Strategies for frequent posting to business & tech blogs

Readers of the Ipso Facto blog may not be aware that my writing appears in many other blog locations. In addition to two active personal blogs (one of which has been running since 2004), my old Harvard Extension blog (2005-2008), various employer and school-related blogs from 2005-2012 (Computerworld, The Industry Standard, MIT, and my first startup), and a 2007 guest-blogging gig on a site dedicated to virtual worlds, I have been very active on my current company’s blog. But there is a lot more blogging activity on the individual product sites for books like Twitter In 30 Minutes and the recently released book about the iPhone 6 and 6S. It’s hard, but I have developed a strategy for frequent posting on the blogs. It helps give the books a higher online profile, and in the case of several of the books, the posts prompt feedback from readers which I can use for follow-up editions of the books.

Here is a sample of recent posts:

How is it possible for me to write so many blog posts? There are several answers. First, I am an extremely prolific writer. In 10 years I have written well over 1,000 blog posts across all blogs. More than 450 posts appear on my old Harvard blog alone, and a few others are above 200 posts. I am just one of those people who likes to write, and when I get the urge I have to sit down in front of my keyboard and get it out there, as I did yesterday morning on Ipso Facto with my blog post about the Fessenden School and St. George’s.

Second, for the book blogs, I have started to excerpt sections from the manuscripts. It’s a great way to showcase the quality of the books while getting some additional online attention. I am also using draft chapters from my forthcoming Lean Media book to get feedback which I can use to improve the manuscript.

Simpsons blog post example from Lean Media In 30 Minutes

I have also begun to leverage other types of content — chiefly videos — upon which to base blog posts. This is especially true of the books about browser-based software, which are easy to screencast. I have created scores of short YouTube videos on topics such as how to do something in Twitter or Excel or LinkedIn. It’s not hard to take the embed code from one of the videos, put it on the blog, write up a summary or additional instructions, and then post it.

How the C. diff book is doing, 18 months after launch

C diff guideIn mid-2013, my publishing company released its first medical-related title, C. Diff In 30 Minutes: A Guide to Clostridium Difficile for Patients and Families. Publishing a C. diff book for patients and their caregivers was a risky proposition. At the time, there was only one other similar title available on Amazon, which didn’t appear to be selling very well, judging by the the publicly available sales data that Amazon displays.

But we had a few things going for us: A well-respected international C. diff expert, Dr. J. Thomas Lamont, was the author of the book. We used an easy-to-understand structure that featured practical information as well as case studies based on the author’s extensive experience with patients. I created a solid website with lots of resources for browsers, including a simple guide to what is C. diff, a list of C. diff symptoms and a resource describing basic C. diff disinfectants and procedures for healthcare workers and patients.

I also priced C. Diff In 30 Minutes competitively. It was hard to justify the same cover price as the competing title, which was much longer and had several reader reviews in mid-2013. On the other hand, C. Diff In 30 Minutes wasn’t some Kindle freebie. It contained expert information that can help patients understand and cope with a little-known but devastating gastrointestinal infection. I priced the ebook at less than $10, and the paperback under $15 (which was often discounted).

The result? The guide has been a steady seller almost since launch. With almost no promotion beyond a few hundred dollars in Adwords, the book has sold nearly 1,000 copies, generates a nice revenue stream for the author and my publishing company, and has gotten consistently high reviews from real customers (to date, almost all reviews have been 5-star reviews). Here are some samples:

KS:

“When I learned in 2013 that I had c.diff, I found this little book to be a lifesaver!!! Many doctors don’t know what to tell patients regarding the best ways to treat c.diff, but from guidance in this book, it was a slow process, but I was able to fully recover in roughly 6 months. The book is WELL WORTH its nominal cost!”

Linda:

“This has been the best information yet. I am a former c diff patient. My mother is currently hospitalized with it. We now know what to do for her and how to protect others over the next few months.”

Publishing other types of health books?

The second reviewer also noted that she was glad we had published books “other than computer books.” This naturally made me wonder: What other health/medical titles could we publish? These require a certain degree of expertise and/or deep experience. Unfortunately, doctors are hard to recruit for these projects, mainly because they are so busy (as you may have guessed, C. Diff In 30 Minutes is written by a relative, and he’s too busy to do another one). I had another potential writer with expertise in Alzheimer’s, but he backed out later when he made a cross-country move.

As for C. Diff In 30 Minutes, I hope to expand distribution to hospitals, nursing homes, and healthcare workers. We may also have to release an update in the next few years to cover fecal transplants, which have really taken off since 2013.

Releasing a C. diff guide

Last month, my publishing company released its first title about a health-related topic: C. Diff In 30 Minutes: A Guide To Clostridium Difficile For Patients & Families. C. diff is an obscure term, but it refers to a common bacterial infection that affects the lower intestine. C. diff in hospitals is a serious problem, and the incidence of C. diff has nearly quadrupled in the past 20 years in the United States, as the following chart shows:

C Diff Hospitals: 1993-2009

Even though C. difficile is a relatively common infectious disease (see What Is C. Diff?) there are limited online resources for patients and families. As of this writing, there is only one other book about the topic available on Amazon.

C. difficile book about C. diff

The importance of a C. diff expert

The author of C. Diff In 30 Minutes is my father Thomas Lamont, a gastroenterologist and Harvard researcher who has seen thousands of patients suffering from the ailment. Last year, as I was getting In 30 Minutes guides off the ground, he offered to write this title. I gladly accepted — I’ve been interested in expanding beyond pure software and technology topics, and this would allow me to evaluate how niche topics fare in the health field. Because of his busy schedule, it took some time to release C. Diff In 30 Minutes, but both of us are proud of the result. You can order the C. Diff book here, either as a paperback or as an ebook that can be read on a Kindle, iPad, Nook, or other e-reader.

In addition, I am working on another health-related In 30 Minutes guide. It is also oriented toward patients and families, but does not get into treatments or causes of the disease (sadly, this other ailment cannot be treated). The author is someone who spent more than a decade caring for a sick parent, and not only has expert insights into care-related issues, but will also talk about the impact on families. I’ll reveal more information about the title when it’s released later this summer.