This is a guest post by David Anderson.
People become bloggers for all sorts of different reasons — perhaps they have an axe to grind, something they have to get off their chests, something to sell, a need to engage people in a discussion or a burning desire to write about their favourite topics. Whatever it is that brings you to blogging, there are some things to consider as you develop yourself as an expert blogger.
Create a Brand
Blogging is pretty hot at the moment and there are literally millions of people writing their thoughts down in the form of a blog. Everyone has something to offer but the danger is that your blog will be lost among the competition because of the sheer numbers involved.
In order to stand out from the crowd, you need to brand yourself personally — just as a business needs a brand or corporate image. Branding is not just for large corporations — a brand is simply the image you send out to the world, whether it be as simple as a logo or colour scheme or as complex as making your values and principles part of your brand and your blog so that when people visit your site, they know what you stand for and what sort of opinions they can expect to find. This is important if you are trying to create a following of like-minded people — or engage in a discussion of opposing viewpoints around an important topic or issue.
When you create a personal brand through your blog, you can develop your uniqueness — also known as a USP, or unique selling proposition. Even if you are not trying to sell a product or service, you still need a USP to sell yourself and develop your blog. Your brand allows you to appeal to a niche audience of people and helps to build rapport with your followers — and this is vital if you want your blog to become a long-lasting entity.
If you are building a brand, make sure you focus on developing your blog around a particular theme. This will help to develop your niche market but it will also help you to develop your personal expertise in your area of interest. People who read blogs (and any other information on the Internet) are more likely to engage with you and return for more in the future if they see you as someone who has competence and knowledge in your area. If you diversify too much, you lose that edge, so stay focused.
A great way to present your brand is to let people know who you are — post photographs of yourself, use your signature, create audio recordings or a podcast of yourself speaking to your audience and film short videos of yourself speaking or demonstrating something and post them on your blog as well as sites like YouTube and other social media platforms. It all helps to present yourself as a unique individual and goes a long way to building that important relationship with your followers.
When you create your own personal brand, you need to be different and unique from your competitors. You might not think that a blog would have competitors, but with so many things jostling for our attention, your blog has to be important and interesting enough for people to make time in their busy day to read your blog rather than someone else’s.
The best place to start is to do some market research to find out what your competitors are up to. This is easy with an Internet search. When you have checked out the competition, you need to find something different and unique that you can focus on through your blog. Try to take a different angle or somehow be better and more distinctive than the rest — more information, more pictures, more interesting videos, more discussion and so on.
When you are developing your uniqueness, try to focus on your strengths and develop these rather than spend too much time trying to correct your failings or trying to overcome your weaknesses. By building on the things you are good at, you can become a true expert in record time. Most people try too hard to overcome their shortcomings and end up diluting their message, so focus on your own unique strengths and build your blog around these. If you need to utilise skills that you lack, you can delegate these to others or outsource work — there are plenty of virtual services available at a reasonable price, so make good use of them while you develop your blogging skills.
Develop your Expertise
To become an expert blogger, you need to be at the top of your game in your chosen subject. Make sure you are well read and up-to-date in your field and that you are able to pass on reliable information. It always helps to reference other experts in your writing as this gives you even more credibility and shows you are connected to the right sources of information.
If you have particular qualifications in your area of interest, make sure your blog readers know about them — perhaps through a page ‘about you’. Don’t be afraid to show your credentials and if you belong to groups or societies that can help to show your expertise and knowledge in a good light, mention them and provide links to key websites.
You could write a blog page of book reviews or list publications and websites for further reading — anything that will give your blog more depth and credibility.
Define your Audience
The best way to ensure that you are reaching your target audience is to define who they are and focus very carefully on what they are looking for when they come to your blog. Too many bloggers and business owners make the mistake of trying to reach an audience or market that is simply too large — and this can be a recipe for disaster as you risk your work becoming lost in the sheer volume of other websites, blogs and information on your subject.
For example, if you write a blog about cats, you might be more successful if you focus on a certain aspect of cats — such as cat nutrition or cat behaviour or perhaps cat breeding. A keyword ‘cats’ will pull out hundreds of thousands of websites and blogs focusing on cats but once you start drilling down into tighter niche markets, your blog is more likely to be found.
A niche is far more efficient and it is cheaper to target smaller, well-defined groups of people than trying to reach hundreds, thousands or even millions of people in an area where there is a lot of competition from other blogs and websites. This niche marketing, as it’s called, allows you to be specific with your message and communicate directly with your potential followers.
Even if you want your blog to be more diverse, you should market each post separately so that it reaches a smaller target audience. For example, if you write a post about how to help your cat while she is giving birth to a litter of kittens — then market this separately from another blog post about how to stop cats from scratching furniture. More than likely, you will get your cat loving visitors reading your other posts about cats but make sure you use the right keywords and avoid a scattergun approach with your keywords and phrases.
Don’t be afraid to qualify your visitors — in other words only encourage people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer through your blog. There’s no point in having a list of thousands of subscribers if only half a dozen ever read your blog on a regular basis. This is especially true if you are trying to make money from your blog.
Keep them Interested
The best way to make your blog a resounding success is to develop your expertise and learn how to write a compelling, unique and informative blog that will get people coming back for more and recommending other people to visit your site.
That old-fashioned word-of-mouth ‘advertising’ is still the best way to develop a business or a blog, so it is vital that you post interesting content on a regular basis and remind people you are still around by e-mailing your list of followers and posting on social media sites with links to your latest blog post.
What other things do you consider important in your development as a blogger? Please share in the comments.