I know it may come as a shock to you, but some bloggers are better than you are. Yes, you are a rock star, I’m sure, but when it comes to blogging in a certain niche, you just can’t know everything. When that’s the case, don’t leave gaps on your website. Show some link love and share the knowledge of better bloggers.
Recently, I wanted to write a post on After Graduation about publishing your book. As I started writing, I realized that I was way over my head. I’ve never published a print book. Hell, I’ve never even finished writing a book, though I am a professional novel-starter. Who did I think I was, giving advice to my readers on a topic that I knew nothing about in the practical sense? Sure, I’ve taken some publishing classes, but just because you take a class doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing.
Yet, this was an obvious hole on my website. It was something that my readers needed to know, and without covering publishing at all, it felt like my blog was incomplete. So, I created a post filled with links. The post has 18 resources for my readers who are interested in print publishing, many of which are websites specifically covering the subject, not just single articles. I even learned a few things about publishing when perusing websites, even though that’s not an interest of mine at the moment.
In other words, I found people who were experts in an area that I’m not, and I directed my readers there.
Now, you can look at this in a bad light if you’re so inclined. Every time I give a list of links instead of writing a post filled with my own advice, I’m saying to my readers, “Hey, I don’t know much about this topic.” Does that discredit me? Maybe a little.
But the fact of the matter is this: I know a lot about freelance writing in other areas. If you have a question about becoming a web content writer, I’m 100% your girl. I’m even developing a course for professors to teach this topic in the classroom. Admitting that I don’t know anything about a related topic (in this case, print publishing) doesn’t mean that my advice on online writing is worthless.
You should also consider that link love lists do send the reader away from your site. Even if you set the links to open in new windows, the reader could easily get lost in someone else’s website, never making it back to yours. This happens all the time. I should know – I have Internet ADD just like the rest of you, and a short trip online to check my email often turns into a three-hour surfing session where I end on the Wikipedia page for drum machines or Richard Rodgers.
So, you have to ask yourself, “What will bring my readers back to me?” Be memorable, and hook your readers so they sign up for your RSS feed or mailing list. Be an “ultimate resource” by listing dozens of links on a topic, so they come back to you again and again or even bookmark your page. Share the knowledge of better bloggers, but be a better blogger yourself.
Allison Boyer is a writer for BWE’s blog and the owner/manager of After Graduation. She’s ashamed to tell you how many hours per week Wikipedia sucks her into its devious web.
Image credit: sxc.hu