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Q&A with Ron Mexico

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In the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Ron Mexico is MY favorite blogger, but you don't have to join in with my personal blog love affair to learn a lot from the man who makes it all happen. Starting a music blog is easy - it seems like anyone with a basic vocabulary, a passing familiarity with nouns and verbs, and a favorite record is doing that these days - but getting people to read your blog? That's hard. Keeping them coming back? Even harder. Ron Mexico does that with ease on his own home blog page Ron Mexico City* - HQ for all things Ron Mexico - as well as in his XXL Mag online column and Urban Daily column. Here, he shares how he got started, his new projects, and how he markets his work online, plus he offers advice for all of you aspiring bloggers out there hoping to follow in his footsteps.

How did you end up taking over the XXL Blogger’s Note column?

It wasn't so much a "takeover" as it was a recruitment. I used to blog alongside the current online editor of XXLmag.com, Carl "Jackpot" Chery back at SOHH.com. We've maintained both a working and personal relationship since our days at Big Green (as I like to call SOHH). As soon as he got the big chair at XXL he contacted me with the idea for what we're doing now with "Blogger's Note."

You’re "guest starring" now – is this likely to permanently become your column?

It's already my column! Everyone knows Marlo controls all that good real estate on the west side! I'm joking. Actually, you're the first to know this, but the plan is to convert Blogger's Note to Negro, Please! officially as of 9/16/08. We've been bringing the Negro, Please! segment of the print magazine to blog form since I started in June. We're just waiting for a site relaunch to make it official.

Turning to your own blog, how long have you been at it? Can you talk a little about how you got started – and why?

I'd never blogged a day in my life before April 2005 when Hashim Warren, SOHH's editor at the time, contacted me about a music video review column they wanted to launch. Having already established the direction, all they needed was a writer with the right voice. Hashim had known me for many years at that point and was well familiar with both my writing style and sense of humor. He recommended me to the higher-ups. They asked me for a sample column. They loved it. The sample became the inaugural post for the runaway hit Talkin' Videos and the legend of Ron Mexico was born.

The greatest miscue of my blogging career to date has been failing to start an independent column at the height of my SOHH popularity. After I parted ways with SOHH I started a blogspot with the intention of keeping the momentum I'd garnered from over 2 years of penning the now-defunct Talkin' Videos column. Had I started my own blog while I was writing for a media powerhouse such as SOHH, Ron Mexico City could have thrived initially.

The blogspot had been up since August 2007. I didn't feel I was getting all I wanted from the original format, so I switched to TypePad a few months ago. It's frickin' awesome, mannnn! I'm making use of many tools I wasn't very familiar with before joining the SixApart family. The site's doing really well right now. I'm really proud of the strides made in the past few months.

How do you promote your blog?

I've been fortunate enough to be allowed link love back to my site from the XXL column, but the links only generate a marginal amount of traffic at best. The most effective promotional tool for me has been social networking. Establishing a presence on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and as many social networks as are comfortable to use is key. Visiting and responding to other blogs is also important.

Maintaining accessibility and making oneself an asset to the field go a long way. Even within my posts I make it a point to stay accessible to readers. I also try to respond to every form of feedback I receive whether it's via email or one of the social networking tools I've mentioned.

I do not endorse spamming or other questionable/annoying practices as they'll likely do more harm than good to the cause. No one's going to read content from someone they're annoyed by, no matter how good it may be.

From a tech standpoint, feeds are the lifeblood of a healthy blog. I recommend signing up with FeedBurner, but any means through which one can provide subscription options and present an effective feed to the masses is ideal. I'll lump "widgets designed to share content" with feeds in terms of importance from a technological standpoint. The only thing better than having someone enjoy your work is having them share it with their friends. There are tons of widgets out there that can be added to a blog to make sharing as simple as single-clickning.

After a few more aspects of my site are in place I may consider Ron Mexico City ad placements about the interwebs. We'll have to see. As for now I'm networking, feeding and making it as easy as possible for readers to share my content.

(*Note that blogs may contain images/language offensive to some users).

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