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Blogging: Principles That Work

Yes, blogging is as popular as ever.  In fact, many bloggers are not only positioning themselves to influence their industry, but making money to boot.  So if you’re interested in blogging, here are some key principles that will help you find more readers and as a result, have more influence:  

1)    Find your niche – what area or issue can you write about that no one else is addressing?   In the blogging world, the niche is the new big.  Become an expert at a narrow niche.

2)    Keep it simple – my blog was tested and is actually written at a 7th grade reading level.  At first I was offended, but then I realized, it’s a diary, not a research paper.   Write at a level that’s popular, not exclusive.

3)    Keep it focused – your readers generally seek it out for one thing.  What is your identity?  What is your brand?  What makes your blog different?  Why should I hear from you?  What makes you an expert?

4)    Keep it short – I’ve discovered that crazy people write the longest responses.  There’s a reason we call people on the web “surfers” and not “readers”.

5)    Your personal perspective matters.  Check out Dooce.  A housewife simply writes about raising kids.  And now she’s one of the top blogs in the country and makes about $40,000 a month in advertising.  It’s all her personal perspective and people love it.

6)    Three words:  provocative, personal, and preemptive.  Be controversial, intimate, and strike before anyone else.

7)    Consider multiple writers.  Study the Huffington Post, Church Marketing Sucks, Engadget, and others who have a team of writers, versus this blog that has just me.  I love writing, but if you have difficulty doing it regularly, then you might consider getting help – just make sure they express your vision.

8)    Are you a creative blog or a content blogs?  I’m a creative blog.  I write original stuff.  But some of the most popular blogs aggregate content – as in the Drudge Report or Bully Pulpit.  They don’t do anything but scour the web and bring all the articles on a particular issue into one place on a daily basis.

9)    There’s always a debate about conflict.  Although I wish my serious posts were the most read – sadly, my most popular posts are usually gossip related.  If I write on the challenges of the new media world I get a few hundred readers.  But if I write about some TV evangelist’s divorce or a fist-fight in a hotel parking lot between pastors, my readership spikes.  Problem is, I don’t want to be the Tmz.com of religious media, so always think about balance.  How you can attract readers and yet still be considered professional.

Any other important insights you’ve encountered that can make a difference for a blogger?

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3 Comments

  1. Phil, these are great points. I would add consistency and email marketing. I can only commit to once a week, Thursdays. Every Thursday I write and my readers get an email inviting them to read.

    Love your stuff. Thanks!

  2. Phil, would you say that blogging is more effective if you have an expertise in one particular field? What if you are a jack-of-all-trades type that wants to start a blog on one of your trades?
    Also should you create an separate Facebook page or Twitter Account for your blog? I ask because 1) I recently created a blog and am the sole author, 2) I have a niche in other trades which I advertise on my personal Twitter account.

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