Over the course of writing this blog for the past few months, I feel I’ve learned a thing or two along the way about what it takes to make your blog, site or brand stand out from others. I thought I’d share those ideas.
Here’s 12 ways to make sure your blog, site or brand gets noticed (especially when you’re a small fish in a big pond).
1. Imagine where you want to be. Without a plan, you’ll be lost before you know it. But before creating a plan, you need to think about why you’re doing what you’re doing — and imagine where you want to be a month from now, two months from now, and a year from now.
2. Identify your target audience. Know who you want to speak to. If you don’t have a clear understanding of your audience, you won’t know what messages will resonate with that audience. Clearly spell out who will be listening to you — think of every piece you write as if you were standing up before that audience to read it — and make sure they’ll care about what you have to say.
3. Impress your audience. It’s great to understand your audience, but how do you make an impression on that audience? Be original and be honest. Don’t try to too hard to impress your audience — because nothing impresses people like simple writing with a clear message.
4. Impart a message. Have a common message behind everything you write. Whether that message is “we’re the best dry cleaner in the city” or “we know how to save you money on your company’s paper consumption”, make sure your message is always the same. The more consistent your message, the more trust you will develop among your readership.
5. Inject your brand wherever you can. Mention your blog, brand or site wherever possible — but don’t be obnoxious. While mentioning and marketing your brand is a good thing, don’t barrage people with unwanted messages or information. While it may temporarily increase the visibility of your brand, it will also tarnish it.
6. Increase your network contacts. Word of mouth is very important to creating a strong blog, site or even brand. People talk about things they like — and the more people they are talking about something, the more other people are likely going to start talking about it too. Talk to people you know about what you’re doing — if they like it, they’ll tell others.
7. Inform your audience. While creating content that entertains your audience is great, people also like to take something away from their reading. Use verifiable facts, figures and statistics to prove what you are saying, don’t just make the assumption that people will go to check these facts themselves. Convince people with the facts, not with the argument.
8. Interact with your audience. Now that you’ve informed your audience, you’ll need to respond to their questions and concerns. Don’t just make statements in your writing — ask questions as well. Asking questions will ultimately allow you to engage your readership in new ways.
9. Improve on someone else’s good idea. Always be looking around for good ideas — you’ve only got a limited amount of time and a limited amount of ideas, so sometimes you need to take others’ ideas and improve on them. Don’t steal people’s ideas or plagiarize from their sites — but do take properly attributed quotes and expand on the thoughts of others. This thought-expanding exercise also creates a sense of community and allows you to link out to other people who are writing about what you do.
10. Instigate. This is a tough one — you want to instigate enough to get people talking, but not enough that you are actually going to offend people or drive them away. But being somewhat controversial (usually by presenting a fresh, original perspective on a topic) can convince your readership that you have something unique to offer.
11. Infuse yourself into your writing. You are what makes people want to read what you write. By adding a personal touch to your writing, you are humanizing what you have to say. If you are sharing your opinion, don’t feel you have to try to write in the third person — use whatever voice and style comes naturally to you, and allows you to say what you want to say clearly and concisely.
12. Iterate. Jason Alba points out that having a scheduled frequency of communication to your readership sets expectations — and maintaining that frequency develops the trust that you have with your readers. Have a schedule of how often you communicate (whether that’s blog posts, regular emails, news items, press releases), and stick to it.
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