Have you ever felt like everyone in the world has a blog?
If yes, you’re actually not too far off in your thinking. 58.6 million new blog posts are being published each month on WordPress; and there are over 76 million entire blogs that exist on WordPress. There are over 288 million more bloggers on Tumblr!
With this many bloggers hooked up and running online, it can be difficult to understand how you could ever stand out from the crowd. There’s a seriously overflowing river (flood) of blogs. So, how are you going to excel in the middle of all of them? Or do anything but float by?
While there are truly millions of active blogs out there, I have a little secret for you: many of them are lacking in what I’m about to show you. That means you DO have a chance, if you’re prepared to put in the elbow grease, dedicate yourself, and follow my tips. Read on to learn more about how you can prevent your blog from stagnating beneath the weight of the unhealthy, unsuccessful floating-by blogger syndrome.
The Curse of the Floating-By Blogger Syndrome: Identifying the Floaters
Regardless of the topic, writer, or platform, most blogs are snooze-worthy. They’re just another getup, floating by on the same raft structure every blog is using.
This unfortunate blogging syndrome has stemmed from the fact that everyone with some kind of brand, business, or story to tell, has heard from their brother, mother, sister, neighbor, marketer, or anyone really: you need to start a blog!
Those that take this advice suddenly and without another thought become one of the following floating-by bloggers:
- Bloggers that don’t take the time needed to master the art of blogging. I mean the art of getting down, nitty-gritty, and write to stir emotions. Create to produce helpful thoughts that will shake the Internet. As Grant Cardone puts it—work to dominate, not compete. That’s the work involved in “mastering the art” of blogging.
- Bloggers that–wait for it–don’t write well. Many bloggers who have hastily taken the advice of “build a blog for your business now!” are poor writers, or are simply churning out content about topics they don’t care about. If there’s one floating-by type that irks me, it’s that one.
- Bloggers that just follow the lead of bloggers they admire without any new insights or thoughts, which has resulted in them being unoriginal carbon copies of other writers. Nothing new to see folks, just passing by here.
- The rushed blogger. They haven’t dedicated the time to find their niche, audience, people–and just blog in the dark without inspiration or a mission.
Hence my coined term: the “Floating-by Blogger Syndrome.” Does it make sense now? These bloggers are all just floating by, and while they may be creating content, they’re failing to create anything original, unique, or attention-grabbing.
With so many blogs in the world, it’s tough to imagine that many of them are the same, but it’s true. You could skim thousands of blogs right now and find that they all look and sound exactly alike.
Gosh, it’s really become a sea, hasn’t it? In addition to the fact that cookie-cutter blogs clog up the Internet, they also don’t provide readers with the value they are so desperately seeking.
Let’s talk about how you can completely miss the boat and reach a mountain instead: avoid the floating-by syndrome and become a stand-out blogger.
5 Ways to Be Better Than the Floating-By Blogger
I guarantee that if you follow my five steps below, you have a 100% chance of NOT becoming the next floating-by blogger.
1. Focus on your audience
Your blog is not about you.
It’s not about your brand.
Or what you want to sell.
It’s all about, can I repeat that all about, the person you’re writing to and for.
Too many blogs are bogged down in the mire of old-school SEO wisdom, sales tactics, and tired conventions. While things like keywords, CTAs, and optimization are important, they’re not the whole picture and bloggers that focus on them too much risk sacrificing the human connection that makes blogging work.
To avoid this, be sure that you’re focusing on your audience and your topics first, and your message and ranking (CTA or your keywords) second.
Developing an audience-focused perspective is a foreign concept for many bloggers, but it’s quite easy. It starts by asking yourself a few simple questions:
- Who is my audience? This question can be answered by defining a target audience. While the practice may seem a bit granular to some bloggers, it’s an incredibly important step in developing a genuinely audience-centric outlook. When you know who your target audience is, what they want, how they shop, and what they’re concerned about, you can create content that caters specifically to them.
- How will you reach your audience? Do you know which content formats your audience prefers? Do they love image-dense websites like The Verge or would they rather interact with your content through Tweets or long-form Facebook posts? Answer this question by taking the time to determine which of your content performs the best. If you’re still having a tough time determining where your audience most wants to find you, just ask them! Sites like SurveyMonkey can help you create simple surveys that provide you with valuable perspective into your audiences’ true desires.
- Make your topics deep. One of the most common mistakes floating-by bloggers make is that they fail to provide in-depth topics. All too often, bloggers assume that briefer is better, and they miss out on the value of long-form content. The truth is, long-form content converts better (about 37% better) than shorter content. In light of this, don’t be afraid to develop in-depth content that your readers can use as a guide. Provide actionable tips, relatable scenarios, plenty of images or screenshots, and a decent amount of links to help your readers find the information they’re looking for. They’ll thank you, and you’ll quickly become one of their favorite blogs on the web.
2. Work hard
There is NO way around this. I spend hours and hours a week to create my blogs now.(I create 2-3 a week for our own site; my team members create infographics and Twitter chat recaps. I guest blog – A LOT. We post about 40 pieces all in all a month.) I work my fingers off. Blogging is a serious commitment, if you’re in it to win it. If you’re not, never mind. Don’t waste our time. The world doesn’t need more floaters-by. The world DOES need more exceptional bloggers who will put out a masterpiece every time, and not be afraid to share authenticity, a genuine perspective, and unique insights that no one else is offering.
That’s how to look at blogging. As a blogger, be prepared to face what every successful story has faced before they hit success: hard work. Here’s a little something to inspire you: my results when I committed to blogging this hard.
Case Study: How We’ve Succeeded Blogging Through a Butt Load of Hard Work
January 2016, I made a promise to myself: to put out content I’d be prouder of than any content I’d ever written or published before. Every single post now has my personal touch—I’m spending more time, investing more team power (and money to pay them), and more resources than I EVER have. I now stress over headlines. Work for hours on a concept. Take a day over a visual, with two other team members helping me. Finalize a written piece by rewriting it for an hour. Spend an hour every morning just to amplify it and get the word out.
And guess how it’s paying off?
We’ve had the most site traffic we’ve ever had—look at that spike that started in January! (screenshot from SEMrush)
We’ve had the most shares and comments we’ve ever had on our content to date, too. Here are three blogs shared over 200 times, with varying share counts across all platforms:
Hard work pays off, people.
But you actually have to work really hard. If you invest in blogging as if it’s your main channel, that’s how you garner real results—and, for us, it is our main marketing channel. And that’s what’s cool. As a content writing agency, blogging is 95% of our lead generation: we know how well it works. (Why you should hire us. But hey, I’m not here just to plug. Keep reading and learning first.)
3. Work smart
You know how #1 said work hard? Now, I’m telling you how to work smart as a blogger. So you don’t spend every day writing a blog and 0 days building your business or leaving that rock you’ll be under, if you take on blogging all by yourself. Just don’t do it. Don’t kill yourself.
So, work smart. That means you should be using your tools. Many bloggers fail to take advantage of the ample number of tools that are currently available online. I’m not talking about simple spell-checkers and thesauruses – I’m talking about topic research tools, analytics, and social tools. These tools can do many things – from helping you determine which of your content is most popular to helping you manage your social platforms from one easy dashboard. Here are two I’m currently loving.
- BuzzSumo: One of my favorite tools ever for content marketing is also perfect for developing your best blog content and topic research. The tool is called BuzzSumo, and it’s designed to help bloggers find the content that’s performing best in their industry. Use BuzzSumo to search for content by keyword and then use the results to harvest new topic ideas or develop more in-depth posts. Ideal for bloggers at all levels of the game, this is one tool that can be a game-changer for your blogging.
- Headline Help: Another favorite tool of mine is the Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer. Let me tell you: every time I’ve worked on my header (which is every time I write a piece of content), I tailor it, rewrite it, and edit it until it hits 25% or more on this radar. And every time I’ve done that, I’ve seen more than average shares on that piece of content. Your headline matters: and one way to get it right is to use this analyzer. Another way is to use powerful words. To make sure you’re doing that, download our list of 120 power words.
Now, working smart includes—wait for it—the art of hiring someone else! Yes, I just said the dirty. Want in on a little blogging secret? Many bloggers don’t write all of their content. The reason for this is that content creation is difficult and time-consuming! Between harvesting ideas for topics, writing, editing, publishing, promoting, and engaging with audiences, you can easily find yourself without much free time. Unless your sole living is being a blogger, it’s tough to keep all of those balls in the air at once. Fortunately, you don’t have to struggle through it alone.
Many bloggers hire professional writers as their blogs grow. In addition to relieving some of the burdens of content creation and distribution, the decision to hire writers also helps a blog maintain its diversity and interest by bringing in different voices and viewpoints. And don’t worry – hiring a writer doesn’t mean that you have to stop blogging altogether! Writers can help you supplement your content, assist you in research, and help you organize or develop your topics. You can still write your blogs, just with less stress and more time.
A word of caution, though: If you do decide to hire writers, be sure that you avoid average or novice writers and opt for an expert writer who knows your industry. Google’s standards demand expertise and your blog will be rewarded for it.
4. Build your OWN visuals
So much of becoming a unique blogger is simply about going the extra mile. Too many run-of-the-mill bloggers just slap stock images into their blog posts and call it good.
But you can go much further by bucking the status quo and developing your own unique visuals for your blog.
Here are three things I’ve done to provide unique imagery across the board for Express Writers:
1. A custom photoshoot with various happy, sad, etc. writing poses featuring me, for example to get this kind of image:
2. Illustrations drawn from scratch and colored in InDesign by our in-team illustrator, like the one for this blog and a couple more:
These custom drawings have by far boosted our blog, shares and outreach more than any other visual I’ve added to a written content piece yet. Huge, huge results if you invest the time, effort and trouble to make your own designs from scratch.
3. Infographics developed from scratch by our team writers and designers.
Check out the Copywriter’s Brain!
4. Bonus: GIFs! A gif always adds a moving visual treat to any content piece. Take Dwight from The Office, for example:
Even if you’re not an expert graphic designer, sites like Canva can allow you to create your own beautiful visuals easily and with zero stress. If you would rather hire a designer than make your own images on Canva, you can easily find talented graphic artists on sites like Upwork and Fiverr.
5. Don’t forget to promote your content!
Now that you’ve gone to all this trouble to create unique content don’t forget to promote it. While many bloggers advertise their posts through simple Facebook updates or Tweets, it’s easy to get better results by going a few steps further than the average blogger.
One great way to do this is by using a tool called ContentMarketer.io. Designed to help bloggers and content marketers manage promotion easily, ContentMarketer.io is a comprehensive and broad-ranging tool that includes innovative connection and notification features. Use the Connection platform to harness the power of promotional templates that allow you to share your content, network with industry influencers, secure guest posting opportunities, reach out to investors, and send out professional follow-ups.
You can also use the platform’s Notifier feature to find mentions in your posts and notify the relevant influencers. This can help you build your reputation and gain a more prominent spot in the blogosphere. If you’re interested in ContentMarketer.io, you can get both the Notifier and Connector features for about $9 a month, so there’s no breaking the bank to promote your content. Using a service like ContentMarketer.io is an excellent way to give yourself a leg-up on your competition and ensure that your blog gets the attention it deserves from readers and influencers.
3 Blogs That ARE Unique
We’ve established that there are millions of blogs on the web and that most of them are boring.
And then there are the ones that aren’t boring. Those that really do put in the hard work and/or invest the resources.
These blogs that aren’t boring or cookie-cutter have mastered the art of being unique, which allows them to stand out from the crowd.
Take The Verge, for example. What makes this blog different from other science, entertainment, and technology blogs? Is it the rich visuals or the attention-grabbing headlines? Maybe it’s the mind-boggling array of content – ranging from tech to science and entertainment. The truth is that it’s all of these things, and the fact that The Verge has managed to roll interest, beauty, and content into one attractive package is why people love the blog so much.
If The Verge isn’t your cup of tea, consider Listverse – a blog dedicated entirely to lists on topics like travel and “weird stuff.”
And then, of course, there’s Airbnb, which is exceling at a beautiful, well-put together blog. If they have one huge fundamental, it would be visuals. They do exceptionally well with great graphics.
Most people who look at any of these blogs would agree that they’re decidedly not boring.
5 Key Principles That Set Apart Unique, Stand-Out Bloggers from the Floating-By Blogger
So what’s the difference? What sets these blogs apart from the rest of the flotsam in the blogging sea? The answer comes down to these five things:
1. Unique blogs understand the competition
Both The Verge and ListVerse understand that they’re not the only kid on the playground when it comes to their content. There are dozens of blogs featuring list-focused posts, and The Verge has hundreds of competitors, Popsci, The New Yorker, The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and Wired, to name a few. What sets both The Verge and ListVerse apart, however, is that they recognize these competitors and understand what they can do to offer something different.
The Verge, for example, is decidedly edgier than its competitors while Listverse has just taken popular and in-demand list-focused blog posts and consolidated them into a single, wide-ranging platform. Because these blogs have focused more on outsmarting the competition than they have overshadowing it, they stand out as some of the most interesting blogs on the web today.
2. Unique blogs employ lateral thinking
Too many bloggers fail to move forward because they’re too tied up in the fantasy of explosive creativity. While explosive creativity is great when and where it exists, it’s also exceedingly rare. Much more often, innovation is driven by the willingness to think laterally. Blogs that manage to become successful owe their success in large part to a desire to think laterally. Because lateral thinking is creative thinking that is also rooted in legitimate demand and context, it’s often more successful and much more attainable than raw creativity.
3. Unique blogs target fresh angles
There is nothing new in the world and bloggers who spend all of their time searching for that unturned stone are never going to write a word. The fact of the matter is this: there are millions of blogs online right now and we live in an age when upwards of 27 million pieces of content are shared every single day. In light of this, it’s impossible to be entirely original, which means that your energy is much better spent being fresh. Unique blogs succeed by approaching existing topics in new ways. By doing this, they provide value for readers and help boost the level of discourse in their industry.
4. Unique blogs are credible
It’s all well and good to create a blog that looks unique, but that effort is for naught if the information on the blog isn’t reliable or credible. Unique bloggers aren’t afraid to step outside of their comfort zones, but they also understand how important it is to research, back claims up, and use credible sources. It’s impossible to build a good reputation without a hearty share of credibility, and truly unique bloggers understand this.
5. Unique bloggers understand the value of their content
To create powerful, exciting content that readers want to read, bloggers need to understand the value of the content they’re publishing. If you asked the owner of any exceedingly unique blog on the web why their content was valuable, they’d be able to tell you quickly and easily. This is because unique bloggers understand what makes their content exciting. They understand which viewpoints, perspectives, language, and writing styles benefit their content, and they capitalize upon it accordingly.
Nobody wants to be the owner of a boring blog. Fortunately, you don’t have to be. These five traits are what make some blogs stand out from the crowd while others simply blend in and by cultivating them in your blog, you can create a content destination that visitors are excited to stumble upon.
Don’t Join the “Floating-By” Crowd: Swim Upstream Instead
When it comes to being a blogger, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.
One one hand, you could follow the crowd and become one of the thousands of “floating-by bloggers” who are just getting along.
On the other hand, you could take your content creation into your hands and become a unique, distinctive blogger that readers are genuinely excited to find.
By understanding what makes blogs unique and then following the five steps laid out above, it’s easy to create a unique blogging style that allows you to connect with your audiences and build a following.
The web doesn’t need more sub-par bloggers, so don’t be afraid to go against the flow and stand out!
Need to hire a professional writer to help you build a unique blog? Visit our Content Shop today!