There is such a huge increase in the amount of uploaded content today. Ads don’t work so all brands are trying to be content publishers in order to get heard. It is getting much harder to stand out and get eyeballs to things you create in such an overcrowded content space. There’s just too much going on. It is no longer enough just to write 300 words and get pageviews. An increase in quality of content is contributing to escalating time and resources needed for content production. Even the distribution is no longer free and the promise of organic “viral” marketing reach doesn’t exist any longer.
How do I differentiate myself from other sites in my field? How do I get my blog to stand out? If I do everything the other bloggers are doing how am I going to gain a competitive edge? How do I stay relevant as a content producer in the world oversaturated with content? Do I reinvent yourself? Do I diversify? How can I evolve to keep yourself just as relevant today and tomorrow as I was yesterday? Gaining a competitive edge and being able to differentiate yourself from other bloggers is the key. It will allow you to build and grow an audience. Let’s take a look at what can be done to stand out in a saturated niche.
Finding the purpose of your blog
Let’s be honest, most sites are boring. They look like any other site, their content is like any other site and they are as forgettable as any other site. There is just not enough demand for all that content supply. Most brands will fail. The content creation craze shows that there is a skills and passion gap. It is very difficult for brands to build internal teams that really understand and get content marketing. They don’t get what engaging content means. Agencies are not doing a better job either. They churn out farmed content, they are content machines. They can write many “unique” articles focusing on your “keywords” and they can even include some “viral” infographics in your content mix.
But in their content they are answering questions nobody’s asking. Their content lacks insights and ideas. This weak content can be prettied up – it can have irresistible headline, nice looking imagery and professionally produced multimedia. But the core of this content is not great at all. It lacks substance. It lacks value. It is not passionate, useful, entertaining nor interesting. These people are not passionate about the topics they are now supposed to create thrilling content about. These people are not experts creating content about their sweet spots. You cannot buy passion and the creativity that comes as a consequence of passion.
It is your passion that makes you worth following. Find out what makes you come alive. You must love it, you must have a joy for it. You must care about what you are doing. People identify with passion and style and become members of your community. Once you have built a community you can have a powerful influence. To help make your blog unique and valuable you have to know who you are and you have to show it. Think about who you are, what you want to achieve with your site and why you want to do it.
Defining your target audience and competitors
You need to know who you are targetting before you can figure out how you will do it most effectively. Who are your prospective blog visitors? Start with a very broad circle and then become more and more specific finishing with a profile of an average person in your target audience. What does your target audience need and want to know? What pains are they experiencing? What questions do they want answers to? Be as clear and as specific as possible in your answers.
These answers will lead you to websites that currently solve these or similar problems. Who are they? List them all. Browse through their sites and list what they do well and why they do not so well. This will help you understand if there are gaps, how you fit in the picture and what gaps you can help cover.
Finding your unique voice
The most important thing you can do to differentiate yourself from the herd is to be yourself and put more of yourself into your content. There is one thing that every blogger has that is very unique. You have yourself. You are unique, you write your own content, and no other site can copy that. You must use more of yourself and your unique voice when trying to make your site stand out from the crowd. Be a brand that’s unique. Bring yourself to the front. Find your voice in the way you present your site, in the way you write your articles, in the way you comment to your readers. Great sites stand out because they have unique brands behind them. There’s only one Gary Vaynerchuk, one Perez Hilton and one … YOU! Put your face out there. Use it on your Twitter profile, your avatar pic and grace your Facebook page with it.
Don’t be afraid to show your personality, readers should never wonder if there is a person behind the blog. Always incorporate your own thoughts and analysis. Don’t censor yourself, write from your heart and be yourself. Personal opinion counts and it is the person behind the site that makes the content stand out. You don’t have to be the best in the world. You just need to express your unique point of view. Become the person online you always wanted to become – fully embrace your passions and obsessions, and then use them to market yourself.
I’d like to think of this as creativity (especially for writers) and if you can tap into this goldmine, well then the content you pump out will be golden as well. It doesn’t matter if you have video content, an audio file or a written post, every time you create content and put yourself out there your core is always shining through.
So what is your core? Everyone’s different. But whatever your core happens to be, whether it is quiet and shy, loud and obnoxious or steady with a flow, you need to realize that it’s always shining through, which means you cannot afford to be fake or put on a front or claim to be an expert at something you are not. This is the first step you need to take when you want to write without restricting your flow of creativity and stand out in a crowded niche. If you’re faking it, your audience will know.
Nailing your blog positioning
Positioning is an internal statement that gives you a heading and a direction towards the future. It is critical for everything that follows and acts as the creative filter for everything that you do. It helps you define what content to publish, it decides your tone of voice and your unique selling proposition. If the article or the tweet you’re about to post doesn’t tick off your proposition, you shouldn’t be posting it.
Your positioning clearly defines the problem you are here to solve and explain why your solution to the problem is more compelling than the other sites on the market. Why are you special, why are you different and why should people listen to you and not to someone else. What can you say about your site that your competitors cannot claim? You must have your personal point of view, something original. It must be something that your visitors find valuable and credible. It must show why your site should matter to your visitors, what value it contributes with. What makes you the only site? What makes you different in your category? What is the core purpose of your site? Beyond making money, what’s the reason your site should exist?
This leads us to branding. Branding is a concept from the marketing world and refers to features that distinctly identify your site from the others. Each blogger projects her brand through everything she does, from the way she writes, the way she presents herself and the way she interacts in the social media. The author is the brand of the site, but there is so much more to branding. You can look at branding as your visitor’s gut feeling about your site. It’s your reputation. It’s not necessary always what you say, it’s what your visitor’s say about you. This is something you cannot control, but you can influence it in the way that you present your site. Presenting yourself well helps with how others will value you. All the branding elements spring from your positioning. You have to develop the right branding assets including your blog name, design, tagline and tone of voice.
Blog name and design
Think of potential names for your site. Many bloggers think of a domain name as the brand name as it is the easiest way to identify the site. A good brand name can be as simple as your full name. Many are fine with branding their sites with their personal names. Some go by a pseudonym. Some have descriptive brand names. Some get creative and think of memorable and unique names. Take your time to decide your name as it will be hard and confusing to change it later on. Make it a name that strikes the right chord with your audience. Here is my 3-step approach to naming your site.
Graphics enhance and define the overall style, look and feel of the site. Your design is integral part of your branding and will help make a stunning first impression to your visitors. This is my full guide to finding the perfect design.
Imagine you only have few seconds to tell a potential visitor why they should visit your site. What makes your site unique and worth visiting? Your tagline is one of the hardest element to get right. It is the external facing phrase that is in line with your positioning. You have to tell your audience what do you, how you are different and what is in it for them. Not an easy feat. Unlike you title (which is ideally your domain name as well), you can tinker with your tagline until you are truly happy with the result. Doing this also brings a uniformity of message to your site – an overall coherence. Publish nothing that deviates from your main message. Nothing that sticks out like a sore thumb. The more targeted and focused your message is, the more appealing it becomes. Imagine you only have few seconds to tell a potential visitor why they should visit your site. Find out what is unique and compelling about you and your idea, and put it into a short sentences. Describe your vision. Make it interesting and short. The vision must be strong enough to be summed up quickly.
Tone of voice
Figure out how to create content in a way that conveys your personality. Your tone of voice is all about how you say things. Consider how you want to portray yourself. Think about what kind of content format you will be producing and other technical aspects like the length or the way you present the content. Pick a voice that suits you, and keep a consistent voice across your content. I prefer to write in authentic and conversational voice. It’s like talking to someone down the pub. I find that when the writing feels like people speaking, the visitors are listening more carefully. This voice also helps me get to the point as it is very straightforward, personal and easy to understand.
Writing conversationally is an art form that you should embrace. When you write conversationally, you implement many of the same aspects of formal writing in a less formal manner. You want to focus on keeping your grammar, spelling and punctuation professional while making the overall tone light. Writing conversationally includes adding in extra details to paint a visual picture for your reader in a straightforward manner. When you speak to others you probably don’t use elaborate words to describe things, so don’t use them in your writing either. Start your posts with “Dear friend” and keep it up there while writing to always have this in mind. Feel free to delete it before publishing.
There’s no need to have your readers bust out a dictionary to discern what you’re saying. Read it out loud. This is one of the best ways to ensure that your writing is fluid and conversational. Hearing what you’ve written clues you in on mistakes you may not have caught otherwise and allows you to interpret what you’re writing in the same manner that your reader will.
You need to find a fresh approach to your topic. You need to tell awesome stories in order to stand out. You need to add substance to your content. Great content will always win. And that is why you are still relevant and you still stand a chance of gaining that share of the audience. By flavoring your awesome site with your unique personality, you’ll dramatically stand out from the crowd and burn your personal brand into our global consciousness. Keep pushing!