This week we’ve been looking at a variety of ways that bloggers let their blogs degenerate. Today I want to talk about something that has the potential to kill a blog very quickly – the lack of original content or ideas.
This is a mistake that many bloggers fall into to numerous degrees. At one extreme we see bloggers simply scraping and republishing the feeds of others and slapping ads on them (splogs) – however there are a lot more subtle ways of falling into this trap that are easy to fall into.
I chatted to one blogger recently who told me that he’d just realized that without knowing it his blog had become of devoid of originality. Here’s a paragraph from an email that he wrote me (shared with permission but with a request of anonymity – edited slightly to keep the blog and niche not identifiable):
“My blog used to contain daily posts of me sharing my ideas about my niche. I would research topics and the news and their share my own views on the developments happening. But slowly over time I let things slip. It started slowly with me writing a few posts taking quotes from others in my niche and then adding a few thoughts of my own. These posts were actually good and I don’t regret them – but after a while I got lazy and began to add less of my own thoughts and more and more of the thoughts of others. Now I look at my blog and on any given week my readers are lucky to hear any of my own views on our niche. They might as well simply subscribe to the 10 blogs that I quote, they’d get as much value if they did.”
Wow, what an honest and powerful self critique. This blogger has gone on to reinvent their blog. While they still point readers to what others are writing in their niche they do it in a sidebar section on the blog and have started writing 2-3 original opinion pieces on their industry per week as the main focus of their blog.
The problem with having no originality on a blog:
This topic is a little tricky because I know how many bloggers fall into the ‘trap’ of simply reposting the ideas of others on their blogs. To complicate things further different types of blogs can get away with it more than others (for example some of the biggest blogs going around like Engadget and Gizmodo are largely reporting stories that break elsewhere).
However – in general, if you want people to find your blog and keep coming back to it for more you need to have something unique and original on your blog in terms of content. This is particularly true for new blogs (perhaps some of the big ones get away with it because they were early to their niches) who face hundreds and even thousands of competitors in many niches.
If you don’t have something unique to say then it’s unlikely that people will choose your blog to use as their source of information on your topic.
Solution: As with all of the ‘solutions’ to the problems that we’re tackling this week – today’s is pretty obvious, but somewhat difficult to actually do. The solution is to strive to produce unique and original content for your blog. This ‘uniqueness’ can happen in a number of ways including:
- The topics you cover – finding new and interesting aspects of your niche or industry that others are not covering can set you apart from the rest.
- The stance you take – one way of being unique on a story that everyone is covering is to take a different stance/opinion on it.
- The voice that you write in – lastly it’s sometimes good to actually write the post in a different style or voice. For example if everyone else is looking at a story from a serious analytical angle – write about it in a humorous way. If everyone is taking one side of an argument play devils advocate and explore the flip side of the coin.
Tips for Bloggers Attempting to Add Originality to their Blog:
In a previous post titled ‘how to add to blogging conversations‘ I give the following 11 pointers on how to add value to conversations that are happening in the blogosphere without simply replicating what everyone else is saying (I’ve included just the headings of each point below – check out the post for more details on each one):
- what did they say well?
- what did they miss?
- answer questions
- what are others saying?
- how does it apply to you?
- look forward
- look backward
- extend ideas
- take the ‘opposite’ tac
- ask what if?
- play devil’s advocate
Another quick tip on adding originality to your blog – share an opinion. Blogs that go beyond pointing out breaking news and that share opinions on their topic tend to generate discussion, get the attention of other bloggers and build readership. People want to know what you think and feel about your topic – so tell them.