Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published on October 23, 2009.
There are a million techniques that make your content better and more popular.
(Probably a half-million just here on Copyblogger.)
Strong headlines, smart copywriting techniques, storytelling, humor, etc.
But there’s one insider trick that makes the rest of it easy.
It starts from the very beginning, when you’re figuring out what type of content you want to produce.
Start by picking a crowded topic
Copywriter Gary Halbert famously advised copywriters to look for a “starving crowd.”
In other words, if you want to open a restaurant, put it where there are already plenty of people who want exactly what you offer. If you’re creating a digital business, choose a niche that lots and lots of people want to know more about.
Why are there so many blogs about technology, weight loss, marketing, and celebrities?
Because there are millions of people who want to read about those topics every day.
While you may want to find a little niche that you can completely own, there are two problems with making yourself a big fish in a small pond.
- You’ll always be looking over your shoulder for some punk kid to come along and beat you at your own game.
- When you choose a tiny topic, you set a limit on how big — and profitable — you’ll ever be able to get.
Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded
If just picking a “me-too” topic was enough, everyone would have a successful website.
But it’s hard to stand out.
It’s relatively easy to rank in the search engines for “naked mole rats.” It’s damned hard to get a page-one ranking for “weight loss” or “learn forex trading.”
Instead of being a big fish in a small pond, allow me to suggest another approach.
Be a small, ridiculously evolved, very rare and weird fish in a great big pond.
A weight loss blog is going to be hard to pull off. A weight loss blog for polyamorous computer programmers of color is going to find its audience pretty efficiently — and the community of readers might be bigger than you think.
Stock market education? Insanely overdone. Stock market education for stay-at-home parents? Now you’ve got some kind of chance.
Marketing blogs are as common as houseflies, and nearly as annoying. But a marketing blog for people who hate marketing can develop a very nice following.
(Although that approach, too, is crowded. When you find that even the sub-niches are crowded, move on to the next tip.)
If it’s not working, get weirder
“Weird” is grade-school shorthand for “you’re not like us, are you?”
This is a bummer in the third grade, but it turns out to really pay off down the line.
All the stuff you had to hide to get that crummy day job? Incorporate it into your content.
The peculiar way you talk or walk or think. The jokes no one else thinks are funny. Your nerdy obsessions. The fact that you are a gigantic dork. Your tragic inability to say the appropriate thing at the appropriate time.
The fact that you care more than anyone you know.
There will be a fair number of people interested in your topic who also resonate with your particular brand of weirdness. And that weirdness will shine like a little beacon to attract them.
Markets are, often as not, defined by who they aren’t.
If you can get weird enough, you’ll find the readers who are longing to be part of your thing.
It’s not about you, and it’s totally about you
If you can learn to keep both of these in your head at the same time, you’ll do brilliantly.
Let us know on LinkedIn how your content reflects your weirdness!