Grammar Girl—The Secret Sauce of Successful Websites

by admin on February 23, 2012


I just finished reading “How ‘Grammar Girl turned a single hobby podcast into a growing media network” from the Neiman Journalism Lab. Grammer Girl is a fresh, friendly little podcast (radio or television show for the internet) that’s wildly successful.

For the rest of us who struggle mightily with our websites hearing how one person made it big in the social media world can drive us nuts.

But the lessons of Mignon Fogarty’s Grammar Girl are instructive for us all. She started out with an elaborate and long science podcast and, quite simply, it didn’t work. It won some awards and was featured in iTunes but the podcast didn’t gain much attention.

“And so I got the idea of creating this simple, five-minute podcast with a quick tip every week that would help the kind of people I was working with their writing.”

“Nonetheless, within four weeks it had reached the top 100 most-downloaded podcasts on iTunes, and within a couple months it was at number two.”

The lessons are simple; she had a huge potential audience (everyone needs assistance with their grammar) she gave people what they want and she did it with a short, friendly and approachable style.

Many of us have elaborate goals with our writing, audio and video and we create workloads that are both unwanted and unsustainable.

Another problem is that many of us we have a level of expertise that skews towards smaller audiences. Not all of us have topics that are universal.

But it’s not the audience or her topic but her approachable style that makes Grammar Girl so good as to what she does. I’m convinced that she could do shows on auto mechanics and succeed based on her formula of short audio clips and her way of effectively explaining string theory  to a third grader. She makes the complicated simple.

In fact, she’s done just that by “evolving into a multimedia affair and branching off into other topics besides grammar. In 2007, Fogarty launched the Quick and Dirty Tips podcast network, which was a series of Grammar Girl-style podcasts, like Money Girl and Mighty Mommy.

The shows are a Google lover’s dream based on “short, fact-based questions — the kind you could imagine someone Googling for in search of a quick answer.

So for the rest of us, the lessons are brief creations that solve problems in a friendly and approachable manner and are based on Google inquiries asking questions about things that people need to know.

You could spend thousands of dollars on courses and books but the paragraph above is ninety percent of what we need to know about successful web and social media sites.

Best, Len.


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