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How to Make Your Blog Posts Stand Out From the Rest – Lessons from the MacBook Air

Have you heard that Apple released a new laptop called the MacBook Air yesterday?

If you haven’t – you are not reading the same blogs that I am. The news is everywhere at the moment with thousands of bloggers ‘breaking’ the news.

Here’s how Technorati has tracked the mentions of ‘MacBook’ on blogs in the last month. They tracked around 7000 blogs using the word yesterday (I think it’s much more than that – but you get the point of the chart).

Here’s how blogpulse charts it with just under 1% of all blog posts in the blogosphere containing the word ‘MacBook’ in the last day.

So with 1 out of every 100 posts being written about MacBooks – a blogger is faced with a real challenge.

How do you stand out of the crowd?

5 Ways to Stand Out From the Crowd When Covering a Popular Story

I want to suggest 5 ways that you can take a story that everyone else is writing about and do something that gives you a chance to differentiate yourself:

1. Compare – some of the posts that I’ve seen about the MacBook Air that have gotten more attention than others skipped over ‘reporting’ the features of the new laptop and got straight into comparing it with the features of other laptops in its class. Gizmodo currently has a good post doing this with a helpful chart that compares the MacBook Air and four of its competitors. This type of post usually starts appearing a couple of days after a story breaks – but there’s nothing to stop you doing it earlier.

2. Translate for Your Audience – most people hear the facts of the news fairly quickly (I mean even my Mum saw the new MacBook Air on the TV news last night) – but what is harder to find is people who will tell you what it means for them. OK – so Apple released a new laptop last night – it looks thin….. “but is it something that could enhance my life? Does it suit my needs? How would it fit with my life?” These are the types of questions your readers will be asking when they hear news. These are the types of questions they’ll be searching for opinion on from others who they see to be ‘like them’. So in the case of the MacBook Air – a post like ’10 reasons why the MacBook Air will help You be a better Accountant’ or ‘Why Farmers are Better off Not Buying a MacBook Air’ might be an angle to take. This type of post might not get linked to by everyone in the blogosphere – but it’ll be appreciate by your regular readership and by other blogs in your niche. In a sense Treehugger did this with their post on the ‘greenness’ of the MacBook Air.

3. Give an Opinion – reporting the news is going to satisfy some readers and their thirst to be in the know – but most readers want more. They want to know what YOU think about that news – they want your opinion. In the case of the MacBook Air there has been plenty of opinion stated so this technique might not have as much impact now 36 hours after the announcement – but what I noticed in the hour or so after it was announced was it was largely opinionated posts that rose to the top of the social bookmarking sites – particularly posts that had strong negative reactions to the laptop. This is what Paul Boutin did with Why I’m Disappointed in Apple’s Ultraslim New Laptop.

4. Use Humor – often when the blogosphere is all going on about the one thing it is the blogger who dares to do something satirical or humorous that stands out from the bunch. Once again – I didn’t see a lot of this but Gizmodo did very well on Digg with their post Apple Introduces Manila Case – The World’s Thinnest Notebook Case. While Gizmodo has the advantage of a huge audience to start with – it was humor that stood out from the thousands of other posts going around the web reporting on how many ports the MacBook Air had and how it didn’t have a replaceable battery.

5. Extend and Predict – when a story breaks most bloggers get caught up in reporting the fact. Of course we all know that the facts get in the way of a good story – so why not tell a story of where you see things rolling out from here? I’ve not seen anyone do this yet with the MacBook Air (of course I’ve only read a small portion of the 0.9% of all posts written in the blogosphere yesterday so I’m sure someone has) but I think an interesting angle to take would be to analyze the direction that Apple has taken with their new line of laptops and extend it. Obviously this is just the first of a new line – what will the next MacBook Air have in terms of features? What will it look like? What will this mean for computing in the years ahead? update – Mac Rumors did this with Multitouch on the MacBook Air and Beyond

If you’d like to read more on a similar topic check out How to Add to Blogging Conversations… And Eliminate the Echo Chamber

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. BW says:

    Some good points here. Humor always comes in handy, as long as it is not over done.

    Working on a niche blog I run into this also – you just have to be creative and look at different angles for your posts.

    Although sometimes there are not many different angles for a particular post and this is where your style of writing comes in.

  2. Lex G says:

    How about an Macbook air competition… I want one …

    About you post : Good advice … A perfect example of how Darren tracks what’s happening around the blogosphere (something popular and in demand) and hooks into it with an article such as above …

    Lex – http://www.newmediatype.com

  3. Mr Munro says:

    Great article Darren. I agree with everything you mention here, especially using your own opinion to make your article unique. I actually have a similar post that I wrote a while back which displays my opinions on similar matters.

    http://mrmunro.com/definition-of-quality-content/2007/11/26/

  4. Ken Y-N says:

    More by luck than judgement I published a story on the iPhone in Japan yesterday, and it got picked up three or four moderate-sized blogs and BBSs, which was nice.

    Perhaps there was an aspect of bloggers looking for Apple news, but rather than yet another MacBook Air story they decided that something different might be of more interest to their readers?

  5. Owen Cutajar says:

    Great post. I find blogs that do Number 5 (extend & predict) particularly compellin, especially as they help seed new ideas and potentially inspire other people to blog about the subject.

  6. I find a lot of people really take a one sided view when taking about products (which is guess is understandable if you’re an affiliate). Thus I like point #1 about comparing.

    Also in all blogs humor is key, or general enjoyability I suppose. Most blogs I come across don’t get me interested enough to read past paragraph 1.

  7. Joe says:

    When I first read the title of this, I thought you were getting at the title. Then I read the article and really enjoyed it. Great Post, Darren!

    BTW… is the title messed up or is that how it’s supposed to be?

  8. Jay F.H. says:

    Also a good title helps. ;o)

    “How to Stand Make Your Blog Posts Stand Out From the Rest – Lessons from the MacBook Air”

  9. Yep, that agrammatical typo in the post title made me look twice even though I’m not interested in Macs.

    db

  10. Jay F.H. says:

    You beat me to it Joe.

  11. Frugal Dad says:

    So now we are left to wonder if it was the title that made us read this article or the mention of MacBook. Doesn’t matter for me personally, I read all of Darren’s articles anyway.

    Good information in this article. So many bloggers fail to provide their own opinions in a post for fear of appearing subjective, when in fact that is what most readers want. If they wanted an objective, fair-and-balanced recount they would read a more traditional newstory.

  12. Spale says:

    Extend and Predict - Thats the point. When you are doing something, the most important thing is to be first with that information.

  13. Hagrin says:

    I’d also add make sure you have already put in the backend work to setup your site so that your post will hopefully outrank the “fly-by-night” bloggers. Make sure you use a keyword dense TITLE, META description, META keyword tags, make sure the post is added to your sitemap (hopefully done automatically) and then start trying to link build to your post by comment posting on other “macbook” articles. Hopefully, if you’ve already done much of the SEO work needed to your site, you’ll be able to drive some of the highly competitive traffic to your site.

    You can be as funny as (insert favorite comedian here), but if no one ever sees your post or gets directed to it, no one will ever appreciate your unique writing style.

  14. Razlan says:

    I am not a MacBook user myself, but am amazed by how fast the news spread. Right after the news, I hear about MacBook Air from three different non-blog sources – MSN, Twitter, SMS… I guess one thing you can add on is that Apple’s news spread like it did because it has legions of fans doing the job for them.

    On another note. The notebook is suchhhhh a beauty. I gasped aloud when I saw it for the first time! :D

  15. ~C4Chaos says:

    Darren, excellent coverage of the MacBook Air. thanks for the tips and the insightful links that you’ve included in your post.

    in my case, i’ve used the phenomenon of MacBook Air to riff on the topic of an ultimate uber-reader while addressing America’s problem on reading. i know it sounds lofty. allow me to link to my blog post and judge for yourself :)

    http://coolmel.typepad.com/iblog/2008/01/americans-dont.html

    keep on rockin’!

    ~C

  16. rendah says:

    Macbook Air? First time heard it. Need to search for it.

  17. mcangeli says:

    Its odd, but this actually fit in to part of one of my posts today about blogging mistakes to avoid. One of them was on “hot topics”.

    Couldn’t have said it better

  18. Sangesh says:

    Well Darren, you and me fall in the same category ;)

    I too haven’t read the blog. Thanks for the information in the new MacBook Air laptop. I love to use a Mac, but really hadn’t had a chance to use one yet.

    You have a great post.

  19. Caitlin says:

    I actually think the news that Apple is going into film rentals is far more significant.

  20. Arnel says:

    Hello,

    I was able to watch the event via live feeds from gizmodo and posted an entry about MacBook Air immediately after the event. I was surprised about the amount of traffic I received after, not only that, two minutes after posting, I already have a comment.

    Arnel

  21. I heard about this product yesterday as well. Made a few comments about it on other sites. I have not heard many good things about it yet as well. What do you guys think?

  22. Daniel says:

    Hi!

    Yes … I was on the buzz of Apple …

    Good work and good blog to every good man!

  23. CatherineL says:

    These are good tips Darren. I like the ones that compare new products with other ones, as it makes it easier to decide whether it’s the right choice for me or not.

    I had not heard of Macbook Air – so yours is actually the first post I’d read.

  24. I think the lesson here is “value”. How many of those 1% are reporting and how many are simply regurgitating? If you want to be noticed, you need to be saying something that no one else is saying. I like #4 the best, That Gizmodo post is hilarious.

  25. Ana says:

    It really is amazing how fast news travels. As they say, you can’t buy that kind of publicity. Great post. It is very refreshing to see someone thinking about different ways to present information, instead of typing the same story as countless other blogs.

  26. I don’t understand the title. I thought it was a typo. Is it? Maybe it is because my mother tongue is spanish :) O well…good article anyway…

  27. Guilty.

    I rather used reviews from popular bloggers on what they thought of the MBA, half my readers just like to look at pictures of the air and half like to hear about what others thought of it.

    Though, I noticed that my MacWorld post directed more traffic then my Mac Book Air post. I think thats because I explained a little about each product announced and posted some relevant pictures. What do you think?

  28. Aywren says:

    Interesting points and very good post! I also followed up on the MacBook Air news today — though my blog isn’t so much about covering breaking news. I dabbled on your point number 5 in that I used the Air as a springboard for personal thoughts on how far technology has come and where it all is going. Though I can’t make any solid predictions, that was the sort of thing running through my mind at the news!

    Thanks again for great tips!

  29. Darren Rowse says:

    title typo – fixed :-)

  30. As I write about Macs frequently, it was easy for me to report on this. My “spin” uses this as more support for my theory that we are nearing the “tipping point” where Microsoft starts losing ground very quickly. I’ve been building on that theme for a while now, pointing out that I see more and more Windows support techs carrying Mac books, that I hear employees who have Macs at home grumbling about the “junk” they have to use at work – if the Air becomes popular in the executive suite, the pressure on Microsoft’s monopoly may be unbearable..

    So that was my take on todays short post..

  31. Barbara says:

    Darren,

    I like funny or catchy titles, as they will tweak my interest. However, depending on what I am searching for, stating the basics leads me to believe I’m reading a reputable site…plus they can be more search engine friendly.

    You are the first to inform me of the MacBook Air, so you have done a great job. Undoubtedly the competition will be close on their heels.

  32. Simon says:

    I did quite well yesterday by managing to get the UK prices before the Apple UK store was officially up. That sent quite a lot of traffic to my post covering the MacBook Air from a UK perspective with people searching for things like “UK MacBook Air” Price and numerous variations.

    This is in line with your “translate” point, but taken more literally.

  33. Tech Slice says:

    It looks like a nice notebook. The specs are decent for it’s size.

  34. Harris says:

    Gizmodo totally ripped off my comic, seen here:
    http://www.mindfeck.info/new-ipod-accessories/

  35. I span it by starting the buy a bigger envelope campaign trying to dissuade folks from buying shiny new toys on credit.

  36. Wayne Liew says:

    Going against the buzz can be a good thing as well. When everyone is writing about the advantage, you can talk about disadvantages of something.

    I would agree that humor will definitely stand out when a bunch of people is talking about a buzz. Gizmodo’s post definitely is the perfect example of this point and it is not a surprise that it manages to appear on Digg even though there are so many bloggers covering the Apple Macbook Air news.

  37. Darren Rowse says:

    Lex G – well I couldn’t have a competition til I test it extensively myself :-)

    Ken – great work. I lvoe it when that happens.

    Hagrin – good points. If you are well optimized you can do well in the days after a big story breaking.

    mcangell – thanks

    McClellanville RE – yes I think you’re right ‘value’ sums them all up. Create something useful with the news and your readers will love it.

    Simon – good work. if you can be first with part of the news you can do very well.

  38. Dee Copeland says:

    I didn’t see that you added a sleek, cool look or interface. Even pictures.

    I notice that pictures really step up the blogs. You wrote about it before, but shocking, unique, or illustrative graphics and photos really set some bloggers apart. I followed your advice and moved from 5 to 3 posts per week, which has been great. The only problem is that I now spend about 2 hours per blog post rather than 1-1.5.

    The first hour is research and content.

    The second hour is spent formatting, finding the right photos (istock photos, etc) and crafting the headline. It can sometimes take me 15-30 minutes to find a photo that fits the information and feel that I’m trying to get across.