My friend John Hewitt and I chatted a bit the other night about blogging in a crowded niche and whether bloggers in the niches are saying anything new. In my former niche, writing, the most popular blogs rehash the same things all the time and no one is doing anything different. Some of the blogs are even starting to resemble each other. It’s one of the reasons I stepped down from the niche. I didn’t want to grow stale and recycle the same content under different headlines. If I think I’m getting redundant, chances are my readers are noticing it as well.
So what happens when find yourself at a loss for fresh ideas or want to avoid writing about the same thing as everyone else? I have a few tricks for times I feel I’m like I’m going through the motions.
1. Subscribe to as many blogs in your niche as possible
I subscribe to as many blogs as I can for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, I simply enjoy reading blogs. There are other reason to check out other bloggers in the niche, however. For example, I especially like to see what they’re talking about – not to steal their ideas, but rather to consider their perspective and wonder how I would attack the same topic. If I can take on a different angle and create a cross-blog discussion, I might do so (always giving credit where it’s due.) I also read comments in other blogs to see what readers want to talk about. Whenever I’m in need of ideas reading, whether blogs, magazines or books, always helps to freshen up my outlook. Plus, if I know what the other blogs are talking about, and I don’t have a unique take, I stay away from the topic. As a blog reader, I get a little turned off when bloggers all say the same thing.
2. Search your blog
When I’m making up my editorial calendar, I search my blog’s content to make sure the topics I’m choosing for the week or month haven’t been approached in the past few weeks, at least. I don’t like to write about the same things over and over unless I have new news or updates to report – or unless I change my mind about something, which can happen.
3. Don’t write if you have nothing to write about
One of my mistakes is blogging when I’m not feeling it. If I don’t feel like writing and don’t really feel passion for the daily post, it shows. I’m sure this community would be much happier if I skip a day rather than put out a lackluster effort.
If you see a topic covered on another blog, and you think you’d like to approach it as well, ask yourself how your perspective is different. Echoing the thoughts of someone else just makes you seem unoriginal. If you do decide to tackle the same topic as another blogger, or something you blogged about recently, compare your post with the previous posts to make sure you’re not rehashing the same content.
5. Subscribe to the trends in your niche
When you keep apprised of the news you’re more likely to learn of breaking news and hot button issues. Instead of learning what’s going on from other bloggers, find out this stuff on your own and be the first to blog about it.
6. Try a wide variety of formats
Blog posts don’t only have to be text. Explore video, cartoons, images, podcasting, humor and anything else you can think of to keep content interesting. Having readers stop by everyday to see what you’re going to do next isn’t a bad thing at all.
7. Invite guests for a fresh perspective
Guest bloggers breath new life into a blog and offer a different point of view. Plus, guest bloggers bring in new readers.
8. Don’t try and be like another blog. Do your own thing
So you like that other, more popular blogger? By all means see how he does it. See why his readers like the content or engage in the comments. There’s nothing wrong with exploring other bloggers’ methods for success, but that’s where it should end. When you copy, you only look like a copycat. Be yourself, not someone else.
9. Write for people, not search engines
Keywords bring in searchers, but good content brings in readers. What is more important to you?
10. Ask your readers
If you think you’re getting redundant and find you need fresh ideas, ask your readers what you’re lacking. You’ll find they have a wide variety of topics they’re looking forward to learn more about.
What do you do when you find you’re saying the same thing over and over again – or that you’re saying the same exact thing as everything else? What do you do to set yourself apart from everyone else?