With the blogosphere churning out nearly 1 million posts every 24 hours, an unstoppable river of content flows over the web daily. It’s daunting, especially if you’re new to online publishing. The good news is it’s still very possible to succeed, even if you’re just starting out today.
Developing affinity with a group of readers who will actually take the time to link, comment and share your material requires a commitment of both resources and creativity – this is common knowledge.
But all other things being equal, you can and should give yourself an extra advantage by developing a unique brand for your blog. This is beyond being organized and having a plan, this is about standing out in a world of infinite choice.
With that in mind, here are 7 ways to help develop a unique brand for that shiny new blog you’ve just built, or give fresh life to your current site. Ideally, you could incorporate all of these:
1. Develop a post archetype
Develop a compelling post archetype that people respond favorably to and continue to feed your content into it. It can be something as simple as using a certain type of image, post heading, graphic, etc. – just something which makes your posts stand out on their own in an RSS reader as content a-la-carte. Your posts looking nice here is a key factor to getting them to spread between RSS users/early adopters who may never visit your actual blog, but are happy to do things like share content in Google Reader. You want everyone using tools like Reader to click the share button with every post, and they’re likely to do so with posts that stand out format-wise, as long as the content tells the same story of quality.
2. Create a simple or unique design
Most bloggers tend to over-complicate their blog designs. Complexity in web design is standard and expected. Simplicity is a thing of beauty. If you’re more daring, develop a unique design that takes a chance and pushes the limits, it’s a good way to get noticed. Breaking expectation with design/presentation of content is a huge strategy in and of itself.
3. Refine your writing quality and style
The single best way to create a blog with a unique brand is to have writing quality and style which is distinctive, emotive or in some way compelling. Writing is the heart of your blog’s brand, and has the power to transcend all other factors – the importance of this can’t be overstated. This is a long-term process of refinement and as you delve deeply into themes, concepts and topics it will become more defined and known. Some bloggers have become so good at this, loyal readers could pick their writing out of a lineup.
4. Find a way to view your topic from a fresh angle or different lens
As long as there is interest in a niche, it can never be too crowded for fresh thinking. Even within the most popular topics, the ways established sites cover ideas is relatively predictable. New sites can use this to their advantage simply by not covering ideas in the same way. A fresh angle or different viewpoint on a familiar topic may prove the most compelling choice of all. Remember, while there are many fans of popular sites, there are also plenty of dissenters just waiting to give voice to something different. Speak to them and they will spread your content more aggressively than even the biggest fans of the established players.
5. Focus on a unique topic, or intersection of topics
There’s really no topic that’s too specific or unique, in fact, the more offbeat, the better. There’s an audience for it, and if not you can make one (bearing you don’t go off the deep end and it’s too esoteric). The key is simply that you can deliver on the thesis consistently and with quality. If you can’t develop a truly unique topic don’t worry, this may not be possible. Another approach is to find a intersection of complementary topics. Music and inspiration, marketing and sociology, personal development and fitness, search and social media – you get the idea. This is compelling because in time it will form a unique community, and the content genres and mixing of audiences will play off each other to make something more interesting than the separate pieces.
6. Create a better signal to noise ratio
It’s common to publish frequently for the sake of publishing – but the real opportunity is to make your site known for signal and kill the noise. Becoming known as a site with a high degree of signal is how you will build up a silent army of users active in the social web who share your content every time. If you deliver on this long enough, the world will become conditioned to anticipate quality from you, and your content will be shared each time you hit publish.
7. Focus on achieving consistency
Quite possibly one of the most difficult hurtles to get over for developing a successful, unique blog is being consistent. Blogs that deliver high quality material on a consistent basis get noticed. Out of more than 133 million blogs created since 2002, only 76,000 of them (less than 1%!) have a Technorati ranking of 50 or higher – something that is a result of consistency. In other words, being consistent is a unique element of your blog’s brand in and of itself as most fail to achieve this basic, yet essential quality.
The popularity of web publishing is something which only continues to increase, and with it the battle for attention of readers daily heats up. Becoming an outlier in some regard is the element that will put you on the path with the best chance at large-scale success. This is actually not just important for those new to web publishing. In crowded marketplaces with many choices, a strong brand is more than a way to gain a following, it’s protection against unpredictable externalities. Finding a way to develop a unique brand for your blog is worth spending as much time on as anything else in your blogging roadmap.