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Value Blogging: A New Model For Success?

SkellieIn this post regular contributer Skellie from Skelliewag.org explores the idea of building successful blogs by giving readers value.

What do ProBlogger, Lifehacker, Seth Godin’s Blog, Copyblogger, Dosh Dosh, Lifehack.org, MAKE blog, Zen Habits, 43 Folders, Pronet Advertising and Coding Horror all have in common?

Yes, they’re all in the Technorati 100, but there’s something else, too.

Each of the above blogs is dedicated to maximizing value for the reader. Rather than reporting news, or covering an industry, or attempting to persuade, the above blogs are primarily dedicated to making readers more skillful at what they do, whether that skill is blogging, marketing or software coding.

I call this approach value-blogging, and in this post, I want to explain how it can be a powerful model for bloggers to adopt, either fully or partially. I want to suggest that this approach has a number of distinct advantages for the average blogger. Most importantly, I want to outline how you can get started with value-blogging.

Why value-blogging is a powerful strategy

Unlike news or time-sensitive posts, value-blogging helps readers to improve in ways that are continually relevant. Every time you add another value-blogging post to your archives, you’re building up a database of knowledge that should still be as relevant in future as the day it was written.

Value-blogging, by its nature, encourages original and differentiated content. Though two bloggers might both write a post on quick ways to increase your email productivity, those two posts are likely to contain very different advice, influenced by the individual blogger’s personality, experience and writing style. The advice you give and the way you deliver it will help to brand both you and your blog.

The quality over quantity model is well-suited to a one-blogger show. The upper echelons of the world’s most highly trafficked blogs are updated dozens of times a day, often by full-time editorial teams. The average blogger simply can’t hope to compete in terms of volume (at least, not if any shred of quality is to be maintained).

Value-blogging emphasizes quality over quantity every time, and many of the world’s most respected value blogs update only a few times a week. This flexibility is invaluable to anyone who leads a busy life outside blogging.

Value-blogging is ideal for building a loyal and enthusiastic readership. Though I might respect a blogger for updating me with news or sharing her eloquent opinions, I will probably have an even greater fondness for someone who helps me become better at something I love. It’s hard to think of a more powerful way to leave an impression on a reader.

Value-blogging can boost your personal brand and open up direct and indirect sources of income. Value-bloggers are presented with unique opportunities to make money online. As they have proven their expertise on a topic time and time again, they can be in demand for speaking engagements, consulting work, and freelancing. There is also the possibility of producing and selling an eBook. A number of value-bloggers also make good money through affiliate sales because their recommendations are so well-respected.

Sounds great, but how do I start?

A teacher addresses her classPhotography: My Hobo Soul

Value-blogging is, at its core, about focusing your energy on helping readers. There are dozens of ways you can do this, but the most common approaches are as follows:

  • Provide tips and advice on an important skill in your niche.
  • Answer a key question your readers might have.
  • Share lessons you’ve learned.
  • Provide useful information and resources.
  • Write a tutorial or guide.
  • Answer the who, where, what, when and why of something.

There are plenty of examples of value-blogging you can use for reference. ProBlogger, for example, is a value-based blog, though the value-blogging is supplemented by some news and commentary. This article is an example of value-blogging, in that it attempts to describe not just why value-blogging is important, but how you can add it to your raft of blogging skills.

The best way to boost your value-blogging skills is to learn by example. Subscribe to value-blogs and pay attention to their most popular articles. Could you transfer that format to your own niche?

For example, one of the most popular posts at ProBlogger is Blogging Tips For Beginners. Could you write: ‘Cooking Tips For Beginners’? Or ‘Karate Tips For Beginners’? Whatever your niche, the idea behind many great posts can be translated over to a topic of interest to your audience, resulting in something very different but (hopefully) equally appreciated.

Give value-blogging a try!

It’s not necessary that value-blogging become the whole focus of your blog, but it can be a useful thing to add to your content mix.

If you’d like some homework, make the next blog post you write a value-post. Teach your readers something, give them some tips, or advice, or share some resources. You might be surprised at the results!

Skellie is a regular writer for ProBlogger. She runs her own blog about blogging at Skelliewag.org. Come by and say hello :)

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Comments

  1. I would also add that these types of posts often do extremely well in social media. If you keep it up, it can help establish you as an authority in your niche. Great post Skellie.

  2. Guillermo says:

    Look at this! So someone gave a name to what I’ve been doing for the last 3 years in my weblog and I sued to call “Give others a hand”. Awesome!

  3. Lifehacker is a perfect example of this.

    Also, ‘Creating Passionate Users’ was, but she left the blog world after a particularly nasty incident.

  4. Skellie says:

    @ Caroline: That’s another bonus, and it’s good that it was pointed out quickly in the comments so many will see it. I could think of a few more benefits, but I didn’t want the list to sound too over-enthusiastic ;-)

  5. Nice post, I have been reading skelliewag.org for a while now, way to go!

    Skellie if you get chance visit my blog as well. You might want to be my guest poster as well, I would love that.

  6. This is very valuable, I never thought of it this way. Thanks for the eye-opener.

  7. Lodewijkvdb says:

    Great post. I like the term value-blogging a lot, it’s something I try to do with my blog as well. I live by the rule that if you provide enough value to others, value will be returned to you. So to maximize the returns, I better add a lot of value to a lot of people’s lives ;-)

    But it doesn’t take away the need to do marketing. You need to get out there, so people find your blog and find the value.

  8. Karthik says:

    A great first article, Skellie.

    I’ve been reading up on you for quite sometime at your blog, seeing you at ProBlogger is certainly welcome!

    I particularly liked the way you started the post by letting all the big guys know you’ve arrived ;)

  9. Skellie says:

    @ Lodewijkvdb: Good points. What we’re seeing more and more is that it really is a case of “give and you shall receive.” Bloggers are realizing that it’s not about what you can take from readers, but what you can give them.

    Counter-intuitively, the more you give away, the more you get in return. It’s taken the blogosphere a few long years to wrap its head around that concept, but it’s great to see it finally taking hold.

    @ Karthik: I didn’t think of that ;) I always think that big blogs get so many links it’s really like a drop in the ocean for them. For the average blogger, though, a link from an A-list blog is a milestone. Funny how things work :)

  10. Roosevelt says:

    “Value blogs” (I think a better term is “how-to blogs”) certainly seem to get more traffic than “news link” and “opinion” blogs but I love “Daily Kos” as much as I love “ProBlogger”. I find “value” in any blog with a well articulated passion about any subject, as long as I am informed, enlightened and inspired!

  11. Brian Clark says:

    Skellie, this is a home-run post. Great job.

  12. Skellie:

    I read your full post, and I wrote one valuable-blogging post.

    It’s about Google Page Rank “how to”

  13. CompuWorld says:

    great start Skellie.. that was a cool tip

    and I am proud to say that I am a value blogger..my blog totally concentrates articles which help people in some manner or the other..

    there were times when I was totally towards writing news..but i have learned in my experience of 1 year and now I have totally shifted to writing articles which are tips tricks to improve my readers daily surfing habits and computing habits..

    the greatest part here is that you can go on to write articles for future without worrying that they may expire..

    like I just ended up writing tips till 30th November and will be working hard in next few days to write posts till 31st December..that way I will get more time to take part in online communities and generate few more loyal readers!!

    great going Skellie…keep up the work and please do have a look from my blog as I have been working hard in last may months and I will be overwhelmed if I get recognition from the blogging community!!

  14. Andy says:

    Great first post Skellie. I look forward to your next article on ProBlogger. I can’t wait to try out some your techniques on my own blog when I launch it.

  15. Catana says:

    Like Guillermo, I’m delighted to find that there’s a name for what I’ve been doing all along.

    Noting Roosevelt’s preference for “how-to,” a value blog isn’t necessarily about how to do anything. There are other kinds of knowledge just as valuable.

  16. BeingParents says:

    If your Blogs does not cause readers to want to take action, then you might be short changing yourself and your readers.

    Quality content usually cause readers to take action. Content is still King/Queen. Blog to make a difference and then money will come to you.

  17. Hmm…

    My readers have the opposite problem.
    They are actively looking for ways to avoid more traffic.

    A short list of example methods:

    http://www.fartible.com/2007/10/30/seven-scary-ways-not-to-increase-traffic-to-your-website/

  18. Value-blogging is a great term for this!

    Blogging in and of itself is about information. In order to convey the information to your readers, they have to find it valuable.

    You, the blogger, have to be passionate and informative about each post and topic to convey that information to your reader for them to feel value in your blog post. Just writing neat little tips and tricks is ok, but your posts need to really “pull” the reader into it so that they can feel your passion.

    Thanks Skellie and glad to see you are here now too!

  19. Bontb says:

    This is actually touch down post!

  20. BrentD says:

    Thank you, You have provided me with some badly needed inspiration.

  21. Michael says:

    I can’t argue with those points. I actually make sure that I’m fully into what I’m writing before and while I’m doing it. I feel like I would be cheating my readers otherwise – why waste their time and mine.

  22. Great post, Skellie. I’ll be looking forward to reading more from you.

  23. Dalia says:

    This was the very reason i posponed opening my own blog in the first place. I wanted to contribute something valuable.Something that will help others too…
    I think i’m finally on to smth…

    Thanks, Skellie, for this post…

  24. Why yes, I wrote a Karate tip for beginners just yesterday!

  25. Omar Yesid Mariño says:

    I think that the best example of Value Blogging is Problogger.net, this site is successful due to a huge amount of useful information for bloggers that you can find here.

  26. nefesco says:

    This post is exceptionally USEFUL! Thanks a lot Skellie ^_^
    Btw, any tips on *VALUE COMMENTING*? I wanna learn THAT too!

  27. Excellent post! This is exactly the idea behind my new blog http://freelancingtips.com, and from the organic traffic and return visitors I’ve been getting, it seems this has been one of my better ideas yet!

  28. I believe in your value blogging method. For me it makes my blog much more valuable. As you state, just supplying time sensitive material that is available everywhere is not very personal and really is boring.

    if you are providing information or insight that is unique and original that can be used by the reader, they will be back for more.

  29. Evan Hadkins says:

    Thanks Skellie.

    The reason I was so excited when I discovered blogging was that I thought it was a medium focussed on content.

    My hope is that gradually quality will tell (although now I think it will be a niche, while there will be mostly entertainment in this medium – due to its funding mechanism(s)).

    Would have liked more examples from outside the blogging world.

    Here’s to quality and value!

  30. Skellie says:

    @ nefesco: I think value commenting is any comment that adds something to the existing post: a little extra information, a tip, or an interesting reflection.

    Don’t go too far and write your own blog post in the comments section, I think, because it’s the host author’s space and it’s unfair to try and steal their thunder. But an insightful comment will always get you more attention than a run-of-the-mill one :).

  31. Frank says:

    Great post and many thanks for putting your ideas into an excellent document. Our blog focuses on hiking and other outdoors topics, basically centred around walks we have done and the experiences we have enjoyed. We always focus on giving our readers lots of practical information so they can plan their trips with some inside knowledge. The blog basically evolved from an online diary of our adventures to one that has our goal as THE Australian hiking resource!!

    We have also made it obvious that we are keen for questions and comments about various outdoor/hiking related topics. This is slowly building but the idea is, as Skellie noted, to add value to our visitors. It also gives us ideas about topics people are interested in reading about so we both win!

    We have been dabbling on monetorising the Blog but it has been VERY unsuccessful via Adwords, Amazon, Affiliates etc. I recently pulled ALL the ads and have just left it clean…. Now toying with some paid ads (as per posts by Darren). Just trying to work out the best way to “tout” for ads without upsetting my (rather small) readership!

    Many thanks again, great post!

  32. just a guy says:

    About 2 months ago I stumbled across pro blogger for the first time. It really got me thinking about the possibility of being a pro blogger myself but I could never really figure out a niche. Then it came to me a couple weeks ago and I got really excited! I was excited to not just blog, but actually make something that might help people (a value blog). I found that this was great because it wasn’t about the money (though if that comes, great) but it was more about taking the information I know and helping people. So, this weekend I launched my new blog, goingtoseminary.com

    Your article put into words what was going on in my heart when I came up with the idea. Thanks. I will, from now on, explain to people that I am a value blogger (any advice on how to prevent people from thinking I’m a discount blogger?)

  33. worknplay says:

    may be I am shifting towards this as well, I have been writing about how we can build traffic and links by different means rather than trying just the traditional methods. Although my blog is a mixed spot, this post has sure got me thinking.

    Thank you , that was a great advice

  34. Barbara says:

    Provide value…..isn’t that why we blog?

    From day one, I have felt that it is my duty to “pay it forward”, when I blog. It’s my way of saying thank you, to all of the bloggers (including Darrin), who freely shared what they had learned.

    By value blogging, we can make great contributions to that “information highway”, called the internet.

    Before we hit that “publish” button, we should ask ourselves, if what we are posting, will be helpful to others. If our answer is “no”, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

  35. Skellie, congratulations on your first post here – and for paying so much attention to the feedback in the comment box. It’s appreciated :-)

    I was interested in your take on how value-blogging sits with the model that Brian and Tony Clark are advocating (and that Darren has signed up for too) – the idea that only some of this kind of valuable content should be given away for free (as an attraction strategy) and that we could look to a ‘teaching sells’ model for the true “value” of what’s on offer

    Joanna

  36. Appfunds says:

    When I read about all this SEO stuff I really get confused.
    Can you imagine Mark Twain studying “positioning and optimalization” instead of writing ” Tom Sawyer” ? Would it contribute anything to his work ?

  37. Wayne Liew says:

    I guess there are many bloggers out there that are still following the wind. They see a great post on a service by some great bloggers, they will sign up and write more or less the same what the blog blogger wrote.

    Value blogging (the term I just learnt) has been always being implemented by me. The downside of this method might be if you have an off-topic post, your visitors might feel disappointed and this is what I am scared off.

    Value blogging needs a lot of brainstorming as well and only people who are passionate about the topic can really do that.

  38. Netvalar says:

    Yes a title for what I do with music information. One of the things I like aobut value blogging as you have named it is when I know my readers need a new post and I have too many ideas sitting around I can dig through my blog put together a them and interlink to other posts I already put out. Of course on those days I also end up with some 20+drafts saved for when I can finally work them into either short posts or the actual finished thought.

    Plus in some online circles people feel left out if I don’t spam them. So delievering value posts also takes away from the fear of spam. Everyone in the 2 social communities that I end up sending a list of links to always stop by to say thank you. Where as before I started value posting I would get irate comments back and that was just testing the waters.

  39. maneesh says:

    I tried news like posts for sometime on my blog, even did a post saying news posts are better to increase subscriptions, hwoever wasn’t comfortable doing it, and came back to ‘depth’ posts, or what skellie names value blogging.. it does suit my style of writing better

    However, I must add, that value blogging is not easy, you can only add value for your reader if you are yourself at a level where you have the authority to do that. Sharing what you learn is a good way for noo-bs to go about with value blogging imo…

  40. Jimmy Vee says:

    Couldn’t Agree More. You become more powerful by delivering valuable information. This allows you to create relationships and its those relationships that create opportunities in business and life. The law of the universe gives back to those who deliver value first.

  41. Anna says:

    Skellie, this is a great post and makes me feel better about my own blog. I always feel the blogs in my niche (green living content) that just deliver the news or talk about new green tech stuff are doing the best by the amount of comments they get.

    I on the other hand try to give them products that I personally used or have researched based upon my own green experiences. I even try to engage them with my own personal experiences for a discussion like this. Very few comments. Is it my niche?

    My best read post was green toliet paper! So, I am trying to keep it more simple but I am still confused as to what they want. I try to write like you said with value but maybe I need to do a better marketing job?

    My readership has grown but not as much as the above blogs have. Any thoughts on what anyone would want to see that is valued writing on the green front?

  42. elamb says:

    interestingly simple, clear and to the point. 90% of the money I’ve made on line have been done by creating content that helps other people.

  43. Value Blogging! Never gave it a name myself, but it was the idea behind the concept of my blog Bird on a wire http://lagniappemarketing.net. But I guess I got sidetracked and it turned out to be something not even close. Time for a rework I suppose!

  44. Skellie says:

    @ Blog Angel Team (Joanna): My approach has always been to give everything away free. The online income that I do make is through indirect sources (freelancing, consulting, etc.). I’ve not read ‘Teaching Sells’ yet but I’m familiar with the ideas behind it and I do think they have a lot of merit, particularly if you want to take control of your own income without advertising and affiliate sales (which many bloggers feel a little uneasy about).

  45. I just wanted to add StevePavlina.com to your list of value bloggers. He has something like 600+ articles written for people to enjoy for free! I really like this model and you’re right Darren, the only way to really accomplish something with your blog is to give it your all and give value to your readers. If you just give news bits – that’s not lasting value. That’s not providing content for the next 10 years… only the next 10 days. I am in the process of focusing my AimforAwesome blog on what type of topics I’m going to cover since I’m interested in so much. I am positive though, that the value blogging model is the right one for me.

  46. Hi Skellie,

    Awesome post… I’ve been focusing on valuea blogging lately and the results have been phenomenal… in fact, I smashed my traffic stats each of the past four months.

    Well Done.

    Carlo Selorio

  47. Nancy says:

    Really good advice – I find that I am more likely to Stumble or bookmark a ‘value’ post which I know I can go back to again and again than I am a news post which only has a short shelf life.

    They suit all of the insatiable learners, and being one myself, I always consider what I would have gained if I had come to my own blog post as a new reader…if the answer is nothing, then the post is scrapped.

  48. Tom Hanna says:

    Great post, but I’m not sure I’d call how-to blogging value blogging. The implication is that other types of posts don’t add value. Posts, and blogs, should always add value, but that might be commentary, summary, analysis, explanation, new information or even getting old information onto the “live web” for the first time. Anything else is really just spam.

  49. Skellie,

    To continue the sporting accolades, this post is a hole-in-one!
    I fear that many bloggers are too formulaic.
    Yet, those who go beyond the basics, reap the most benefit.

    Cheers,

    Mitch

  50. BrentD says:

    Thanks again for the dynamite post. Following your advice, I have began value-blogging and my readers are becoming so improved, so rapidly that I fear government investigation.

    You’re an inspiration.