Blogging over the years has gone from something people do for fun to something you can make a viable income from. It has without a doubt become a sort of worldwide phenomenon and a lot of people want to know how to become a successful blogger. I created my first blog post in August 2006, and since then I have seen this platform of expression grow in leaps and bounds. A platform where you can reach people anywhere, anytime. What could be better than this you ask? Well, doing it right. There are some parts of the world that make sure professionalism and ample research is applied to their blogs, and some parts where professionalism is seldom applied. I believe the laws of the land and accountability play a big role. The internet is a very difficult place to police with thousands of new websites popping up each day.
In countries like the USA plagiarism is frowned upon and could get you in big trouble. Most times, if you lift, you do so with permission, giving credit back to the source. It is also wise before lifting from a source to make sure they are credible, and you have done additional research because the truth is, anybody can post anything on the web. This is just the code. This “code” although classified as “how things are meant to be done” is not followed in all countries. Although wrong, I will apply the logic that Rome wasn’t built in a day so with that said, and without singling out any specific country, I will share 5 reasons why having unique content is good for your brand as a blogger. When I say unique content, keep in mind it is rare to see a topic that has not been covered on the world wide web but one beautiful thing about SELF is that we are unique individuals and no one can mimic your thoughts or your personality. For this small fact, I say bring that to the table because in such a competitive field, you will need it.
What is Blogging?
Let me start with the dictionary definition of blogging so we are all on the same page.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a blog is; : a Web site on which someone writes about personal opinions, activities, and experiences.
The key word here is PERSONAL..Your PERSONAL opinion, activities, and experiences. Now, lets take it from there.
Find Your Purpose: Before you even start a blog, ask yourself why you are blogging. This I believe is the first step. Are you blogging to gain followers? Are you blogging to solve problems? Are you blogging to provide a service? Are you blogging to share information? Are you blogging for fun? Also ask yourself if your intention is to make a substantial income from blogging. If it is, lay out a plan. Where do you see your blog in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years etc? Why should people click on your blog post? What purpose will your blog post serve? Is there anything you are adding that makes you stand out? Is this a long term goal or just a hobby? How often do you plan on blogging? These are just a few of the questions you should consider before you start.
If you have already started and wish to redirect your purpose, maybe because you changed your approach, it is totally allowed. We live to learn another day. Blogging without purpose may be fine and dandy in the beginning but after a while, you may get bored and tired because you are blogging without direction and the reward is not what you thought it would be.
Your Blog should be reflection of you: The more unique your content is, the better chances you have of getting ranked high on google. When you write verbatim what 100 other blogs have written, why should google index you on the first few pages? People are searching for new ways to do things so why limit yourself. Share you expertise. Your point of view will be more interesting to your readers than you sharing what XYZ said. This in turn helps you build your brand and gain your “blog fans” who look forward to your next post. Keep in mind however, with the way information is shared these days, you also have to keep in touch with your readers and interact with them frequently. A great way to do this is via your comment section or by adding a news letter subscription page to your blog.
General Vs. Niche Blog: Personally I am on the fence with this on. My website for instance can be considered a general website. Although I cover all things pop culture, lifestyle and entertainment and share my poetry, these topics are very broad and could include almost any topic. I do not limit myself to one particular field. I can write my opinion about Celebrities today and still do a how to post tomorrow. I can write a food review today and still do a music post tomorrow. What stays consistent however is that, I apply myself to each post. I share my views about things that interest me. Even with paid posts, (yes, that is not a new phenomenon lol), I will only take on things I find interesting and applicable to my website.
Niche blogging is fantastic if you have something you are extemely passionate about. Niche blogging is also great if you know your onions. You can easily build your brand as the “go to” person for that field and make additional income doing so. A good example would be a fashion photographer who makes make additional income by getting new clients because he has a niche blog that shows he knows his stuff. I know someone who makes 6 figures from an information for new moms website. The possibilities are endless.
Covering Celebrity Stories: This particular niche is the trickiest. This is because celebrity stories are hot and most times, the “facts” remain the same all though the story. I use the term “facts” loosely. If your niche is Celebrity gossip, how do you stand out you ask? You can start by writing your own perspective on the on going story. It’s all fine and dandy that TMZ broke a story, but before you write, ask yourself what you have to add to what TMZ has already told us. Again, I emphasize on bringing your personality to the table. When you gist with your friends about what JayZ did yesterday, how would you put it? Apply this same logic to blogging about Celebrities.
Also, make sure you make it clear when you are speculating. Acting as authority on a topic when you are not sure of the facts is wrong. Make sure your readers know some things are allegedly said. I do not want to single out any particular region but I am familiar with blogs from a particular place where most of the Celebrity news blogs copy and paste stories word for word and sometimes headline for headline from each other. They seldom take time out to research or change details in the story, add their own opinion, or give credit to the source. This is very bad blogging practice and it will seldom get those blog far in such a competitive field most especially if it is a new blog.
When I scroll through my twitter and 50 of them have the same exact headline, I feel they should ask themself why should I as the consumer click that link? Besides it being considered plagiarism, this practice does not help the blog get dedicated readership, neither does it help with page ranks. Press releases are in my opinion one exception to the rule, but even with press releases it is wise to rewrite the facts in the release.
Be Consistent, Creative and Write Quality Posts: In the world of blogging, consistency rules. A page rank can drop significantly if your blog is inactive but quality posts can help keep you up there. When you write quality posts and google indexes it, people who have a need for what you wrote can still find you by searching for keywords that can lead them to your post. I have seen some posts on Google’s first page that were created as far back as 5-years ago but still rank high because the content is good.
Creativity helps you keep people engaged. When I read a great post, I am more inclined to stay back and see what else the author has on their site. Watered down posts are a huge turn off unless it’s for a topic that really needs no long explanation like sharing a music video, song etc. Always analyze your topic before you write. This piece of information may be juicy to you but if it is something I have seen on several other sites, chances are I will bypass yours too. When you sit to put up a blog post, the first questions you should ask yourself is, why should anyone care? Is my headline good enough? What am I bringing to the table? If your story is a viral one, ask yourself if your contribution to that story is unique. There are always exceptions to every rule but generally speaking these should help a great deal.
In conclusion, let me just say If you are a blogger who is sitting there scratching your head wondering why you get little to no clicks to your posts, I hope these tips will help you redefine your purpose. Like I said before, Rome was not built in one day and consistency matters. No matter how awesome we think we are, we are still learning each day. My writing style changes depending on my mood and for me that is ok because I have learned that it works for me. Always know what works for you so things do not end up seeming like a chore, after all you have to enjoy what you do right? Knowing how to market your blog or brand also matters. If you are stumped on how to do this, you can read my post on a List of over 50 Best Social Media Tools for Brand Building. If things start out slow, do not get frustrated, with good content and awesome marketing you can grow. Stop comparing yourself to others because all fingers were not created equal.