Us bloggers are a fun school-like bunch: There’s the sartorial gals, the even more stylish guys, the newbies, the geeks, the (wannabe) cooks, the manic pixie chicks, the populars, the lame-os, the funny ones, it’s really never-ending.
What I’m about to say will sound revolutionary but it’s really not: What makes those cliques easy to distinguish is not necessarily the tone of their blogs, or their sense of style, or even their recipes’ ingredients.
Sure, many would think that, but that’s not really the secret behind their success.
What makes them interesting and memorable is instead their use of a really simple business tactic.
BACK IN THE DAY, PEOPLE USED TO BARTER
Think of the Middle East centuries ago–Aladdin time. Back then there were bazaars, amazing markets where “buyers” and “sellers” traded goods: A “seller” would give you something and you, the “buyer,” would give them something–not money–back.
Of course, the transaction would only be successful if the buyer was able to give the seller a good the latter wanted: Say I want a yard of silk and Amy has the silk I want. I say, “Amy, I want that yard of silk. I’ll trade you this handmade bib for your future baby–it has a cute embroidered C.” Amy then flips out and goes, “YES! OK TAKE IT!”
But what if I had offered Amy a giant boa constrictor? She would have thrown it on my face and kicked me off her stall leaving me sad and silk-less.
That same concept applies to the successful blogs you and I have come to adore.
BLOGGING = BUSINESS (REGARDLESS OF YOUR INTENTIONS)
FOR INSTANCE, “H” DOESN’T GET IT
Take H, a real–name changed, obvs–mommy blogger whose site is merely a collection of “Here’s what I’ve done” and “Here’s what we’ve worn” posts.
You know the kind: They just put stuff out without caring about its utility. They also think of their blogs as literal web albums and post ENDLESS amounts of people-less pictures you have to scroll and scroll through to get rid of that post and THEN you have to keep scrolling to recover from that motion sickness.
I used to both follow and comment on her blog–we went to school together at some point–but I stopped many months ago because a) she never replied to my comments; b) she never commented on my blog; and c) the repetitive repetition of her repetitiveness got to me.
I broke up with her blog. (We also had an interesting falling-out. In a nutshell, being a mom doesn’t make anyone’s schedule more important.)
BUT “T” GETS IT
Now take T–name not really changed–a comedian-in-the-making who blogs about life in Chi-town with her boyfriend and their adorable dog. T, a very funny gal, has a rather unpredictable style where she doesn’t always post useful things.
In fact, she sometimes posts outfit shots not to brag about her style, but rather to mock it (even on the instances where she actually looks cute and unassuming). She’ll also never post recipes, opting instead for sumptuous, Chicago-size restaurant dishes she and her guy often eat. I can’t stand food pics, but hers have funny captions and look oh-so-good!
But my favorite of T’s posts have to be the ones where she either shows snippets of her stand-ups (mark my words: the girl’s going places) or talk about the trials and tribulations of becoming an actress/comedian.
Yet for every “me” post T writes, there are more “you” posts–you know, like with blogging tips and such. (Maybe the ratio is inverse but what I’m trying to say is: She doesn’t always write about her and she doesn’t always write tips. Instead, she’ll go between “you” and “me” posts because that’s how she rolls and her mixture works.)
Beware, though, because I don’t 100% love T’s blog for one simple reason which is, ironically, the main point of this whole post.
AND “A” ALSO GETS IT
My friend A is a married fur momma who just bought a house with her husband. Surprisingly, she could have a LOT of “Here’s what I’ve done” and “Here’s what we’ve worn” posts.
But she doesn’t! Instead, she and/or her husband talk about finances (my fave topic because as Millennials, we need good tips and theirs are great) and she’ll share some of what she’s learned from her marriage and even reasons for why she loves–and sometimes struggles with–married life.
Granted, as a single lady, I may skip most of her marriage posts but I do value that she wants to (unwillingly) be a role model for other newlyweds who share her faith and/or circumstances. (Plus, she’s a sweetheart.)
SO WHAT SHOULD YOU WRITE ABOUT IF YOU WANT SUCCESS?
Think of your readers as shoppers. What do you look for when you shop? (No, not sales!) We look for quality, variety, and a healthy cost-benefit ratio (How many times will I get to wear this $400 dress? Once? No, thank you).
That’s what readers “shop” for online: Quality posts that are different and make them feel like the time they gave your blog was worth it.
[Check out my Resources page for guides and tips on making your readers stay.]
AND HOW DO YOU GIVE THEM THAT?
Easy: Take a look at some of the words I italicized in this post:
Caring about utility
There’s your key:
Posts that are all about you, you, you are yawn- and “da*n, she just wasted X minutes of my life”-inducing. That’s no good.
Instead, opt for blogging about topics that people need NOW. T will sometimes do this: She’ll write about the “X mistakes that every blogger makes” and such. Sometimes I’ll click on them thinking I, despite having been blogging for a few years now, will learn something new. Turns out the post didn’t teach me anything other than to not feel like I have to click on that post next tikme.
However, I’m in the minority. In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk, people’ll eat that sh**.
And it’s true! Those posts from T get tons of comments from fellow bloggers that apparently were just born yesterday. (Kidding! I <3 new bloggers!) The same thing happens with A: I may not identify with many of her posts, but doesn’t mean others don’t because those where A discusses marriage things also get plenty of engagement. (And in case you were wondering, H never gets any comments.)
Keep in mind, though: Your posts don’t always have to be about/for your readers–these are our “web logs,” after all, and they rightfully deserve a healthy does of “me.” That’s what makes T and A’s blogs work so beautifully. They don’t just make their authors come across as girls you wish to know in real life; they also have a great combination of posts shock full of tips audiences will find useful.
What do you think? Do you also incorporate a mixture of “you” and “me” in your blog? Do you think you need to? And would you argue that monetization impacts what you write about? (E.g., A and T monetize their blogs, whereas H doesn’t. H has started doing some reviews here and there, but she doesn’t do linkups or participate in the blogging community whatsoever. Again, she’s all “me, me, me.”)