This guest post is by Brian Lund of bclund.
Writing a niche blog is all the rage these days, but they require a different type of content than is typical of a “mass audience” blog. And that content can be hard to come up with.
However, there is a simple, though not necessarily obvious trick you can use to help produce consistent, quality, personal content that people really want to read, and which will eventually garner your blog a much larger audience. It took me five years to figure it out, but you are going to learn about it in the time it takes to read this post.
Learning from experience
Way back in 2006, I decided that I was going to start writing a blog. It was free, seemed easy, and all the cool kids were doing it.
The subject of the blog was ostensibly the stock market and my original idea was to have it act as an online journal highlighting the stocks that I traded. I worked very hard at it, making sure to make a post every day, and supplementing my commentary with charts and graphics.
And it was horrible. I mean really, really bad.
As a novice, I was unaware of resources like ProBlogger, or important blogging concepts like actually writing coherent content! In retrospect my blog was literally unreadable, filled with monolithic blocks of unformatted drivel.
It was flat. Sterile. Uninspired and lacking personality or character. Too structured. Too stiff. And worse than that, there was nothing about my blog that set it apart from the thousands of other traders who were writing similar (and better) blogs.
It was the written equivalent of beige paint.
After about two years, I finally gave up. Over that period of time I think I was only able to attract two subscribers to my feed, one of which was probably my mom, and the other a psycho ex-girlfriend who wanted to cyber-stalk me.
Don’t try to find it now because I took it down, deleted the files, and crushed the actual hard drives from the company that hosted my site to make sure no trace remained. I wrote blogs off as “stupid” and “a waste of time” and continued on with my life, angry and bitter that the public at large failed to recognize the obvious brilliance of my writing.
Blogging in the closet
Fast-forward to the fall of 2011.
For the first time in years I seemed to have some extra free time, and the thought of devoting that time to watching television did not seem very exciting or worthwhile to me. And for some reason, the idea of trying to write a blog again kept popping back into my head.
At first I hesitated because I feared that the same thing would happen as before: I would spend a ton of time and effort and get little in return. But then something occurred to me that I had never seriously thought about when writing my original blog: who was I writing it for anyway?
I pondered that question for a while until I realized that I was really writing my blog for me, and only for me. The problem was that this attitude was not reflected in my writing style, which was why my content was so awful.
Though the blog was for me, I wrote it in a way that I thought other people would want to see it written, based upon what I thought their sensibilities and expectations were. I limited myself to what I thought they wanted to read about, and in the process lost any part of me in my blog. That is when I decided to play a little trick on myself.
I decided to write my new blog as if I was in a closet.
Okay, to put it more clearly: I decided to blog like nobody would ever read any of my posts except me.
That small shift in my perception was at once liberating and exhilarating. I began to sense a ne0-found freedom to write in a real and at times emotional way that I had previously refrained from for fear of what others might think.
I now felt free to write posts that were humorous or sad. Posts that resonated or missed the mark completely. Posts that were honest. That bled. That showed who Brian Lund really was.
I immediately wrote my first on-topic post, “10 Golden Rules To Blowing Your Trading Account Out” and tweeted it into the StockTwits network. It was a raw, risqué, but funny list post that I would never have attempted on my old blog, and it got a reaction right away.
Comments, those strange creatures unknown to me previously, started to come in. I suddenly had new followers on Twitter and even got emails from people telling me how much they enjoyed the post.
This “success” fuelled me and I started to write on a regular basis, always reminding myself of the virtual closet I was in. Whenever I started to question what I wrote, I’d say to myself, “What does it matter? You are the only one who will ever read it.”
After a while, I got confident enough to write an off-topic post entitled “How To Bring A Loved One Back From The Dead.” This was my most personal post at the time, and it got an even greater response than any before it.
Then one day, out of the blue, I got a call from the executive editor of the StockTwits Blog Network. Not only had he been following my blog, but he liked it and asked me if I was interested in joining the network, where my blog resides now.
Being the real you
In the first three months of my renewed blogging efforts I got more pageviews than I could ever have imagined during the two fruitless years I spent on my old blog. They have continued to climb ever since.
But more important than that, by “blogging in a closet” I was eventually able to find my natural writing voice, which has allowed me to connect with readers in a way that has created trust, loyalty, and an honest interaction that never would have been possible previously.
Have you similarly “come out” to your readers by getting into the blogging “closet”? Tell us how you connect best in the comments.
Brian is a active trader who blogs about the intersection of markets, trading, and life (with some punk rock, pop culture, and off-beat humor mixed in) at bclund on the StockTwits Network. You can also follow Brian on Twitter.