This guest post is by Martyn Chamberlin of Two Hour Blogger.
What separates your blog from thousands of others in your niche? What are you doing that’s different? Why would people prefer your blog over others?
Like most writers, that question may make you freeze for a minute. You can feel your insides going numb. Your face starts turning green.
What’s different about you? Man. You can’t think of anything right off the bat. You’ve lived with yourself for a long time, and you’re used to it. You can’t imagine what makes you different from everyone else. You’re just an average guy.
After thinking for a bit, you come up with this answer:
The only thing that distinguishes you from everyone else is your personality. It’s your most valuable asset. There’s nobody else quite like you. If you write with personality, people will listen to what you have to say.
This makes sense. You begin feeling better. All you have to do is relax and be you, and everything will be okay.
But there’s a problem: nobody cares about who you are.
There are millions of bloggers, and every one of them has a personality. Sure, your personality will separate you from other people, but that’s not enough. Everybody’s unique. So if you want people to read your blog, you’re going to have to have more than just personality.
This is a huge blow to the ego. It’s very hard to accept. By nature, you imagine that people value what you have to say. You’re more important than they are, and they recognize that.
I see this happen all the time in the visual arts. An amateur artist thinks their self-taught, self-expressive painting is every bit the masterpiece of a Rembrandt or Bierstadt. The artist refuses to study formal technique because he or she is afraid it’ll ruin his or her “touch”—the artistic personality.
Teach, or die
There’s one thing your blog can’t live without. And that’s teaching.
Nobody cares who you are, but they love to surf the Internet and learn things. If you’re giving away useful content that creates value for others, they’ll start showing interest in you.
People care about you in as much as you help them.
It’s tough to learn, but it’s true. People have the same ego problem you have. Learn to harness that, and you’ll start getting attention. The main purpose of blogging is to give your audience information they didn’t know. If your blog doesn’t teach, it won’t survive.
- Decide what your blog is all about.
- Choose very specific topics within that niche
- Write thorough, two-hour posts that explore these topics, one at a time.
- Publish consistently. Don’t publish something unless it’s the best thing you’ve ever written. This means you’ll either be deleting a lot of drafts, or you’ll be spending entire days revising your content.
As you do this, don’t worry about how you come across to others. Don’t put on a front. Just teach. And teach with passion. If you have a personality, it’ll start showing naturally.
Picture that starving artist. After a few years’ frustration, he or she decides they need formal training after all. They take workshops from today’s masters. Eventually, their technique improves and they paint professionally. Does the artist still have a unique, personal style? Sure. But this time, it’s professional.
True, some of the artist’s original “touch” is gone. But looking back, he or she realizes that they’ve mistaken “touch” for awkward unprofessionalism. Now, the artist’s glad he or she lost that touch. It was horrible.
If your blog is going to live, you’re going to have to teach. If all you ever do is be personable, it’s going to die. Teach or die. It’s your choice. Your blog can live without you, but it can’t live without teaching.
Do you teach on your blog? How important is learning for your readers?