If you’re going to be a blogger you need to know what you’re up against.
There are over 225 million blogs in the world and it’s growing exponentially every year. The best thing about it is that there are a lot of people who decide they’re tired of blogging and bail out of the game. The worst thing about it is that you still end up with a lot of people you have to compete with for attention.
the von Hedwigs
I’ve always said that blogs must do one of 3 things: entertain, educate or inform. This is what leads people to determine what kind of blog they want to write.
It doesn’t lead people towards figuring out how to write though. I’m of the opinion that how you write is probably more important long term than what you write unless you happen to be part of a blogging conglomerate. In those cases someone else is always available to pick up what you can’t deliver.
To be a compelling blogger, you must add some personality to what you write. At least 50% of the time you’d better be throwing in some personality, and I mean something good. Hopefully you’ll be personable more often than that but if it’s not your normal style then you need to figure out how to develop it.
At the same time, you can’t go overboard. By that, I mean you can’t be so transparent that people know everything about your personal life, especially if you’re looking to show yourself as an authority. Truth be told, there are some people who use blogging as a diary, which is actually how it started out a couple of decades ago, and that’s fine if all you want is someone psychoanalyzing you every day. But if every post you write is you complaining about your boyfriend/girlfriend, your job, drinking too much, etc, people will get bored and leave; then you’ll have more to complain about.
How do you strike a personality balance? I was hoping you’d ask. I’m going to give you 9 ways you can be personable in your writing; I thought about doing 10 but 3 is my favorite number and that’s too few, and 9 is three 3’s, which I like a lot, thus you’re getting 9. You don’t have to do all of these every time by the way; I thought I’d mention that so you don’t look schizophrenic later on when you’re writing and want to blame me for it. With that said, here we go:
People love to laugh and if you can even make them smile they’ll like you. No one except my friend Charles Gulotta is supposed to make you laugh with every single article written, but when you can throw in a line or allude to something funny while telling your tale it helps to break the ice and helps people identify with you.
Just because I said you shouldn’t tell everyone everything doesn’t mean you should lie to people either. We all know that probably 98% of the people who write “make money” blogs are lying about or misrepresenting their success. It’s not easy making sustainable money just by blogging; I think I know 2 people personally who make money only by blogging. Everyone else does something else to help supplement their income.
This doesn’t mean you can’t write about it, or can’t recommend products that have helped you make some money online or off. It does mean that if you’ve purchased an online travel business and you’re now trying to recruit me by showing me a $27,000 earnings check and yet you won’t pick up the check for lunch that I’m calling you a fraud and probably never talking to you again. That happened by the way; how many of you have had someone do something similar? Did you like it? That’s why honesty is better than faking it.
The fact is there are times when what you write about can be pretty dull. I knew someone who tried to only write about Twitter some years ago. After a month every article looked the same; ugh. The problem was this person only had one style of writing and only so many things to talk about; at least that’s how it seemed. On this blog I’ve written about or mentioned Twitter in nearly 300 articles; how many times do you think I’ve said the same exact thing about it?
One can easily alter language by coming at articles in different fashions. Sometimes you can tell a story, whether about yourself or someone else. You can give some technical details if you’re adept at that type of thing. You can write commentary posts, giving your opinion about something. You can try to find new words instead of “cool” or “fascinating”, and trust me you can only use the word “very” so many times before you start looking like a 5th grader. Change things up every once in awhile; look like a rock star.
An allusion means you’ve come up with a fancy phrase to try to compare or talk about something in a more amusing way. You can write “reading that post was horrid” or you can write “reading that post was like eating garbage out of the trash can of a fly.” I almost wrote “gag a maggot” but that’s an old phrase that someone else came up with; what I wrote first was original (it had better be).
Sometimes it pays to be less straightforward with your language and give it a bit of flair, and allusions are the easiest way to go. Truthfully, they’re the one thing you can steal from someone else without retribution; that is unless I wrote it.
5. Mention something about you.
You know how I said don’t tell everything about yourself? That part is true, but there are things you can tell about yourself sometimes while trying to make a point about something.
For instance, I happen to be diabetic. I’ve talked here and there about the issue, my ups and downs and different things I’ve tried or gone through. I don’t wear it as a badge of honor but it’s something I can talk about because it’s real, and by talking about it I feel I help others come out of the shame of being diagnosed at some point (everyone feels shame initially, as if they did something wrong, which isn’t always the case) and offer hope, as well as a bit of humor and honesty, on the topic.
This part leads into my next point.
I’m thinking someone is going to say something like “but I write about artificial grass; how do I fit something about myself into a topic like that?” Hey, if I could fit in something personal while talking about the topic of forensic loan analysis, you can do it about almost anything.
Why are you writing about whatever it is you write about? Do you hope to write for a long time? The easiest way to be creative is to add some things you’ve done or things that have happened to you or someone you know into your writing, no matter what it is.
I write about many things, yet I’ve added in my own tales about chess, poker, learning how to play the piano, Cling Wrap, living in Japan, on and on, into all of my topics. When you write and add in some of your own experiences, your writing takes on a personal feel, your words are different, and people can feel the emotions, funny or sad. When people identify with you… well, you know.
7. Name drop.
By that, I don’t only mean mentioning the names of famous people like Vanessa Williams, Derrick Coleman, Wilt Chamberlain or Rick Fox (okay, yes, I’ve met or talked to all of those people). I don’t mean Chris Brogan, Guy Kawasaki or Ken Evoy (I’ve had online conversations of some type with all of them).
If you’re a true blogger it means you’ve visited other blogs and read other posts. If you’re a true blogger you’ve had people stop by your blog and leave comments, and you’ve responded to them & checked their stuff out as well. Sometimes when you’re writing, you might recall something from one of the many blogs you’ve read or something someone you’ve read has said.
Mention them, link back to their blogs, and tell your tale. I name drop often; it helps them get some attention and it helps me as well because it gives me more to write about whenever I need something new. People love seeing their names in print in other places; we all like a bit of acknowledgment. When you give selflessly, you get back way more; trust me on this one.
8. The “Mom” Factor.
Although things seem much different than back in the day when I was younger, one of the best filters in the world is whether or not you’d be comfortable in sharing what you’re writing with your mother. I don’t only mean bad language; I mean other things about your life.
I know a lot of people who have had to defend something they wrote on a blog post because someone they know read it and mentioned it to their mother in passing. Mom’s hate being shamed, and even if it was about you, they always take on your shame, whether you have any or not.
I have multiple blogs, and there’s not a single thing on any of them that I wouldn’t mind my mother seeing, and I’ve tackled some interesting topics. I’d say the same about my dad but he’s no longer with us. For some people, maybe you’re more worried about what your dad might say. The same advice people give you when it comes to sharing too much, too many salacious pictures and too much detail that someone could find out about you later on applies to your blog; some things are better kept to yourself.
Right now I’m betting you’re either saying “wow, I didn’t think he could get 9 of these” or you’re saying “finally, he’s at #9”. This is the most important one; you ready?
That looks strange doesn’t it? In the book The Power by Rhonda Byrnes of The Secret fame, she talks a lot about the topic of “love”. In her opinion, everything you do that’s positive is based on love; not romantic love necessarily but love in general.
If you think about it she’s absolutely right. Why do you do the things you enjoy? Why do you crave certain foods, like certain types of movies, hang out in certain places more than others, talk to specific people more than other people? All those things make you feel good right? Why do you feel good? Because you love doing them.
If you love what you do, your personality will always show. If you’re doing something only because it might help you get something that you haven’t fully defined as success, you probably don’t love it or even like it a little bit.
Nothing says you have to by the way. Mike Rowe tells the story of a guy who does this nasty little job with hogs that no one else likes to do, which has made him a rich man. It wasn’t ever his wish, he hates it a lot, but he likes the money, which allows him to do other things.
You’re thinking “where’s the love there”? The love is in being rich, being able to travel, being able to buy things he likes. He’s willing to sacrifice some things for his business to help fund the other parts of his life.
That works for him because what he’s doing is pretty much a solitary thing though; blogging isn’t a solitary thing. If you don’t love blogging it will show, and people will stay away. Then what will you do, other than probably quit? If you write about what you know and love, who you know and love, where you know and love, your personality will flow and people will love it. Either that or think you’re weird, and trust me, many people love weird also.
Don’t be a robot; be yourself, be relaxed, and love what you write about. If you follow the things I mentioned above, you’ll be great; heck, if I’d only follow them I might be great as well. 🙂