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On Style: Julie Roads, e-Friend #2

It’s a crime that I haven’t mentioned Julie to you yet. A terrible, vicious crime. You’ve got my heartfelt apology.

Julie Roads is a freelance copywriter who owns her own marketing company. She loves writing. She’s passionate about it, but more than that…she’s really good.

Friends in High Places

She’s also got a higher pagerank than I do. No surprise there, but it ends up being part of the story.

I’ve already told you how I got to know Courtney Cantrell, my first ever e-Friend and (as I mentioned there) also really the first new friend I’d made in seven years. (If that struck you as strange at the time, I suspect Sunday’s revelation of my crippling social anxiety might have provided a bit of clarifying context.)

Well, even though I had my handy label for the disorder, I was still dealing with all its effects six months ago when I decided to start a serious blog and discovered that one of the absolute keys to successful blogging is active, aggressive socializing. The only way to get noticed — by readers or by search engines, and both are critical — is to start rubbing shoulders in the community, handing out business cards, and repeating your name as often as possible.

Specifically, you’re supposed to comment on busy blogs. That gets your name (and your hyperlink) in front of readers’ eyes. With a little luck and a lot of effort, you can create some real relationships, maybe land a guest posting spot or some articles featuring you (with valuable links announcing your existence to Google).

I read all that, and I understood it was critically important and why, and then I promptly didn’t do any of it. I tried. I tried for a while. But commenting always felt artificial, awkward, forced. My demons came to the fore, and I quickly retreated.

Then Kelly Diels said something on Twitter about Julie Roads one day, and I followed the link…and I found something amazing. Among all the blogs that had invaded my life over the course of six months, I’d found a lot of voices, and I’d found a lot of good writing, but I hadn’t found anything like Julie Roads.

The Blogstory Style

She told a story. A short little story, a blog post recording idle thoughts she’d had while at the gym, but it danced with style and structure. It did everything necessary to lead the reader by the hand, and without ever seeming to try, it built up to an irresistible message.

I was astonished at the quality of storytelling. I was so impressed that, without even thinking about it, I left a comment saying as much.

Then she surprised me again. She replied — not only in blog comments, but also in an email. Email I can handle. It’s one-on-one. It’s exactly the sort of thing I appreciate, and as startled as I was to hear from her directly, I fell right into it. We chatted back and forth for the rest of the day.

And then…well, for the next two or three months. Without even trying, I made a friend. She’s fun, and clever, and terribly cool. She’s also got a thing or two to teach us all about writing. So come back tomorrow for a detailed look at what makes Julie Roads such a phenomenal writer, and then Saturday to learn how you can follow her example…and find your own style.

(And if you’d like to read ahead, by all means, go check out her site and figure it out for yourself. I won’t complain.)

Photo credit Julie Roads.

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