Blogs Are Competitive – Here’s How To Win at Blogging/ September 26, 2016
The blogging world is becoming a lot more competitive, and that’s a wonderful thing.
In the modern marketplace, the people who win are the people who are raising the bar – mediocre bloggers are either growing, or going away.
That’s why we’re not mediocre bloggers.
We’re the people who are paying attention, and we’re the future of the blogging industry.
We’re Raising the Blogging Bar
Here’s the cool thing, though:
Educated, entrepreneurial bloggers like us aren’t all raising the same bar.
Some of us are raising the educational bar…
While others are raising the search bar.
We’re responding to the competitive marketplace, but we’re also responding to our own readers in our own ways.
The smartest bloggers are less interested in “market demographics” because the person reading your posts aren’t demographics – they’re people.
And people don’t fit into neat little categories.
That means that some of us are getting really good at building blogs around stellar photography and stories.
While some of us have been killing it with video.
And others are putting out online courses that get you farther in business than a standard college degree ever could.
It’s incredible to see what top bloggers are doing with the medium…
But since we’re all so different, it can be sort of confusing for new bloggers to figure out where they fit.
The Secret to Win at Blogging
Video content isn’t the secret to success, though.
Bakerella, a dessert blogger famous for popularizing cake pops, takes incredibly delectable photos and posts fun tutorials which have led to endorsements, big name clients, and even a line of toys at Toys-R-Us!
Delicious looking photos and tutorials aren’t the secret, either.
Advice, merchandise, and Twitter…also not the secrets.
So what makes these guys bar-raising, top-notch, profitable bloggers?
They’re all continually growing, learning from their audience, and working to serve the people who come to their sites in the way that those people want to be served.
Brendon’s early followers responded to his videos, so he got better at producing great video content.
Bakerella noticed that people loved her cute cake pops, so she shares lots of adorable pictures of them.
Tamara (of Natural Hair Rules) figured out that women with natural hair are proud of their uniqueness, but want help overcoming some of their unique challenges – so she gives them that help while sharing in their pride.
The key to building a successful blog, then, is to keep paying attention and getting better at giving people what they want.
How Do You Do That?
What if you’re still new and don’t have an audience yet?
We ALL start that way, so don’t worry.
There are things you can do right now – no matter where your current skill level or following – to be one of the bloggers who are raising the bar.
Work on your people skills.
Bloggers build communities.
Like, actual human beings.
It might seem like a solitary task: sitting behind your computer, probably not wearing pants, and writing posts for people you can’t see and don’t even know.
The important thing to remember is this:
Whether you can see them or not, there are actual people on the other side of your screen.
All the same things that make you likeable in person also make your blog posts likeable, so it’s worthwhile to work on things like:
What if you’re just not a people person?
I sure wasn’t.
Luckily, I have a mentor who wouldn’t accept that kind of excuse.
Every time I made a cutting remark, got judgemental and catty, or criticized others, he flashed me a big, infuriating smile, and said enthusiastically:
I have the PERFECT book for you to read!
I read How to Win Friends and Influence People every 3 months for 2 years solid, and I still read it at least twice annually now.
Every time I read it again, I see a little boost in traffic and engagement, too.
Stay educated about your topic.
You’re never so much of an expert that there’s nothing more to learn.
When you know a lot about a certain subject, it gets hard to remember what it was like learning the basics…
Which is why so many top subject matter experts still consume beginner-level information about their area of expertise.
There’s a saying that applies here:
If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t know it well enough yet.
Lots of bloggers that used to make money made one critical mistake that cost them their following and their income:
They stopped learning and growing, and the market moved on without them.
There’s not an industry on Earth that stays constant. Everything changes, though at varying rates.
When I graduated from high school in 2006, my current career didn’t exist yet.
When I studied law (for 3 whole college semesters) we were asked to keep track correct our textbooks every time a law changed. By the end of each term, the books were uselessly outdated. And still expensive.
When I worked in the mortgage industry, things changed so quickly that our introductory training was mostly obsolete by the time we finished the 5-week customer service course.
Chances are, your blog topic is just as fluid.
For good or ill, bloggers are now at the front line of information dissemination.
People don’t check the newspapers or magazines for the latest news anymore – they check blogs.
If you want to be part of their regular information rotation, you’d better stay on top of things.
There is no blogging without communication.
Improving your communication skills might mean getting better at organizing and expressing your thoughts in words.
Or, it might mean learning the rules of grammar and punctuation.
Face to face, we communicate with a lot more than just language.
Blogging has no vocal tone, no gestures, and no subtle clues from posture and micro expressions.
Side note: micro expressions are ridiculously fascinating.
Instead, bloggers use things like graphics and photos, tex
t formatting, and video clips to get their point across in the absence of person-to-person contact.
The writing you were taught in school is not the same thing.
Phenomenal blog communicators generally read a lot of other well-written blogs.
Communication skills are, luckily, contagious.
Speed up the process by learning about conversational writing style, taking a copywriting class, and practicing critical reading.
Critical reading is basically just thinking about what you read while you read it, by the way.
Public speaking courses also help immensely, as do improv comedy classes.
It’s okay to be terrified of both of those ideas. Do them anyway.
If you struggle getting your ideas from your head to the screen, you’re not alone. Journaling is one possible cure.
Pack your posts with value.
Even if you don’t yet know who your audience will be, you know this:
Nobody comes to your blog to make YOU happy.
Except maybe your mom, but she probably won’t read your posts either. Friends and family rarely do.
Remember that people who are reading your blog are reading it for their benefit, and it’s much easier to think in terms of value.
When bloggers and marketers talk about value, we mean anything that you’re giving away for free which people would willingly pay for.
Entertainment is value.
Useful information is value.
You can increase the value of a post by adding infographics that illustrate a worthwhile point, giving away downloadable checklists, and making your readers laugh.
As you start to build an audience, you can take cues from them to make your posts even more valuable.
Watch to see what people read, share on social media, and comment on.
Do more of the stuff that works.
Do less of the stuff that nobody seems to like.
You shouldn’t try to force your readers to be interested in one type of content because you’d like them to pay more attention to it.
Give as much value as you can pack in a post, and pay attention to what your readers want.
Writing reader-focused content is one of the trickiest skills you’ll learn as a blogger, but it’s by far the most important.
Whether you have a big audience already, or you’re still working on developing your following, you can still write posts with the reader in mind.
In the beginning, you might only have a guess at what people want.
When you have data, pay attention to what it tells you.
But if you’re just starting, you can go with your initial guess. Answer this question:
Why do people want to read the blog posts you write?
Your homework today is to answer that question, and then brainstorm 3 ideas for blog posts that the people who read your blog will find valuable.
Normally, I don’t allow comments on my posts with links to your blog – nobody likes spam – but if you do this homework assignment, I’ll make an exception.
When you’ve written a post with your audience in mind, leave a comment on this post with the link and a quick explanation of what kind of person will find it valuable.
Hint: “Everybody” does not find your blog valuable.