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The Power of Uniqueness [19 Starting Points for Being a Unique Blogger]

Posted By Darren Rowse 23rd of January 2010 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Be-Unique.pngLast year I began a semi regular series of posts here on ProBlogger that explored the principles that I saw being exhibited in successful blogs. So far in the series we’ve talked about Listening, Trust, Usefulness, Community, Being Personal and Story Telling.

Not all successful blogs will do all of these things – but in my experience, many of them do.

Today I’d like to continue this series by talking about another such principle – Uniqueness.

The Problem of Clutter

Almost every time I’m questioned about blogging I’m asked whether I think it is too late to get into the medium. There are so many blogs that have been going for so long on almost every topic – isn’t it too crowded, cluttered and noisy to start something that gets noticed?

On some levels there’s real truth to this.

There are many thousands of blogs being started each day and there are what seems like a myriad of blogs in each niche. It can be overwhelming to step back and look at the blogosphere – an organism that is churning out millions of new pages of content each month. How will your single blog rise above the rest? Isn’t it all just too hard?

Yes it is hard – but…. (and this might sound harsh) that’s life. We live in a world of billions of people, all striving to achieve. We live in a world surrounded by thousands of companies and businesses, each struggling to to succeed. Life is cluttered and congested – but it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) stop us. The key is to find a way forward that works for you.

New Blogs DO break onto the scene and ‘make it’ on a regular basis. Yes – they’re in the minority – but it is possible. I know in the photography blogosphere that there are significant new blogs that get a hold on part of the wider niche started every year. In one of the most congested niches of the blogosphere (making money online) new players always are emerging also.

What sets them apart?

Of course there is no single thing that sets good blogs apart – in fact that’s the point – they usually have something about them that is unique.

Side Note: in the original version of this post I was planning to share a personal story here. But the story evolved and became a post of itself – Lessons about Blogging from a 90’s Road Trip. The point of the post – for me one of the turning points in my own blogging journey was the time I decided to stop trying to be someone that I wasn’t – imitating the style of others did help me learn about blogging, but it didn’t help me set my blog apart from the crowd. Part of being unique is being yourself.

How to Be Unique as a Blogger

Of course teaching someone to ‘be unique’ is a challenge. Uniqueness by definition isn’t something that I can really tell you how to be – your blogs uniqueness is something that needs to come from your own uniqueness as a person – at least to some extent.

Having said that – some of the ways that blogs tend to be unique and stand out from the crowd often start with:

  1. Voice – your style of writing. Manolo the shoe blogger was the first blogger I remember reading with a really unique voice (he writes in the third person).
  2. Topic/s – Manolo again an example of uniqueness in this – his two topics when he first started were ‘celebrities’ and their ‘shoes’. John Chow perhaps is another example – who ever heard of a make money online blogger who documents his food and talks about cars?
  3. Design – the way your blog looks is a great way to make an impression, grab attention and stand out from the crowd.
  4. Being First – not easy to do but if you can be one of the first blogs in a niche it can help you stand out. ProBlogger would be my own lucky example of this – at the time no one else was blogging about making a living from blogs.
  5. Your Blogs Name – sometimes it is just the name of a blog that makes it stand out whether it be by being confronting, funny or otherwise.
  6. Being a ‘Character’ – the Fake Steve Jobs blog comes to mind as one blog that was unique not only by the content being great but by the blogger blogging as Steve Jobs and keeping his real identity secret.
  7. Use of Media – some bloggers mashups of different types of media set them apart – clever use of video, imagery, audio and text all together in a post can have a real impact.
  8. Depth of Content – a number of bloggers that I follow set themselves apart by producing content that obviously has a lot of thought put into them. Instead of quick and short posts that do nothing much more than link to other sites they carefully and thoughtfully ponder a topic and produce content that is deep and thought provoking.
  9. Frequency of Posts – it strikes me that some of the most popular blogs product A LOT of content. Engadget and Gizmodo being two examples. This high frequency of posting makes them prolific and means that if a story is breaking in the gadget space that you’d be certain that they’re covering it. On the flip side some blogs take the opposite approach – their new posts become so rare that people value them highly and share them prolifically.
  10. Vaults of Resources – some bloggers become successful because their blogs are just filled with such rich resources. These bloggers might not have as much original thought but they are passionate about gathering information and resources from others and sharing it with their network. People read them because they save them time by researching and gathering the information that the rest of us need but don’t have time to find.
  11. Community Focus – some bloggers go above and beyond when it comes to their readers. They put the rest of us to shame by the way that they pay personal attention to everyone, interact with every comment and seemingly know every person who reads by name.
  12. Opinion – one of the easiest ways to make your blog is to share your opinion. Your opinions won’t always be unique but the combination of them and the way you express yourself will be and will often set yourself apart from other bloggers who just report news.
  13. Usefulness – some blogs are insanely useful. I know we’ve covered this earlier in this series but it needs to be said again – useful blogs build themselves a solid foundation for success.
  14. Originality – its amazing how some people just have an ability to explore a topic that everyone else has talked about but put a new spin on it! I sometimes feel this way about Seth Godin’s blog – his ability to make me have light bulb moments around simple concepts is amazing.
  15. Personality – I’m finding this one hard to define but some bloggers just ooze personality. Perhaps another way to describe it would be that they have Mojo or are charismatic. They are just infectious with the way that they write and interact.
  16. Personal – as you read some blogs you sometimes get a spooky feeling that its almost like the blogger is there in the room with you. They blog in a way where you can almost hear their voice and feel as though you’re in a conversation with them. They share on a level that goes beyond just the transference of information – they share of themselves.
  17. Expertise – some bloggers rise to the top of their fields because they are simply authoritative and have real expertise in their field. They are well read, have extensive experience and have forgotten more about their topic than most of us will ever know about it.
  18. Connectors – other bloggers are successful because they are so well connected in their niche. They not only know a lot of people but they have a gift in helping others to connect with those in their network.
  19. Prolific – some bloggers are unique because… well they’re everywhere. These bloggers seem to have the ability to be in more than one place at a time – they blog, they’re active on multipole social networks, they are at conferences, they are guest posting on other blogs, they’re in forums…. they are everywhere!

There are of course an almost unlimited list of other ways that bloggers set themselves apart and rise above the millions of other blogs. Yesterday I asked on Twitter what makes people’s favorite blogs unique – the list of answers have some similar themes to my own list as well as a few others.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. good day,
    Great info..thanks!

  2. Perfectly timely piece as I am in the midst of what I call a “big fat change” and reinventing myself online presence. Changing my theme (Appearance) my focus and getting tighter on my “Human SEO” brand. Finding a writing and blogging style has taken me over a year to tap into but I think it goes with out saying that for some of us (Me anyway) It requires going through a process of discovery before finding it.

    Also I believe it’s important to state that it’s important to at least get started before waiting to find that perfect voice or even you’re own unique approach. You may find yourself never getting started if you don’t.

    Love the points, very helpful!

  3. Kenny Forder says: 01/23/2010 at 1:23 am

    Great post! I was one of the “first” in my niche, which is high end real estate, mansions.

    My blog is called Homes of the Rich (http://www.homesoftherich.net)

    I know most of my readers by name and I have focused on bringing my readers together by creating a forum, commenting on my posts, creating a community, and starting contests.

  4. Thank you!
    Life is a challenge! The question is:”Are you at risk?”

  5. I use an alter ego, reporter Scoop Chevelle, in some of my articles – typically interviews and fake news. He can be a bit slow on the trigger at times (and incredibly astute at other times).

  6. Original in style and content. Yeah.
    I try to focus on some of those points and others I completely lack – getting there :)
    thanks for the list – something I need to keep reminding myself of on a weekly basis and in so doing, keep fresh

  7. good advices

  8. This was a wonderful post Darren!! I learnt a lot from it.

    http://www.dumblittleblogger.com/

  9. Sticking to an editorial calendar helps me stay focused.

    Otherwise, I deviate and follow the ‘news of the day.’

  10. Great extension of the post from yesterday! I’m still trying to find my uniqueness in the personal finance niche. Yes, a very crowded market, but I know that there is room for at least one more (me). Personal Finance is something that many people don’t want to talk about and I want to do my part to change that. I’ve got ust to find my way to be different.

  11. I agree that there’s no magical posting frequency. It depends on the blogger and the audience.

    Look at dosh dosh, who’s still kicking butt with only 3 posts in the last 6 months!

  12. Injecting a bit of personality and style is absolutely vital for standing out amongst the crowd. Eventually, people follow your lead and imitate you. That’s one of the highest forms of flattery!

  13. I use an alter ego, reporter Scoop Chevelle, in some of my articles – typically interviews and fake news. He can be a bit slow on the trigger at times (and incredibly astute at other times).

  14. I find it funny that some blogs are so hugely successful because they post all the time and have a new post or two every day… while others can get away with only posting once or twice a month.

    Suppose it all depends on your path; the road you take, where you end up, how you get there – not a new concept, but definitely a useful one to keep in mind.

    Loved the post Darren :)

  15. Great post… I truly enjoyed today’s topic, we must have tapped into the same thought stream!

    Freeing ourselves of cluttered thinking is another great way to be connected to the thoughts in the ethers, which allow us to create moving posts.

  16. Hell, I would hate to be any one else – It’s hard enough trying to figure out who I am!

  17. Interesting tips. Thanks for the long list.

  18. Wohh and thanks for this wonderful list Dareen. Well I do agree about writing as I have noticed that my blog do have its own voice. My personal recommendation always is what you say .. be what you are and do not copy others. Trying just what is me ,is what I try to do in the blog.

  19. Whoh, once again problogger’s post gave me an idea for my own blog regarding content and community, great!

  20. Be unique is important but enjoy doing your blogging job also my first priority.
    Thanks for the list Darren.

  21. Good points Darren. Keep it coming.

  22. Some of these lists ring a bell in my head — especially being prolific. I know some one that have great success because he is prolific enough in community circle.

  23. The personal is the hardest one for me sometimes. Putting ourselves out there but isn’t that really why we blog!

  24. Nice Job Darren. This is a wealth of information. While it takes time to achieve success with any project online, following these steps can put you in a better position. I think everyone needs to remember that you have to be yourself when blogging and hope people like you.

  25. Nice post.. I am also a unique blogger, because my English is very bad in posts :-) actually Criticism makes a blogger to post unique posts & the same makes him to be unique

  26. Uniqueness is the key to differentiate your blog.

  27. I tried the whole blog in a character thing once. I ended up not liking how the character I had created was developing. In a fit of panic I deleted the blog, thus killing that character. For week I go it emails from people asking if I was ok (my last post was a bout feeling ill due to the fact that my I was pretty sure my downstairs neighbour was running a meth lab) and what happened to the blog.

    I realized that people liked this character that I had created and felt really bad for ‘having him offed.’ Sometimes I miss him, sometimes he tries to take over. Sometimes I have mental issues.

    My point: Be careful of the character you blog with, he may take over your life and you will have to destroy him…

  28. I think that we are each unique and so the best advice is to be yourself and what comes from that will set you apart. It’s when you start reading all kinds of advice or comparing yourself to other people and try to do what works for them that screws you up.

    I have to keep reminding myself of that, to just be me and people will either like it or they won’t. And I think all the time, ‘well there’s nothing special or different about me.’ But there is in each of us!

    Love this post, and the examples you give to get people thinking on what makes them unique!

  29. Good blogging requires passion. If you don’t have the stomach for what you do your blog will wither into obscurity.

  30. LindyMint says: 01/23/2010 at 4:44 am

    I have often had the thought – Is starting a blog a bad idea? Isn’t everyone blogging these days? And then I think, if I wanted to be an architect, the fact that there are a lot of architects in the world wouldn’t be a deterrent to joining that field.

    Blogging is no different. Just strive to be your best.

  31. Great post, Darren! Thank you so much. It has only been about a month that I have truly begun to understand and live being myself to a whole new level. The timing of this piece is Divine and it will greatly help me. I love how God works! Thanks again and I wish you a year filled with inspiration and deepened strength!
    Blessings,
    Irene

  32. Being too unique is not good either. You risk being unfamiliar, foreign, and whacky!

  33. There are various ways how to get noticed and after that evolve into a well-known blog. Either be big and post frequently or make a difference with unique and helpful content, or… Our blog entered quite a unique niche where propably no other blog/site is positioned, so that’s where we are putting our efforts and hopes.

  34. As usual a great post with good points.

    It’s definitely a daunting challenge to get into a blog niche when there are thousands of others doing the same thing. I’m working on photography and it’s no walk in the park to get people interested.

    Having your own voice and style is really going to make your blog grow. Look at Borders vs. Barnes and Noble, even though they both sell books, they both have their own faithful shoppers because they give you totally different shopping experiences.

    Same for Walmart vs. Target, Target isn’t successful because it copied Walmart, it’s successful because it took Walmart’s idea and gave a different shopping experience.

    Think of your blog the same way, use the ideas from others in your niche that work, and then give them your personal twist that makes your blog that much more attractive.

  35. Yes it’s a little scary to get started blogging when everyone else is doing the same thing. Then add on top of that all of the daily content people are throwing out there on Facebook and the other social sites.

    It leaves people little disposable time to find new things… and top it all off with a sprinkle of zero attention span and we are really in a competitive place.

    I think that the way to stand out is to serve a really small niche to the best of your ability. Your audience may not be in the hundred thousands, but you will maintain loyalty.

  36. Being unique is my ultimate selling point, it means there is no competition !

  37. Great post Darren. Before this I misunderstood the term Blog Network. Last time I thought we create multiple blogs on the same niche and link with each other, this is called Blog Network. I guess, I was wrong. Man, there is so much for me to learn.

  38. Good points Darren! In my view, be original in content is the most important point.

  39. Great advice, I will keep those in mind for my own blog. Especially the tip on posting more frequently.

  40. This post will be a great resource to come back and look at as a reminder of what we should be doing… I’ve already del.icio.us ed it.

    One thing I want to say is… For as many blogs that go up every day, there’s an equal number that die… Most bloggers aren’t doing it right… and most won’t.

    Right now the blogosphere is still in its infancy… I don’t care what niche someone picks today to start a blog in… If they do it consistently and grow with the industry in 10 years from now they will be a leader in their niche.

  41. Thank you so much. It has only been about a month that I have truly begun to understand and live being myself to a whole new level. The timing of this piece is Divine and it will greatly help me. I love how God works! Thanks again and I wish you a year filled with inspiration and deepened strength!

  42. There are so many colors to the rainbow of personalty that they are hard to define or comprehend. And this is what makes a blog unique. Blogging is competitive, of this there is no doubt, however, there is always more room for a “Killer Blog”. It is the uniqueness of the person and their drive that will determine their success in blogging.
    One thing I like to see in a blog, that makes it unique to me, is if it has a clean design interface and is easy to navigate.

  43. Hi Darren. Thank you for the eye opening post. I am still working on developing my blog and I put #8, #9 and #13 at the top of my priority list. I will definitely come back for more of your tips and advices from you. Cheers!

  44. Every person is unique to begin with. They just need to convey it effectively.

  45. “Usefulness” is definitely number one in my book.

  46. Love all the different kinds of points on how a blogger can make themselves and their blog unique.

    For me, I made and continue to make LifeNotion unique through design, community focus, and connectors. I do a lot of behind the scenes work with the use of media, but I need to work on frequency of posts.

  47. “” Prolific – some bloggers are unique because… well they’re everywhere. These bloggers seem to have the ability to be in more than one place at a time – they blog, they’re active on multipole social networks, they are at conferences, they are guest posting on other blogs, they’re in forums…. they are everywhere! “”

    Thats the point, thats why iam commenting on your great article. thank you for those important tips.

  48. For a PROblogger, you sure do make a lot of grammatical errors.

    “Manolo the shoe blogger is the blogger was the first blogger I remember reading” What does this even mean!? Not all of us are good at them word riddles.

    “Seth Godin’s blo_g” The “g” in the hyperlink is not ever underlined! What kind of amateur blogging is this??

    Would you prefer for me to write a guest post illustrating proper writing technique? I am very disappointed in your product and brand.

    I suggest that your next e-book be called “31 Days to Master Elementary-school English”

    Good day.

  49. w0w , very informative .
    Having unique characteristics is a great deal to up life.

  50. I always say that if you are in a crowded niche, which to be honest most of us are, just find one thing within that niche and do it better than your competitors. If that means writing more indepth content then do it even if it means posting just a couple of times a week. Basically find that unique angle and make it your own.

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