Two hundred and fifty million Blogs and counting.
How does one stand out in a virtual sea of anonymity?
It may be easier to debate the angels on the head of a pin analogy, but I’ll give it a try.
Without dwelling on the obvious, plenty of articles already lay out the formula for getting your Blog noticed. For the most part, common sense tactics prevail; you don’t need the IQ of a theoretical physicist, rather a pinch of fortitude and a sprinkle of stick-to-itiveness. Basic things like ensuring original content, a welcoming page layout, practical (useful) information, knowing your audience, regular posting, and engaging readers, is crucial. But many of us already do this.
Does this mean we stand out?
Personally, I don’t believe so.
So what’s the answer?
Write whatever the hell you feel like.
But there is a caveat. You have to write from the heart. Always. Accessing your personal strengths and experiences, using them as tools in your work, is what makes your writing unique. Finding your voice, and not taming it, is essential. Take the opportunity to reveal your personality, your true self, and build that intimacy with your readership. Choose topics you’re genuinely interested in, or at least have a strong opinion on. Writing a ‘How-to Blog’, or a ‘Top Ten list’ on a topic you’re not particularly passionate about may get you traffic, but it won’t make you stand out. Your goal is to impact the reader. While there may be a slew of previously published articles on your topic of choice, if you write from the heart, odds are your end-game will be unique, original, and compelling.
Another tactic is to pick a contentious topic, choose a side, and write with passion. Stick to your viewpoint. No wavering, no Waffle House. Writing on the fence, trying to mitigate dissent, becomes watered down tripe in the end. Controversy is your friend. People remember controversy. Think Howard Stern.
Avoid writing vanilla posts. Vanilla is boring, it’s what we all do, say and write. We want idiosyncratic. Great fiction writers ‘tell on themselves’ through their writing, they divulge their most private thoughts and fears, embarrassing moments, gaffes, sexual failures – all the things that make for memorable writing. Forget vanilla, we’re bored with vanilla. Shoot for mocha mint almond brownie fudge.
Abandon the fluff. I’ve read a lot about the correlation between frequent posting and successful blogs. Volume has its merit, but quality sets you apart from others. If you have the time and energy to post daily, by all means, do so. But if you find yourself stretching your creative limits, stop. I’d sooner read one hard hitting, straight-from-the-heart piece, than 5 mediocre place fillers that leave minimal impact.
Different blogs require different tactics. Understood. I realize my suggestions don’t apply to everyone. Writing a post on ‘Depression’, or ‘the Zika Virus’ can probably do without the controversy or humour part. There’s a limit to creative license. Then again if you don’t care about your target audience, or you’re not concerned with gaining readership, go for it. With that kind of creative freedom, you’re bound to strike gold. And when you do, drop me a line, I’d love to have a look.
The sea of anonymity can be a desolate place. Commitment, determination and an honest approach to writing is one way of navigating those waters. As long as you write what you want.
Sound advice from a novice (said no person ever). You may disagree with my argument and that’s fine. Successful bloggers use an array of tactics, some I’ve overlooked, some I’ve omitted. Take my recommendations with a salt grain. And please, feel free to comment, pro or con, I’m all ears.
One final tip. Choose your personal avatar wisely. Your image speaks volumes. If you’re currently using an obscure photo of Natalie Portman, or of a young Mel Gibson, hoping no one will notice, someone will.
Until next time,