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10 Ways To Stand Out As a Blogger

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If you want to be like everybody else, go with the flow. But if you want to stand out as a blogger, you’ve got to be different. Here are 10 good ways to differentiate yourself from the sea of other bloggers out there by bringing something unique to the table!

1. Be Generous: One of the most effective ways to get readers’ attention is by being generous. Respond to comments. Interact on other blogs. Promote others’ work. Host a giveaway at your own expense. Continually look for ways to give to the blogging community, and you not only come across as a generous blogger—you become one worth following.

2.Be Passionate: When you’re genuinely excited about something, your audience can tell. Write about topics that truly matter to you, and look for ways to communicate your passion to your audience. This could be through writing, podcasts, videos, or something else. Do what feels right to you.

3. Be Everywhere: Making your blog visible is about more than churning out regular content. You need to find ways to reach your audience even off your specific site. Engage on social networks like Twitter and Facebook by providing links to your content, related links, and interesting updates. Guest post on other sites to tap into other sites’ audiences. Do what you can to be in as many places as possible in order to build your presence online.

4. Take an Alternate View: When everyone else in your niche is saying “up,” be the guy who says “down.” An alternate viewpoint can be the thing that makes you interesting. Try this tactic with caution, however—being different just to be different rarely works. Your audience needs to sense you’re also authentic about your contrary view.

5. Try a Different Spin: Talk about business like a comedian. Write about recipes through poems. Do a photography blog wherein you only post photos taken at the same certain time every day. Do what you can to find a way to take a different spin on your subject matter, and you’re sure to stand out.

6. Go Beyond a Template: Blogging templates are great tools to start with, but to make your site more noticeable, move away from an “out-of-the-box” design. Customize your template with a professional logo/header, attractive social media buttons, and so on. It should be different from any other site, not an exact replica.

7. Showcase Original Content: Write creative content for your blog that readers can’t find anywhere else. Likewise, instead of using clipart to spice up your posts, take your own photos—and make them good.

8. Build Real Relationships: Your readers are more than numbers; they’re people. Take the time to connect and engage with these people to build real relationships—this alone sets you apart from many bloggers and also builds your audience over time.

9. Don’t Give Up: Anybody can start a blog and quit within the first year— most bloggers do. So rather than joining that statistic, take the road less traveled simply by not quitting. If you keep consistently blogging for over a year, you’re already going to be in the upper echelon of writers who don’t give up.

10. Be Yourself: The reality is that there’s no other blogger on earth who can blog like you can, with your personality and perspective and history of life experiences. Infuse your blog with who you are, and you’ll have a unique voice unlike anyone else’s.

Have you used any of these approaches? What’s worked for you? Any ideas to add to the list?

10 Reasons to Blog Every Day

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10 reasons to blog every day Every November, writers around the world join together for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), an every-day-writing challenge that’s so popular, it’s spread to blogging with National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo). Today, bloggers of all kinds come together monthly to post daily, whether about business or photography or their family life, sticking to that everyday schedule for an entire month and encouraging each other along the way.

Have you considered joining them and taking the challenge to post every day? Should you? Does it make sense? What does daily blogging have to offer?

To help answer that question, let’s take a look at 10 of the biggest benefits that come from a month of posting every day!

1. Increases Self-Discipline

A common piece of advice given to new bloggers (even if it’s considered overrated advice) is to post every day, at least for a month. Why is this advice so common? Why do many feel daily posts are so important? Perhaps it’s because regular posting, more than anything else, helps establish the blogging habit. “It is said that it takes 10,000 hours to master something,” writes John Rampton. “If that is the case then you need to spend lots of time practicing. “ What better way to practice than through the habit of daily posts?

”Daily practice in developing my voice means that I’ve been able to find words more quickly and say things more effectively, which is always a benefit even when you’re writing an e-mail to a client.” Blogger Dawn Storey, Alphabet Salad

2. Builds Community

Now hosted by blogging mega-community BlogHer, NaBloPoMo is an instant way to connect with other bloggers. Participants link up to their postings on BlogHer’s site, distributing their content amongst others taking part. This gives you a ready audience with whom to share your content, as well as other bloggers to reach out to and form relationships with. What’s more, to encourage participants, BlogHer offers regular inspiration, advice and writing prompts throughout the month to help make it easier for you to stick with the challenge.

3. Forces Creativity

The biggest hindrance that most bloggers who consider a monthly of daily posting find is coming up with daily things to write about. While posting every day may seem intimidating, the truth is, it could also be key in unlocking creativity.

There’s an old saying: “If you want to be a writer, write!” By forcing yourself to blog every day, you gain regular practice in blogging and force regular productivity.  “To be honest, the more you write, the more creative you become,” says David Santistevan, GoinsWriter.com.

Blogger Christopher S. Penn agrees:

”[When you’re blogging every day,] you run into your own limits. Forcing myself to a daily content scheme forces me to be creative, forces me to think outside the box, forces me to look at old things in new ways to see if there are additional avenues to extract value.”

4. Forces Faster Writing

If you’re like a lot of writers, you can easily spend so much time tweaking a project that you never finish. By forcing yourself to blog every day, you practice calling projects done. And as you, every day, have to come up with a new post and hit publish, you get better and faster at creating. This is not only good for blogging but also for all your work, as you push against perfectionism.

”Get the post up fast, not perfect. You can edit if you have to, later. Perfectionism kills good habits.”  Blogger Chris Brogan, ChrisBrogan.com

5. Adds Value to Your Site

When you’re daily posting quality content (and quality is key!), you’re giving readers a solid reason to keep coming back to your site—and this not only boosts SEO but also your value in the minds of your audience.

6. Encourages Comments

More posts mean more opportunities for readers to weigh in. What’s more, sometimes the more real-time nature of daily posts is more conducive to discussion as the posts feel less finished and polished.

7. Builds Website Authority

Daily posting can help boost your website authority, which improves your influence on the Web and sends the message to search engines that you’re an expert. Zemanta CEO Bostjan Spetic saw this firsthand when he decided to post once a day for a full month:

”I’ve learned that my blogging more regularly has brought more visitors to my blog and has raised my profile in the industry; in other words, I am becoming more influential,” said Bostjan Spetic in “One CEO’s Story on the Benefits of Daily Blogging” published on Contently.com.

8. Increases Back-Links

Every new post is a new opportunity to generate back-links—a key factor in search results. The more valuable your site is, the more links you’ll acquire from other sites, too, which is also good for both SEO and referral traffic.

9. Boosts Overall Search Rankings

The combination of greater website authority and more backlinks can lead to higher search rankings. As most SEO experts will tell you, more blog content usually translates to better search results. In fact, “you’ll get the most out of your SEO program if you publish new content as often as possible,” says Brandon Cornett at Austin SEO Guy. Why is this the case? The more you’re posting quality content, the more opportunities you have to draw the attention of readers, the more ways search engines can notice you, the more established your site becomes.

10. Increases Traffic

When blogger Todd Schnick posted every day for a month, he saw unique visitors to his site more than double; the same thing happened to Ryan M. Healy of RyanHealy.com. Why the huge uptick? Most likely the change came partly from better SEO and partly from the new content drawing readers each day. One thing’s certain, though, an idea that doubles traffic is an idea worth considering.

What do you think? November is fast approaching, and along with it, another opportunity to test this strategy yourself. Have you already participated in a NaBloPoMo? Will you? Or does the thought of posting daily leave you scared stiff?

Share your thoughts in the comments!

How to Make More Money by Writing Killer Content for Clients

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The world of blogging is always changing and as more and more people are looking to outsource their content, it’s more important than ever to make sure those of you who produce posts for other sites, load up articles with as much quality content as possible.

In this post we are going to provide you with some helpful tips to create quality content that will make your clients keep coming back for more. There are plenty of low paying content solutions out there, but if you focus your efforts on quality, you can earn five to ten times more than the average content writer!

Everyone Loves Graphics, Especially Infographics!

There is only so much ongoing text that someone can read. If you are going to be writing on a topic that can be spruced up with some exciting information or stats, be sure to throw them in! Nothing is better than adding a nice numbers chart or some exciting stats to back your statements up. Better yet, why not provide an up sell to your clients by including an infographic with your articles. Through services like Piktochart you can easily create infographics in just minutes for virtually any topic. The only thing better than a killer article is a killer infographic to go with it!

Link Bait Reels in the Readers

Infographics are an excellent example of how to take advantage of viral traffic and getting people to share your stuff, but so is focusing your content on link bait! Link bait is basically writing for the purpose of getting people’s attention and stirring up a commotion. No matter what niche you are in or what you are writing about, you can link to top players and blogs in your space and write content about them, their growth or what they are doing. If you are lucky they might even link back to your or send your content to their social networks. Keep your link bait in good taste your will yield much better long term results!

Include Resources, Quotes and Pictures

As someone who often hires content writers for various sites, it’s honestly a pain when I get an article back from a writer and it’s just a bunch of text blocked together. This is just time consuming and when a reader sees a ton of text, it will probably turn most of them off. Make your articles look better and go further by including pictures, resources and links to other web sites and also some quotes. Once you upload that simple txt file with nothing but text and add in these features, you will have a real work of art!

Perfect English and Grammar is Key!

As mentioned earlier, there are now more content writing services and people looking to do guest blogging than ever before. The problem with having so many people in this space is that the quality is lacking and those who are providing the quality simply cost more money. If you want to be the best in the world of freelance writing, you need to make sure your English (or respective language) is perfect, along with your grammar and how well your articles read. There is nothing worse than having a blog where people are leaving comments and complaining about the quality of your content!

No matter if you are writing for yourself or for a client, it’s all about knowing how to improve your writing style. Not everyone writes the same way, nor should they. This is what makes writers unique and why some writers can earn $5 for an article while others may earn $50-$100. Take the time to write the best content and focus on your high end clients. It’s much easier to write five killer articles at a premium rate than trying to rush through ten articles of low end content for just a few dollars each.

The Bookend Blog-Writing Technique

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If you’re like most writers, you’ve lost many mornings staring at an empty screen—but it doesn’t have to be this way. Whether you’re looking for a way to stay motivated or for the secret to adding punch to your blog posts, here’s a solution you might not have considered: bookending.

Bookending Basics

What Is Bookending?

Bookending is all about the order in which you write your posts. It means writing the end, then the beginning and finally the middle. While helpful for blogging, it’s also applicable in every kind of writing context, from magazines to screenplays to short stories.

Why Does Bookending Work?

Sometimes the hardest part of writing is knowing where you’re going. With bookending, you start with the end—so you always have a sense of what you’re working towards. Once you know where you’re headed, it’s easier to know how to get started. Then, all that’s left is filling in the remainder

 

The Bookending Blog Process

When you’re new to the bookending technique, it can feel daunting. You know you start with the ending, but how? And does it matter what your beginning is like? What about the middle? Here’s a more in-depth look at the different parts of the bookending process:

Writing the End of Your Post

Writing the ending first is all about knowing where you’re going with your post. It’s like getting in the car, knowing you’re leaving Chicago, bound for Texas—you automatically know to point your wheels south.

Discerning Your Direction

In her previous BlogWorld article, Allison Boyer says, “Before you start writing (or staring at a blank screen wondering what to write), take a moment to identify a broad goal for the post you’re about to publish.”

In taking that moment, you may want to ask yourself questions like these:

  • What do I want my readers to feel or think after reading this post?
  • What do I want them to take away?
  • Do I want them to do something after reading?
  • What difference will this post make to my readers?

Answering these questions will help clarify the goal of your post, which will show you what the ending should look like.

Knowing the direction of your post brings several benefits:

  • Easier post writing because there’s a specific outcome in mind
  • Less of a tendency to wander or get off track in the post
  • Assurance that you’re writing something with purpose
  • Increasing loyalty among readers who see this pattern in your posts

Writing the Ending

Once you’ve settled what kind of message you want to share in your post, it’s time to write the ending. If you’re stuck for ideas, reach into your writer’s toolbox and consider creating an ending that takes the form of one or more of the following options:

  • Summary: Drive home your point by reiterating and summarizing it at the end of your post.
  • Story: Amplify your message with an anecdote sure to connect with readers—this can be a powerful way to keep them thinking about your post even after they click away.
  • Question(s): Encourage discussion by finishing your post with open-ended questions that ask your readers to respond.
  • Call to action: Give your readers a specific way to respond to your post—ask them to share it, tell them to subscribe, give them a task to go complete as a result.
  • Link: Conclude your post by pointing to other helpful resources that support your topic, whether newspaper articles or other blog articles or books.
  • Hint at Next Post: Tell your readers what’s coming next in order to keep them interested and build anticipation. This is especially helpful when you’re writing a series of blog posts.

 

Writing the Beginning of Your Post

The beginning of a blog post is like a first impression—it sets the tone for what’s coming. When you’re writing the beginning, you want to be intentional about what you’re communicating.

Key to Beginning

A good blog post can begin in many different ways: a story, a summary, questions. But no matter which format you choose, one thing is the same: you need to pull readers in and communicate what your post is going to be about. As Erik Johnson writes in his previous BlogWorld post, “When you want your listeners to stick around and listen to what you have to say, you need to give them a compelling reason.”

Questions to Ask

To test your introduction for quality, ask the following questions:

  • Is the first sentence interesting?
  • Will this introduction draw readers in?
  • Am I communicating what the post will be about?
  • Is this short and sweet, or am I rambling?
  • Does this tell a reader why he should keep reading?

Writing the Middle of Your Post

While your introduction sets the stage for the content to come, the middle of your post delivers it. This section should be the easiest to write because it is the heart and soul of what you’re trying to communicate. Still though, it’s easy to lose readers if you make classic mistakes.

How to Drive Readers Away

  • Don’t meet expectations: If your introduction says you’re going to give me five reasons for visiting Milwaukee, your blog post better give me five reasons to visit Milwaukee. When you don’t deliver on your promise, you send me packing.
  • Be long and boring: We’ve all gone to blogs with too-long posts that ramble on and on about off-topic issues. Don’t make this mistake. To keep readers, it’s smarter to be to-the-point.
  • Don’t be different: Say what everyone else is saying, and I have no reason to come to you.
  • Overwhelm them: Here’s a tip that bears repeating—get rid of popups and auto-playing music. If I start reading your post and am hit with giant popups that cover the screen, I’m clicking away before I find out what you wrote.

Characteristics of Quality Content

Okay, so when you know what not to do, then what? What are the marks of good content (i.e., good middles)?

  • Show What’s in It for the Reader: From the end to the beginning and everything in between, have something to offer your readers. Show them why they should be reading and what the information matters.
  • Be Unique: Set yourself apart by being different from everybody else. Don’t copy the content and style of another blog—be unique.
  • Use Compelling Images: Images amplify your content and make it more interesting. In fact, quality images are one of the top three factors in raising your blog’s quality and reputation.
  • Make Your Content Scannable: Statistics show blog readers spend less than two minutes reading the average blog post. That’s because they’re not reading; they’re scanning. If your message gets buried inside several long paragraphs, you can count on most of your readers not getting it.

Bookending is a pretty simple idea—but a powerful one. How could it change the way you approach the blogging process? Is it different from your typical routine?

14 Tips to Becoming a Better Writer

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As the owner of a blog there are several issues bloggers have to deal with. One of the biggest challenges is learning how to write quality content.

Below I will give you 14 tips to becoming a better blogger.

1. Write with a goal.

Every time you sit down to write you need to have a goal in mind. Maybe the article is supposed to educate, inform, or trigger thought. Knowing your direction will make the article flow more easily. People all over the internet write different types of articles for different reasons. For example, if you are looking to get on the big popular blog sites, you don’t want to write short articles that carry no meaning. The alternative is writing long informative 800-1,000 word articles that actually deliver quality information on your topic.

2. Do your research.

The better you know the topic, the easier it will be to write about it. By knowing your topic, you can cut down on the time it takes to create informative articles your readers will enjoy. Follow a general blogging rule; the topics you choose should be ones in which you are an expert. If you don’t consider yourself an expert, become one.

3. Just write.

The more you write, the better you will get at it. Don’t just focus on personal topics, but challenge yourself to research and write on topics you don’t know. Write on anything and everything, and your overall writing skills will improve, not to mention your typing speed. Both things will help you reduce writing time in the long term.

4. Write with your readers in mind.

Instead of writing with the idea of making money, write about what interests your readers. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • What is the reason my readers are reading my article?
  • Am I addressing their needs and concerns?
  • Why would anyone read what I have to say?

If you can get into the mind of your reader and what they are seeking from you and your writing, you’ll be able to address their needs and write something that they will enjoy and keep coming back for.

5. Backlinks.

If you are writing for the purpose of back linking remember to include your keywords. Now with back linking I am going to say the main goal is still the same and that’s to attract your readers, remember traffic is the key to getting ranked in Google. As Google recommends, create your content for your readers, not just to improve your ranking in Google. If all you’re trying to do is rank in Google you will fail.

6. Learn to use crafty titles.

Titles are one of the most important parts of the article and a big part of the writing battle. It doesn’t matter how informative or well written your article is, if the title doesn’t catch the readers and make them want to open the article then all your blogging is pointless. With that being said, spend some time on your blog post title. Next, focus on making it reader friendly and interesting.

7. Write with passion.

If you are bored by your topic, chances are your writing is going to not only show it but bore your readers as well. If you love your topic then your readers will be able to pull the passion right off the content you write. The more passion they feel on the topic, the more interested they become in what you’re blogging about. Not to mention, you my gain them as a daily reader.

8. Forget the Grammar.

Stopping to do spell check and grammar is a killer on time when you are first writing. When you constantly stop to edit your post, most likely your post will die with it. Instead, focus on getting the thoughts and ideas down, and then go back and do the spelling and grammar checks. You’ll find your mind thinks and writes much quicker by using this method.

9. Quality.

There will forever be the debate over quality and quantity. The truth is good quality will automatically give you quantity. If you are always providing good quality then people will check out your work on a regular basis. The more publishers that take notice of your work, the more targeted traffic you will be getting.

10. Turn off word count.

Don’t worry about how many words your post has in it. Sure, don’t have your posts be 100 words each, try and keep it above 300 words but whatever. This is the best way to ensure that your articles are quality and not fluff. Watching word count makes you want to add extra wording that does not need to be there and it keeps you from concentrating on your content.

11. Read. Read. Read.

Reading is a way to open you up to the world and what it has to offer. It also gives you knowledge that can be used in your writing. Some people don’t believe this but it can help with your grammar and vocabulary all of these are things that can lead to quality content.

12. Check the competition then do it better.

Find out what your competition is doing and try and do it better. By knowing what kind of content you are trying to compete with, you can improve your own skills and marketing mindset.

13. Use your target audience language.

If you are writing for highly educated people, your writing should reflect that. If you are targeting parents, write from the mindset of a parent. You get the picture. Now what this means; you have to know who your target audience is and what they need. Figure this out and it will be a gold mine to you.

14. Understand that writing is a skill.

It is said that it takes 10,000 hours to master something. If that is the case then you need to spend lots of time practicing. You also have to realize writing is not for everyone. If writing is not your thing then you should consider outsourcing the work to others. There are tons of people that love to write content. Check out Blogging.org, it’s a great resource for finding quality writers at cheaper prices.

I hope these tips will help you improve your content writing skills. These tips are not going to help unless you actually start writing and putting them into practice. Once you do this it will become second nature.

If you already use these tips or have others feel free to share them.

Why No One Shares Your Blog Posts

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Ever write a blog post, hit publish, and feel like all you hear are crickets? If your content isn’t remarkable, it’s not shareable. Social sharing is the new link-building. It’s a Panda world and we’re just blogging in it, so that means social authority matters more to Google than garbage content.

People share content for a variety of reasons. We share content to define ourselves to others, earn respect and develop a sense of belonging. That definition of self can vary – it can be a professional or expertise definition. It can also mean sharing hipster things because you want to be a hipster.

Either way, when it comes to content marketing, you need to ask yourself if you are serving these needs of your readers and potential sharers. Are you filling your editorial calendar with content that is interesting and entertaining enough for people to want to associate their personal brands with it? If not, you better re-think your approach and consider these 7 tips.

Why No One Shares Your Blog Posts

1. Your Headline Sucks

Your headline is the most important part of your post because it’s your first impression. It’s what people see in big text when your blog post shows up in search engine results.

It’s also what they see when your content is tweeted and shared on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. So without a great headline, few people will get that initial intrigue that makes them want to click through and check out your post. Write great headlines that are descriptive, but also spark a sense of urgency. And don’t be afraid to try a funny or snarky one, too. Grab their attention with the headline, and hook them with the great content behind it.

2. You Write About Yourself

Your company is interesting to you and your mom. So she might subscribe to a blog full of company party photos and long essays written from your point of view. But is your mom your target audience?

When readers are visiting your blog for the first time, they don’t care about you yet. Make them care by addressing the topics they want to learn and talk about. How-to articles and lists of tips and resources are good formats to begin with.

3. … But You Don’t Write Like Yourself

Developing your own unique voice is a great way to build a community of regular readers who want to share your posts. One blog that I think does a particularly great job with this is Nerd Fitness. The blog’s author Steve Kamb is enthusiastic, descriptive and personable in every single post. And the posts have a similar format each time: YouTube videos, funky stock photos of Lego men. LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS AND BOLD TEXT LIKE THIS!! Plus, there’s generally just a lot of positive messaging. This style isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t meant to be. It’s what fits this readership, and they love to share it. Develop your own style.

4. Your Posts Are All the Same

Ever listen to a band and every one of their songs sounds the same? Nickelback, I’m looking at you… Change up the format of the content with charts, infographics, videos, photos, and other visuals to keep people coming back for more. If you look at Social Media Examiner‘s posts, you’ll see how they break up the text with different visuals, headings, and bold text. Be sure to enforce this formatting through editorial guidelines.

5. There is No Clear Takeaway

If there isn’t a clear takeaway from your content, people don’t have a key point to share with their friends and followers. Long paragraphs full of allegory, symbolism, adjectives, and adverbs are best saved for English literature class. Cut to the chase, and make the lessons from your content loud and clear. I think this is particularly important for B2B content. If people wanted to make time for rambling, they’d read a magazine.

6. You Make it Difficult to Share

It’s surprising to me how many blogs either don’t have social sharing buttons or don’t have them properly formatted for sharing. It’s easy to get caught up in selecting the perfect design or theme and then forget about the obvious, functional elements likes social media buttons or “subscribe by email” widgets. Have at least a simple design that looks clean, but first get the basic features on your blog and get a content plan in line. Then go crazy with design.

What makes you want to share a blog post? How will you use these elements in your blogging? Let us know in the comments!

Growing Your Audience with the Ant Mentality

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One of the most basic human instincts we have is to follow the crowd. Yes, everyone also has this need to be recognized as an individual, but on a genetic level, we see the crowd as the safe option. If a lot of other people are doing it, it must be a good idea, right? Yet, following the crowd has a negative connotation for many people, and I certainly don’t think we should be promoting the kind of mentality where people just mindlessly follow others to your blog like a flock of sheep. Mindless traffic is not a good way to grow your audience.

What I’d like to propose instead of the sheep mentality is the ant mentality.

I grew up in the country, so ants weren’t just an isolated problem; they were a common occurrence. If your kitchen floor wasn’t spotless, you were going to get ants, without a doubt. So, I learned from a young age how ants work and what to do to stop them. And ants are complex little buggers. Comparing your readers to ants is not an insult.

Every ant family has scouts that go out to look for food. Ant scouts leave this chemical trail that other ants can follow and that they can follow to find their anthill again. The trail changes based on what the ant is finding – food, danger, etc.

When an scouting ant finds a food source, it is only a matter of time before other worker ants follow the trail to find the food and carry it back to the anthill. That’s why you can’t just squash an ant and call your problem fixed – it is only a matter of time before more ants follow the “hey this way to food” trail and come calling. The ant traps that you can purchase aren’t designed to kill an ant immediately – they are designed to slowly poison, but not before the any carries the poisoned food back to the anthill, where it can kill all of them. If you don’t destroy the entire ant family, more ants are just going to continuously show up in your kitchen.

And ants multiply in a hurry. When one ant finds food, he leads an entire army of ants to your doorstep to collect it. Another way way used to discourage ants at how was with red chili pepper. If you find where the ants are coming into your home (i.e. the line of the “food this way” chemical scent trail) and you sprinkle pepper there…well I’m not sure if it confuses the ants or just deters them, but it certainly does work.

So enough about ants, how does this relate to content creation and your audience?

Well, think of popular bloggers or podcasters who have a large following as scouting ants. They’re always on the lookout for good content, and when they find some, they’ll lead others there with a trail of recommendations – retweets, “likes” on Facebook, even mentions on their blog. You go from one ant to a whole colony of ants in a hurry. If you have good food (i.e., good content), you’re going to attract scouting ants.

Or at least that’s the way it should work, though I know a lot of you are feeling frustrated right now. You have great content. You’re doing everything to ensure that you have unique, interesting ideas to entice the scouting ants. So why isn’t your content popular?

The problem? Without knowing it, you’re doing things to deter the ants. That might be a good thing in your kitchen, but it is definitely not a good thing on your blog or podcast.

  • Do you have enough crumbs?

First, in a home, you aren’t going to get ants in your kitchen if you have a clean floor. No matter how delicious your cooking might be, ants won’t find it if it is sealed away, with no crumbs on the floor. Online, this translates to social media and search engine optimization. What are you doing to promote and get your “crumbs” – aka, content – out there for the scouts to see? Are you ranking well on Google? Are you advertising your posts/episodes on social networking sites? Are you connecting with the people on your industry who have influence? Are you engaging readers? Are you networking with people in real life? I could go on and on, but the basic ideas is this: It is not enough to merely produce great content.

  • Are you poisoning the scouts?

Secondly, let’s look at one of the common ways to get ants out of your kitchen – the ant poison you can purchase that causes scouts to carry poison back to the hill, killing every ant there. For content creators, this poison is inconsistency and low quality. While I do believe that regular updates are important, what is more important in my opinion is that your everything you do is amazing. Some posts/episodes will naturally be better than others, but if you’re not passionate about the topic, if you’re not bringing new or useful ideas to the table, it doesn’t matter if you add more content once a day like clockwork. You’re poisoning your scouts, and they are killing off the readership connection that they could have brought your way.

This point boils down to the following statement: The worst reaction you can have to your content is “meh.” If you write something that people love, they’ll promote it. If you write something people hate, they’ll talk about that too. But if you’re just writing to meet your own self-imposed posting rules…you’re going to get a “meh” reaction, and no one is going to recommend it to others. They probably won’t come back either.

  • Are you confusing the ants?

Then we have the pepper deterrent. With ants, a line of chili pepper across the trail is confusing and off-putting. On a blog, make sure you aren’t confusing and off-putting to brand new readers. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my site navigation clear?
  • Do I have an “about” page that can easily be accessed from single posts and my home page alike?
  • Is my overall message consistent?
  • Do I make it easy to promote my work?
  • Am I personable, making my audience want to come back for more from me?
  • Can people easily subscribe to my RSS feed and mailing list?
  • Are there any technical problems that could be deterring people?

A lot of bloggers and podcasters, I’ve found, are their own worst enemies. If you have great food, ants should be knocking down your walls to get in, and the reason they’re not is because you’re taking measures to prevent them.

I’d love to hear your opinions on the idea of ant mentality – do you feel like bloggers and podcasters are deterring readers? What are some of the things that you see that would make you leave or not come back, even if the content was great?

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