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The Power of Uniqueness [19 Starting Points for Being a Unique Blogger]

Be-Unique.pngLast year I began a semi regular series of posts here on ProBlogger that explored the principles that I saw being exhibited in successful blogs. So far in the series we’ve talked about Listening, Trust, Usefulness, Community, Being Personal and Story Telling.

Not all successful blogs will do all of these things – but in my experience, many of them do.

Today I’d like to continue this series by talking about another such principle – Uniqueness.

The Problem of Clutter

Almost every time I’m questioned about blogging I’m asked whether I think it is too late to get into the medium. There are so many blogs that have been going for so long on almost every topic – isn’t it too crowded, cluttered and noisy to start something that gets noticed?

On some levels there’s real truth to this.

There are many thousands of blogs being started each day and there are what seems like a myriad of blogs in each niche. It can be overwhelming to step back and look at the blogosphere – an organism that is churning out millions of new pages of content each month. How will your single blog rise above the rest? Isn’t it all just too hard?

Yes it is hard – but…. (and this might sound harsh) that’s life. We live in a world of billions of people, all striving to achieve. We live in a world surrounded by thousands of companies and businesses, each struggling to to succeed. Life is cluttered and congested – but it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) stop us. The key is to find a way forward that works for you.

New Blogs DO break onto the scene and ‘make it’ on a regular basis. Yes – they’re in the minority – but it is possible. I know in the photography blogosphere that there are significant new blogs that get a hold on part of the wider niche started every year. In one of the most congested niches of the blogosphere (making money online) new players always are emerging also.

What sets them apart?

Of course there is no single thing that sets good blogs apart – in fact that’s the point – they usually have something about them that is unique.

Side Note: in the original version of this post I was planning to share a personal story here. But the story evolved and became a post of itself – Lessons about Blogging from a 90′s Road Trip. The point of the post – for me one of the turning points in my own blogging journey was the time I decided to stop trying to be someone that I wasn’t – imitating the style of others did help me learn about blogging, but it didn’t help me set my blog apart from the crowd. Part of being unique is being yourself.

How to Be Unique as a Blogger

Of course teaching someone to ‘be unique’ is a challenge. Uniqueness by definition isn’t something that I can really tell you how to be – your blogs uniqueness is something that needs to come from your own uniqueness as a person – at least to some extent.

Having said that – some of the ways that blogs tend to be unique and stand out from the crowd often start with:

  1. Voice – your style of writing. Manolo the shoe blogger was the first blogger I remember reading with a really unique voice (he writes in the third person).
  2. Topic/s – Manolo again an example of uniqueness in this – his two topics when he first started were ‘celebrities’ and their ‘shoes’. John Chow perhaps is another example – who ever heard of a make money online blogger who documents his food and talks about cars?
  3. Design – the way your blog looks is a great way to make an impression, grab attention and stand out from the crowd.
  4. Being First – not easy to do but if you can be one of the first blogs in a niche it can help you stand out. ProBlogger would be my own lucky example of this – at the time no one else was blogging about making a living from blogs.
  5. Your Blogs Name – sometimes it is just the name of a blog that makes it stand out whether it be by being confronting, funny or otherwise.
  6. Being a ‘Character’ – the Fake Steve Jobs blog comes to mind as one blog that was unique not only by the content being great but by the blogger blogging as Steve Jobs and keeping his real identity secret.
  7. Use of Media – some bloggers mashups of different types of media set them apart – clever use of video, imagery, audio and text all together in a post can have a real impact.
  8. Depth of Content – a number of bloggers that I follow set themselves apart by producing content that obviously has a lot of thought put into them. Instead of quick and short posts that do nothing much more than link to other sites they carefully and thoughtfully ponder a topic and produce content that is deep and thought provoking.
  9. Frequency of Posts – it strikes me that some of the most popular blogs product A LOT of content. Engadget and Gizmodo being two examples. This high frequency of posting makes them prolific and means that if a story is breaking in the gadget space that you’d be certain that they’re covering it. On the flip side some blogs take the opposite approach – their new posts become so rare that people value them highly and share them prolifically.
  10. Vaults of Resources – some bloggers become successful because their blogs are just filled with such rich resources. These bloggers might not have as much original thought but they are passionate about gathering information and resources from others and sharing it with their network. People read them because they save them time by researching and gathering the information that the rest of us need but don’t have time to find.
  11. Community Focus – some bloggers go above and beyond when it comes to their readers. They put the rest of us to shame by the way that they pay personal attention to everyone, interact with every comment and seemingly know every person who reads by name.
  12. Opinion – one of the easiest ways to make your blog is to share your opinion. Your opinions won’t always be unique but the combination of them and the way you express yourself will be and will often set yourself apart from other bloggers who just report news.
  13. Usefulness – some blogs are insanely useful. I know we’ve covered this earlier in this series but it needs to be said again – useful blogs build themselves a solid foundation for success.
  14. Originality – its amazing how some people just have an ability to explore a topic that everyone else has talked about but put a new spin on it! I sometimes feel this way about Seth Godin’s blog – his ability to make me have light bulb moments around simple concepts is amazing.
  15. Personality – I’m finding this one hard to define but some bloggers just ooze personality. Perhaps another way to describe it would be that they have Mojo or are charismatic. They are just infectious with the way that they write and interact.
  16. Personal – as you read some blogs you sometimes get a spooky feeling that its almost like the blogger is there in the room with you. They blog in a way where you can almost hear their voice and feel as though you’re in a conversation with them. They share on a level that goes beyond just the transference of information – they share of themselves.
  17. Expertise – some bloggers rise to the top of their fields because they are simply authoritative and have real expertise in their field. They are well read, have extensive experience and have forgotten more about their topic than most of us will ever know about it.
  18. Connectors – other bloggers are successful because they are so well connected in their niche. They not only know a lot of people but they have a gift in helping others to connect with those in their network.
  19. Prolific – some bloggers are unique because… well they’re everywhere. These bloggers seem to have the ability to be in more than one place at a time – they blog, they’re active on multipole social networks, they are at conferences, they are guest posting on other blogs, they’re in forums…. they are everywhere!

There are of course an almost unlimited list of other ways that bloggers set themselves apart and rise above the millions of other blogs. Yesterday I asked on Twitter what makes people’s favorite blogs unique – the list of answers have some similar themes to my own list as well as a few others.

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. mk akan says:

    being unique is very important..it draws people to you.people always love something different…people love something new…people adore purple cows…

  2. charlotte says:

    I loved this post and will bookmark it for later reference. I am glad that you’re writing great posts again!

  3. Anthony says:

    Great advice Darren. I found myself taking many notes.
    Although the advice is basically common sense, I liked the spin that you put on it and broke it down.

  4. One demonstration of uniqueness is proving that you really give a damn about who you are writing to. Then your blog is more leading a movement with its message.

    Another proof of expressed uniqueness is wildness. Expressed authenticity has no appropriateness governor on it. Wildness has a bold and natural feel to it that allows connection.

  5. Joi says:

    A few things make a blog post stand out to me:

    1. I want to be inspired, motivated, educated, or at least moved in some manner AFTER reading the last word – in a way I wasn’t BEFOE the first word.

    2. I want to read the words of someone who obviously cares about the readers – as opposed to someone who obviously just amuses themselves.

    3. I want it to be worth my time!

    Most of us have less time than ever to spend reading other blogs, so it’s more essential than ever to stand up and stand out. Great post!

  6. Robert Love says:

    Great post Darren. I think we all enjoy stories or being able to relate to things to true life. Blog posts that help us build a picture in our heads and stick to one topic per blog post/article seem to better for me in other niches.

    Thanks again

  7. Mark Tosczak says:

    Great post.

    Numbers 8, 10, 13 and 17 especially. As the “supply” of blogs increases, the successful ones will be those that provide better quality content – the cream rises.

    Of course, the tricky part is figuring out what the best way is for you to make your blog unique. That’s something that most of us struggle with, I bet.

  8. GolfGurl says:

    I love golf but I am not a great golfer. And I hesitate to give my own advice or post videos of me hitting the golf ball. Disaster! But your post today has given me inspiration to just be myself and perhaps speak the truth about how I struggle to be a better golfer. A more personal voice, with personal stories might be just the thing to draw more readers in. There are plenty of golf blogs with great advice and super videos… perhaps mine can be the one that connects with the vast majority of players who don’t often break 100! Thanks for the inspiration.

  9. Srinivas Rao says:

    I think the key is looking at that list of things to make you unique and finding out which ones are best suited towards your abilities. I think certain people are incredible at being connectors and building community. Matt @Lifewithoutpants does a great job of that. He also happens to have a very unique name for his blog. I would start with this

    1) Write down that list
    2) Match up where your blog aligns
    3) Implement a strategy based on that.

  10. I am constantly working on making my blog unique. I think I’ve done a good job with the name of my blog (Living with Balls). My name alone is brings me attention.

    I’m always trying to make my blog content unique. There are hundreds of “man” blogs out there. I try to stand out with my humor and original content.

    It’s hasn’t been easy to build up a following, but slowly I am getting there. I’m going to keep working at it, since I am too stuborn to give up.

  11. Archan Mehta says:

    Hey Darren,

    Well, thanks, once again, for this great post. Nice ideas.

    You have spotlighted the idea of uniqueness, but I am afraid there are too few blogs out there with a voice of their own.

    It seems there is too much pressure to conform to the norms, that is, commercial aspect seems to be too important. Finding your voice does not always translate into good business sense.

    And yet, you must find what is unique about you and your blog.

    In my case, it is humor, comedy, laughter, just having fun.

    I look forward to the day when Dave Barry comes up with his own blog. Or, when mad magazine has a blog I can subscribe to.

    Blogs should do this, and blogs should do that…blah, blah, blah, but how about pure entertainment?

    Sometimes, all we really need is to read something that makes us laugh out loud till tears of joy come streaming down our faces.

    When was the last time you or I read something like that?

    If only Carol Burnett would do us the honor of becoming a blogger, maybe that would truly make the world a better place?

  12. Eric says:

    Be yourself and go for it. It’s a great ride but when you’re trying to be someone else, well, that’s not going to get you too far.

  13. I think most of the bloggers lose interest and not able to maintain the frequency of posting

  14. InspirerPost says:

    A very interesting topic! Thanks for the post, and for all the comments. They’re all really helpful… I agree with Nimit, sometimes we lose interest on our topic/niche. Perhaps next time, you could post about how to keep our interest on our blog’s topic…

  15. Travis says:

    I love this:

    “The point of the post – for me one of the turning points in my own blogging journey was the time I decided to stop trying to be someone that I wasn’t – imitating the style of others did help me learn about blogging, but it didn’t help me set my blog apart from the crowd. Part of being unique is being yourself.”

    It’s the sudden turning point I came to when I began the journey of my blog. I realized I was completely being what other people suggested I become, while all these passions inside me were screaming to get out!! So I finally embraced who I was and went for it!! Whether I make money with this blog or not, I could care less, because I’m passionate about it. Making an income off this baby would only be a cherry on top of the icing on the cake.

    I believe this is where we should all be as bloggers. Blog because of passion and desire while allowing money to take the back seat. I don’t want this to be taken out of context. If your blog is making money, great! Keep doing what you’re doing! All I’m saying is don’t let it drive your blog. :)

  16. Christine says:

    Hi,

    Very interesting post, I agree with many of the comments as I am going through the same. You do lose interest at times especially when you cannot think of something different to write about.

    Christine

  17. hokya says:

    in my opinion,
    there are only 2 possible result of being different from others

    1. Below average
    2. Above average

    be normal is just like be the average

  18. Seriously, domain name and blog design is the second most important thing beside content as the main weapon. Content is the King, but King needs army to win the war.

  19. Aglo says:

    I ran dozens of post already, but still not found its own uniqueness. It’s hard to find inspiration is different from the others.

  20. Thanks Darren for another great Post.
    Right now our blog is being redesigned. I can’t wait until it’s done so I can take all the notes I have taken from your blog posts and apply them to our blog that is being relaunched.
    You always have great advice!

  21. Alterpreneur says:

    As always, tremendously insightful. Thanks!

  22. Couldn’t agree more. I blog about a dead Filipino writing system called Baybayin. Since I’m one of the only people who do so on a regular basis, I’m #1 (sometimes 2) on Google.

  23. Naomi Hamn says:

    I always believe there is a mast majority of blogs and bloggers but I am so sure there is a extreme market for them to keep on blogging. I would stress though that each writer be unique and add a little thought before the blogging commences. How different can yours be from all the others.

    Above all, you want originality and intregity to rule in your favor. The order of the day: Is read as many blogs and then find out what you have to say that will turn everyone away from what they are doing in order to turn on the computer, their laptop, their blackberry and begin to read yours for the sake of being entertained. Don’t just entertain: Enlighten as well. go way beyond and reach to the core of their being. Once you’ve got them in your snare, then you know all your fans out there read yours not just because they can, but because of it being special, interesting, insightful, uplifting: but because they want to.

    That’s the most important! I stress! They want to!

  24. Really interesting – thanks Darren – plenty to take on board when I kick off my blogging world…

  25. Gina says:

    This is exactly what I needed…at the right time! I’m doing a lot of updates to my own Change Becomes Change blog and preparing to launch a new site.

    For me, it’s taken me almost a year to find my voice and feel confident in my work (writing/blogging) to let my personality come through fully. Initially, we tend to protect ourselves a bit by not being as opinionated, not wanting to make waves and wanting to please our readers. My writing has slowly evolved and developed to a point where I’m confident that I know what my current readers want and like, which is a style that comes natural to me and I believe will engage new visitors as well.

  26. LOGAN says:

    Thank you for all the detail! Yet an additional nice post, this can be the reason we return to all your site time and again.

  27. Evie Abat says:

    Great tips. I’m trying to figure out how to make a cool, cost-effective blog for my new Holistic Health Coaching business. I would like to encourage and motivate people to live soulful lives through nutrition and a balanced life. I’ll be implementing some of your suggestions! Thanks so much!

  28. Content is definitely king, but HOW the content is written is almost as important as WHAT the content is. When you were in school, did you ever have a subject that was monumentally boring – until a new teacher took over, and suddenly it became the most interesting subject in the curriculum, even thout it was the same things being taught? Likewise, your content may be choc full of information, but if it’s dry and boring your readers will vote with their mouse, and move away.

  29. Rick Vaughn says:

    Darren, great post. I like the prolific route. Shoemoney seems like he is freakin everywhere it’s ridiculous. It’s like he gets more done in a day than I do in weeks. Gotta love it!

  30. Hello Darren,

    I enjoy reading all of your posts, but this one in particular really helps out. Presently, I am taking the BlogMastermind” and “Become a Blogger” course at the same time. Best decision I have ever made. :)

    I had also taken the opportunity to order your book “Secrets To Blogging Your Way To A Six Figure Income” from Amazon, as well as your 31 days to build a better blog.

    Your material and a great deal of the content you have produced here on the blog have helped me to form a better understanding of the challenges I will face and some of the important questions I need to ask myself while building my own blog.

    Thank-you for taking the time to help others out by writing these type of informative articles. This is great information for me and I will be putting it to good use in the future.

    Have a blessed day.

  31. Julia Rymut says:

    Hi,

    I appreciate this post. I’ve been looking at log of blog posts, trying to decide why some bloggers stand out more than others.

    I think voice and depth of content are the 2 which really speak to me. When someone really lives their subject–when you can tell that they know if from the inside out and that their insights are more than the run of the mill, that is when I listen.

    Thank you.

  32. Great article. Will be helpful in evaluating my blog for its value and usefulness to others.

  33. I really appreciate this post of yours. You are indeed the problogger. God bless!

  34. Poppie Dee says:

    It’s a challenge for those who are not comfortable with being themselves!
    As we are all unique, there is really no competition.

    But instead we try to emulate others & move away from our own uniqueness!

    19 ways, there’s probably a million if we all got together!

    Your info is good & thanks so much for it’s high standards.
    Kindest,
    Poppie

  35. Leon says:

    Darren,
    it’s the first comment I’m writing to your blog, even though I read it constantly – just English is not my first language (even not second).
    My niche is mlm (I’ve been in for more than 18 years, but as blogger I’m young – few months).
    First of all, thank you for your great post, I was inspired to write the post with the same topic but that match my niche (I’m preparing it now – it shouldn’t be the same :-) ).
    and second, I’d like to add my point: I read (have to) many blogs in my niche, and reading most of them it’s hard work, but there are some that I enjoy to read. Obviously they are all unique

  36. Davion says:

    You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!