This is a very important post.
If you want to get more from your blog, you may find the following information extremely useful. It’s the answer to a question, sent to me by one of my readers, Shannon. As it’s an extremely common problem, I offered to answer Shannon’s question via this blog post.
With her permission, I’d like to share a key part of her email with you:
“I’ve been blogging for close on three years now and have found the results frustrating to say the very least! [...] I have no idea what I’m doing wrong and I’ve followed the advice from (she mentioned a very well known blogging program) totally. I’m just about ready to quit. Can you take a look at my blog and tell me what I’m missing?”
I did take a quick look at her blog and it’s exactly the same as millions of other business blogs, following the same, general blogging advice.
Here’s what the challenge is and how to resolve it!
Blogging is exceptionally effective
I’ve worked in marketing since 1987 and nothing I have used, studied or witnessed, comes close to the marketing power of an effective blog. Period.
So, why has Shannon and the vast majority of business owners, seen such poor results?
Without doubt, the main reason is that blogging is often touted, incorrectly, as the written equivalent of painting by numbers. In other words, you follow a set of rules and success will follow. This myth persists because it’s repeated by affiliate marketers, selling generic guides and programs on how to grow a successful business blog.
The polar opposite is actually true. The closer you follow the same ineffective set of rules as everyone else, the less likely you are to get anything worthwhile from your blog.
Here’s how I built one of the world’s most popular marketing blogs, by avoiding the rules.
I found rules, then broke them
Here are just a few of the things I noticed on Shanon’s blog, which are extremely common on struggling blogs – along with why I decided not to do the same.
- I didn’t SEO my posts. I wrote for my readers, not Google. This gave me the freedom to express my thoughts, rather than SEO my thoughts. Shannon’s blog posts are written using SEO software and it’s robbing her of her voice and individuality.
- I didn’t guest blog. I focused on building my readership, by producing the most useful content I could and then made it extremely easy for people to share it. It works even better today than when I started in 2008, thanks to the popularity of social networking sites. However, many bloggers waste their best material on other people’s blogs, because their blog guru convinced them it’s a great idea. It’s one way to build your readership, but certainly not the best. Shannon told me that she has guest blogged a lot, with nothing to show for it.
- I didn’t fill the blog with affiliate links. When I recommend something to a reader, it’s a genuine recommendation and I don’t get a penny for it. The trust of my reader community is worth far more to me, than affiliate money. Shannon’s blog home page has affiliate banners for a well known blog theme and (ironically) the content marketing program she’s following, along with 5 other products. Her posts also carry affiliate links for a predictable series of low value Internet marketing products.
- I didn’t pump my posts with buzzwords. Disrupt, ruckus, intersection… these words fail twice. Firstly, they make informed people cringe. Secondly, they confuse the uninformed — not a great idea if you want people to understand your message! Shannon’s blog uses lots of Internet marketing buzz words. This, combined with the keyword loading she does for her SEO, means readers have no personality to connect with.
The key thing to remember, is that your blog has no chance of standing out, when it’s just like all the others. Make your blog your own. Do it your way. If you’re following a guide or using tips from popular blogging sites, you will find it hard to be seen.
I made 1 rule and stuck with it
I also made a rule, which I have stuck to since summer 2008. It’s simply this:
I will only publish a post when I have something useful to share and I’ll make sure I find something useful, often.
This means I often write when it’s easier not to. Blogging is a primary business activity for me, rather than something I fit in. As a result, I write when I’m extremely busy, when I am tired and even when I’m ill.
The Internet is packed with sites that offer largely the same, general advice on how to build a successful blog.
The advice seems to make sense, until you consider that by following it, you become invisible – lost in an ocean of millions of other bloggers using the same, generic advice. If you’re following what they say, you will be able to identify with Shannon’s situation.
If you want your blog to get noticed and for your content to attract great readers and for your readership to grow, it’s essential to drop the generic approach.
In short: Your blog needs to be as individual as you are. Otherwise, you’re invisible.
Tip: This post asks an important question: Bloggers: Are you 1 question away from 10,000 daily readers?