In my time working with churches, mainly in the area of marketing/design, one phrase has always stood out to me as particularly inspiring. If your church disappeared from the neighborhood, and in essence didn’t exist in your community, who would notice? This thought, really this meditation, has proven very useful for helping to guide many churches in what is (hopefully) the right direction. But I believe this concept can apply to other areas as well; say, for instance, blogs.
Who Would Miss Your Blog?
It’s a simple question, but one that provokes some interesting thoughts. If you are truly serving a niche with your blog, they should miss you if you’re not there. Imagine that you stopped blogging—would you get any emails asking you what’s up?
Your blog is a part of a neighborhood, whether you realize it or not. Every reader you gain puts a house on your block, and each link you receive is akin to building a bridge or a four-lane highway. You get the idea.
And much like any neighborhood the selling price of a home is not determined by the number of houses in the area or the number of cars that pass by. In fact, those things can be enough to turn away some buyers completely.
How about a break from the metaphors for a second?
Don’t be Easily Replaceable
The quality of your blog is determined, in the end, by the degree to which your blogging neighborhood relies on you. If your blog is a part of a crowd that fulfills similar needs, your blog may not be relied upon as much as you think.
Being easily replaced is not a good thing. Luckily, there are some ways you can avoid this.
- Target your audience. You want to pick something that you love, of course, but also something not being done by many others. A blog about pets is better than one about animals, but one about cat care is even better. And this part of the game is more about what’s not being done than it is about over-specializing your writing.
- Be unique. You’re reading CopyBlogger because (hopefully) you recognize that your writing has a lot to do with your blogging. In fact, it’s really the most important part. Dumb Little Man, for example, has a pretty lame design and a silly navigational system. But the writing is quality, and the style is unique. The more unique you are, the greater the chance you’ll be missed if you disappear.
- Interact with your readers on a personal level. The easiest way to begin doing this is to grab the contact information of those readers and/or commenters whom you consider your colleagues. Take an hour and chat with them. Find out what they do, what their likes and dislikes are, and maybe even why they came to your blog. But remember—they already read your blog. Don’t suffocate them. Talk about them. Feed their ego. Then, later, they will remember your blog and how good they felt talking to you. Congratulations, you have a reader that would miss you if you were gone.
- Create content that can’t be duplicated. The very definition of a replaceable blog is one that only regurgitates what others are writing about. Make your blog about more than commentary. Sites like Smashing Magazine have created a name for itself, very quickly, by publishing content that can’t easily be duplicated. They create massive lists of sites and resources that take a lot of time to put together. Those stand out. Consider these ideas when creating unique content. I would also consider things like exclusive interviews to draw in an audience no one else is getting.
If you follow these principles (notice, not steps—there is no proven formula; relationships don’t have those) you will be sure to see some results.
Reader Response Time
I’m interested in your stories.
- Has there ever been a time when readers have noticed your absence, and contacted you about it?
- Have you ever been surprised at the gratitude of readers or the response to a particular article?
- How about this one—are you truly writing quality content, or just commentating on what’s already being said?
I look forward to your feedback.
WordPress users, get more great stuff from Ryan Imel over at Theme Playground.