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Blogging in 2017: How to Disrupt and Get Noticed

Posted By Guest Blogger 25th of January 2017 Blog Promotion 33

This is a guest contribution from Sam Warren of Rankpay

I’ve got good news and bad news.

The bad news is this: that boring content you’re probably peddling? It’s not worth it anymore. It has its place, but it’s not going to take you to that next level.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not your fault for going about content marketing like this. We all do. We’ve been taught to.

But therein lies the problem doesn’t it? If we’ve all been taught to do something, and we all “follow the rules”, it stands to reason that it’d be hard to stand out. And boy, is it ever.

Blogging in 2017: How to Disrupt and Get Noticed | ProBlogger.net

Don’t get discouraged though, as promised I have some good news as well.

While it may be difficult, it’s far from impossible to get noticed. You’re just going to have to think outside the box and that’s why I’m here.

I’m going to show you how to make a difference.

From time to time, we all need to brush up on our creative problem solving skills and remind ourselves that it’s OK to be disruptive and take risks.

But before we get there, let’s take a closer look at why we need to think this way in the first place.

Content Marketing Has Grown Into a Monster

It used to be hard to find good writers on the internet. Those that knew how to write an engaging and actionable article made waves quickly and efficiently.

Nowadays, good writers are a dime a dozen. In fact, there are far too many of us.

Back in 2012 Domo presented research claiming WordPress users alone create 347 articles every minute.

The signal to noise ratio is getting worse by the day, and in many cases writers have altogether forgotten why they started down this road in the first place.

Was it

  • More shares?
  • Improved search visibility?
  • Building brand awareness?
  • Getting email subscribers for remarketing?

Oh well, you probably don’t have time to consider such things. Better write another 500 word article to hit that deadline.

Blogging in 2017: How to Disrupt and Get Noticed | ProBlogger.net

There, there, it’s all right. You’re not alone.

Further, this type of “bulk” content you’ve been taught to produce can still be marginally effective if you’re in a small and uncompetitive niche.

But for those of us fixing to make headway in existing markets, traditional advice just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

What Doesn’t Necessarily Work in Competitive Markets?

Don’t worry, I know you’re curious about what does work. We’ll get there.

But let’s first take a closer look at a few things you’ve probably been taught over the years. I’d challenge you to take a good hard look at each of them, and try to determine what measurable impact they’ve had for you.

Skyscraper Technique

This was popularized by Brian Dean a number of years ago, and it’s still a pretty awesome concept. I don’t want to devalue this opportunity for you, but it behooves us to be cautious and realistic.

Blogging in 2017: How to Disrupt and Get Noticed | ProBlogger.net

Image courtesy: Backlinko

The problem is, after this technique started to make the rounds, many content marketers began investing serious time putting it to good use. As a result of this, unless you’re blogging in an up-and-coming niche, the return on investment often won’t usually be in your favor.

There are any number of cornerstone and evergreen content pieces out there that you’re simply not going to best without putting in an unacceptable amount of time and energy.

This is an “extreme” example, but say you run an SEO service, and you want to rank for the term “How to do keyword research.” Well, Moz is currently ranking #1 for that term. Spoiler alert: their post already has over 5000 links built to it.

Blogging in 2017: How to Disrupt and Get Noticed | ProBlogger.net

The amount of time you’d need to invest in creating a resource that’s actually more useful than a well-established magnum opus with 1k+ referring quality domains, is staggering.

It may occasionally border on impossible depending upon your link-building abilities and social capital.

Tons of boring “recycled” content

Just take a look on Upwork and you’ll see a huge number of gigs looking for “writers” able to produce tons of 500 words articles focused on a small number of keyword variations.

If you’re working in a space that has no recognizable competition, this could get your site on the map. No doubt. But even under those circumstances, you’d still be missing out on so much of what content marketing has to offer.

Guess what? Readers aren’t going to click your article if it’s the same damn thing they’ve read a thousand times already. Recycling and spinning content will simply turn readers off.

Alienating your existing or potential audience is a surefire way to drive your traffic into the ground.

That horrid template you use for outreach emails

Getting published at notable outlets is a big deal for any marketer. It’s also a critical component to making sure you’re get the most out of your content marketing efforts.

But getting a publisher’s ear can be easier said than done. Case in point: the blog I edit at RankPay is a relatively low-key affair, but nevertheless I bet you’d be surprised by the sheer volume of pitches I get from writers looking to get published.

First and foremost, don’t be an idiot when you write these emails. Do us all a favor and avoid the common pitfalls.

  • Don’t misspell names
  • Don’t address the wrong publication
  • Don’t pitch junk just to earn a link
  • Don’t plagiarize

But there’s more to it than just that.

Chances are you’ve read that personalizing is the way to go. It is. But everyone recommends you say something like “I’ve been a long-time reader and I loved your article XYZ”.

Blogging in 2017: How to Disrupt and Get Noticed | ProBlogger.net

While it’s nice that this shows you took the time to copy paste a title as opposed to just bulk-emailing, it still doesn’t win you any points these days. Every publisher knows what you’re doing, and it just makes you seem washed up and disingenuous.

What Does Work Nowadays?

Put simply, thinking outside of the box works.

Tell a story and be creative. Write about something that nobody else has bothered to yet.

Do you know why so many readers are happy subscribers to Seth Godin’s blog? It’s because they’ll never see anything he writes, anywhere else. It’s truly original and, even more importantly, it’s from the heart.

That last part is the key. The internet has made us all a bit more skeptical and increased our awareness of when we’re being “sold” or manipulated. Being genuine and honest is the best way to avoid having this problem yourself.

Develop a unique and authentic voice

Writing in a stiff or unnatural voice is a surefire way to alienate your readers.

Let your freak flag fly! Well, to a degree. Let’s not get carried away.

But the point I’m going to stress here, is that getting noticed demands personality, creativity, and authenticity. With so many talented writers producing quality content, you’re going to need to be different.

There’s often a level of candor that I still “feel” is missing from many popular writers. Perhaps once they reach a certain popularity point they feel they need to button up and follow the rules to be careful not to misstep.

I’m not popular enough to be burdened with high-brow concerns. But that being said, time and time again, being original and authentic gets folks to pay attention.

We all just want to relate to one another and to be heard, whether we’re creating or consuming content.

Actually be creative

While everyone shouts this from the mountaintops, very few seem to practice it.

I don’t just mean “don’t plagiarize”. Honestly that should go without saying. I mean tell a story that your audience hasn’t heard before. Screw the rules! Be creative! Be different!

Image courtesy: Derek Halpern

If you’re in IT, write a cute screenplay about how to better provide tech support. Write a limerick about common troubleshooting solutions. Being original (and often weird) is usually how content goes viral.

“If you’ve ever seen my YouTube channel, one of the first things you might notice is that I look ridiculous in half of my thumbnail pictures. Why would I publish these truly unfortunate freeze frames when I have much better pictures I could be using? The answer is simple: What stands out gets remembered. What blends in gets forgotten.Derek Halpern

People want to be entertained and educated. If you can accomplish both at once in an innovative way, you’re truly on to something.

Honest outreach emails

Instead of sounding like just another writer looking to grab a link, try being genuine for a change.

I’ve legitimately landed multiple publication opportunities by opening my cold emails with some variation of the following.

Blogging in 2017: How to Disrupt and Get Noticed | ProBlogger.net

If you don’t know the publication, try being honest that you don’t. Make yourself vulnerable.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” ― Brené Brown

It seems risky, but the people on the receiving end of your emails are human beings. In my experience, people respect and appreciate honesty above all else. Trust me, candor is a refreshing treat when you work in marketing and/or publishing.

Putting Disruptive Ideas to Paper

Imagine yourself as a blogging entrepreneur! You’re going to have to take some risks. It’s scary to put yourself out there like this.

But the reality is, you won’t get far unless you “dare greatly”. That’s more wisdom from Brené Brown right there. Seriously, go watch her Ted Talks if you’ve somehow missed them.

It’s all too easy to just phone it in and write the same dribble you’ve been writing for the past few months or years. But let’s make 2017 different. Let’s make a difference this year.

Remember:

  • Be creative with the content you create
  • Be authentic with your voice and tone
  • Be different than your competitors
  • Be honest with your outreach efforts

You’ll be amazed by the opportunities you earn when you begin to bring these goals in focus.

Sam Warren is the marketing manager and editor at RankPay, a top rated performance-based SEO service, and the proud father of a 10lb chihuahua mutt.

 

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
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Comments
  1. Steve says: 01/25/2017 at 2:23 am

    Wow. What a patronizing blog post. Really not much substance here. And really not sure what to do with the suggestion of writing ‘ a cute screenplay’ or ‘a limerick’. What the heck?!!!

    • Really appreciate your feedback Steve. Definitely didn’t intend to sound patronizing, that’s something I’ll take to heart and learn from.

      To your second point, those two “ideas” you mentioned are most definitely odd! I’m glad you noticed them and had that reaction because that truly speaks to my larger point:

      Not all of the unusual and creative ideas we generate will actually be worth pursuing. But being weird is definitively a launch pad for virality. Brainstorm, get feedback, and improve!

    • I don’t know, I read the same article as you and didn’t find it patronizing at all. As for the screenplay or limerick, it’s not literal. The point is just to be different. He used that example in the sense of saying, “okay you’re writing about tech but have some creative fun with it.” Just to be different. Personally I found this pretty valuable. I actually HAVE been writing the same way for a long time and not taking risks and it’s not getting me anywhere. This is prompting me to change things up.

      At this point I have nothing to lose so why not? Thanks Sam!

  2. hi Sam, thank you for this very useful post. I’ve learned a lot from this piece. I have an art blog and no idea on how to make it stand out to the crowd because art is very competitive niche. I’m so glad I read your post today. At least now I know what to do and what not to do on my bog. Keep it up Sam.

  3. This is great advice. The one piece I would add is be focused in your efforts. Ask yourself what value a post has to the reader before publishing and how they would benefit from reading it. Thanks for sharing!

    • Good point Nick, couldn’t agree more. Maintaining a laser focus on both the identity of your audience, and the value your experience and training can provide to them, is a surefire way to stand out from the crowd.

  4. I really enjoyed this post, I’m new to blogging and just created a social media marketing blog for young entrepreneurs. The most helpful part of this post for me was from your statement: “Screw the rules! Be creative! Be different!”

  5. To honest, Sam just posted an article i really needed. At the moment, having content that is no where on the internet is next to impossible but Sam brings it down to letting us know that its about being creative and thinking out of the box. Just from the title of this article that goes like How to Disrupt and get Noticed! I was disrupted and i have noticed Sam. Thanks Sam. Great stuff right here for all regardless wheathere they are newbies in blogging like i or they are veterans. :D :D
    Cheers

    • So glad to hear this was helpful Hamri. Nothing makes me happier than getting the right message in front of the right person, at just the right moment!

      All the best!

  6. Hey Sam,

    Brian has done a great job many years ago but that’s not really effective in today’s era of blogging.

    I agree with your point of sending the genuine emails. Misspelled email can be annoying and puts bad impression.

    Telling a story to engage your readers is always a great idea.

    Thanks for putting some light.
    ~Ravi

  7. Thank you so much for such a informative and very helpful post. I am new in blogging arena. This post really helped me to learn so much thing about blog.

  8. I think it’s safe to say that social media, has more potential now days to bring quality traffic to a website then google does. It doesn’t matter how quality your content is now days because authority sites have taken over. It’s impossible to compete in a semi popular niche now days because these giant websites with millions of back links are ranking for keywords they aren’t even trying for.

    In 2017 I’m going to be attempting getting all my traffic from social media, and not give a crap about on page SEO and link building.

  9. Yes to this, agree that what truly matters however ‘big’ you become/ are as a blogger, is authenticity/remaining true to yourself. You must write from the heart (how you reached success in the first place) and keep connecting with others, sharing your unique pov on the world/your world. I was a filmmaker pre-blogging and vlogging days, and as with screenwriting and directing, blogs and social media are simply ’emotion on screen’. Eliciting emoting and connecting emotionally is everything. Super post, thank you!

    • Love it! 100% the right way to look at it.

      Connecting with the audience, telling a story, and evoking emotional responses. All fantastic points and they really get to the core of how to achieve success as a writer. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I really liked your approach with the email. I get so annoyed when I get a PR pitch where someone says, “I am a huge fan of your blog, I’m a regular reader” etc and then they ask if I’d like to partner with them about diapers or something to do with babies. Considering my “babies” are 14 and 11 and I don’t write much about them at all anymore, it’s pretty clear that they do NOT read my blog at all or haven’t for a very long time.

    I would be much more receptive to an email that admits straight out that the sender is not a regular reader but wants to touch base.

    • Glad you liked the email approach Sherry, I see that situation you described happening far too often.

      I find it’s all about empathizing with your audience. If you’re writing to an editor, put yourself in their shoes.

      What would intrigue you about a pitch? What would tell you that a writer is worth your time? What would convey that a writer is excited to work with your publication specifically?

      Address these head-on in the email and you’ll catch editors off guard (in a good way). That’s how you get a dialogue started and have a chance to prove your value to them.

  11. Thanks for the post, Sam! I’m curious, what software is that screenshot of the Moz article’s SEO data?

    • Hey Beau, happy to help. That’s a screenshot from Ahrefs (www.ahrefs.com) dashboard.

      Very powerful and useful SEO tool. I couldn’t live without it!

  12. Hey Sam, fantastic guest post – I think Pro Blogger will be getting you back plenty of times in the future!

    There are virtually an unlimited number of writers out there, easily found now on freelancing sites like Upwork and Fiverr. A large percentage of those will be ‘good’ writers, in terms of their technical skills, but there’s no real personality to their writing; they’re just like robots. The truly great writers are great because they cut loose, and let their true personality shine through. Readers notice this, consciously or subconsciously, almost immediately. The great pieces of content, which gain proper traction, will invariably have this hefty dose of personality.

    As you say, ‘Let the freak flag fly’!

  13. Hey Sam,

    Interesting post. To get noticed I believe it’s all about thinking out of the box and create content that has some freshness to it.

    Thanks,
    Gaurav

  14. Hey Sam,

    Glad to read your informative post. Our content needs to be easy to read, and readers trust content more if our blog looks polished and professional. We need to make sure to format our content in short paragraphs with headers, this will make it easy to read.

    Publishing a post isn’t enough in order to be successful, we’ll need to find clever ways to promote our articles. Ultimately, the goal is for our content to entice a consumer to do business with our company. Consistency is considered as key ingredient to a successful content marketing strategy.

    Content strategy should seek to produce and distribute content that is consistently shared by our audience, but that also can be shared easily. Eventually, thanks for reveling a light on this topic.

    With best wishes,

    Amar kumar

  15. I thought your post was great and definitely not patronizing. I find using key words disrupts my flow and choice of titles. I know we have to use them to get noticed but I think it also disrupts creativity sometimes.
    Any advice in this area?

    • Lynda,

      Thanks for the kind words! When it comes to stifled creativity, we’ve certainly all been there.

      Keywords are still a “must” when it comes to planning for content discovery. But that being said, you may be placing more importance on them than necessary.

      Search engines have come a long way in terms of how effective they are at crawling and understanding content. I’d argue that as long as you have the keyword in the title, an h2 tag, meta description and sprinkled here and there throughout the piece you should be all set.

      No need to let it get in the way of true creativity. Overuse shows diminishing returns.

      Hope that helps!

  16. Hey Sam,

    I do agree with your point – “thinking outside of the box works”.

    To get noticed, we need to “think out of the box” & create unique and quality content. It helps to keep our readers hooked. It’s all about being creative.

    Also, making the content enjoyable for our readers, understanding their needs, telling them stories builds a trust with our readers. Being honest is the key to success.

    Thank you so much for such an informative and interesting post. :)

  17. I really enjoyed this post. It’s speaks to something that already bothers me in the short time I’ve been blogging (less then a year) – that a large percent of the content in my niche mom/parenting feels like it’s coming from the same playbook. I think you hit it dead on with the deadline issue, most people would rather post anything just to put something out there. I’ve done it. But stopped a few months ago. And you know what? My traffic’s increased since I became more selective about what to post, even though I post a lot less often.

    • Jen,

      I’m so glad to hear that, and thanks for sharing.

      Proof is in the pudding as they say. Volume only matters to a certain point in most cases, sounds like you’ve found the sweet spot for your audience!

  18. Thank you for posting this article! I write from the heart, and I am so…. disheartened feeling the requirement to write boring SEO-based content, instead of my own words.

    You are so right that the over-used ploy of “I’ve been following your blog for a while, and blalblalbla…” is so transparent. Another one I can’t stand, and refuse to use EVER is “If you’re like me, you’re probably really busy.” Please! So transparent! Everyone needs to stop using these worn-out opening sentences, immediately!

    Thanks again. From my heart to yours.

  19. Hey Sam

    Great post!

    I think if we are going to be authentic and genuine then first we have to accept ourselves.

    There are so many of us trying to be like the Seth Godins, Neil Patel’s, and Brian Dean’s that we come across fake in our writing.

    Once we accept who we are and put out there on a blog then we’ll get the respect and success we want.

    Great share!

  20. Hey Sam, I’m a new blogger and this post is very useful to me. Thanks!

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