This guest post is by Tom Treanor of the Business Blogging Telesummit.
Blog readers have a myriad of reading options for almost every topic you can think of. In fact, within your niche, potential customers may be enjoying blog posts written by your competitors while they ignore your blog like the plague.
So what do you do about this dire situation? Do you hire ghost writers to create more content? Do you promote your content more via social media? Do you get better at SEO so you can attract more search traffic?
Well. These may work to a degree. You may see some minor bumps with more Tweeting, Facebooking and catching more long tail keywords in Google. But, it’s a long and slow process if you’re using these brute-force tactics.
There has to be a better way. And there is.
Like Darwin’s finches, which evolved different beak sizes over the generations to better suit their differing environmental conditions and to survive, your blog has to become better suited for your audience’s needs over time. You need to develop more “evolved” blogging strategies that are more effective at differentiating your blog and attracting and keeping the readers that you target.
You don’t want your blog to end up on the wrong end of Natural Selection, do you?
Here are 12 ways for your blog to survive and thrive.
1. Be the best teacher in your niche
Explain the things that most people in your niche assume don’t need to be explained. Answer all of your potential customers’ frequently asked questions in writing, with pictures and (or) in video. Do detailed tutorials on fundamental as well as on in-demand advanced topics.
Keep the quality high and listen closely to your audience when you pick topics and develop the content. When competitors start sending customers to your site to understand a complex topic, then you’ll know you’ve won!
2. Be more personal than the others
Getting personal can lead to a deeper connection with your audience and pay dividends in terms of allegiance to your blog and brand.
Many business bloggers put up a barrier between their personal lives and what they share on their blog. Including aspects of your personal life is one way to differentiate yourself from your “plain vanilla” competitors.
3. Be funnier than the others
People love to laugh. Using humor well is hard, but can separate your blog from the pack. if you can successfully pull off inoffensive humor (depending on your industry), you’ll bring a lot of readers back again and again. You’ll also likely increase the amount of social media shares that your blog gets.
4. Say what everyone else thinks
It’s uncomfortable to do. Saying what everyone else thinks is really hard. If you can be the “voice of reason” without upsetting everyone around you, you can gather a tribe of people who say “Yes!” to every post.
5. Be the expert on a specific sub-niche
Don’t focus on widgets: focus only on the custom-designed, high-end widgets from Alaska.
If you can focus on a specific, but important sub-niche within your industry and become the authoritative source, you can develop a big advantage against your competitors in that area. Once successful, you can extend from this beachhead into the broader widget market.
6. Have a bigger vision
Tie your blog to a bigger goal. What far-reaching vision can you use to inspire people to join you in your mission? Can you align your company and blog with a bigger movement that is out there? Can you create your own far-reaching vision that aligns with your passions as well as with your company goals?
7. Be more extreme than the others
Go much further than the other blogs in terms of topics, challenges, transparency or risks. It doesn’t have to be dangerous, just extremely different. You’ll get noticed.
8. Be more creative than the rest
If everyone’s writing articles, why don’t you mix in video? How about being the first infographic producer in your industry?
Try new topics, writing styles, media or blog post structures. Think of other ideas that will provide value while separating your from the rest. Give yourself permission to try something unique.
9. Cross-pollinate better than the others
Do you only work with other real estate-related blogs or influencers? How about looking at the lending, architecture, finance and relocation industries?
Spread your tentacles where your competitors never dreamed of going by guest posting, blog commenting or connecting with other bloggers in those industries. If the target audience is the same, you can gain some great benefits from this kind of cross-pollination.
10. Be the best curator of meaningful content
Find the best information that others have written and posted online—the best articles, charts, tables, infographics, videos, or pictures. Collect it in a logical, easy-to-use navigational structure on your blog.
Make sure you link to and give credit to your sources and only summarize (or take small portions of) the articles you link to. Content curation is a way to share great information that is already available and to become seen as a key source of great information.
11. Be the news source for your industry
Focus on being the source of timely news and analysis for your industry. To be able to keep up with the news cycle, this often means a combination of curated content mixed with some original content or analysis.
Niche or industry news blogs can do very well because they get lots of shares, links, SEO benefits and subscribers. Just have a plan for getting regular, high-quality updates onto your site.
12. Work harder than the rest
Sometimes all the right things are in place but you don’t have the results yet. Working hard can pay off, but pace yourself and don’t burn out! Grab more virtual land than the competitors to create a barrier to entry for “lazier” niche-mates.
Come up with your own unique variation
Just like nature’s many variations (which we never could have predicted), come up with your own unique way to differentiate your blog. The blogs that thrive in a given niche will be the ones who evolve in ways that allow them to meet the needs of their audience better than the competitors’ blogs.
Avoid finding yourself on the wrong side of Natural Selection by using one of the strategies above, combining a couple or by developing your own differentiated strategy.