A review of Engagement from Scratch by Danny Iny

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

Engagement from Scratch!
How Super-Community Builders Create a Loyal Audience and How You Can Do the Same!
By Danny Iny
Firepole Marketing 
240 pages, November 9, 2011, ISBN-13: 978-1466382008

There may have been a time for writers when notions of readership and engagement could be left to professional marketers, but that is certainly no longer the case. Anyone who wants to sell their writing needs to create a loyal and engaged audience. In a noisy world where everyone is trying to get noticed in one form or another, this is easier said than done, but Firepole Marketing’s Danny Iny has created a manual that contains excellent advice from some of the most well-known online marketers in the business. Danny contacted the many people who inspired him when he was starting his business, and asked each of them to write a piece on the topic: “If you had to start over and build an engaged audience from scratch, how would you do it?” The answers make up this book. Written in clear, simple language, Engagement from Scratch contains some twenty seven different perspectives on how to build a loyal and rapid following, primarily through blogging. Each writer’s suggestions are a little different, drawing on their own experiences of what worked for them, and providing real examples, but at heart, they all focus on the notions of honesty, real interaction, and good, freely provided content as the hub of engagement.

There are essays about the nature of blogging and enagement, essays on building an audience, essays on the best types of content and frequency of posting, essays on using social media, essays on encouraging and growing your followers, and lots more. All of the essays, without exception, provide personal examples, taken from the considerable experiences of the contributors. For example, Danny Brown, of DannyBrown.me and BonsaiInteractive.com provides 3 key things he’s learned from doing things the wrong way:

A few of my early posts are the kind I would call “traffic jams” – lots of traffic, but not going anywhere. The list posts; the Top 10 Ways To… posts; the posts about Twitter, or Facebook, or blogging – basically, the posts that were easy to write but had little real substance.

Guy Kawasaki, former “Chief Evangelist” (what a title!) of Apple and author of Enchantments and many other books, talks about the three pillars of enchantment and how to apply them in blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Anita Campbell, of Small Business Trends and BizSugar.com provides five practical steps that she’s learned for building an online community.

Some of the essays are inspirational: encouraging newbies to keep at it, and showing, through real-life examples, that building an extensive, engaged audience is possible for anyone in any field. Other essays offer more specific, practical steps to follow to identify an ideal audience, set up a platform, and begin the engagement process. There are different ideas to try, some basic and integral to any process and others quite innovative. Throughout the book, Iny offers his own commentary, the organisational framework for the essays, and a few essays of his own.

Overall, Engagement From Scratch is a powerful, thought-provoking book, easy to read and full of powerful and immediately applicable information. It’s relevant to anyone who wants to use the Internet to market their work. Though the book isn’t specifically geared to writers, all bloggers are writers of one sort or another and most of the contributors have written books, so the ideas are very relevant to authors of any genre. Developing a strong, engaged audience of followers is absolutely critical in today’s online world and authors will definitely benefit from reading, and above all, using the ideas in Engagement from Scratch.

About the reviewer: Magdalena Ball is the author of the novels Black Cow and Sleep Before Evening, the poetry books Repulsion Thrust and Quark Soup, a nonfiction book The Art of Assessment, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Deeper Into the Pond, Blooming Red, Cherished Pulse, She Wore Emerald Then, and Imagining the Future. She also runs a radio show, The Compulsive Reader Talks. Find out more about Magdalena at www.magdalenaball.com.
Article first published as Book Review: Engagement from Scratch! How Super-Community Builders Create a Loyal Audience and How You Can Do the Same! by Danny Iny on Blogcritics.