Let me try this magic trick and see if I I can read your mind. If you’ve decided to read this tutorial, it means that you’ve been thinking of spending more time on your blog. Actually, you’ve been thinking about it for quite a while now.
Thinking about it. Talking about it. But not doing it.
There’s something holding you back. In fact, several somethings. If only you had more time, if only you were more confident about your blogging, if only you had money to spend on a new plan, or this great program... if only… if only…
You’re tired, stressed, busy…
Truth be told, it’s best to wait...
Am I right?
Well, sorry to break it to you, but there’s no right time, there will never be a better time than right now. Your reasons for not blogging will always be there in some form and in some combination. You will always have to face down the demons of no time, no support, no money, no confidence, no ideas, or ill health. Like the rest of the blogging world, actually.
This is the first thing you should realize if you want to stand out as a blogger: everyone faces the same problems. EVERYONE.
Sorry for shouting.
Anyway, let’s get started with a bunch of excuses/questions that have been holding you back from standing out as a blogger.
Part one: Excuses that are keeping you from standing out as a blogger.
1. What if people don’t like my stuff?
Yes. This is the kind of question most bloggers ask themselves almost obsessively. Even after they’ve been blogging for a few months.
And I get it.There are few things that feel more personal than writing your thoughts and offering them to a bunch of strangers living half a world away – maybe walking on the street naked.
Like it or not, putting your ideas out there and running the risk that someone might not like them – even hate them – is the price of entry for being a blogger, and don’t you think for one moment that your blogging heroes aren’t nervous each time they click Publish because they are.
My advice to all this?
Punch the damn keys.
This is the magic cure-all. Honestly.
Put yourself out there. No excuses. No playing it safe. To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, don’t try to make love with the entire world. Yes, you’ll have to deal with haters, trolls, naysayers. Everyone has to. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: if someone has a negative reaction to something you wrote, that means your writing is powerful. Your writing provoked a strong emotional reaction.
And that’s a good thing.
2. What if everything’s been done(and written about) before?
Everything under the sun has been done already.
Feeling like you’re not original enough is only natural. But it’s not just about what you say, but rather how only you can say it.
The combination of your personality, writing style, and opinions, that’s the stuff that makes or breaks a blog. The human element behind the words. The way the stories we weave reveal a little bit about ourselves.
Do you know why your favorite bloggers are your favorite?
Because you wish they were friends of yours.
That’s it. And the more you have the guts to be yourself, the more unique your content will seem to be, and the more your readers will love you for it.
3. What about other bloggers?
Do you honestly want to spend your precious time worrying about other people?
Why would anyone want to read your blog if there are others who are writing about the same topics?
If you do not have the guts to answer that question, then you should acquire it, loan it, find it, buy it, or sell your soul for it, for without the right mindset and attitude, the blogging world will feel like hell.
4. I don’t have enough time...
First of all, let’s debunk this myth of being busy: we’re all busy. And we all feel like everyone else is just kinda busy, but we’re really, truly, honestly busy. But if we all feel like that, then what does it all mean? Who’s right? Who’s wrong?
Successful bloggers are just as busy as you are, if not more so, but they make time to blog. That’s it. We get what we make time for.
Simple enough, right?
So the question you should ask yourself is “How am I going to make time?”
It’s all about resolve. About motivation.
Promise yourself that you’ll either find a way or make one. Like Hannibal did when he invaded Italy.
If you want to have time, then you must make time.
If you want to stand out as a blogger, than you must want it a bit more than just about everyone else.
5. This blogging thing is too hard
You make a list of all the tasks that need doing on your blog and become frozen with indecision. Should you work on your blog design, brainstorm some post ideas, build your social media presence, or do one of the other 200 things on your list instead?
It’s enough to make anyone quit in frustration.
Here’s a tip: start anywhere. Seriously.
As long as you do something, anything at all, you’ll be ahead of the game.
As they say in that Nike commercial, just do it.
It’s the only reliable way to break through the paralysis of indecision.
And try to remember this:
Success is a small set of daily tasks done one after the other.
6. Not now, but maybe someday...
Maybe you have a chronic illness and don’t want to commit to a blog until you feel better. Or you’re in the middle of a divorce. Or your bank account is too empty. But the truth is that by the time you’ve fixed all your issues, there will be new problems that will have to be solved.
So guess what? There’s never a perfect time to do anything.
You want to do it. You have to do it.
Start where you are, with what you have. Do what you can with what you have. But just do it. Do not dream of accomplishing things, but rather focus on developing the habits that support your blogging.
Funny. What kind of habits do you think you nurture if you keep finding reasons not to blog, excuses, and problems, and you keep postponing what you know you should do?
7. I’m too exhausted
This excuse doesn’t fly. You know why? Because nothing gives you more energy than working toward a goal you’re passionate about.
So if you’re too tired at the end of the day to work on your goals, the answer isn’t to abandon your goals – it’s to find more exciting ones.
8. What if I fail?
You don’t want to fail. Of course you don’t!
No one actively wants to be rejected, or worse still, ignored.
So you take the safe route by not working on your blog. No blog = no chance to freak out as a quick check of Google Analytics tells you no one cares.
But guess what? Not getting started is just another type of failure. You end up in the same place whether you try and fail or whether you don’t start at all: without a successful blog and kicking yourself.
At the risk of sounding cliché, the only way to fail is not to try.
If you try blogging, you have a chance of succeeding and a chance of failing.
If you don’t try, you have a 100% chance of failing.
Which is the less risky choice?
9. I’m not good enough. Yet.
I used to think like that about my writing. That someday I’ll be good enough to write my best ideas into existence.
Maybe you feel that you’ll exhaust your talent if you write, or you’ll run out of ideas. Nope. Not going to happen. You’ll likely die with a ton of ideas you’ll never have the chance to ever write down, let alone properly explore.
The best way (and sometimes the only valid way) to learn is from experience.
And don’t worry: even if your early posts are terrible, they will soon be lost in the sands of time.
Do you want to stand out? Ditch the excuses.
If these excuses – or heck, any excuses – are holding you back, keep in mind that every single blogger out there has to face their own demons. They’re not naturally immune to the fear, uncertainty and all the other obstacles – they’ve just learned to plow through and take action in spite of them.
Don’t tell yourself and others what you can’t do. Tell them what you can. Ditch the excuses – and just punch the damn keys.
Part Two: What do you need to stand out as a blogger?
1. Find your Fire
When I first started blogging, I didn’t know what my niche was. I knew I wanted to write books and to sell them, I knew I wanted to tell stories, but I didn’t know how.
You’d be surprised how easy it is to get caught up in the idea that a passion is the same thing as your fire. Yes, it’s cool to write about almost anything that you admire/enjoy doing, but it’s not the same.
I used to write reviews. Books, movies… they were bad. But then I write an opinion piece about writing. The Portrait of a Writer. Gold. Hundreds of comments, thousands of reads, more than two thousand likes.
My biggest obsession growing up was art. I wrote about artists. I wrote about a writer writing. I admired my favorite artists the same way one would a god. I had dissected the artistic process, the inner workings of the mind that urged one to produce a masterpiece.
This was my fire. Art. The thing that made my eyes glitter with excitement. The thing that made me want to punch the damn keys.
So, even though you might care deeply about your blog’s topic, it might not be what sets your soul on fire.
And, yes, it’s true that a lot of bloggers out there think that they have to write about what’s trending, viral news, or pop culture.
If you’re passionate about something, it will show in your content. Readers will be able to see your genuineness and will be attracted to that. This is probably the most important thing you will learn about blogging.
You can try everything in the world and use every tool known to man to be successful, but if you’re not genuine, people will see right through it.
2. Figure out who your readers are
Once you figure out what your main focus will be, you can start to develop your market niche and who you will be directing your content to. Think about what type of people would most like to read your blog. What do they like? What do they love? What is it that they’d want to know, but no one ever wrote about it?
Write content on your blog that is helpful and informative to your ideal reader. Write the kind of content that is engaging, useful, but also allows others the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, whether it’s other readers or you as the author of their favorite blog.
3. Offer value
The quality of your blog will determine who it attracts and how many people it attracts.
I’m no longer surprised so many bloggers are struggling to get even one reader to comment on their blogs. They do not offer value. They do not even care about doing so. They are selfish to the point of obsession.
Yes, you should write about what you want. But you should do it in a way that your readers gives a damn about your writing. There has to be a balance. You have to translate the strong emotions you feel into words they can understand, appreciate, and engage with.
Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time (and your readers’)
4. Write (a lot)
Posting often (according to a clearly defined schedule) will bring you new readers. It’s that simple.
The more you write, the more your audience will view your blog and engage with you.
That being said, the limit is to post as often as it takes for your latest blog post to receive a few comments. This is the golden rule of blogging.
Readers tend to engage most with the most recent blog post. Wait just enough, so you receive a few posts. Once the conversation gets started, you can publish your next post.
This is why popular bloggers can get away with post even more than once a day, while beginners will have to post every couple of days or even less.
5. Do everything to promote yourself
Yes, it’s possible to be brilliant and to release one blog post after another into this void, the same way the most talented writer I ever worked with has never even tried to publish a book.
Connect with the top bloggers in your niche. Read their best posts, comment on their content, get to know them, build rapport.
Now, after you’ve built a relationship with them, you can ask them if you can link to one of their blog posts, if you can interview them, and even if they’d like you to guest blog on their blogs.
Then it’s a great idea to take advantage of social media. Use clever hashtags, fun photos, and engaging captions.
The idea is to have fun while adding some sort of value to others. Genuine fun. Build real relationships (just like you would in real life) with potential readers and engage with them. Look into the websites, blogs, or forums your readers frequent.
6. Build engagement
This is a part that often gets overlooked, and even though you do all the previous things right, you skip this and it’s blogging purgatory for you.
You must do everything you can to:
- Respond to comments,
- Offer contests or giveaways, and
- Include your readers in discussions.
Simply put, a blog that stands out from the rest if one that feels like the kind of party everyone wished they were invited to. Keep this in mind when writing you blog posts, hosting giveaways, and replying to your comments.
7. Check out the competition
See what successful blogs in your nice are doing. How are they driving engagement?
It doesn’t hurt to learn from the best. If you notice that your blog seems to be falling behind in a few things, do your research. Seeing what works for other blogs can help you learn from your mistakes and optimize accordingly.
8. Connect with other bloggers
Yes, it was there at number five, now it’s back.
I cannot stress this enough.
YOU CANNOT BLOG IN A VOID!
There, you made me shout.
You must do stuff to get yourself noticed. And just like real life, you need to go out there and interact with other human beings.
Why, you ask? Because networking with and reaching out to other bloggers helps you:
- Create more awareness about your blog
- Grow your readership and build your brand
- Make connections that will increase credibility
- Link to other blog posts
- Draw in readers and build an audience
9. SEO, SEO, and again… SEO
I don’t believe in SEO.
There. I actually wrote the damn thing down.
Now, would you please stop obsessing about it like 99% of bloggers?
Do you want to stand out as a blogger?
Then write each article as if it were your last. Write about the stuff that sets your soul on fire. Write with your reader in mind. Write with the intention of telling the best story ever written, write with the intention of taking your readers on an emotional roller-coaster they will never forget.
After all, even if you were to please the gods of search engine optimization, what good would it do to have thousands of readers hating your guts for the insipid manner in which you write your blog posts?
Besides, the most important rule of SEO has nothing to do with the way you write posts: it’s all about the kind of blogs/websites that link to you. That’s the number one factor that drives search engine rankings, and it all comes down (yet again!) to connecting with other bloggers and getting them to link to you.
Now that you know what to do to stand out as a blogger, you have to put everything into action.
You need to write about what sets your soul on fire, use the right strategy to grow your blog, and get to know the people who are reading it. Establish trust, credibility, and see what other bloggers in your niche are doing. What works for them may not work for you, but you will learn that with time.
Being yourself will get you a ton more readers than becoming an expert in your field ever will…
After all, who was more popular in school? The smartest kid, or the funniest one? The one who was unapologetic about who they were and what they wanted to do?
And don’t forget: you can easily set yourself apart from other bloggers out there who are just sitting and waiting for the readers to come to them if only you go out there and try to find them.