[This is part of the Developing Great Blog Content Series. Check out the other posts!]
This is one of the greatest tips that I can give any blogger who wants to go as far as they can as quick as they can with a new blog (or with one that’s been around for a while): Focus, focus, focus!
The truth is that most of you already know that and yet when I look around and visited many of your blogs I don’t see it, I don’t experience it, and I can’t find much of it at all.
In fact, it might just be the most significant roadblock for your growth as a blogger and your blog’s growth! And this isn’t a one time deal either – you’re going to have constantly re-work your content, guard against focus-creep, and re-fresh your perspective probably once every quarter (at least).
And, if I were to pinpoint one particularly strategy that can account for much of my personal journey of success as a blogger it’s the contents of this blog post that you’re reading so if I were to give you any suggestion today then read this post from end-to-end, and then go do it.
Ready? Here we go…
Your Blog is Your Focused Passion Manifested, Always:
You’ve heard this countless times and you already know this pretty intimately but it surprises me how many bloggers do not actually capitalize and spend the time writing about what they are truly passionate.
But here’s where the unspoken challenge is as well as the area that most people fail to actively manage: Content creep.
Content creep is where your blog begins to represent and communicate more than what you’ve implicitly or explicitly decided to write about and cover. You start writing about things that are outside your core area of passion and focus.
What is the cost of content creep when it happens? Simply a dilution of your blog, your content, your brand, and your focus. What is the cost long-term when it goes unchecked? Stifled growth, lack of engagement, and burn-out because of it.
I have seen more blogs that had unlimited potential in the beginning turn into a graveyard as the owner dabbled with content creep and areas of content that were outside their core set of passions. I’m not sure how this happens but it happens enough to where you’ve probably experienced it yourself!
One of the most typical examples of content creep is where your blog begins to represent the entirety of your life instead of the particular passions that first started the blog in the first place! You, at one point, started that gluten-free cooking blog because you loved sharing your thoughts about how to cook well (and eating well) without gluten in your diet but now you’ve been spending just as much time blogging about your newborn child.
Is that bad? No! It’s not bad to blog about your child and certainly your child should be a passion for you but perhaps it doesn’t belong on your specific and focused blog about gluten-free cooking!
And that’s the point: Quality blogs and quality content are always focused on a singular idea and passion, always, despite the fact that you have more passions in your life.
This active management is tough! It requires intentionality and a constant re-engineering of your blog. It requires you to stand by your implicit or explicit mission statement or promise (read this post on the value of creating a “Blog Promise“) and keep to it, constantly grooming your blog, pruning it, and giving yourself an internal gut-check about what you’re writing about.
Sure, you can blog about more than one passion but perhaps they don’t need to be all on the same blog! Perhaps you need to “divide” your blog in such a way where you start another (time permitting). Or perhaps you just simply need to stop blogging about all the other passions and just focus on the meat and bones of the passion that started the blog in the first place.
Here are a few things to consider today and as often as you can:
- Am I blogging about the passion that originally started this blog?
- What else am I blogging about on that is outside of that original passion?
- How often am I blogging about my “core” passion in comparison to the other posts, per week and per month?
- Have I diluted my blog’s core passion and focus?
- Am I feeling a bit burnt out or feeling like my blog has lacked that “spark” or passion recently?
If you can answer these points honestly then you might find that you’ve dishonored your core passion and need to get back on track! Kill content creep fast, refocus your blog, and then go grow the blog just like you had originally intended!
Your Expertise is Your Active Content Filter:
One of the neat things is that for many people their expertise is also their passion but that isn’t a requirement for a successful blog. In fact, most people wrongly assume that they should blog about what they are an expert at!
There are an infinite number of examples but let’s go back to the gluten-free cooking example, shall we?
Let’s hypothetically say that passionate about healthy living and everything included such as diet, exercising, spending, relationship management, and so forth. But, you’ve recently found a bit of interest (and intrigue) in gluten-free cooking. You start a blog to begin sharing your growing fascination with this specific area of healthy living, sharing your attempts at cooking the right meals, finding the perfect ingredients, and the local restaurants that sure gluten-free food. You’re not an expert but you’re willingly involving your community on this journey to become an expert.
See the difference? Many of the blogs that you read are people that have simply started writing about something they want to become an expert in and it is here where the difference is so crucial.
On the flip side you are actually a (self-proclaimed) gluten-free food chef expert (and have got the “chops” to prove it!) and you’ve got an undying interest in sharing it with the world. Great! Your passionate about it and it’s your expertise and thus you write about it!
Your challenge is slightly different but still the same: Content creep. Try not to blog about anything outside of that focused expertise. In other words, if I was subscribed to your blog because of your blog’s promise then I shouldn’t see pictures of your trip to the zoo and a blog post on the relationship between elephants and their sleeping patterns, right?
Your expertise is an active content filter for your blog and blog content to showcase the fact that you’re an expert or an expert in the making, and every time you sit down to write you filter the options and you ask yourself if this is either an area of expertise or an expertise that is growing. If it’s not then you don’t write about it! Period!
Simple, right? Easier said than done, especially when a quick survey of most blogs out there don’t capitalize on expertise at all! Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Am I really an expert or an expert in development? What’s the difference and how am I writing about it in such a way that doesn’t confuse my audience but actively engages them?
- Is my passion the same thing as my expertise? Or is my passion something foundational to my expertise instead?
- Is my expertise clearly being communicated?
- Am I too shy about what I am truly amazing at? Am I a self-victim of false humility?
- Am I being too proud about my so-called expertise and am I really an expert in the making? Do I need to be reminded that when “Everyone is an Expert then No One Is“…?
- Does my content oftentimes creep into areas that do not expand on my expertise or the areas where I want to be an expert? Am I diluting my content focus too often?
- What is this blog really about and does it showcase it well or just poorly (or not at all).
This is how I’ve grown my blogs to be what they are today. For example, TentBlogger’s promise hasn’t changed since I started:
You won’t see pictures of my trip to the zoo (unless it directly applies to my aforementioned promise) and my audience has the right to expect expert and practical advice in the said promise. I filter everything I write here through that lens and if it doesn’t meet all the internal checks then I won’t write about it and my audience won’t read about it!
Done and done! Hopefully you can continue to guard against focusing your content on areas that bring a diluted focus via the filter of active expertise!
Your Unique Value is Your Intangible Good to Amazing Content and Growth:
The last area of focus for your blog and your blog’s content is an intangible good that ends up being the “secret sauce” to many great blogs and this is it: A blogger’s ability to not only identify but also capitalize on their unique value as a person and writer is what propels them forward out of mediocrity and into something that is anything but mediocre.
More often than not I’ve realized that the unique value that you bring to the blogosphere is truly an intangible good insofar as you didn’t necessarily “earn” the right to have it. Let’s use the example of the gluten-free cook one final time, shall we?
So what if you’re passionate about gluten-free cooking, dieting, and lifestyle? There are a lot of people that are interested in that (and more every single day it seems). What’s really going to help you stand out besides the great content? What’s that intangible good that only you have? That unique identifier that puts you in a class all by yourself?
Here’s a hypothetical: What if you realize that you have native, relatively unknown cooking recipes from your great grandmother who was gluten-free before they even knew what gluten was? You have her old cookbooks on paper napkins that no one else has? There you go.
Or, here’s another: You grew up in a remote part of the world, like off the remote islands of Papua New Guinea, where you were able to learn how to cook organic food that just so happens to be also gluten-free?
Or here’s another: You were born blind and yet have been able to recognize gluten via your taste buds and can help navigate even most difficult recipes in a way that makes them gluten-free?
Sure, the above three examples are a bit wild and off the beaten trail perhaps, but I hope it gets your mind moving about the unique ways in which classify you as you and the unique perspectives and experiences that give you that unique identifier, a unique intangible “good” that puts you a cut above the rest (or at least different).
Got it? It might take a bit of time to think about or you might instantly know what it is.
Here is some food for thought:
- Was I born with something that not many others have?
- Did I grow up in an area of the world that gives me a unique character trait and/or perspective?
- Do I have a unique skill set that most others do not?
- Do I have a really “different” family or family experience or situation that I can capitalize on?
- Do I have a skill or talent that I’ve learned to use in unconventional ways?
- Does my career path seem like an absolute maze to everyone except me?
- Have I survived something catastrophic or just simply bizarre?
- Do I have a strength or talent that I use in a unique way?
Those are just a few that have come to the top of my head and you can probably already think of many more stimulating questions (and answers!).
So What Are Some of My Unique Identifiers?
That’s a great question – so glad you asked! Here’s a few unique thing that separates me from a lot of other bloggers, some more “powerful” and unique than others (but still very useful).
Hopefully these 10 examples give you some context for who I am and how I view my blog:
- I’ve been blogging since 2001. My years of experience have put me in a bracket all by itself.
- I have a very varied work history in both the non-profit as well as the Fortune 50. Not many people have that type of privilege or experience. Not only did I work for these organizations but I also built software and blogged for them! I was trained to see both the large scale strategies surrounding social media initiatives as well as the microscopic interactions of data.
- I’m a software engineer who is capable of building blogging software, not just using it and being a “power user”.
- I have a long-standing portfolio of building WordPress Themes and Plugins. In fact, I am a part of a startup business that has a WordPress Theme (Standard Theme, the theme I’m using for TentBlogger!) as its flagship products!
- I love giving stuff away for free – not only content but also products and services. Not everyone shares this level of “free” that I do.
- I’m asian.
- I’m a full time blogger which makes me a professional blogger. *smile*
- I have two of the most beautiful daughters on the planet. Period. No contest!
- I’m a world traveler having lived in a more than a few countries.
Hope that helps!
The Bottom Line: Focus!
All of these three areas of passion, expertise, and unique value all help you with one thing: Focus. By identifying what they are you will begin to see that your blogging focus takes an entirely different character and quality to them and you’ll find yourself more motivated and excited about your blog and it’s growth.
By maximizing your focus you’ll have a higher potential for rapid growth and simply better content for your readers and the search engines.
You’ll also enjoy your blog a lot more.
Practical Next Steps:
Sure, there’s a lot of practical steps you can already take from this post but I’ll be expanding a lot on this in more depth as we move forward with this current series, so please Subscribe and stay tuned!
Let me know if this helps you and what you get out of this post!
[This is part of the Developing Great Blog Content Series. Check out the other posts!]