Pam Slim has become one of the most popular bloggers on the Internet, using her Escape from Cubicle Nation blog to help thousands of entrepreneurs find the courage to start and build succesful businesses. Syndicated by usatoday.com, foxnews.com and a Chicago NBC affiliate, and ranked in Technorati’s top 5000 (her blog is actually ranked twice due to a quirk in Technorati’s system), Pam has become a big success. Now the blogsphere’s favorite “escape expert” shares some tips with us!
You work with many large companies. What made you start Escape from Cubicle Nation, a blog about entrepreneurial endeavors?
I started my blog when I was at a transition point in my business, moving from consulting with large companies to working with individuals. Eight years as a consultant inside hundreds of corporations throughout the U.S.
and Europe was the best kind of market research – I know there are thousands of frustrated employees dying to break out of their cubes!
Needless to say, it would be a conflict of interest to continue to consult with corporations due to my current focus, so I have chosen not to continue that part of my business.
How has Escape benefited your business?
My blog has been an amazing tool with multiple benefits to my business. All of my current coaching clients have found me through my blog. I have formed joint venture partnerships with companies like Startup Nation, to offer coaching programs. I have gotten lots of mainstream press exposure from on- and offline publications like U.S. News & World Report, The Baltimore Sun, The San Francisco Examiner and The Arizona Republic. My blog has recently begun to be syndicated on a regular basis on usatoday.com, foxnews.com and a chicago NBC affiliate. All is great for building platform, and establishing myself as a unique voice in the very crowded online world.
But the best part, without question, is building relationships and community with a whole lot of cool and creative people all over the world. I have thoughtful and dedicated blog readers (like you Geoff!) who take a lot of time to respond to posts and help others who are struggling to make the transition to entrepreneurship. Perhaps my favorite compliment to date came from a reader who felt my blog represented “virtual hope.” If I am making a difference with my work and my words, that brings me great satisfaction.
In addition to blogging, youve experimented quite a bit with podcasts, teleconferences and other alternative media. Whats your favorite aspect of the new media environment?
I love how simple and inexpensive it is to set up and run a whole range of different media platforms. Everyone learns differently, and it is nice to offer various ways for people to access resources and tools. My new foray is into internet radio, and I am finding that to be even more fun than podcasting. (if your readers are interested, you can find my show here:
How has the new media (blogs, video, etc.) impacted businesses in general?
I think businesses are going to be forever altered by new media. I heard Robert Scoble speak at a conference the other day and he was talking about how fast companies need to respond to negative press. It used to be a 24-hour window, where you could strategize and think about how to spin a response. Now, if someone blogs about your company in a negative way, you need to respond immediately, or see things spin quickly out of control. I see this as a *good* thing, as it will force businesses to be closer with their customers, like it or not!
On the entrepreneurial side, blogging offers a very open and personal way to connect with your customers. I can’t think of a better way to build trust and confidence in what you have to offer than with interactive media like blogs.
What tips would you offer other bloggers?
Get clear on who your audience is and what is important to them. What kinds of questions keep them up at night? What annoys them? What do they need?
What unique perspective can you provide that will be different from everyone else out there? I think some blogs falter because they are too far-reaching and generic, providing high-level information on too many subjects.
The other suggestion is to not be afraid to speak in your real voice.
People like blogs because they offer information in a straight-forward and personal way. Who wants to read the same old boring marketing crap that is so carefully scrubbed that it loses emotional appeal? While you don’t want to spend too much time writing about your cat if your blog is about personal finance, don’t be afraid to throw personal antecdotes into substantive material. People like to know how you have learned from your own experiences.
Do you see social networking as an art or a science?
I see it more of an art than a science. We just have new tools to reach each other, but communicating is still a human interaction that requires judgment, humility, humor, timing and finesse.
People who set random goals for their blogs or podcast such as “x number of incoming links by date” seem more inclined to employ abrasive tactics like demanding link exchanges or sending “sales-y” emails asking you to blog about them. A more natural way to build a reader or listener base is to think about the kinds of people that you have a lot in common with that would be fun to learn from and hang out with. Spend time reading their blogs and participating in comments. That will create a much more natural path to building relationships.
That said, there are some more “scientific” tools you can use to determine who might be good to partner with, how to manage things like overflowing email once you get a lot of interest in what you are doing, and search engine optimization to make it easy for people to find you.
Last December’s Time person of the year article really seemed to legitimize blogging and other web 2.0 technologies. What do you think is next for the blogosphere?
I think we will continue to see more businesspeople jump on the blogging bandwagon. Some will produce mindless drivel like most of their marketing material, but others will really distinguish their companies and employees by providing fresh, real information to their constituents and customers.
It will be interesting to see how we sort through all the noise as more and more people start blogging. I imagine there will be more “editorial aggregating” sites such as www.9rules.com that help the general reader find good blogs.
On a social basis, I think blogging will continue to bring people with common interests together. In a world which is increasingly busy and neighbors increasingly isolated from each other, I think this will be a great way to increase connection.