It doesn’t matter whether you’re blogging for business, producing content for a niche website, affiliate blogging or even just writing on a personal blog, there’s a pretty big chance that your content sucks. Why though?
You’ve probably read articles elsewhere that tell you how to write the perfect blog post, so why is it that your content still isn’t succeeding?
The truth is that I don’t even know how to write the perfect blog post, and don’t want to either.
Do you want to make your content flourish? I know you do. You can’t be here for my charm or my money, as I have neither.
I’m giving you the secret right away: stand out. However, if you want to know how to stand out online – without the need to take off any clothes – I suggest you carry on reading.
If you wish to take your clothes off anyway, you have my permission.
How to stand out online
There’s one point that can’t be emphasised enough for those that are either starting new blogs or those that aren’t seeing as much success as they want from their posts; be noticeable. It’s never too late to start becoming noticeable, and it all starts with a master plan.
Plan to become the best
The internet holds over 160 million blogs, how on earth do you plan to become the best?
If you don’t intend on becoming the best, why are you even doing this? You should at least be aiming to be the best that you can, and when you break it down into steps things become a lot easier.
How many reputable blogs are there within your target area or niche? 10? 25? 100? More? You can tailor your plan based on the amount of competition you have.
How do you measure whether you’ve managed to become the greatest blogger alive?
You’re not, because I am. That’s easy; set targets.
Start with small targets
I set a range of targets for this site to try to achieve before the end of 2014 (with my first post being published at the end of November ’14) in the hope that I could build a solid base to build upon throughout 2015.
My first blog post achieved all of these targets within the first 24 hours of being live.
What were these targets? Well, the trick is to keep them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timeframe). If you don’t know what this means then you can either go back to High School or let me Google it for you. If you can’t be arsed to do either – I know I wouldn’t – just remember that you need to set tough targets that are still achievable.
Considering my website was brand new, I have extremely limited social following and no obvious avenues for linkbacks; much like I advise potential lovers, I had to think really small.
My aim was to get 100 unique visitors, 20 social shares, 1 comment, 1 email sign-up and 1 organic linkback before the end of the year. You might think this is laughably low, but I guarantee this is more engagement than at least 90% of what other websites get from their first ever post.
Also, being an Aston Villa fan has led to ever-decreasing expectations on my part; it seems no matter how low you aim, things still probably won’t go as well as you’d hoped.
I once read that to predict how well you think your idea will do, divide your expectations by 10 and you’ve probably got close to an accurate estimation. I knew I could get 100 unique readers on a post, but I’d only planned to get 10 at first.
Taking spam out of the equation, getting comments on an article is a lot tougher than you’d think. There are tonnes of websites out there getting more visitors than me – but a large number of their posts have no comments; I don’t want to run a ghost town.
Getting linkbacks is even tougher. Fortunately my Spanish amigos at 40defiebre picked up on the content and were kind enough to give my Hipster SEO post a mention; their link even referred a few hundred confused Spaniards to the site too. No paella here, guys.
Needless to say, my targets for the coming months are significantly higher, but they have to remain achievable. Just because one post performed better than I’d hoped, it doesn’t mean they all will. In fact, I’m sure they won’t.
Engagement is something really important to me, and it should be to you too.
An engaged visitor; someone that shares, comments and particularly those that sign up to your email list, is much more likely to return and reshare in the future. Also, it shows that people really care about what you’re writing in one way or another.
Encouraging people to engage can be done in a variety of ways.
Asking questions at the end of your post can be good for increasing comments, asking for shares can be good for increasing shares, asking for email signups…you get the picture.
First and foremost however, you need content that stands out. Did I already mention that?
Stop rehashing other peoples crap
Calling it crap isn’t really fair, because the majority of posts that are getting rehashed are actually pretty good to begin with.
The point I want to make is there are so many people out there trying to improve or expand on posts that already exist. Please stop trying to turn a reasonable top 10 list into a really forced top 15; you aren’t going to be able to effectively use the Skyscraper technique without improving something significantly.
Worse than this, there are a whole load more people that are just rewording posts without any noticeable improvement, or even making them worse. Just stop.
“But the stuff I’m rewriting did really well for these guys!” I don’t care. I’d say at least half of the posts I start to read within SEO I’ve already seen on other sites with different wording. It’s boring and mostly pointless; do you think you’re going to outrank the original post?
For every other niche it’s the same I’m sure, and trust me I do understand that there’s only so many ways you can tell people the best ways to earn money online or the fastest ways to lose weight.
If you’re writing about an area that’s common – and it’s so hard to be uncommon with how many websites are around today – ensure you stand out with your writing or presentation style, or how you’re coming across.
Write it in a way no-one has seen before. Rock the boat. Be controversial. Be opinionated. Be funny. Creative awesome graphics or interactive pieces. Just. Do. Something.
If you’re going to upscale content, you need to make it seriously worthwhile. Turn a 1,500 word article into a 6,000 word article with in-depth analysis, unique images, the full works. Don’t be lazy.
Most importantly, don’t try to be something you’re not. Personally, I find it fairly easy to come across as a bit of a twat, because I am one.
Don’t be scared of being disliked
Here I am telling you that your content sucks, when the truth is that you might think that my content sucks. That’s fine,
BE LIKE THAT honestly.
Rand Fishkin wasn’t overly keen on what I last wrote: “didn’t totally love the post’s framing of the process, even though the tips you provided are pretty solid,” he said.
What he’s really saying is ‘I like your ideas, but I would’ve preferred a more conventional way of writing.’
If I’d written it in a conventional style – like everyone else is doing – my post wouldn’t have been unique or memorable.
However, what I actually produced was virtually unrecognisable from anything else online, at least to the best of my knowledge.
But still, although his short review was ultimately a negative one, I took Rand’s opinion as a compliment. Why’s this?
He noticed me. Rand isn’t your typical blogger that gets a lot of emails. He’s the poster boy of modern SEO. I’d hazard a guess that he gets at least a thousand emails a week regarding his awesome moustache alone.
My main aim from the start with Intergeek has been to stand out and it seems that it’s working so far. I don’t want to be liked by everyone; I want to be loved by a few. Do you love me? Sign up to my email list then!
Spread the word
Writing an article doesn’t finish after typing it out and editing it. Oh no, my friend. You’ve got to put the work in in the gym for your content to grow. You aren’t going to get ripped abs without putting in a hell of a lot of hard work (despite banner ads suggesting otherwise) and blog posts are the same.
How do you spread the word? “Share it on social media!” – That’s what people say anyway.
Well what’s the point in that when you’ve likely got no-one there to share it to? Sure, your mom will give you a retweet if you ask her, but she’s only got 4 followers herself.
The trick you really need to learn for this is the secret to great outreach. Put the time in and trust me it can be worth it; visitors, social shares, backlinks and future growth guaranteed.
Think of the bigger picture
Most bloggers aren’t honest enough to admit that they’re in this for money. In the long run, most are deep down.
Me? Of course I’m writing for the money. I want the fame, the fortune, I want it all. I can picture it now, coming home to a Playboy bunny every evening, swooned by my unrivalled blogging success in the SEO niche. Digital marketers are the rockstars of the 21st century.*
*chat up line success so far: 0%
Even if blogging is being used as a footstep towards SEO for selling products and services, it’s still there with the intention of generating £££.
If you’re thinking of the bigger picture from the start, putting the time in to build a unique identity, promote, outreach, network, engage, improve and more all from the start, you’re going to avoid all of regrets of “I wish I did that sooner.”
If you already have those regrets then it’s never too late to change your ways.