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Having a Lack of Original Content on Your Blog – How to Let Your Blog Go #8

Let-Your-Blog-GoThis week we’ve been looking at a variety of ways that bloggers let their blogs degenerate. Today I want to talk about something that has the potential to kill a blog very quickly – the lack of original content or ideas.

This is a mistake that many bloggers fall into to numerous degrees. At one extreme we see bloggers simply scraping and republishing the feeds of others and slapping ads on them (splogs) – however there are a lot more subtle ways of falling into this trap that are easy to fall into.

I chatted to one blogger recently who told me that he’d just realized that without knowing it his blog had become of devoid of originality. Here’s a paragraph from an email that he wrote me (shared with permission but with a request of anonymity – edited slightly to keep the blog and niche not identifiable):

“My blog used to contain daily posts of me sharing my ideas about my niche. I would research topics and the news and their share my own views on the developments happening. But slowly over time I let things slip. It started slowly with me writing a few posts taking quotes from others in my niche and then adding a few thoughts of my own. These posts were actually good and I don’t regret them – but after a while I got lazy and began to add less of my own thoughts and more and more of the thoughts of others. Now I look at my blog and on any given week my readers are lucky to hear any of my own views on our niche. They might as well simply subscribe to the 10 blogs that I quote, they’d get as much value if they did.”

Wow, what an honest and powerful self critique. This blogger has gone on to reinvent their blog. While they still point readers to what others are writing in their niche they do it in a sidebar section on the blog and have started writing 2-3 original opinion pieces on their industry per week as the main focus of their blog.

The problem with having no originality on a blog:

This topic is a little tricky because I know how many bloggers fall into the ‘trap’ of simply reposting the ideas of others on their blogs. To complicate things further different types of blogs can get away with it more than others (for example some of the biggest blogs going around like Engadget and Gizmodo are largely reporting stories that break elsewhere).

However – in general, if you want people to find your blog and keep coming back to it for more you need to have something unique and original on your blog in terms of content. This is particularly true for new blogs (perhaps some of the big ones get away with it because they were early to their niches) who face hundreds and even thousands of competitors in many niches.

If you don’t have something unique to say then it’s unlikely that people will choose your blog to use as their source of information on your topic.

Solution: As with all of the ‘solutions’ to the problems that we’re tackling this week – today’s is pretty obvious, but somewhat difficult to actually do. The solution is to strive to produce unique and original content for your blog. This ‘uniqueness’ can happen in a number of ways including:

  • The topics you cover – finding new and interesting aspects of your niche or industry that others are not covering can set you apart from the rest.
  • The stance you take - one way of being unique on a story that everyone is covering is to take a different stance/opinion on it.
  • The voice that you write in – lastly it’s sometimes good to actually write the post in a different style or voice. For example if everyone else is looking at a story from a serious analytical angle – write about it in a humorous way. If everyone is taking one side of an argument play devils advocate and explore the flip side of the coin.

Tips for Bloggers Attempting to Add Originality to their Blog:

In a previous post titled ‘how to add to blogging conversations‘ I give the following 11 pointers on how to add value to conversations that are happening in the blogosphere without simply replicating what everyone else is saying (I’ve included just the headings of each point below – check out the post for more details on each one):

  1. what did they say well?
  2. what did they miss?
  3. answer questions
  4. what are others saying?
  5. how does it apply to you?
  6. look forward
  7. look backward
  8. extend ideas
  9. take the ‘opposite’ tac
  10. ask what if?
  11. play devil’s advocate

Another quick tip on adding originality to your blog – share an opinion. Blogs that go beyond pointing out breaking news and that share opinions on their topic tend to generate discussion, get the attention of other bloggers and build readership. People want to know what you think and feel about your topic – so tell them.

Further Reading

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. Vicky says:

    I like the tip about writing in a different voice. I have been doing that lately and it’s weird when you go out of your comfort zone but wow you learn new things. Who knew. lol

  2. Louis Liem says:

    I’ve seen a number of bloggers giving up on blogging about blogging tips because they think the A-list bloggers have covered the topic they’re about to write.

    But I think the one stopped them from advancing and producing original content is their own thoughts. I believe there are still ideas uncovered and the experience isn’t the same for every blogger.

  3. You know, it’s kinda weird you mentioned this, since many large blogs (eg. lifehacker) just link to other blog posts. I admit that they do have a lot of amazing content, but sometimes they just go about linking to other sites.

  4. Shanel Yang says:

    Another excellent addition to this series, Darren! I’ll be very sorry when this series ends. : ( But, for now, hurray!

  5. The one constant that any blogger can offer that no one else can is the same: their perspective. To me, that’s what makes a blog unique and interesting.

    I will admit, however, that I’ve felt that no new views could be offered on a few of the topics I’ve written about. It’s a weird mutated form of writer’s block, and the best way to get rid of it is forge ahead. Individual ideas are the best part of reading and writing!

  6. babyberto says:

    I have a lot of thoughts about myself.
    About growing up and learing from my mistakes.
    Do you think people will read this kind of posts?
    I really want to write this kind of posts but I really want to earn extra income.
    Thats it for now. Thanks.

  7. lightsmile says:

    the 11 tips mentioned in ‘how to add to blogging conversations‘ are helpful. sometimes it is difficult to create complete new ideas on my own niche. It is a good way to both create your own posts while adding to the value of referenced post.

  8. Thanks for the excellent 11 tips on adding value to a conversation that is already happening. I’ll try few of those techniques soon on my blog.

    Ramesh
    The Geek Stuff

  9. Ian Romaine says:

    From my own (limited) experience this is definitely one of the hardest traps to avoid.

    Coming up with fresh ideas is a daily pressure that I can imagine many new bloggers (and even seasoned old pros) will struggle with. I know I’ve certainly not found it simple.

    Writing in a different voice is certainly a method I’ll try in the future.

    I think short posts can also come to the fore with this problem — better to publish something short and unique than slave over a long piece that actually amounts to very little in meaningful content.

  10. Sunil says:

    writing original content every day is not an easy task for every one
    (some people Darren are natural with it though) but its not entirely impossible

    you can write great unique contents like Darren or any other great blogger in this world. all you have to do is write what you like, and write it in style that other would love to read

    as they say great people dont do different things they do things differently.

  11. Sunil says:

    writing original content every day is not an easy task for every one
    (some people like Darren are natural with it though) but its not entirely impossible

    you can write great unique contents like Darren or any other great blogger in this world. all you have to do is write what you like, and write it in style that other would love to read

    as they say great people dont do different things they do things differently.

  12. It ain’t easy for me to get originallity..
    Especially my English is not so good..

  13. All bloggers have this problem at some point.I´m a member of many forums and discussion boards.I get many good ideas for blog posts from these.

  14. Phil Baumann says:

    @Louis Liem

    I posted a parody on meta-blogging which was off the cuff a couple of days ago. It was unexpected, but I had a lot of FUN with it.

    @Darren:

    Do you think it’s just OK to hold off a post if you’re just not having a good “passion day”?

    Perhaps an advantage to a blog that isn’t too niched is that you build permission to be different once in a while (our moods change, so why fight it?)

    Build readers expectations of some consistency but also surprising spontaneity and originality. Isn’t that the juice of blogging anyway?

  15. babyberto says:

    yeah!
    I a novice in this field too but Im trying to make my posts as original as possible and answer some questions, not about making money but about life.

  16. Michelle says:

    I had the very same issue that the blogger you spoke to had. The reason for mine was I got off track and started getting bored with what I was writing about.

    Unsurprisingly the readers disappeared. Thankfully now with a new focus and new enthusiasm they’re returning.

  17. Slevi says:

    Great post, don’t totally agree on what the blogger himself said though; “They might as well simply subscribe to the 10 blogs that I quote, they’d get as much value if they did.”

    But it greatly depends on how he brings the entries and what it’s about. For some it works greatly to summarize together what others have written, I know for one I greatly prefer it over reading 10 separate blogs as I just don’t have the time for that.

  18. Erica says:

    I had to smile at the photo, Darren — I so often fall into the trap of feeling like the cat…I hypnotize myself into thinking that all the good stuff has been covered by the many doctors that write for my niche, so why bother. Or, I don’t put enough opinion into a post and it gets boring. But the truth that your post reminds me to remember is there is only one of each of us in the world, and our blogs are a chance for us to put our unique fingerprint (blogprint?) into the blogsphere. I’ll be releasing the internal ban I’ve been putting on myself and try getting a bit more opinionated this week:) Thank you for the nudge.

  19. Barbara Ling says:

    My favorite tip for writing unique tips/commentaries on OPWs (other people’s writings) is to apply my own coffee-slanted take on the ideas presented.

    Readers, I’ve found, don’t want wishy-washy – they want definitive views (right or wrong) that evoke powerful emotions from them. And because my life experiences are utterly unique, I can always spin things in ways nobody else does online.

    ‘course, the same goes for everyone else! It’s a matter of having the self-confidence to be so bold in one’s blog.

    Data points, Barbara

  20. Lenin Nair says:

    May I share my ideas? I always keep a journal of new article ideas, and I have two series of articles going on in my blog. So I always have something to write about. And great research can give you ideas. My blog has series on popular idioms and a new series started on getting published. I have made three posts on the second series already. I guess keeping series like these will keep your readers adhered and you will get some content ideas to go on. anyway, blogging is like exercise, we cannot afford not to do it one day. Most blogs gradually stop publishing and die out a horrible death. I don want that for my cutewriting.

    Lenin

  21. I’m about to unsusbscribe from a number of blogs because I find them so repetitive. Ironically, I can’t seem to find anything interesting in what I would call my “niche”.

    Since part of my concept for my blog is to share advice from the experts, I do link out to other sites regularly, but I don’t usually quote them, and I try to put my own spin on the material, specifically how the advice has worked for me.

    I think I need to get braver about challenging some of the wisdom out there!

  22. Unique content and especially ideas will always be on the first place. English is my second language as well but I do pretty good , I think that people that don`t handle English very well, and more specific , the grammar is more important , should either start learning English first and then blog or blog in their their own language. It`s not very pleasant to surf over blogs that don`t really make any sense in their posts , their English is just pathetic , no wonder there are not many readers or subscribers on those blogs. But let`s give all a chance.

    Linking to other blogs is not something wrong , even the greatest bloggers often place links to other blogs or sites , it just doesn`t have to happen to often. Interlinking posts is one of the greatest ways to increase page views and increase the readers credibility .

  23. Ravi says:

    Blogs that go beyond pointing out breaking news and that share opinions on their topic tend to generate discussion, get the attention of other bloggers and build readership. People want to know what you think and feel about your topic.

    I think, building readership part is very important. keep the blogs short (may be couple of pages long)! Also, you have to be one of the first few to talk about it (either in positive or negative way, i think).

    Good post.

  24. Amrit Hallan says:

    Another thing that keeps you motivated is having a clearly defined objective. If you know where you want to take your blog you’re not going to run out of blog post ideas and original content very easily. If you can afford and if you are serious about the success of your blog, you should also hire a writer or two so that there are no gaps between different postings. Once you have built up some traffic other bloggers will start requesting you to write guest blog posts for your blog. Then you will be inundated with original blog content.

  25. Darren Webb says:

    Excellent words here about content. I actually carry a small note book with me every where I go. When ever an idea comes into my head I jot it straight down.

    You will be stunned how much content you cna build up this way

  26. Good post and good series!

  27. A good tool is focusing on issues that are interesting to you. If something really resonates with the author, there is a good chance it resonates with many others as well.

  28. porto says:

    pretty good post, great 3 points on the solutions part.

  29. Dan says:

    Hi Darren,
    You’re right about fresh content. I think of the blogs I enjoy reading similar to weekly magazines or even daily newspapers. There is an assumption that the content in those will be new with each issue, not the same article from last week, or “borrowed” from some other magazine or newspaper. We’re in the publishing business and we compete for readers’ attention with these professional journalists. We need to churn out original, interesting stuff or readers will click on to the next site.
    Hope you’re getting some sleep!
    Dan

  30. David Walker says:

    Two ways you can find original content to write about is to look at popular threads on forums in your chose niche.

    See what people are talking about and write an article about that subject and put your own slant on it.

    Also, look at your web stats. Are visitors finding your website by typing in a specific question into the search engines?

    If so, write a specific article which answers that question, to create an optimised page for that specific search phrase and drive even more traffic in the future!

  31. Excellent idea. We need to find the topic that is focus on current trends and not used by other blogger.

    Incase, if its there, try to address that things that other bloggers forgot to address in their post

  32. Awesome and refreshing…I like to do a general run over the day’s health topics and latest fitness methods and then gather up a few articles to come up with my own fresh ideas.

    It’s important to note that the best and most innovative ideas are usually sprung from or tweaked from another source…not to be confused with plagiarism. I think the coolest way to come up with ideas is to read up and be an observant blogger; ideas don’t necessarily come out of thin air, but can be discovered quite easily from the shortcomings of other content sources.

  33. Tim says:

    I spent a lot of time researching my topics and like to develop my own opinions on theories and ideas. I would say that researchin topics probably takes up around 50% of my time. All the content on my blog is original and is based on my knowledge in the area.

    You have to remember there are millions of blogs out there all competing for the same readers. You must add something extra to the usual ABC, otherwise you have no leverage.

    I have massive aims for my blog and want it to be the number 1 personal development blog around. I know this will take time, but even at this early stage I try and deliver maximum quality in every post. Regurgitating info from another blog is not going to provide longevity to your blog.

    Remember blogging alone does not make money and is not a business.It is just a self promotional tool to assist your business. There are too many bloggers out there with bland content, the way to make in this game is to offer something new to the table, give your own personal experiences in the subject and do not be afraid to go against the grain.

    Your blog has to mean something more to you than making money, you uhave to have a real passion for your subject, do this and with little bit of luck you will see success.

    This could nearly be a new post!

  34. Ragnarok says:

    My problem on the other hand is, a lot of other sites/bloggers/forums are copying my content. i even placed a content copyrigh tbutton on my site, but that does not stop them to copy my post then post it in their sites. What’s even worse, they do not put a link bank to my site

  35. I usually, write two post every week on my blog…..which i think is enough to get good audience……can you tell me, how to invite people to write something on my blog….