Let’s face it-most of the blogs out there are just filled with crap posts. I suspect you know exactly what I am talking about. These are posts that just recycle stuff previously recycled by another person. In other words, most of the blogosphere is really an endless chain of bloggers regurgitating each other’s feces. I do not mean to sound sick or graphic, but there is really no other way to say it; blogging has been reduced to an endless cycle of recycling the same stuff over and over again.
While it helps big time bloggers because they get to ride a trend or meme, the whole process of simply copying writing styles and ideas does not really help smaller bloggers because they do not rise up from the cesspool of copycat blog posts clogging up the Internet. If you want to become a successful blogger, you have to establish an identity that sets you apart from your competition. Every day thousands and thousands of people join the existing nameless, faceless, and oh-so-generic army of bloggers out there. The bad news is 90% of them will fail after a few months. In fact, over two million new pieces of content are published daily. TWO MILLION. Every single day! That’s how much competition you’re up against.
Blogging has a high burnout rate. After the initial adrenaline rush and the push to crank out posts, most blogs falter and lie dormant. The result? The internet is literally littered with the carcasses of failed blogs which merely regurgitated the same style, the same content and the same attitude as the other blogs that came before them. These dead blogs will, in turn, be ‘recycled’ by those blogs that will come after them. The Circle Of Blog Life? More like a sad and tragic ZERO! There has to be a better way and you, my friend, have to be part of this movement for better blogging if you want to make your new blogging venture a success.
Here are the five key elements of better blogging. Warning: They are not revolutionary. They are not earth-shattering. Unlike Obama’s speeches, they are not going to cool the earth. What they are going to do is set a better standard for blogging. Frankly, there is just too much crap content out there and you should be part of the solution. Help stop blogs’ race to the bottom. Here is what you can do to help.
Write to be Scanned… then Read
Many bloggers think that if you just vomit a huge block of text on to a page, people would actually sit down and read it. Wrong! Thanks to the Internet, rightly or wrongly, many people have short attention spans. If I am going to look at a blog post and I cannot make heads or tails of it within the first three seconds, I am going to click the back button and close the window. I am hardly alone. If you look at your blog’s statistics at Google Analytics, you would see a criterion called bounce rate.
Pay careful attention to that statistic. Guess what? Bounce rate is increasing because more and more people are becoming extremely impatient with badly formatted pages and low quality text. The takeaway to this is chop up your blog posts to make them easier to read. Just the same way you would not want to gulp down a Big Mac with one bite, you cannot digest a blog post if it is in just one massive block.
The next factor to consider when writing to be read is you need to put graphical cues in your blog post. Make it easier for people to get an experience from what you are writing. Pictures, videos and infographics do the trick–anything that would allow the reader’s eyes to relate what they have just read to the larger concept that you are trying to communicate. Go back to the rest of your text and then feed it back to the overall concept and so on and so forth. This happens very quickly and you have to guide the reader through the process with the right graphical cues. You fail to do this when you just drop a huge block of text.
Finally, write as little as possible. Shorter posts are more effective. Blogs originally were mostly online diaries. They were, and many still are, very topical and one post normally just focused on one subject matter. Try to stick closely to that original concept and you will get more loyal readers.
Personalize Your Content
Most bloggers are lazy. They really are. Their concept of personalization is they just need to put up their picture next to their blog post and that is that. No, it is not THAT cut and dry. Personalization means imparting your personality and unique point of view. Emphasize the “personal” in the word “personalization.” Your blog posts must not read just like everybody else’s blog posts.
If your post mimics everybody else’s posts, then guess what? You are part of the 99.9% of the faceless mass of bloggers out there jockeying to get a few cents from an AdSense click or vainly trying to lure people to leave their email address at your autoresponder. Can you spell F-A-I-L? It is not exactly a good position to find yourself in.
Emphasize your personality. If you think something is crappy or something is awesome, say so. Do not be afraid to let your personality shine out. That is the key to personalization. People who will be repelled if you ‘get real’ will run away eventually, why keep them around any longer than you need to? Focus on readers who will be loyal to you and, more importantly, will drive other readers to your blog.
Link, Link, Link
Many bloggers are very stingy about linking to their sources, linking to authority sites, or even linking to their older posts. This is just plain stupid. Blogs do not exist in a vacuum. Your blog is not an island. Your blog, by necessity, must be connected to the rest of the internet; at least, it must be connected to a community of blogs that cover the same topic. When it comes to blogging, it doesn’t pay to be a stranger.
Act and write like a member of your blog’s larger niche community. If you disagree with another blogger, link to their post and quote the part that you disagree with. If you disagree with an online newspaper, link to the article and then proceed to demolish them in your blog. You lose nothing when you are linking out. Sure, this might be blasphemy to some old school pre-Panda SEO practitioners out there, but guess what? Search engines look at your blog as part of a larger context.
If you do not link out to anybody or to anybody authoritative, your chances of being sent to the basement of Google’s traffic would be higher than if your blog looks like a real blog. What do real blogs look like? Well, they link out frequently and this, ironically enough to some disbelieving SEOs,help build your blog’s authority.
As an added bonus, linking out also brings you to the attention of influential people in your niche. It gives them a reason to visit your website and see what you have to offer. You cannot do this if you do not link out. Do yourself a favor-link liberally.
Don’t just link a lot to other sites and blogs-link to your own stuff a lot. If you are referring to earlier positions that you have made or earlier statements, link to yourself. Do not be too shy about referring to past posts. This actually helps your website become stickier because it gives your post’s readers an opportunity to read more posts. The more they read, the higher the chance they will link to you or share your post’s links with their friends and family. Do not waste this opportunity.
Talk to the Big Boys
Many smaller bloggers restrict the growth of their blog and really retard their blog’s ability to gain any sort of credibility or authority by refusing to engage the big dogs in their content category. If you are writing about SEO, your blog should be following what acknowledged experts and opinion leaders in the SEO industry have to say. Don’t just regurgitate their stuff. Critique and analyze their stuff. Do case studies. Do something more than just saying “XXX says YYY” or “I think XXX.” The same old same old is simply not going to cut it.
Establish, at least in the minds of your readers, that you are aware of the big dogs and you are trying to run with the pack. Birds of a feather do flock together. While the big guys may not want you around, if you continuously hound them, eventually you will establish in the minds of your readers that you are part of that pack. More importantly if you do this enough times, many of the big guys would acknowledge you back and this might be the beginning of a beneficial relationship.
Remember that just because they are bigger than you, richer than you, and more influential than you, does not mean that you cannot benefit from them. In fact, by carefully studying the leaders in your particular field, you can reverse engineer some of their success by continuously engaging them and their ideas on your blog.
Try to build on top of what they have achieved. Do not reinvent the wheel. Whatever you are trying to achieve in your blog has been done before by a category leader. Find that leader and build on his or her work. You are not ripping him off, you are improving upon it. Just make sure to give proper attribution.
Blogging is not for the timid and unmotivated. If you plan to be a sheep, welcome to the back of the blogosphere bus. Most bloggers are faceless, anonymous, generic, and undifferentiated. There is really nothing differentiating the majority of bloggers from each other. If you look at the guys and gals who manage to become blogging leaders, they have distinct personalities and styles. Their blogs make sure you are aware of what makes them different.
You must do the same. Building your own space on the Internet is not just a question of letting your personality shine out. It is a question of sometime being bold crazy-doing the opposite of conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom will get you nowhere because it requires conformity. The good news is there is a way to be accurate, to speak the truth, to express factual information, but in a way that grabs the eyeballs of your blog post readers shakes them up and slaps them around.
The last thing your niche needs is yet another “me too” blogger. If you are going to talk like everybody else, look like everybody else andact like everybody else, it is a probably a better idea if you do not even bother blogging. If you want to succeed, if you want to put your mark on the blogging world, not only do you have to be yourself, but be your craziest self and just have fun. Grab life by the ears and get ready for a wild ride!
The Bottom Line
Follow these standards and be part of a movement to create a better blogosphere. If you are blogging and your style does not incorporate any of these tips, then you are part of the problem. Become part of the solution today!