Windows…but it’s applicable to a lot more people than an in-depth discussion on how SQL Server manages memory.

One of our favorite questions is: who are your favorite two or three bloggers and why?

There’s the afore-mentioned Joel Oleson of SharePoint Joel’s SharePoint Land (sharepointjoel.com). He’s the definitive SharePoint blogger – I like him because he has such a wealth of information, but he presents it in a very-real world and applicable way. I also like J.D. Roth’s blog Get Rich Slowly (www.getrichslowly.org/blog) on the personal finance level – there’s a wealth of content and I rarely go more than a week without reading something there that applies to my life and situation. Finally, I have to give a shout-out to Christina at Stackedstackedblog.com) because she’s doing a great job getting her blog up and running with valuable content…and she is the one who nominated me for this award.

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