We recently reviewed Mr. Ostrow’s new ebook, How To Craft The Perfect Blog Post.
Jon is co-founder of MicControl and also works closely with CyberPR®.
We decided to ask him a few questions so we could dig a little deeper into what he is up to when no one is watching.
We also discuss why bands are so afraid of blogging and some of the biggest mistakes they make when they try.
Head on over to MicControl, look in the sidebar, and join the mailing list to get your free copy of the book.
I know who you are but for those that do not, give us a short intro and give us a brief timeline as to your background and how you ended up where you are now.
Sure! I entered the digital music space in 2008 when I co-created what, at the time, was intended to be a music social network called MicControl.
Over the two years after creating the site, it morphed into a music marketing blog community of over 100 contributing writers, all of whom were either independent musicians, marketers (such as Ariel Hyatt) or other industry resources in the DIY space (such as Pledge Music, Reverbnation, CD Baby, etc.).
Unfortunately the website had some major dev issues so after a year’s work it had to strip it down to a stand-alone blog (now up and running!). But all is well, as I’ve been afforded the opportunity to join Ariel Hyatt’s team at Cyber PR® as the Campaigns Director.
What drove you to write this book?…and then give it away for free?
This book is really my own person desire to put a head on everything I had learned over a two year period of blogging. This is, in a way, my own thesis paper (had I gone to school for blogging haha).
I had for a long time wanted to create something that was valuable to the community, that I could use as leverage to build a mailing list. Being that I spent over 2 years working on building a voice and a personal brand for myself though my writing, this book seemed to make the most sense.
When you consult with others, is blogging and content creation typically a challenge for bands?
Blogging consistently seems to be the biggest challenge for bands because they approach it as a beast that needs to be wrangled.
What I mean by this, is that bands tend to look at format of blogging as these big, long-form artists that are deep and dense. In fact, blogging can quite simply be a collection of photos, it can be a list of your favorite albums for the week, it can be your 3 favorite recipes.
Whatever your passion is should drive the direction of the content. If your passionate about what you are talking about, it is MUCH easier for you to approach it as an ‘expert’ – whatever that should mean to you – so that your blog can be a resource for your niche, adding VALUE to the fan experience and giving a reason for people to check your blog, rather than just being a spew of content simply for the sake of ‘having a blog’.
When did you start MicControl and how long have you been going at it?
MicControl started in 2008 – co-founded between myself, one of my best friends and my Dad. We started it at the tail end of our college years so we were able to give it a LOT of focus, spending several hours each day working on the project.
In 2011 we had to take a step away from it as a full-time endeavor, but I recently relaunched the blog in the last few months after stripping it down to a stand-alone music marketing blog.
When/how did you get picked up by CyberPR? Did you dive right in or did you sit back and ponder your next move?
So, I took a step away from MicControl in October of 2011 (right after I had gotten married in September) and was picked up by Ariel and Cyber PR® in November of 2011.
Ariel and I had been working together on a few writing projects and she came to be a hero and mentor of mine, plugging me into her network and community, both online and off. When I stepped away from MicControl, the timing was perfect for me to join the team.
What are some of the top mistakes you see bands (or anyone else) making with their blog posts? Are there any reoccurring patterns you have noticed?
The biggest mistakes I personally notice FAR too many bands make are in the formatting. This is, ultimately, the biggest reason I wrote this e-book. Quite often, musician’s blogs lack a direction and voice, but even for those that DO, the formatting is optimized to nurture fan engagement; there are no headers, there is no Call to Action and the paragraphs are WAY to big (no skim-ability of the posts).
What is 1 thing you think bands need to do immediately to improve their blogging efforts?
Stop blogging about what they THINK they should be blogging about (them selves, their music, etc.) and start blogging about what they are passionate about. Passion drives emotion and will make it FAR easier for them to connect with their fans. This will also help musicians to find their voice within their niche, and their community, giving them a unique purpose and approach.
Out of curiosity…how often do you publish posts? How much time do you spend crafting your posts?
I try to post every week if at all possible. I thankfully contribute to several blogs so not every blog gets a new post every week, but overall, I’m certainly blogging every week.
I usually spend an hour or so on a blog post. This, ultimately, is because I’ve been able to find my voice as a writer. When I first began blogging, it would take me DAYS to come up with a topic, outline what I wanted to say, do my research, get all of the content written, format everything properly, etc. etc.
Now that I have found my voice… the same effort can be done in an hour with BETTER results than I was achieving before.
Do you blog any where else besides MicControl? Where can people connect with you?
I (thankfully and happily) contribute to several blogs. MicControl is obviously my own blog, but I also contribute to the Cyber PR® blog (http://cyberprmusic.com/blog), and I’m a monthly contributor to the Echoes (Disc Makers) blog (http://blog.discmakers.com/).
People can most easily connect with me through Twitter (@jon_ostrow) or on my blog, either through commenting on a blog post OR through the contact page which is directly connected to my personal email.
Any last thoughts? Shout outs?
Last thoughts…. blogging can change your life, as long as you blog about what you love!
Thank YOU guys for giving me this opportunity. You guys are building something GREAT here and I REALLY appreciate it!