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Attack of the Blog Clones

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.

Author: Chris Garrett

Chris Garrett is a content marketing and blogging coach and co-author of the Problogger Book with Darren Rowse.

11 thoughts on “Attack of the Blog Clones

  1. Hey, I can’t see the problem. If you want to get attention, if you want to attract people to your blogs, would you not rather compete with people who post un-original, me-too copy?
    I mean, imagine the reverse and all those post would be rivetting, articulate, interesting postings? In the land of the blind, one-eye is still king.

  2. IncrediBILL, your bitching is quite right. The only reason why people are not copying newspaper articles all the time is because they are afraid of the legal department of the publishing house hunting them down.

    And Yes Paula_B, being a journalist has a lot to do with hard research work. To do the write up and to compress content into a meaningful article is not the main job.

    And yes the blogosphere in general has a big reputation problem because so few people create new content. And as Artem is speaking it out so frankly there are too many script kiddies out there who only mash up existing content by using technical skills and not using journalistic crafts.

    The best thing the clever guys who offer new content can do is to create an affiliate program so that all that copying is creating a win-win situation for creators and copycats.

  3. My blog is so far out in space people have to use hubble to read the damn thing.

    I’ve bever worried about being a drone, I don’t even follow current topics and trends most of the time, I’m off to the beat of my own drummer and he’s spastic best I can tell.

    For what’s it’s worth, I was bitching about this topic about 4 months ago, the parrots are real annoying.

  4. I don’t have any problems with cloning because they need content to carry them through. It is not that they post one good post and the blog becomes super popular, but there has to be a regular flow of good content. On my blog, I have one interesting post a month and the rest of the time, I put common stuff up there. So, the traffic varies from one time of the month to another.

    But my point is, cloning is good as long as the same articles are not cloned…

  5. Chris, I am copying content, but without making a single penny out of it. I am myself interested in gathering the information about the niche, so I decided to share the collection with everybody and maybe gain a little bit of recognition. And yes, I am not running any kind of advertisements exactly, because I am afraid of the legal status of such a revenue

    Nevertheless, the point here is not my concrete example (since it’s not about money – it’s not what Performancing is about). The point is that some clever mechanical activity can be useful and can somewhat compensate the lack of creativity. You just need to find a routine (i.e. automatable) task that people do and don’t want to do themselves. Just like you found the missing points in the web-stats software

  6. I had trouble with a lot of the content on my blog just becoming links to other blogs awhile back. I eventually found that a design change helped me overcome my linking habit. Instead of posting links to other articles in the main loop on my blog, I moved them to the sidebar and out of the way. My average monthly postings that went to the main loop fell to only two or three a month, but those are almost all original content. The best part is that I still get to link as much as I want, but I don’t have to worry about short posts with little to no original content bothering my readers who don’t want them.

  7. Do you just reproduce the posts, link to them or write about them? I really hope you are not copying content!

  8. You can try being creative with cloning actually. The point is to add value and in fact it is not equal to adding own thoughts 😉

    One of my blogs is no more, than a syndication of all the blogs in the niche (it’s a small niche of some 40-50 blogs all over the world). Technically I am doing the Bloglines job by re-posting the original content on my site.

    The value comes from the fact, that I am maintaining a perfect clone. I track new blogs in the niche and carefully add them to my mega-blog. Reader doesn’t have to hunt for the information sources himself. The project lasts for about three month already and with minimal advertisement (single post in the A-blogger’s blog) according to FeedBurner I have 60-70 readers a day.

    As a novice blogger I don’t know if it is a lot How big readership a blogger usually gets in three month?

  9. I think many people underestimate the amount of “time” it takes to put together a quality post. For me, even if I am just commenting or referenceing another post, it takes me AT LEAST a good half-hour to analyze and offer my viewpoint on the matter.

    For a completely new post I will usually have done research for it off and on for a week. Then, when I actually create a completely original post it takes a good two hours AT LEAST to write a quality article. That doesn’t always include screenshots, images, and any other resources I might have to pull together.

    IMO, as with anything the chaff will fall away. It does get annoying, but I think the noise will eventually die down.

    DM

  10. By using the term ‘self reference’ I am trying to say that it is never ever enough just to write about things you are currently interested in as a PASSIVE reader. Get active and bring up new topics/subjects/views! Get away from only reacting on other sources.

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