Blogging is very competitive.
Everyone fights to get heard.
They want to be the leader of the pack within their niche.
But you don’t have to be the leader in order to differentiate yourself as a blogger.
You only need to be a leader.
It’s not necessary to be the top dog, the number one, or the most popular.
Just show people that you can take them down the path that they want to go, and they will follow.
That’s how you build credibility.
And it’s the way to differentiate yourself as a blogger.
Because, let’s face it… most bloggers are not doing that.
Be a “Be-yourself” Blogger
One of the reasons many bloggers fail to lead is that they are too busy following.
They see what the most popular and successful bloggers in their niche are doing.
Then they try to replicate or mimic it.
I guess they just figure that if the other guy has built a great business doing something, they might as well do the same thing.
Sound good, right?
But it’s not.
Because your readers only see you as a follower of someone else.
They don’t see you as a leader, but as a follower… a “me too” voice in an over crowded arena of busy bloggers.
But it’s not hard to rise to the top in your niche.
The good news is, you don’t have to be the best or the most original.
You don’t have to have the most traffic, biggest Twitter following or most Facebook influence.
Because you have something that none of your “competitors” have.
You have yourself.
Nobody else does.
So stop looking over your shoulder at how great everyone else is doing, and concentrate solely on what YOU are doing.
Just be yourself and others will follow you, not because you’re the best, biggest or brightest.
But because, hey, you’re the only one of you.
The “Be-Yourself” Magic
Okay, so there are problems with the “just be yourself” approach.
You actually have to be able to give people some value in order for them to want to follow you.
I mean, that should go without saying.
Nobody want to follow someone who has nothing to offer.
So, first, differentiate yourself as a blogger by getting your head straight about what you can do to help your followers.
A lot of bloggers never do this.
They think about what’s interesting, hot or trending.
Then they spin out content about those things.
But they don’t take the time to develop a strategy for actually helping their readers, subscribers and clients.
Often, it’s because they don’t really know how to.
So take out a piece of paper and write down exactly what YOU have to offer that will help people… that will improve their lives in some way.
Then, you can be yourself because YOU have your own way of getting through to folks in your own way.
I went to a dentist once who was kind of a crazy guy.
His chair-side manner included stories of mobsters, his favorite bakery and nostalgia about the old neighborhoods in New York.
The stories were artfully accompanied by colorful charter impersonations, even 🙂
Every now and then, he’d stop to tell me what he thought would be a good way to proceed with his dental treatment.
As he continued with his bizarre but very personable antics, he worked on me in the most competent manner.
I knew, beneath the joking and fun, I was lucky to have such a talented dentist working on me.
And besides that, I hate going to the dentist, don’t you?
But he totally made me feel comfortable and at ease by just being himself.
Now, this was a very large practice.
I could have chosen to continue my work with any of the associate dentists.
But I insisted on working with this one guy.
Because I knew he was going to give expert dental care.
And I had come to trust him because he wasn’t putting on airs.
He didn’t spend time trying to convince me that he was a good dentist.
Nor did he try to impress me with his dental knowledge, which was clearly top notch.
He was just himself.
Just a guy.
A guy from the neighborhood who was comfortable being himself, and who really liked to help people.
Now, some people might have been put off by this pretty unusual sort of behavior.
But I felt right at home.
In my mind, he had become more than just another dentist.
He had differentiated himself from all the other dentists.
He had become “my” dentist.
Related: 10 Ways to differentiate yourself as a blogger (by GG Renee Hill, on Squarespace)
Stop, Look and Listen
There are lots of techniques and tactics for getting people to follow you.
The most common one, of course, is the “lead magnet” approach.
Give somebody something really cool for free (the lead magnet), and they will subscribe to your email list to get it.
Now, they are one of your “followers.”
Or, are they?
Just getting somebody to read your blog post or join your email list does NOT make them a follower.
They must do these things because they want to follow you, not because they’ve been marketed to cleverly.
When that happens…
- they are truly interested in what you’re doing,
- are truly getting value from you, and
- will truly be a member of your “following.”
That means, for instance, they won’t just be on your email list. They will…
- open your emails,
- look forward to your next blog post, and
- seriously consider the products and services you promote to them.
They’ll do all those things because they know you are always going to work to improve their lives in one way or another.
But how do you bring people to this point of trust and enthusiasm?
Being a “be-yourself blogger” is a big part of that.
But there’s more.
Remember, you must reinforce their trust by giving them value.
You can do it with a very simple 3-step approach.
I call it… Stop, Look and Listen.
You can easily differentiate yourself as a blogger when you use this approach because, frankly, so few bloggers do it.
Some bloggers may do one or two of these things, but rarely do you find one who is doing all three, all the time.
But you can.
Focus on the moment.
Think of all the things you do in your blogging business.
Not everything is essential.
Not everything is successful.
You need to find what things are working and what things are flopping.
Most bloggers just keep adding tricks and tactics to their arsenal.
- attacking their market,
- increasing their audience,
- getting bigger,
- getting more complicated.
Consider carefully what you’re putting into your business and more importantly what you can take out of your business.
A little story
I recently had some health issues.
I recently put myself on something called a FODMAP diet.
This is a diet where you essentially take everything out of your diet for a while.
It’s called an Elimination Diet.
Then you slowly re-introduce things over time.
The trick is that when you reintegrate something into your diet, you watch very carefully to see how it affects you.
This clues you in to foods that you should be avoiding.
Those are the things that are poisoning your system, even if to the tiniest degree.
It is a way to laser focus your eating habits so that you’re eating only the right things and avoiding the wrong ones.
It’s a way to be deliberate in your health.
To take things slowly and see what’s working and what’s not.
And to lighten up on the things that are not working, and focus on the things that are.
This is what I’m suggesting that you do with your business.
In this way, you can do less and accomplish more.
There are things in your business that are toxic.
Things that are not working.
But you keep doing them over and over, don’t you?
So stop it, now.
When you simplify your business and laser focus on delivering value to your readers… you will rise above the crowd and differentiate yourself as a blogger.
Next, I want you to look at your audience.
Look ‘em straight in the eye when you talk to them.
Did you ever talk to somebody who doesn’t look at you when they talk?
You wonder if they’re really listening to you, right?
You wonder if they even care about what you think or have to say.
Your audience needs to know that you’re paying attention to them.
Related: The 7 Pillars of Connecting with Absolutely Anyone (by Scott Dinsmore, on Forbes)
So every time you talk to your readers, look them in the eye and pay careful attention to how they are responding.
That will clue you in as to what their real needs and interests are.
And that will show your readers that you really do care about them.
But pay attention as you do.
People love someone who cares.
Another little story 🙂
I remember once, consulting with a woman who couldn’t believe when her boyfriend broke up with her.
She thought everything was going great.
She especially couldn’t believe the reason he broke up.
He accused her of not really caring that much about him.
In fact, he was pretty surprised that she even cared about him breaking it off.
“Why would he say that?” she wanted to know.
Because she couldn’t show him that she cared… even though she really did!
She was very guarded and just couldn’t express, verbally or non-verbally, that she really liked this guy.
So he assumed that she didn’t.
Blogging is like dating
You have to show people that you really do care about them.
Don’t get me wrong, here.
You can’t force “caring.”
It’s either there or it’s not.
But, assuming that you really do care about your readers… let them know that.
Make it clear.
And make it the foundation of everything you do.
That’s one of the key ways you can differentiate yourself as a blogger.
Because, believe me, most bloggers really do not care about their readers.
They only care about their business, their Moz score and the size of their social media following.
So look your readers straight in the eye when you’re talking to them.
Look for their reactions.
And always look for the feedback they give you.
Once you get that all-valuable “feedback,” then pay attention to it.
Listen to what your audience is telling you.
Hear what their concerns are.
Get to know their dreams, passions and their fears.
You always hear that you have to “know your niche.”
Well, that’s a very impersonal way of looking at it, don’t you think?
I like to think of my readers as people, not “laser focused niche audiences.”
Here’s the thing.
You have to know the people that you connect to when you are blogging.
And that includes listening very carefully to them as they invite you to share in their journeys.
Listen when they tell you
- what their big challenges and problems are,
- the obstacles they encounter, and
- their struggles to get to where they want to go.
These are the things that you have to hear.
If you don’t, then you will not be in touch with your audience.
If you’re not in touch with them, then you’ll be like most other bloggers.
You’ll only be thinking about
- your next blog post,
- what photo you should use, and
- how you look when you shoot a video.
Instead, just listen once in a while.
Listen carefully to your audience, and in this way, differentiate yourself as a blogger who cares and understands.
3 Ways To Differentiate Yourself as a Blogger
You can differentiate yourself as a blogger when you stop, look and listen to your audience.
Most bloggers don’t do that.
That’s why they get such huge bounce rates.
People go to their blogs looking for something that they don’t find.
Well, you can start being the kind of blogger that gives them what they are looking for.
Consider your niche carefully.
Then make sure that you are fulfilling the needs of your audience.
Don’t lecture people, help them.
Forget about telling them what to do and instead, demonstrate how it’s done.
Did you ever take a dance lesson or a yoga class?
Can you imagine if the teacher told you what to do instead of demonstrating it?
It can’t be done.
Stop, look and listen to your audience.
Then help them in any way you can.
And always let them know that you care.
How many of these things are you already doing?
Which ones might you start paying more careful attention to?
How do you differentiate yourself as a blogger?
Let me know in the comments below.
You know I LOVE to hear from you 🙂