There are many things that go into being successful in the problogging arena. Things like putting in the time and effort, determination, hard work, writing chops, and marketing savvy have been brought up by many people. But I think the most important thing doesn’t get talked about a lot. For the most successful bloggers, their biggest trait seems to be the ability to consistently produce conceptually new content over the long term.
Check out the top bloggers in your niche and you’ll probably find that they’ve been around for a while. It’s rare to find a top blog that’s been around for less than a year. And most of them have been around for a couple of years.
But it’s not just the age that matters. During their existence, the top blogs produced unique, original content on a consistent basis.
One of the things I tell people who want to get serious with blogging is to imagine the following scenario.
You’re offered a book contract but the publisher is very small and not well-known. The contract states that you need to complete the book within a year. And there’s one more catch. You only get paid from the book sales. If the book flops, you’ll barely make anything. But if the book is widely successful, you’ll earn a lot of money.
Seems like a pretty bad deal, right? But that scenario is similar to most of our situations.
The net is getting crowded with competition as people are realizing how easy it is to publish. Therefore, it will be difficult to capture attention.
We’re often starting from scratch with our blog. No one knows about it other than family and friends. And we’ll spend a lot of effort upfront not knowing if our effort will pay off.
Let’s go back to our scenario. For the book to succeed, what kind of book would you need to write?
Say something new. Or least say it in a unique way.
The best way for your book to stand out from the crowd is to come up original content. If you’re just repeating widely known ideas, your book will flop and no one will read it. But a book filled with unique concepts has a chance to get traction and make an impact in your industry. This kind of book is able to leverage word of mouth marketing, which is almost necessary to do well if you don’t have a big publisher promoting your book.
In the blogosphere, there are so many blogs that just parrot the same ideas. For example, consider the make money online niche. You don’t have to look far to see that most of the blogs in this niche as just saying the same thing over and over again. But the top blogs like Shoemoney and Problogger are always delivering fresh new ideas.
The best post I’ve read on developing unique content is Sugarrae’s great piece, When Unique Content Is Not “Unique”. Make sure to read the whole thing. She writes:
Think of content like movie plots. When a movie is predictable or the basic plot has been done ten times before, you want to see something new – a new spin from the director, a better level of special effects or an unexpected twist to the plotline to name a few. If a movie is a repeat of five others you’ve seen before – and it doesn’t give you anything new aside from different actors, how likely are you to see it again or recommend it to others?
You’re not Seth Godin so you’ll need at least 200 pages to flesh out your concepts and get your points across. Plus, most popular non-fiction books are 200 pages or more. If you write a shorter book, you might not get taken seriously.
In the realm of blogging, consider how much content the top bloggers have produced. Most of them have written enough content to span several books and they are still going at it. Every year they write enough content to fill at least one book.
Consistent effort gets rewarded. It’s just human nature. People will recommend blogs to their friends because they appreciate the value they’ve received over time. Like that favorite TV show that you never miss, a blog can literally become a part of many people’s lives. But that requires delivering value over the long haul – week in and week out.
But how often do new bloggers start off strong and then after a couple weeks, run out of original stuff to say?
So before you start blogging, ask yourself if you could write a 200 page book on your topic filled with unique concepts.
Count the Cost: The Importance of Experience and Knowledge
If you’re going to write this book, you’re going to need a lot of experience and knowledge. One of the things I’ve noticed is how much experience and knowledge the top bloggers had before they even started blogging.
Look at Shoemoney, Darren Rowse of Problogger, and Brian Clark of Copyblogger.
Shoemoney made a ton of money from internet marketing. Then, he shared his experience by starting his blog.
Darren was a prolific and successful blogger in many niches before starting Problogger.
Brian Clark had experience doing copywriting from his offline business before starting Copyblogger. Plus, he had a ton of knowledge in copywriting because he read the best copywriting books. So when he entered the blogosphere a couple years ago, he was way ahead of everyone else. Today, we think of catchy headlines as common knowledge but headlines weren’t really talked about by bloggers until Brian brought it up. He brought his old school copywriting experience (which places a lot of emphasis on headlines), connected it with blogging, and made a name for himself.
Therefore, don’t be afraid to do some preparation and build a strong foundation before you launch your blog. Gain experience. Do practical things in your niche that will give you more credibility. Gain knowledge. Read a lot. Immerse yourself in your industry for a couple of months by reading books and the top blogs.
There’s no need to rush a blog launch. The internet will still be around by the time you’re ready.
See managing a blog takes a lot of time. It’s hard to produce content consistently and gain experience and knowledge at the same time especially if you have a day job and family. Therefore, getting your experience and knowledge beforehand pays a lot of dividends. Of course, the top bloggers are always learning more about their niche, but they have the time to learn and gain experience since blogging is their full-time job.
Some of you may already have enough experience and knowledge. But don’t overestimate yourself. Writing a 200 page bestselling book is no joke.
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