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Blogging used to be about gathering your thoughts into some semblance of logic and pouring them onto a random free blogging service. Do you remember those? This is how we ended up with heaps of lifestyle blogs that read a lot more like journals than focused experiences you can relish or learn from.
From business topics to tech, fashion, lifestyle and food, there are around 1.59 daily million posts in WordPress only – and WordPress has an estimated 58.2% market share in the global CMS/Blog arena. This is your competition. Now let’s see what you can do to earn your audience’s attention, if you’re just getting started with blogging.
What you’re talking about
Blogging starts with the intention to communicate about something and content. Your odds of coming up with a completely original theme are close to zero, because the market is so saturated. So focus on a new perspective instead of beating a dead horse.
Let’s take the example of someone trying to pull together a fashion blog. And to make it even tougher, let’s pick a 20 to 35 year-old target audience. Hello, challenge! You could be just like everybody else and blog about boring recommendations on how do dress for this or that occasion, how to be fashionable on a shoestring budget or how to become an <insert extreme body shape> fashionista.
Or, you could bring a unique, sustainable perspective by using something that’s particular to you, such as the fact that you love to travel. In this example, your blog could be about mixing local fashion into your wandering wardrobe. You could even call it The Wandering Wardrobe. Remember, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here, we’re just giving it a different spin.
Man Repeller is a fantastic example of making a clear point, in spite of an oversaturated market. Not unlike other fashion blogs, there’s a lot about being fashion-forward. A lot like other blogs, there’s a spoonful of irony that comes with every post. What I really like about them is that behind the clothes I honestly don’t get and the snarky humor I absolutely love, there’s a kick in the pants to every woman out there to find and define their own fashion comfort zone and style. Here’s to pairing sneakers with a fancy dress!
How you come through the page
It’s not just topics that set you apart from the throngs of bloggers out there. Language is the vehicle to your audience’s memory so, when you make a point, you need to make sure you’re speaking your audience’s language.
However, it isn’t all about vocabulary and grammar. It’s about syntax, the expressions you use, the metaphors you employ, the wordplays you add to the mix. It’s about a predilection for nouns or adjectives, a particular tense, recurring types of phrasing that all come together to define your writing style.
As this can be one of, if not the most important differentiator you have, I strongly encourage you to invest some time in defining your own, unique communication style.
Ready for some serious travel envy? No, you’re not.
Globalgrasshopper is an award-winning travel blog that gets you a ticket to under-the-radar beautiful places around the world, thanks to Becky Moore and her traveling grasshoppers. Overall, the language is friendly, relaxed and very open but it’s not homogenous. That is to say, although you can go from one page to another without it feeling like you’re on a different website, each writer’s style comes off the page in a very human way.
Who you’re speaking to
Defining what our blog is about is often a step-by-step exercise, which means that we’re trying to work out what we’re doing, how and for whom in a particular order. In fact, this should be a fluid process, during which you define your angle, your language, audience and then go back to re-define your angle and audience to align them to your target audience.
Many bloggers, particularly beginners, have a very sketchy notion of their audience, if they have one at all. In this case, we’re writing for ourselves, rather than an audience, so we might as well just pick up a notebook instead of a blog post page.
To earn a voice in such a busy online conversation, you have to not only know who you’re addressing but to have a very specific message for your audience. In the beginning all you’ll have are assumptions but if you make them specific enough and then create audience variations based on who engages with particular topics the most, you have a very good chance to delivering a valuable message to an interested audience.
There’s more to Dana’s Minimalist Baker blog than delicious food and drool-worthy photos. Not that any of those are in short supply. She does a wonderful job of telling stories by taking you out to breakfast, lunch, dinner and desert and she does it all by knowing exactly who she’s talking to – lazy foodies like me who love to have a chat with friends over a great meal.
The “You” in all of it
A blog is first and foremost a personal connection between you and a bunch of people interested in some topics, who like, agree, are amused or inspired by the way you make your point. For your blog to be effective long-term, it needs to become an even more personal connection between you, as a personal brand, and people interested in your opinions and insights.
To achieve this, your personality has to shine through the posts, the blog, the imagery and the marketing – in other words, you’ve got to lay the groundwork for a personal brand in order for readers to come back and read your blog, not another random one.
Whether you read his blog, Facebook post, Medium articles, social media visual or hear him speak, Gary Vaynerchuk comes through his every piece of content. His straightforward communication style translates into a bold website design, with loads of personal photography, contrasting colours and bold, capitalised text – a great example of personal branding done right.
The Bottom Line
We’ve been slightly duped into a sense of security that there’s an audience for anything and, by virtue of this nonsense, if we have something marginally interesting to say, saying it is enough to propel us towards the top of the blogging world.
Content is swarming online and without a recognisable voice, a neat perspective, a well-defined image and great context, your blog won’t even break through the noise, let alone make its mark.