Bring Something New to the Blog Table, Please

Filed as Features on January 1, 2008 4:52 am

Bore. Boring. Bored. Aren’t you a little bored with blogs lately?

In the past few months, I’ve been to many meetings and conferences on blogging and have been introduced to many wonderful bloggers, but also plagued by many bloggers who want to start a new blog. It’s not the starting of the new blog that bothers me. It’s the subject matter.

Here is the list of what too many new bloggers say, proceeded by the words “I want to start a blog about…”

  • SEO
  • Blogging about blogging.
  • WordPress
  • WordPress Themes
  • Web Design
  • Making Money With Blogs

First, IT’S BEEN DONE!

It’s been done by the best of the best, people who have lived it, suffered for their decisions, and lived to tell the story on their blogs. They are experts who know their stuff and live it daily. They’ve been doing it for three, five, or even ten or more years. It is their passion, their goal, and their life.

And you think you can compete with that passion, experience, and longevity?

Second, how are you going to compete? Huh? How are you going to bring something new to the table?

How to Bring Something New to the Blog Table

No matter what you blog about, but especially if you are going to tackle the “biggies” of the most popular blog subjects around, what new ideas are you going to bring to the blog table? Do you have a new perspective? A perspective that this hasn’t been done or seen before?

Probably not.

For the most part, there are only four ways to cover these topics.

  1. As a teacher, with the training and experience necessary to teach.
  2. As a student, learning as you go.
  3. As a participant, learning and participating in the learning process with your readers – they help teach you. (AKA Shared Learning)
  4. As an observer, commenting on what others are doing. This is typically done by reporting on how they are doing what they are doing with out adding much of your opinion or content to the conversation. Also known as blockquoting blogging. It’s about them, not you.

We’ve enough of all four types, so is there a new angle you’ve developed?

Cape Cod SEO is a blog about search engine optimization and blog marketing, but it comes at the tired old subject from a unique angle: geographic. This is their blog purpose statement:

CapeCodSEO.com is about strategies and techniques small businesses can use related to Search Engine Optimization, Pay-Per Click Advertising and Search Engine Marketing. In addition, it’s a look at the unique environment that is Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

It isn’t just about all the SEO, advertising, and marketing tips from all over the world. It’s a narrow niche that examines how to use this within a specific geographical community. It’s not for everyone, but only those who want to develop their online marketing within a specific neighborhood of the planet.

Why not frame your blog to cover a specific geographical niche or market? Why not cover SEO tips for only Israel or Romania? You might be the only one or within a small group, which instantly gives you recognition and the potential for being a local expert.

Why not only cover minimalist WordPress Themes, or a specific aspect of WordPress? Leonid Mamchenkov of WordPress Bits covers WordPress code and hacks almost exclusively, digging into the how it works and how to make it work for you. Reading his blog is like lifting the hood on the engine of WordPress. He doesn’t get into the business of WordPress, covering everything WordPress or blogging. WordPress Bits is about the bits that make WordPress work. Nothing more, nothing less.

Peter Westwoods’s Westi on WordPress is dedicated only to reporting on the weekly news for WordPress 2.4 development. Sure, I would love to see more articles from Westi on putting the new bits of code into action and preparing WordPress Theme and WordPress Plugin authors more for the changes that are coming, but it serves a narrow purpose and goes a long way to helping keep WordPress fans up-to-date on what’s happening and where the development is going. Should he do more? He has other blogs to do his “more” on. That blog currently serves an important purpose of creating buzz around the development of the next version of WordPress, and it need not do more.

These three bloggers are specialists because they looked at the big picture and decided to focus in on a small part, giving their specific audience exactly what they need. They didn’t decide to cover everything on the subject. If they did, they would have been one of many instead of the only ones.

Here are a few more tips for how to bring something new to the blogging table:

  • Think Geography: Keep it close to home by narrowing your blog’s focus to a specific geographic area, be it bordered by nations or communities.
  • Think Focused Groups: You don’t have to blog to everyone. There are any different groups of people to blog to. Blog for Spanish speakers, the rich, ethnic groups, regional and cultural groups, young, collectors, fans, hobbyists – find a group and aim your blog at them exclusively. You might find yourself adding members to the group with your special interest.
  • Blog in Your Native Language: There is a growing trend to blog only in English, believing you will reach a wider audience and make more money. This may or may not be true. If you are entering a saturated market in English, you are just one of many. If you are the only one blogging about the subject in your language, then you are one of one, and serving those who need this information in your language.
  • Think Backwards: Instead of blogging the same old same old, think backwards. Use satire. Look at the past, as it often repeats itself. If A+B=C, then B+C should also equal C. Reverse your thinking to see things not from the step-by-step, but from the end going toward the beginning. Instead of how to do SEO, why not how to fix broken SEO.
  • Break the Rules: If you aren’t a rule breaker, don’t break the rules. But if it is in your nature to break the rules, look at how you can break the rules while still maintaining your integrity and ethics. If everyone is doing it one way, which builds a “rule” of expectation, how can you do it differently to break the expectation?
  • Change Persona and Perspective: This isn’t a matter of changing your name or character on your blog. Change your viewpoint. If you are an adult, you’ve probably forgotten the view of the world as a child, living in a forest of kneecaps. Find a new perspective. Like a rich person living in poverty, or a poor person living in riches. Many college students blog about how their blog helps them make money for schooling and such, but what about a 60 year old using their blog to help them pay for their college tuition? How would the perspective on the subject be different if you change your angle of view?
  • Niche The Subject Coverage: Niche your subject, but also niche your subject coverage. Instead of covering everything SEO, why not only handle writing for SEO, or news about experts in the SEO industry, coding for SEO, a career in SEO, or some other specific area of SEO. Then narrow your focus down even further. If you are covering writing and SEO, are you writing about SEO or how SEO supports a writing blog? Are you writing about SEO for writers or writing for SEO people? Is it a food blog about writing about food, or a writing a food blog about food. Or vise versa. Peel away the layers so your blog definition is specific and narrow.

Let’s stop putting the bore into blogging and find some new and interesting ways to tackle the same old subjects – or please, find something new to blog about. There are plenty of subjects NOT covered by many blogs. Be the first to blog about anything but SEO, WordPress, and blogging.

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  1. By dinsan posted on January 1, 2008 at 5:40 am
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    good one.. this really made me thinking :) actually, I am trying to apply your narrow focus theory on more stuff in life, not just blogging :)

    Reply

  2. By JMorris posted on January 1, 2008 at 8:21 am
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    Excellent post Lorelle!

    When I started my self-titled blog, I blogged about numerous topics in a very boring and incomplete way. After some months of experimenting and finding a style that is natural, I’ve become a bit of a pundit in the blogging industry with a humorist twist. As such, I’ve been writing more posts that mix humor, of various styles, with industry facts, opinions and useful tips. The response has been fantastic!

    Reading over you post inspires me to further refine this style. Excellent advice as usual.

    Reply

  3. By ian in hamburg posted on January 1, 2008 at 9:56 am
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    Happy New Year, Lorelle!

    I think so many people want to start a blog on blogging because they think it’s the fastest way to make money. I’m sure the results are kind of like those old advertiements you used to see in the back of magazines. Make money through mail order! It’s fast, it’s easy! Watch the cash roll in! Only $9.95!

    But when you send away for the package, you end up with instructions on how to put ads in the back of magazines…

    Reply

  4. By Karlo.PinoyBlogero posted on January 1, 2008 at 11:05 am
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    Very well put, Lorelle. I know what you mean when you said that the blogosphere is becoming boring because everyone is talking about the exact same thing.

    I have seen this trend 6 months ago. Instead of a blog about blogging, I decided to focus on a niche that hasn’t been thought up yet. I decided to focus on the Filipino blogging community, in which I am a part of.

    This has set me apart from the rest of the crowd and had made me known throughout the community.

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  5. By Ivo posted on January 1, 2008 at 11:35 am
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    I wish to see more blogs about the human side of blogging and in general how Internet use affects our psyche, turning the attention 180 degress from the screen to the person. We need depth now not more SEO tricks and infopollution. I like your blog Lorelle because among technical advices you don’t forget there’s a person on the other side of the screen, with his struggles and joys.

    Reply

  6. By Brian posted on January 1, 2008 at 5:48 pm
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    Whatever happened to blogging because you can and want to? There are too many people out there who have found unique ways of utilizing SEO to make damn good money (John Chow comes to mind) but doesn’t that defeat the true purpose of blogging? I envy those who use the technology behind blogging as a means to run a business (BlogHerald, Engadget, and TechCrunch come to mind, and there are many others) but I find those others who plaster their blogs with advertising, tags, this and that, which serve no purpose but to bring people in to help the owner of the blog to make money (in some ways, it sounds duplicitous).

    I find blogging as an excellent method of relieving stress, remembering elements of the day, and helping me to bring focus to my usually chaotic life. I’m not interested in making money from my blog, SEO, etc., etc., I’m simply blogging and that’s it. Back in the days of BBSes, there were the hobby systems and the business systems. The hobby systems, the one or two line systems that wouldn’t charge, offered a lot of community, fun, and games. Then there was the business systems, the 16+ line systems that would charge a few dollars per month and offer the same and more. Comparatively, who had the bigger user base? The business system. Who had the better users? The hobby system.

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  8. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on January 1, 2008 at 6:12 pm
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    @Brian:

    You can still blog because blogging is a joy. That’s a hobby. If you blog for income, it’s a business. So blog accordingly.

    Bloggers like John Chow were able to make a success out of blogging because he created a niche early on and came to be known as an expert. He didn’t share the day to day struggles of his life, his whines about family, school, work, etc. He created a specific area of expertise early on and made it his own. Unfortunately, we have too many John Chow wanna bes.

    I’ll be starting a series soon on my blog, and possibly here, on personal blogging, which includes hobby blogging, where the love of blogging exceeds the desire for income – even though it might turn into one.

    I agree. If you do it for the love of it, you are among some of my favorite bloggers. :D

    Reply

  9. By Elva Moser posted on January 1, 2008 at 6:49 pm
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    I’m not a blogger..yet. I’ve been considering it and researching the possibility since September.

    The more I read about blogging, I see how much trouble it is, especially for a freelancer w/out corporate technical support behind you.

    I agree w/Brian, above. Unless you work for an organization who will publish your blog, too many have to scramble to make money.

    For-profit blogging is the next-gen version of fashioned op-ed columns found in newspapers and industry magazines. I read them to see what my peers are doing and learn from their experiences and observations.

    Yes, there are too many bloggers blogging about blogging.

    Reply

  10. By Brian posted on January 1, 2008 at 9:24 pm
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    @Lorelle:

    I agree with you regarding John, he’s definitely put the effort to become the defacto expert in the area of “monetary blogging” and you’re also right, there are too many wanna bes. I find it frustrating though when I find blogs that have potential yet offer only one thing: here’s my ad, click on it!

    I’ve been blogging since 2004 (I started on a flight to Singapore). One of my concerns has been keeping private about my work. I’ll write about it but I won’t disclose my company name, specifically what I do, or coworkers names, etc. I don’t know how many people out there have used the medium yet find their jobs in jeopardy because they said, “Hey, I work for (enter company name) and they are a bunch of idiots!” The whole concept of privacy should remain important.

    Finally, Lorelle, you’ve given me a lot of insight and ideas in the blogging world but I consider myself more autistic than artistic. Maybe one of these days I’ll be as good as you and your counterparts and be what I consider an authority in the blogging world.

    To Elva:

    I find business blogging interesting. There are those who use the medium for true communication, insight, and knowledge, while there are those that do just the opposite. Companies like Oracle, Microsoft, etc., seem to have PR goons write the corporate blog entries instead of getting the true insight from those who should be writing the entry. I’d love to know Bill Gates’ stance on Vista SP1 and why he feels that performance improves were less important than security and bug patching. Maybe 2008 will be different, we’ll see!

    Reply

  11. By david posted on January 1, 2008 at 10:28 pm
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    Right on, Lorelle. That is the primary reason that I have abandoned my plans for BetterBlogging.com — quite simply, IT’S BEEN DONE – and continues to be done by so many bloggers. I’ve decided instead to focus my blogging on (similar to one of your suggestions) local and regional stuff here in Montana.

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  12. By Brian posted on January 1, 2008 at 11:21 pm
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    @David, pardon the question, but what is there to do in Montana?

    Reply

  13. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on January 2, 2008 at 12:04 am
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    @Brian:

    Play nice, Brian. And if you haven’t been paying attention, Montana is the NEXT Florida and Arizona for retirement destinations in the US. It’s amazing how many people I’ve talked to this year who say they are working towards buying property and retiring in Montana. Get in on this early and you have a great niche!

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  14. By Sue posted on January 2, 2008 at 3:00 am
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    Yes, I too am tired of the same old same old type blogs. And all are just wanting to get rich quick. Hey folks, it ain’t gonna happen.
    But that’s okay, I have a very narrow niche and consider myself one of those who took a hobby or interest that I’m passionate about and started a blog about it. Especially since one didn’t exist, at least not in the form I took. I’ll be looking forward to your series on hobby bloggers just so I might find something interesting to read that hasn’t been done to death, and isn’t just an Adsense vehicle.

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  16. By jhay posted on January 2, 2008 at 12:28 pm
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    Wow. This is truly an awakening post. Kudos to Lorelle!

    Reply

  17. By Brian posted on January 3, 2008 at 2:05 am
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    @Lorelle:

    I was playing. I’ve got a few friends in Montana and feel that the beauty of the state trumps that of pre-tech Colorado (where I live). I could see investing some money on land up there but my wife might question my intentions. I’ll have to butter her up (no comments on this statement, please).

    Reply

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  19. By Mr. List posted on January 3, 2008 at 10:29 pm
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    You’re absolutely right. There’s just so many blogs these days that finding a niche is very difficult. We think, however, we found one with a newish blog called Four Reasons Why that focuses on providing four or five reasons for a variety of topics. E.g. Four reasons why Mac is better than Windows, or Four reasons why Pumpkin Pie is the Best Pie. Sometimes, education; sometimes, funny but always different.

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  20. By 禾草唐楷 posted on January 9, 2008 at 2:50 am
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    As a participant, learning and participating in the learning process with your readers – they help teach you.

    ———–that’s great,Bring Something New to the Blog Table

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  21. By Line E. posted on January 17, 2008 at 12:40 pm
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    A blog that is read by few, yet a source of enjoyment to its blogger, is Apac in the World. Apac is a town and a district in northern Uganda, where I currently live. Being a foreigner – and the only expat – here, I am trying to understand and communicate life in Apac through my blog. The blog is about people, traditions, environmental problems, local politics, the conditions of life, and Africa. Apac is so politically and economically marginalised that no ideas come to or come from Apac (harshly put) but this blog is slowing putting this underdeveloped district on the map of Uganda.
    As I say in the first post on the blog, it is only to the superficial observer that life seems dull in Apac. Under the surface you find the most interesting problematics and life stories.
    You are all welcome to check it out; do not spare me your comments either…
    From the Equator,
    Line E.

    Reply

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