One of the common mistakes that I see in many blogs is that they are quite simply unremarkable.
We’ve all seen seen these blogs – (and most of us if we’re honest will admit to having written them at some point) – they are the blogs you look at for a few seconds without actually seeing anything before you surf on to some other site.
Blog readers only stay on any given post for an average of 96 seconds. Its not long! So you’ve only got just over one and a half minutes to make an impression – to do something remarkable that will rock your reader’s world, arrest their attention and stop them scrolling the web like a zombie.
Two great books that I think all ProBloggers should read are the Purple Cow and the Free Prize Inside (afffiliate links). Both are by the author Seth Godin. There is lots of goodness to chew over in these books that relate to blogging – but one of the major take home lessons is about being remarkable – about being a ‘purple cow’.
We live in a world where we’re bombarded with messages all day long from a variety of media (including the web) – in order to break through the noise with your blog its going to take something remarkable.
How to be a Purple Cow
How does one become a Purple Cow blogger? Its not an answer I can give you – there is no formula to it, if there was everyone would be remarkable in the same way and in the process become just one of the crowd again. However there are some things you might like to consider in your quest for the Purple Cow:
One way to grab attention of readers is with visuals. Seth himself does this pretty well on his books and blog with that bald head of his. I bet that is one of the first things that people look at when they come to his blog every time. It grabs you, it stays in your mind – the blog suddenly becomes ‘that blog with the bald head’. Good branding will stand out – whether that’s an image of you, your logo, strong brand colours or a stylised look and feel for your blog.
Have you ever been looking through your News Aggregator, or Search Engine results and been totally grabbed by the title that someone’s written for their post? I know I have many times. The title of your blog and blog posts are crucial attention grabbers. Consider using them to do just that. Of course your titles should match up with the content you write – but experiment with your titles a bit. You might also like to read this post: How to Write Great Blog Post Titles.
Images definitely capture your readers’ attention and draw them into your blog. You have to be careful about their placement – but a picture has the ability to totally grab your readers – as do logos. I don’t know about you, but blogs that are just slabs of text turn me off faster than a cold shower! Break your page up a bit. At ProBlogger we use Unsplash for images and Canva for creating our graphics.
‘Content is everything’ is the cry that often goes up about blogs. I disagree, it’s not everything, but it IS pretty important. If you’re not writing compelling, intriguing, insightful, witty, humorous or useful content (or some combination of the above) then you might as well give up now. I’d highly recommend that you consider original content too – whilst I do have some more ‘news like’ blogs – it’s the original content that I write that almost always gets the attention. Quotes and links are a dime a dozen. Do something original and you’ll stand out from the crowd. Here’s some tips to add originality to your content.
Give something away
I’m not talking here about offering prizes (although they could work if they are the right ones) but I’m talking about considering giving your readers a gift. Seth’s book Free Prize Inside takes readers back to the days when we were kids and used to get those little plastic toys for free in our cereal boxes and writes about how we should consider what the ‘free prize’ is that we give away with our products or services to surprise and delight your readers. What can you give away with your blog? If you’re anything like me, you remember when someone gives you something for free – it makes an impression. Think outside the box a little with your free prizes, it doesn’t have to be an actual physical gift, perhaps its an award, maybe its some information that others charge for, it could be a newsletter, it could be some personal attention to readers, it could be linking to your readers blogs.
There are many ways to make your blog remarkable. Probably the best thing you can do is to go surfing the sites and blogs in your bookmarks and start asking yourself what others are doing to stand out. Why do you keep going back to your favorite blogs? What hooks you in? How could you be more like them?
Be original, be surprising, be remarkable, be a Purple Cow!
Get more Blog tips from our Blog Tips for Beginners series.
This post was first published on March 19, 2005 and updated June 23, 2022
[…] All of this means that if you want to build a blog that is a runaway success you need to consider how your blog will differentiate itself from all the others out there. While not every blog needs to reach ‘runaway success’ status for you to make a living from blogging (20 reasonably successful blogs can do just as well as 1 amazing one) even lower level blogs need to find ways to stand out from the crowd. […]
The other lesson I’d add is to try out different topics you’re interested in as different blogs.
That way you can see what interests others. After all we’re not all interested in stamp collections or fishing but there are people out there who are.
And if they’re your passions share what you know, research further and share that too.You learn, you start a dialogue with other people and they learn too.
[…] hmm at 3 in the morning when you are idling and when you simple obssesed about blogging, what do you do? Read motivational posts like this. Why do you keep going back to your favorite blogs? What hooks you in? How could you be more like them? […]
This is one of the best blogs I have ever read. It scratches that itch you talked about. It is designed with visual clarity and organized references.Easy to see you have worked hard and long to acheive this very refined blog. Thanks for the practical guidance! I aspire to design my own blogs, as you’re right: blogspot is limiting. In the meantime,
Q: Adsense policy states they ‘share personal information (address, phone, etc) with third parties…” is there an Opt Out? Is this for marketers who will send mail spam or telemarketers who will call our phone number? I so appreciate your sharing experience with this. We’ve emailed Adsense and posted on help forums, but no answers.
Very nice post. Very insightful. :-)
It has given me several tips that I shall have to keep in mind.
The title (Purple Cow Blogging) is what drew me to this article…
Every time I need good advice, I turn to this site. So far, it has failed me.
Gak! I just posted the above comment. I meant that it HASN’T failed me. I guess that’s a lesson in proofing before you hit post.
Purple Cow is such a good book. Seth is an absolute master when it comes to marketing anything he puts his hands on.
Thanks for the resource.
Author of The Profitable Business Edge 2
I’ve heard of the Purple Cow book. I should definitely pick that up now. I agree most with your comment about design. When I first started I was using the default theme for WordPress. I tweaked it quite a bit but it was still obviously the default theme. Ever since I updated my look I’ve noticed a sudden increase in my visitors and the amount of time they stayed on my blog.
All very good points, and I’ll have to remember to check out that book.
“Giving personal for your readers”. This will definitely give your site some dedicated readers that will come back for more of what you have to offer and spread the word about your site at the same time. It works two fold and showing that you care about your readers shows that you are still human and not just a complete blogging robot.
Thnak you for this valuable site of information. I am a very new beginner starting to work out how to build a blog. I actually do not really understand what it is but am learning fast and your site was easy to read andvery helpful
Thank you so much’Lynne
“Be more like them”? That means you’re not original. Not remarkable. NOT the Purple Cow.
Purple Cow? Is that something like a while elephant with a Barney costume on?