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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Excellent advice. I have been trying out some of the ideas that you have mentioned. I have also been reading Darren’s blog at ProBlogger for about a year and have tried implementing many of them in the past month as I have got more serious about blogging.
Thanks so much for this info. I started a blog a few years ago, and could have used this advice back in the day. I will certainly take you advice with my new revised, blog.
I think the point about finding unique content is the single biggest problem I have personally got. Once you can think of something unique to say in its own unique way then it will help you build up a loyal base of readers.
I think one of the most important aspects to being a successful blogger is enjoying what you do. If you are only in it for the money then you will never succeed……..
Paula hit the nail on the head.
If you don’t enjoy it, writing original, fresh content will be a tedious process that you will dread. Keep the passion in it and it will reflect in your blog’s content, tone and visitor contribution.
I couldnt agree more that lack of experience is costly. In order to be successful I think you need to enjoy what you do and grow with it.
You just proved your point: now that I’ve discovered your blog – and its unique content – I’ll be back for more. 😉 Well done!
I’ve been blogging for 13 months now and have made very little. I’ve been doing a lot of research online to possibly increase my pitiful income and I love what you have said here, I think it was just what I needed. I currently have 4 blogs and have decided to add more content since I have very little on them and I will try to make it as unique as possible. Thank you for posting this and I’m glad I found your site.
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Great Post, Yea its true! you must enjoyed your work not for the money.
Very interesting and useful post to become wildly successful in Blogging. I think you did lot of research in writing this blog post. I can say you this because the whole concept which you mentioned is totally new and innovative. I added some great knowledge by reading your post here. This is the best source of information for emerging internet marketer like me.
I think one of the most important aspects to being a successful blogger is enjoying what you do. If you are only in it for the money then you will never suceed.
I’ve been blogging for the past 6 months and have started to recognize some of the key pros and cons involved with creating a successful blog! So far I’ve been able to develop an audience that seems to appreciate what I’ve been discussing in my content, my next task is to definitely step up the content so that I can as you say “feel comfortable that I have enough unique content to fill a best selling book”
This is a great piece to help bloggers get refocused on priorities. Original content, consistent quality content and the quest to build one’s experience are all crucial to the blogging journey. I am not as experienced as some, but blogging itself gives you experience. You grow, change and improve along with your blog, as long as you continue the quest for growth in what you write and how you present it.