Five Steps to a Truly Unique Blog That Attracts Readers and Revenue

Build a Sticky BlogIf a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.

-Henry David Thoreau

Now that you’ve completed the important task of figuring out who it is you want to reach with your blog, it’s time to figure out how to stand apart from the competition and deliver unique value. What’s the angle that will capture attention and attract regular readers who eventually become loyal customers or clients?

The following five step process can help you speak to your intended audience in a way that allows you to develop a distinct, authoritative voice in your niche or field of expertise, and also facilitates your business goals.

1. Evaluate the Competition

It’s inevitable that you came across your competition when you were identifying your audience. With the growing popularity of commercial blogging, it’s often quite easy to stumble across those who already have a presence in your area.

It doesn’t hurt to take another look however, to make sure you’re not missing other competitors, as well as blogs that are complementary or industry focused. These can make for excellent link sources and are invaluable at providing inspiration for a differentiating focus.

Two excellent resources for blog research are:

Technorati
Google Blog Search

Now that you’ve done an exhaustive identification of the players out there, evaluate each of their approaches. Can you spot the unique focus of each competitor?

You may find that the only unique thing about the leading blog in your niche is that they started blogging before everyone else did. While being first has big advantages, a “plain vanilla” market leader should be viewed as an opportunity, not a deterrent.

2. Employ Lateral Thinking

Many people feel that the key to differentiating yourself can only come from off-the-wall creativity. And while lateral thinking is crucial to separating yourself from the norm, a logical justification is also required.

Here’s the thing about lateral thinking—it is creative thinking that also provides a logical bridge within the context of your subject matter. It does not mean coming up with some flaky idea that is divorced from both common sense and the needs of your audience and prospective customers.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever heard regarding lateral thinking is to make jokes about your business, and then take the joke seriously. Humor contains truth, and truth, uncomfortable or not, is an excellent starting point for innovation.

3. Identify the Difference

What fresh angle are your competitors missing out on? Often, you’ll have a clearer view of something that another blogger is touching but not capitalizing on. They’re too busy writing the blog to see it, or are locked into a certain theme, while you have the benefit of an outside view and a clean slate. What is incidental to them may be your ticket to a unique new approach that works.

Another tactic is to mentally abandon the way things are currently done in your field. Just as many business innovators draw on best practices from other fields in order to shake up their own, look at other blogging approaches. Will they work in your field?

Why not?

4. Maintain Your Credibility

Often the exciting new angle we discover puts us outside our comfort zone—in fact I’d say that’s a prerequisite. If there’s not a nagging bit of worry that you’re out of your league, you’re likely not taking a truly unique approach.

However, there are scenarios where credibility can be strained. Writing about the intersection of the field you know inside and out with another that is brand new to you represents an opportunity, but do your homework. Blogging allows for an immense amount of leeway and “learn-as-you-go” time while ramping up, but make sure not to hide behind false confidence or arrogance.

Take people on the journey with you.

5. Communicate the Value

Time and again people drop the ball when it comes to communicating their unique benefit to readers, and that’s the whole point of copywriting. No matter how crystal clear you think it is without elaboration, you need to expressly communicate what makes you, your business, and your blog unique. More importantly, you need to make it expressly clear how that uniqueness benefits the reader, or this entire exercise has been for naught.

Remember the importance of your blog’s About page. A well conceived and executed “about” page is not really about you or your business—it’s about the unique benefit to the reader that you’re offering them with the free information you provide via the blog. That benefit is your ticket to a seat at the table with scores of prospective customers and clients.

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Comments

  1. Once again you demonstrate why you’re the master. I especially enjoyed the section on lateral thinking.

  2. I just rewrote my About page – and really struggled with it. Then, the light bulb went on over my head and I came here to read yours.

    It was truly helpful, because you are the King of writing content that’s “All About Them”.

    Thanks, as always, for being the goto source for any writing hangup I’ve ever had! :)

  3. Like eMom I’m going to update the ‘About’ and also the ‘disclaimer’ and signup pages to see the effect. Good advice.

  4. This is a fantastic post. I really like this: “Take people on the journey with you.”

    That’s a new motto for me.

  5. As always, an enlightning and concise article. I think I´ll take a look at my About page too.

  6. I especially enjoyed this post in light of what Liz Strauss posted yesterday. You take her philosophical relationship approach and put a different business spin on it. Good stuff, Brian.

  7. I agree that the About page is probably the most important one on the whole site. I know it’s the first thing I look at when I visit a new blog.

    That being said, I’ve written a couple different About’s and after a few weeks I realize they don’t work.

    Back to the laboratory.

  8. I’ve been caught with my “about page” pants down! Right now my initial blog post is serving as the about info, but I know I need to make it more user-centric, as well as continue to ID what makes my blog different than others in my niche. Thanks for the reminders, Brian.

  9. I really like #2 – Lateral thinking.

    Far too many bloggers think stupid is acceptable.

    I wonder if it’s because they are or because they think we are ?

  10. Brian,
    A daily visit here precludes the necessity for an advanced degree. Perhaps we should call you Professor Brian from “CopyU”?

    I have to go rewrite my “about” page NOW…

  11. This a great list that really lays out steps that are easy to follow and digest.

  12. Hmmm, my about page on my formal Website also gets lots of traffic (relatively speaking).
    Lateral thinking — perhaps I’ll shave my head for my blog picture, and hone in on the color purple.
    And everyone, especially me, should concentrate on providing value rather on amusing themselves!

  13. I’ve been a visitor of your blog now and again over the past month or two and I thought I’d leave a comment to say that while I was reading this post I had a ‘brain wave’ for my blog.

    Let’s just hope it works!

  14. I always forget to take into account my competition, and how to differentiate myself. It’s important to find your own niche in whatever blog neighborhood you find yourself, especially if you’re a newcomer to the area.

  15. Great post.

    The job of your competition is to make you better. I think it’s critical to recognize that if your competitor was successful because they did something different …

    you can’t do what they did. You have to do something different.

  16. Excellent article. I’d shared it with my fan over at HackPress.

  17. I really, really don’t like you Brain…

    You make me think about my blog and my writing, work on it “hard” and with passion..

    Then you write another piece of copy like this!!

    And it is as solid as always, and you did it again..

    Now I have to improve even further..
    Thank you for keeping me focused and working in the right direction!

  18. As always nice and insightful.

    Your point “you need to make it expressly clear how that uniqueness benefits the reader” obviously wrings through in every article your write. But how often do we read something not understanding why and what benefits it yields? Pretty often, except when I’m here :)

    Cheers,

  19. Excellent post. I think evaluating the competition is one of the most crucial steps. It’s amazing how many people will jump into something without understanding how saturated the market is with competitors. It reminds me of the saying “the battle is won before it even begins”

  20. Some amazing tips there. A few things I hadn’t thought of, some I had. Great tips to becoming a more successful blogger.

    I’ve been trying to implement new ideas and new functionality into my site to differentiate it from my competitors already. We’ll see how it goes.

    Thanks Brian!

  21. Thank you Brian for such a helpful resource!

    I’m a new blogger, and English is not my natural language, so I’m wondering how’s my English.

  22. I think just as important as the things highlighted here is the need to update consistently to keep people coming back

  23. Excellent strategery (www.addictionary.org) all around! I especially enjoyed the part about lateral thinking. One can never underestimate the power of a little humor and self deprecation.

  24. I am impressed by your insight. I am impressed by your advice. Differentiation is an excellent way of building reputation online, but maintaining credibility also has a lot to do with maintaining trust. Credibility is tight with trust which is really all about connecting with your readership… you don’t need to do appeasement.

  25. This post points out valuable information every online entrepreneur should learn by heart. Great truths for any kind of online business.
    Regards

  26. Thanks for what I would call a great primer on blogging. Creating value – isn’t that what it’s all about?

  27. I just recently started my company blog as we are now expanding our services. We hope to give out a unique blog out there as well, showcasing diverse strategies for different needs. Kudos to this article.

  28. I just recently started my company blog as we are now expanding our services. We (and me especially) hope to give out unique and outstanding blogs out there as well, showcasing diverse strategies for different needs. Kudos to this article.

  29. wow, a great stuff, thanks for sharing, if I ever decide to try to make some money from blog this will be my No1 reference

  30. Wow man what a great read. I don’t really spend all that much time on my blog since it’s just a personal blog, but it surely helps me with my website.

    I will most-likely be rewriting my about page tomorrow morning and take the lateral thinking into consideration as well.

    Thanks man :)

  31. Great information! Thank you so much for giving you insight on how better my blog.

    I really liked the point, “Humor contains truth, and truth, uncomfortable or not, is an excellent starting point for innovation.” It is very true

    If you get a minute, please come and check out my company’s blogs at http://www.compendiumblogware.com/blogs.php

    Thanks Again

  32. Good tips. I’m looking for more human rights music websites, but they tend to be obscure foreign language ones. I’ll check the technorti –cheers! (“,) zub.