Beyond Blogging. Beyond Testimonials. Interviews are The New Guest Post.

My blogging buddies Nathan Hangen and Mike Cliffe Jones wrote a book called Beyond Blogging.

(and when I say “buddies”, I really mean “stalkers”. Mike and Nathan stalk me with compliments and guest posts and lascivious comments, which is to say, I LIKE THEM A LOT.)

They sent Beyond Blogging to me, asked me to review it, give them some feedback, and maybe a testimonial.

I agreed and then Christmas and liquor and late nights and mooning over lost love and writing about sex and interviewing/flirting with a porn star and blah blah blah blah. I’m sure we’ve all got the same story.

Now there are two days left in the year, and I can’t waltz into a new one with things left undone. And unsaid. (Ex-lovers, watch your inbox.)

To ease my conscience and my workload, I propositioned them both with a sexy alternative to a testimonial. Here it is.

Kelly Diels: So, Nathan, my darling clementine, I’ve been terribly flaky with you. You asked me for a guest post…and nada.

You’ve asked me to write a testimonial for your 200+ page (whaaa???) e-book, Beyond Blogging, which you wrote with Mike Cliffe Jones, whom, based on his comments on my blog, I do believe is my one-man fan club.

(Hi Mike, are you married? Because I seriously loved your response to my love letter to kissing. So, you know, just askin’.)

And I just have not come through for you or the two of you.

I’m up nights thinking about it, and the more I think about it, the more blocked I get, the more time that elapses, and soon we’re all going to be 106 years old and you won’t even remember that I owe you some pretty words and pixels, but I will.

I have a solution. An interview. Let’s do a three-way. OMIGOODNESS my blog will never be the same.

Good? Yes? Let’s go.

Nathan Hangen: I was cursing you up a storm, wondering what I did wrong to deserve such a fate…and I thought we had something special.

Just kidding, it happens, don’t worry about it.

Mike Cliffe Jones: Haha! I Like it. I like the three way idea.

[KD note: Mike said more here, but it sounds so much naughtier and more tawdry if I abbreviate it and take it out of context. Editorial perogative, say hey!]

Kelly Diels: So what’s up with the book. It’s massive. Usually an e-book is 12,000 – 15,000 words, or around 30+ pages. Your is like six million times that length. Who couldn’t control himself?

Mike Cliffe Jones: We didn’t set out with any length objectives in mind, and as we all know, size doesn’t matter, right?

But seriously, we didn’t have any objectives in terms of the overall number of words. What happened was that we realized quite early on that all of these guys and girls have really interesting back stories, and we wanted to explore them as well as produce a book about their blogging careers. It’s that part I’m most proud of – I passed a copy on to a friend who knows nothing about blogging, nothing about the net, and he loved the book – describing it as a fascinating story about interesting people and their entrepreneurship.

Nathan Hangen: You can’t really do justice to these 15 bloggers with less than we have, but honestly I feel like we could have done more. But…we kept writing until we were spent, and then we’d write a bit more just to be sure. The results is a lot of content, and something I’m really proud of…and I know Mike is too.

In my mind, even if we didn’t sell 1 copy, I wanted the book to live up to the dream, ya know? I felt like I couldn’t let that dream down.

Kelly Diels: Tell me about hooking up with all these biggies – how’d all that go down? Inquiring, aspiring copycats wanna know.

Mike Cliffe Jones: We couldn’t have done it if we hadn’t spent a lot of time as bloggers, interacting with each of them on their blogs and our own, as well as on Twitter. But having done that, it was simply a case of being bold enough to ask. Some said yes straight away, and others needed a lot of persuasion. It was like a snowball though – once we had a couple of big names on board, it became much easier to get the others.

Nathan Hangen: We split up and then nagged them to death. We hired a team of ninjas to sneak in and steal their most prized possessions…but that didn’t work with all of them so we had to beg and plead.

Really though, we just asked. Mike and I have spent a year or two building relationships with people like this, hoping that they’d come through for us if we asked. I met Chris, Darren, David, John, Brian, Chris Garrett, and Shama in Vegas for Blogworld Expo 2009. I think that helped. In my case at least, they got to see that I wasn’t just a dreamer, but I was willing to work hard. We got to talk about a lot of things, and I put my best foot forward. I felt like a groupie at the time, but I tried not to act like one. I wanted to earn my way in, not beg for access, if that makes sense?

I go a ways back with Chris Guillebeau…he’s been a great friend, mentor, and inspiration.

It’s not like we have them all on speed dial, but I think it came down to the fact that they knew us a bit, and liked the project.

Kelly Diels: What’s the point? I read it and thought, oh my goodness, our first history of blogging! And we’re all still babies! Blogging is a genre in its infancy, but somehow a history is overdue. But was that the point? Am I missing the point? What did you guys set out to do?

Nathan Hangen: That’s great insight, and something we probably should have marketed with! As I said before, it’s supposed to be a case study of how to make it as a blogger. The mindset you need, the steps involved, and the action plan. In some ways, it’s similar to a history, but I think it’s a bit more intense than that…how about an active history of blogging?

Mike Cliffe Jones: We set out to do two things: One was to simply record their stories for posterity. And the other was to try to capture the elements of their success and distil it into an easy format for others to digest. By all means buy it as simply an interesting book to read, but also remember that it comes with a workbook, which takes you through the five steps we identified as areas common to all. The workbook will prompt other bloggers to analyse and refine what they are doing.

Kelly Diels:  How did you two hook up? Tell me your love story.

Mike Cliffe Jones: We met in the classic blogger’s way. By commenting on each other’s blogs. We then found we were inhabiting the same blogs and forums, and we each started reading each other’s work regularly.

Beyond Blogging was Nathan’s idea – he emailed me one day and told me about it and asked if I’d be interested in co authoring. I didn’t hesitate for a moment.

And it turned out to be a great decision – we are so different and our skill sets are so disparate that the partnership simply works. I’m a middle aged, very posh Brit who lives on a desert island near Africa. Nathan is a young American, still serving in the military and bringing up a young family. He excels at technical stuff, he’s cautious and thoughtful, where I have much more business experience and more of a “Screw it, let’s do it!” attitude to life. We’re both decent writers.

Staying in touch on the project has been a challenge – time zones are an issue, and we’ve ended up using every media available from Skype to Google Wave.

Nathan Hangen: I honestly can’t remember. We saw each other around, but I can’t point to a specific instance as a beginning. What I do remember is for some reason thinking that he’d be a great guy to partner with, and I had a few beers one night (as I often do) and sent out a feeler for the project. He was instantly into it, and the rest is history. It seems like we’ve known each other for years…like it was meant to be. I believe a bit in destiny…Karma, all that stuff. I think that’s where it came from.

Kelly Diels: What’s your favourite part of the book? Tell me the juicy, scary stuff, like how Steve Pavlina nearly swallowed you whole. Tell me I’m not making that up or please confirm that I am. Sometimes it is hard to tell.

(I was in Las Vegas this month and had this weird lil’ idea that I should call him up *AS IF I have his number or AS IF he even knows I exist* and have a raw smoothie with him and talk sex – because, like, POLYAMORY* HELLO – but then I had a $14 lemonade on The Strip and got way too scared to make myself known. KICKING MYSELF. And now he’s all about fashion and shopping, which is basically what I did while I was there. Don’t even get me and the good folks at Visa started on how Las Vegas is the lingerie capital of Plus-size Planet Tawdry aka my world. So. Me ‘n Steve n’ shopping. WE COULD HAVE BEEN SOUL SISTAS.)

I digress. Discuss.

Mike Cliffe Jones: Despite my best efforts otherwise, Steve didn’t participate – he was one of the case studies. I’m impressed you have his number because he’s a difficult man to contact! [KD note: I totally DO NOT have Steve Pavlina’s number.] Interestingly I found working on his case study one of the most interesting – he breaks every rule! For a start you can’t contact him, you can’t even comment on his blog, and he doesn’t hang out in any of the social spaces online. And yet he has this hugely successful blog!

I have so many favourite parts of the book, here are a few:

  • Discovering that Chris Brogan has tweeted an average of over 50 times every day since he joined Twitter
  • Feeling physically sick with nerves before calling Penelope Trunk for the first time – pathetic really, but I was totally intimidated by her. Then we spoke, and she’s fabulous, interesting, eloquent and funny – a thinking man’s babe for sure
  • Picturing David Risley trying to save his business by copying and packaging CD’s of data to send out to clients
  • Researching how Pete Cashmore started Mashable and seeing that he was posting 15-20 times a day when he started the site from his parent’s house in Scotland

I could go on and on……

Nathan Hangen: My favorite part of the book was Brian Clark, because he’s a big inspiration for me. Brian is a true master…he has all these people working for him, working with him, and doing his bidding. He’s got deals all over the place, and he’s been very successful walking the line between marketing and blogging. He doesn’t apologize for making money, and I like that about him.

I also enjoyed Chris Guillebeau’s chapter, because he’s a big inspiration for me in terms of getting where I am today and taking my blogging seriously. The final chapter was good too, and I really enjoyed studying these cases and trying to bring them all together.

So that was the easiest three-way EVER. Thanks, Mike Cliffe Jones and Nathan Hangen, for giving great interview.

One last thing: Guys, in your book you called polyamory ‘polygamy’. Big, huge MASSIVE difference. Can you change it? Sexy people everywhere say thank you.

Thank you.

(I crack my-damn-self up.)


Beyond Blogging launched December 28th and you know what? I am NOT an affiliate and I don’t make a cent off it. I just like Mike and Nathan and their project. Check it out.

About the author

Kelly Diels I'm Kelly Diels. I'm a writer. I've written for Salon, Jezebel, XO Jane, Problogger, Write to Done and more. I'm currently working on a book about The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand. Interested? Please subscribe to my newsletter and I'll share more thoughts and chapters with you as I write them. You can also find me on Facebook and yes please, please do.