As a blogger, you've got a lot to say. It's a brilliant medium to express yourself, and it also happens to be a great platform on which to build a business. If you're reading posts like this one, that probably means you're working on improving how well you do it. The thing is, most of what you're thinking doesn't matter to most people. Flinging random thoughts into the ether is no way to capture an audience. To expand your blog's reach, laser-focus your content.
The internet is awash in shallow articles that do little for the reader. Either written in 10 minutes for an article farm, or spun out in 3.4 seconds by an article bot, the "democratizing" effect of reaching millions online has created a market for an endless barrage of bad writing.
All such articles are trying to grab natural search traffic based on a keyword and get a lot of page views to increase their ad revenue-- serving the reader is incidental. For most online content, simply getting page views comes first. As you might expect, however, such shallow content has zero reader loyalty.
"Aggregator" style blogs are similar, in that they also tend to survey a broad range of content. Unlike article farms, aggregators do share good quality articles. However, it takes a lot of work finding and curating all that content. Readers expect aggregators (like Huffington Post) to be a useful daily resource, which can take an awful lot of time and money.
You can't compete with these kinds of strategies, nor do you want to. In order to establish yourself online, your blog has to share rich, deep content, that is focused on a narrow subject. That's where you get your power. Here's how to do it:
1. Define the scope of your topic.
For example, instead of a generic wine blog, focus on California, Pinot Noir, or great bargains. Rather than a typical "mom blog," make it about finding balance, humor, raising kids naturally, etc. If you're writing about business, what about it? Home-based? Small business? Online? What kind of online business?
2. Become a subject matter expert.
This follows directly from number one. The better you do at focusing your content, the deeper you can go, and build a brand around the ideas, tips and insights you share. Remember, there is more than enough shallow content out there. Take your time and make your posts worthwhile.
3. Be a resource.
You didn't divine your knowledge through meditation. You relied on others to help you get so smart. Who are they? Tell your readers all about the other experts, websites, books and events that are relevant to your subject. Rather than diminish your standing, the better you are as a resource, the more likely your blog becomes the go-to site you're trying hard to create.
4. It's about the content, not you.
Only celebrities have the benefit of gaining readership merely because of who they are. All the rest of us have to prove ourselves by writing what others want to read. Put your "miscellaneous ramblings" and "random thoughts" somewhere else. Rarely does anyone care about those, unless they already know you. There is nothing wrong with writing from a personal perspective, just remember to lead with the content.
5. Be a gracious guest blogger and a discerning host.
Back links from other reputable sites are a primary factor in search engines determining the credibility of your site, and guest posts are one of the best ways to get those. Be careful, however, not to get caught in the trap of swapping lousy articles just for the sake of links. What you gain in traffic, you lose in brand value when you write poorly for another blog, or allow someone else to do it on your site.
6. Be consistent.
Readers should always know what to expect from you. So, in addition to zeroing in on the topic that defines your blog, make sure you continue to meet your readers' expectations by posting regularly, in a similar voice, and according to high standards for quality.
Who are your favorite bloggers and why do you like them? I bet they do all of the above very well. That kind of focus is the difference between building a brand online, and being someone who just happens to publish what they think. It's the difference between monetizing a blog and blogging just for fun. No matter how many other tips and tricks you employ to improve your blog, if you don't keep your focus, you won't ever have a blog that matters.
Thanks to Ripley Daniels for helping to write this blog post. Ripley writes for WithoutTheStress.Com, a travel document expediter specializing in Same Day Passports, UK Visas and other time sensitive travel documents.
John oftentimes takes the lead as the Agile Project Manager and SEO expert on selected projects, which allows him to be hands-on with the latest trends.