After Christmas I started planning my next blog. I had a vague sense of what topics I would cover so started subscribing to RSS feeds so I could see what sort of content is posted to the niche. Since then as you can imagine things got a bit hectic so that is as far as I got. I just reviewed the blogs I subscribed to and I was shocked by what I saw.
I must have subscribed to around 20 blogs that broadly cover my potential niche. Of those 20 about 2 had original content on a regular basis, 1 had mostly unoriginal content mixed in with the occasional journal type post. These aren’t on the face of it bad blogs either, they are well written, look nice and are seemingly well maintained.
Is it a case of “follow the leader”, laziness or spam? Hard to say. Each case is probably different.
The sad thing is we have all seen this in other niches. Nick and I used to talk about it a lot in the SEO field. The SEO echo chamber is particularly strong, to the point where you would feel an urge to post about something everyone else was talking about just to not be seen as missing out on the story.
When selecting a subject for a blog, sustainability is very important. Not just is there a ready source of content, can you sustain the content with original material? I suspect a lot of these bloggers launched their blogs hoping the rest of the blogosphere would carry them. Linking out is not a bad policy, in fact it is good to introduce your audience to interesting content, but if 9/10 of your posts are linking to BoingBoing there is something deeply wrong.
So how do you stop your blog becoming just another a clone?
First step is when you do link out, add value. Add your own thoughts. Are you for or against? Why? Are there pieces of information missing that you could fill, make sure each story has all of “who, what, where, when, how”.
The best remedy is to create original content. You have your own experiences and thoughts to draw on. Look back, imagine the future, talk to people, interview people, brainstorm, start challenges, hold a competition.
Cast your net wider, if you only read a small pool of blogs then you are restricting your capacity for new ideas. Add more blogs to your feeds but also read magazines, books, watch television, get out and meet real people.
In the end if your blog can only follow others it might be worth ending it or changing the niche. Just another clone is not doing you or your audience any favours.