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What Do You Do With Your Blog to Make it Stand Out from the Crowd?

Last week on Twitter I was asked by @southrngurl6489 the following question:

If you had to pick only one thing that makes a blog stand out from its peers, what would you pick and why?

I thought it’d be a good question to open up to a wider audience as its something I’ve touched on quite a few times over the last year or so and because what makes a blogger distinct is often, by definition, something that can vary from blog to blog.

What are you doing to make your blog stand out from the crowd? What have you seen other blogs do that makes them stand out?

Further Reading: Here’s a post I wrote on the topic earlier in the year – The Power of Uniqueness [19 Starting Points for Being a Unique Blogger]

What’s Wrong with Blogging? [Take 3]

Whats Wrong with BloggingBack in 2005 I asked my readers a question that surprised some for a blog like ProBlogger – I asked readers to talk about what was wrong with blogging.

I introduced the question by sharing a story of a debate between a Christian group and Pagan group where each group was asked to not argue FOR their own belief system but to share what they disliked about their own Faith perspective. The result of that debate was fascinating.

Instead of it ending in an angry fight where everyone just had their beliefs reinforced the debate was actually quite constructive with both groups coming away having learnt something about the other and more importantly themselves.

Similarly the responses to my question about blogging were insightful also (in fact I’ve asked this question twice previously – in 2005 and in 2006 and both times were fascinating).

There were a couple of things that came out of those discussions:

  • it was a place for some bloggers to get some stuff off their chest about their frustrations with the medium.
  • the answers actually gave a number of blog tool developers some great ideas. I know that at least two WordPress plugins were developed to solve issues that came up in the conversation.

It’s been 4 years since I asked the question last – so in the hope of a productive conversation I thought it worth asking again.

What’s Wrong with Blogging?

What are the limitations of blogging as a medium? What are its weaknesses? Where does the blogosphere and/or blogging tools need to improve? What are you main challenges as a blogger that you don’t think you’d have in other mediums?

Hopefully in answering this question and deconstructing the medium of blogging a little we can play a part in the improvement of blogging as a whole. By identifying what’s wrong perhaps we can improve it.

Like last time the rules are simple – say anything you like about blogging as long as it’s not positive (note: I’m not inviting you to critique individual bloggers – but the medium itself). You can do this in comments below or by writing a post on your own blog (just leave a link below so we can find it). There are no wrongs and rights and everyone’s critique of the medium are valid and welcome.

So – what’s wrong with blogging?

Over to you!

The First Week Of Your New Blog – What Do You Do?

Next week here on ProBlogger I will be beginning a series of posts with tips for bloggers in the first week (or month) of their blog.

I’m halfway through writing it (I’m hoping it’ll be useful to established bloggers starting second blogs too) already and have a heap of content written but thought it might be good to include a few reader and Twitter follower tips scattered through it as well.

I’m not so much looking for tips on Pre-Launch stuff like getting a domain, choosing a blog platform etc – I’m more looking for short tips on taking a blog that is set up to being an active blog.

So if you have any tips for bloggers starting out – I’d love to see them in comments below. I won’t be able to use them all but those I do I’ll certainly credit back with a link to your blog.

All I’d suggest is that you try to keep your tips relatively short and to the point as I’ll be using these as short snippets at the end of my posts.

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Update: this series has been updated and compiled with other similar posts into ProBlogger’s Guide to Your First Week of Blogging – a week long guide into getting your blog going on the right foot.

What Is Your Blogging Goal for February?

A few days back I asked readers a question:

What Have You Been Putting Off and What’s Holding You Back?

Some of the responses to the question in comments (and via email and Twitter) revealed a lot of bloggers really wanting to step things up and get what they’ve been putting off done.

So – lets set some goals – what do you want to achieve by the end of February?

I’m not going to be calling you up to check up to see if you’re meeting your goals – but hopefully in putting them down publicly you’ll find yourself a little more spurred on to reach what you want to achieve.

My Goal for February: I want to get a new E-Book out the door by the end of the month.

What Have You Been Putting Off and What’s Holding You Back?

In a quiet moment yesterday I asked my Twitter network:

“what’s one thing that you have been putting off that would improve your blog? (and what’s stopping you from doing it now?)”

The answers were quite varied – everything from redesigns, to writing E-Books, to posting more regularly to SEO optimization, to monetization.

A number of people reflected that just being asked the question helped them to move forward with things that they’d been procrastinating with – so I thought I’d ask the question again here on the blog.

Of course there can be good reasons for putting things off – timing is important and you can’t do everything at once – but if you’re anything like me there are things that you know you probably should be doing that you’re simply procrastinating about.

For me one of the big procrastinations for me until mid last year was creating a product of my own. I’d always said I’d write an E-Book – but every time I sat down to do it I never got past the planning stage (I have notebooks with about 10 different plans that never eventuated).

Why didn’t I do it? Was it laziness…. or busyness….? If I’m honest about it I’m sure it’d be a bit of both of those things – however I suspect it was also partly fear that held me back.

Fear that it’d flop, fear that nobody would buy it, fear that people would critique me for selling something and not giving it away for free, fear that it wouldn’t be perfect, fear that perhaps I didn’t have it in me to create a product like I wanted….

Actually – saying I was too busy might sound a bit better – I sound very insecure!

In the end – I knew that if I didn’t create an E-Book that I’d be kicking myself later. The time came for me to draw a line in the sand and just do it. I don’t have any secret strategies for getting over the hump of getting myself into gear really.

I did tell a couple of others that I was doing it – I did set aside two days purely to put it together – I did engage the services of someone to help me design it – I did set myself a deadline.

All of that helped me get going but in the end it was a change of attitude that got me over the hump.

“what’s one thing that you have been putting off that would improve your blog? (and what’s stopping you from doing it now?)”

PS: one of the reasons I started ProBlogger.com was to help those of us who procrastinate to be accountable to others. A number of our members over there are setting themselves (and each other) challenges to help them keep moving forward.

For example Paul recently set a challenge for members to create a free report/e-book to give away (that link is only viewable by members). What’s exciting to me is that a number of members have actually got their reports ready and launched as a result of working together in this way rather than just tackling their list of things that they must do alone.

44% of Bloggers Sell a Product or Service Of Their Own From Their Blog

The last poll here on ProBlogger examined a growing trend among bloggers trying to monetize their sites – to sell their own products from their blogs rather than just relying upon advertising and affiliate revenue.

Whether it be by selling an E-Book, training program or some other kind of learning program or whether it is selling one self as a consultant or promoting a product from a business that the blogger owns – more and more bloggers do seem to be exploring this as a way to make money.

The poll results were as follows:

sell-products-blog.png

I’ve not run this poll previously so have nothing to compare it to – however my gut feeling on this one is that if conducted even just a year ago the percentages would have been further apart. I suspect in the year ahead we’ll see them grow even closer.

Out of interest I thought I’d compile a list of the types of products and services that people said that they sell in the comments of the poll post. You can see that there’s a lot of variation (it’s actually a really inspiring list to me that illustrates a little of what can be done with a blog!

  • Design work
  • Web/Plugin Development
  • Membership Site
  • Coaching/Mentoring
  • E-Books
  • Reports
  • Legal Services
  • Book (hard cover)
  • Software
  • Speaking/Training Services
  • Music Lessons
  • Copy Writing Services
  • SEO services
  • Tutoring
  • Screencast/Video Content
  • Scrapbook Supplies
  • Sewing Patterns
  • Photographic Prints
  • Excel Templates
  • Music/CD
  • Craft
  • Flowers/Florist
  • Bag Patterns
  • Marketing Services
  • Skincare products
  • Handmade Soap
  • Makeup Artist Services
  • Craft Kits
  • Calendars
  • Vintage Clothing
  • Gourmet Food Items
  • Toys
  • Website Templates
  • Paintings/Art
  • Diet Products
  • Real Estate Brokerage
  • Fitness Program
  • Scuba Diving Education Business
  • Personalised Spoof Newspaper Front Pages
  • T-Shirts
  • Jewellery

There are sure to be many many other examples of what can be sold off the back of a blog – feel free to add more of your experience in this in comments below.

Do You Outsource Any Part of Your Blogging?

I’d like to run a quick poll in this post that examine the idea of outsourcing.

You see more and more I’m talking to bloggers (big and small) and am hearing that they outsource at least some of their blogging activities.

Perhaps the most common of these is hiring designers or writers – but there are many other activities that I see blogger outsource.

Here are some of those that I’ve seen bloggers do as well as a few suggestions from my followers on Twitter:

Please note – I’m talking about ‘paid outsourcing’ - not guest posts or getting a friend to help you with some aspect of your blog or even buying a blog template – but paying others to do some aspect of your blogging.

  • Blog Design
  • SEO
  • Paid Blog Writing
  • Comment Moderation
  • Selling Advertising
  • Administrative Tasks (like managing email)
  • Post Editing
  • Tech – Looking after the Back End
  • Creation of Products (E-Books)

I’m sure there are many other things that could be added to this list (and I invite you to do so below).

So now you know the type of things I’m talking about – do you outsource any aspect of your blogging?

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Do You Outsource Any Part of Your Blogging?
Total Votes: 2217 Started: 1/27/2010 Back to Vote Screen


PS: again, I’m talking about outsourcing to freelancers or paid staff in some way and not buying a blog template or getting someone to do some of these things for free.

Bloggers from Non English Speaking Backgrounds – Share Your Tips and Stories Here

If you’re a blogger where English is not your first language – I’d love to get your participation in this discussion.

Recently I surveyed subscribers to my newsletter on the challenges that face them going into 2010. Quite a few of the responses to that question came from bloggers for whom English was not a first language.

The problems that this group of bloggers presented to me were numerous but two recurring challenges were:

  • Not knowing which language that they should blog in – should they blog in their own first language and have a smaller potential readership or blog in English where their readership could be larger but where they had challenges in writing as well?
  • Feeling isolated from other bloggers – a number reflected that at times they felt that they were not taken as seriously by bloggers in other parts of the world and found networking difficult.

As a blogger who speaks no other language but English I’m probably not the person to bring much wisdom to this topic – however I’d love to get the thoughts, experiences, tips and stories of bloggers who have been in this situation in comments below.

My hope is that this post will not only give bloggers struggling with these and other issues a place to tell of their challenges – but that some might also share how they approach the challenges and give some tips and advice for bloggers from a non English speaking background. I’d also love to hear stories of (and see examples of) your successes (and those of others) as I know that the blogosphere is alive and well in all corners of the globe.

If you’d like to share in your own language and/or English I’m happy for you to do so in any way that you feel comfortable.

I’m looking forward to reading what is shared below.

Create Your Own ‘Bloggers to Watch’ List and Tell Us About It Here

Last week we published a post by Jade Craven which contained a list of 30 bloggers to watch in 2010 from her perspective.

As tends to happen with these kinds of posts – the list caused a lot of discussion!

Not only did people post comments about it and Tweet up a storm – some bloggers even put together alternative lists of bloggers that they are watching in 2010 (see Sherri’s list here for example).

Sherri’s list got me thinking – perhaps it’s time for a mini ProBlogger ‘Group Writing Project’.

My hope is that this little project will not only highlight some great bloggers, but that it’ll help bloggers generate a little link love from one blog to another within niches and also be useful to your readers (and hopefully some of these posts will generate some buzz for your blogs – these types of lists generally do!).

Your Task is to write a ‘Bloggers to Watch’ post on your blog

Jade’s list last week was a list of bloggers that she’s watching (and as a result did have a focus upon a certain type of blogger that she follows) – but my hope is that this little project will generate some lists of bloggers that focus upon all kinds of niches/industries.

  • If you’re a craft blogger – write a list of Craft bloggers to watch in 2010.
  • If you’re a sports blogger – write a list of sports bloggers to watch in 2010.
  • If you’re a political blogger – write a list of political bloggers to watch in 2010.

Your list doesn’t have to be 30 bloggers – it could be 100, 50, 30, 10…. or if you have a small niche even smaller.

Once you’ve created your list…. Tell Us About It

After publishing your list – come back to this post and leave a comment with a link to your new post (please only submit new posts that have been written this year).

Also take some time to surf through the other comments left on this post to see what lists that other readers have created!

I’m looking forward to reading your lists of bloggers to watch!