In this post regular contributer Skellie from Skelliewag.org helps you differentiate your content.
Blogs are now so popular that it’s very hard to find a niche that isn’t already saturated. There are probably dozens or hundreds of other bloggers writing on the topics you cover.
Being unique has never been so important.
We already know that ‘differentiation’ is a worthwhile goal for any blogger. In this post, I want to explain why it’s important to differentiate your posts, and give you five strategies you can use to do so.
What’s so good about being different?
By differentiating, you give readers a compelling reason to give their attention to your blog over others. After all, if you can’t offer something different, if you can’t fulfill different needs or solve different problems, potential readers simply won’t pay attention to what you’re doing.
Differentiating can sound like a hard task. It’s best to tackle “being different” one area at a time.
Here are five strategies you can use to set your content apart.
#1 –Develop a recognizable and consistent voice
One thing you might have noticed about top bloggers is that they have a very distinct writing style, or ‘voice’. One of the simplest ways to stand out in your niche is to write differently to other bloggers covering the same topics.
The key is to write naturally and consistently.
Be natural — don’t impersonate the writing style of successful bloggers. Even your flaws can help you stand out in your niche. If you’re a funny person, don’t suck the humor out of your writing simply because it’s uncommon. If you write and speak informally, don’t break into formal language because that’s the standard in your niche.
You’ll always perform better when doing something that comes naturally to you. Readers will be able to sense when you’re not being authentic, or otherwise trying to hide your natural voice.
Be consistent — readers won’t come to recognize your writing style unless it’s consistent. Don’t chop and change between funny and serious, formal and informal, easy-going and aggressive. Staying away from extreme voices will allow you more room to move. For example, moving from neutral to light-hearted is a lot smoother than moving from angry to light-hearted.
#2 — Put yourself into what you write
One of the nicest things about being human is that we’re unique without trying. No-one else has exactly the same experiences, biases, tastes, physical features and perspective as you do.
On the other hand, there are millions of blogs out there, many of them writing on the same topics. The tips, opinions, news and advice you write have probably been written many times before, albeit in different ways.
One effective way to make your content unique (which is also another way to turn readers into raving fans) is to put yourself into what you write.
- When sharing a tip, what caused you to discover it? How have things changed since you started using it?
- When you argue an opinion, explain what influenced you to adopt it.
- When you give advice, explain what the results of following that advice have been for you.
The key is to weave relevant personal anecdotes into your writing. It’ll add strength to your posts while also helping to make them unique.
Photo by theforbzez.
#3 — Develop your own formatting style
If your writing looks a certain way, readers will begin to recognize it wherever it appears. In an instant they can say: “I know who wrote that.” You can think of the way you format your posts as your own personal watermark. Some different ideas:
- Use box-quotes to emphasize your key points or the most interesting sentences in your post.
- Sum up each post with a bullet-point breakdown of your key points.
- Use unique looking sub-headings and emphasis.
- Develop your own way of presenting information.
- Get creative with the way you use links.
- Use the footer of your posts for asides and unrelated notes.
#4 — Use imagery in a unique way
I think it’s important to have a unique image near the top of each post you write. You can see this strategy in use at ProBlogger: most if not all posts contain an image with rounded corners in the top-left corner.
This is particularly useful when it comes to drawing feed readers into your posts. The image immediately indicates the source of the content. Though the headline you’ve used probably won’t tell the reader which blog the post is from, the image will.
If the reader trusts that you provide good content, they’re much more likely to put the brakes on their scroll-wheel and see what you have to say.
Without the help of images, subscribers may not slow down long enough to work out which blog a particular post is from. Unique imagery makes the fact unmissable.
#5 — Break with tradition
A great idea-sparking suggestion from Seth Godin is to “do the never” — in other words, to work out what your niche always seems to do, and then do the opposite.
Maki, a blogger who writes about making money online, recently started publishing very long, value-packed posts. Why? Because most other bloggers covering the topic write short, newsy posts. He’s doing the never, and he says it’s working great for him. That’s his content differentiation strategy.
- If everyone in your niche is posting news, why not focus on analysis? (or vice versa)
- If your niche is full of long posts, why not write short, pithy ones? (or vice versa)
- If blogs in your niche are quite formally written, why not write informally? (or vice versa)
- If blogs in your niche update all the time, why not focus on quality over quantity?
The great thing about this strategy is that there’s almost always an audience craving for the ‘never’. The never represents a demand that isn’t being met.
Points to review
- A consistent and natural writing style can help make your content more distinctive.
- You’re unique, so put yourself into what you write.
- Using formatting and imagery in your own way can set your posts apart visually.
- Doing the opposite of what others are doing can be a powerful way to differentiate your posts.