One of the biggest struggles for bloggers who are pushing for growth is the ability to publish unique content. With millions of other blogs out there it can seem at times that every worthwhile topic has already been sufficiently covered.
Quality, original content is one of the biggest factors in blogging success. Take a look at the blogs you read on a daily basis. Most likely you choose to read them because you like the articles they provide that you can’t get at other blogs.
Of course, not every post you publish has to be ground-breaking. However, you do need to separate yourself from other bloggers in order to attract and keep readers.
Here are 13 ways you can create unique content that will help you to stand out.
1. Be Independent
One common method of generating ideas is to see what other bloggers are writing about and what topics are creating a lot of interest. This can be a helpful way to come up with ideas, but often you’ll find that the finished product isn’t very original. Sometimes you may be able to put a new spin on an old subject, but your most creative ideas are unlikely to come from other blogs. We should all be actively reading on a regular basis, but don’t make your daily reading the primary source of your new content generation.
2. Get Personal
Write from your personal experiences. I’m sure you have a lot of experiences that relate to the subject of your blog, and your own experiences are going to be more unique than some other things you could be writing about. One of the reasons there is so much repetitive content online is that a lot of people write about what they read from others, rather than writing from their own experiences.
Recently, we published an article about Brainstorming Techniques for Bloggers, so I won’t get into techniques here. If you hope to regularly create quality, unique articles brainstorming is a must. It’s one of the most effective ways to create your own ideas and stand out.
4. Keep a Journal
As you’re coming up with ideas, it’s important to write everything down. An idea journal is ideal because it gives you one place to keep all of your ideas and incomplete thoughts and projects. A simple spreadsheet is a handy digital alternative to the journal.
It’s very easy to forget your ideas if they’re not written down. With a journal, you’ll always have at least a few potential posts waiting to be written. Without keeping a journal, you’re more likely to feel like you have nothing unique to write about, and resort to creating the same kind of content that every other blog is using.
5. Keep an Open Mind
Don’t eliminate an idea for a potential blog post if it doesn’t come together right away. Take a look at some of the other ideas you have written down and see if you can combine ideas to make a more complete article. Some of your best ideas will probably take a little extra work to formulate into a good post.
6. Take a Stand
Some of the most unique, and often the most frequently-visited, blog posts go against conventional thinking or oppose the majority opinion. Try writing from a perspective that doesn’t go along with everyone else, and you’re guaranteed to be more unique than the others.
This is also a great way to attract traffic because controversial posts tend to get a lot of shares and links because people talk about them, whether they agree or not.
If you’ve been blogging for any significant length of time you probably have a number of older posts that could be expanded upon. Occasionally go back through your archives and look for posts that could be the starting block for new and separate ideas. Look for those that lend themselves to be updated.
You may have written a post in the past that covered a somewhat general topic. See if you can focus on one specific aspect or point of the article to find new ideas.
8. Dig Deeper
Write about a little-known aspect of something that’s covered a lot. Find a hot topic in your niche that you know well. While other bloggers are just writing about basic, general information, go one step further and give your readers information that they’re not finding anywhere else. If the topic is already getting a lot of interest and you’re able to provide more detail and knowledge than others, you are likely to benefit from a jump in traffic.
9. Know Your Subject
Without substantial knowledge, all you will be able to write about is basic information. You don’t have to be an expert on the subject right now, but you at least need to be willing to constantly work on improving your knowledge so that you can eventually get to this point (and you need to have some patience until you get there).
10. Solve Problems
One of the best ways to create unique content is to focus on solving the problems of your readers. If they’re struggling with a problem, they obviously aren’t aware of a suitable solution or they wouldn’t have the problem in the first place. If you can provide that solution you’ll be the first to do so, and they’ll remember you.
11. Act Quickly
Don’t sit on your best ideas, someone else may beat you to the punch. About a month ago I wrote what I thought was a pretty good post, saved it, and got it ready to be published in a week or so. Literally the next day, I saw an almost identical post on a very popular blog. My post has never been published and I’ll now have to do some touch-ups if it’s ever going to be used. If I had acted quicker, mine would have come first and I wouldn’t have missed out on a good opportunity.
12. Plan Ahead
Sitting down at the computer with 15 minutes to create and publish a new blog post is almost guaranteed to force you into using rehashed ideas. By planning ahead you can come up with ideas and lay out your blogging schedule. It can still be flexible, but it helps to have things laid out, and to have a few emergency posts ready to go at any time. This will give you the time you need to make sure that your content is unique before it’s published.
I know this is somewhat in contradiction to my point about acting quickly. It’s a fine line (one that I’m still working on). There needs to be sufficient planning to allow for the best quality posts to be created, but you also need to have the flexibility to push the plan aside temporarily when a great idea comes up.
13. Give Yourself Some Freedom
Do you post on a regular schedule? While I think regular posting is a good practice in general, it can at times hurt your creativity. If you don’t have anything worthwhile posting, take a little bit more time than usual to develop your thoughts.
Don’t put yourself in a box as far as what topics you can and can’t write about. Give yourself the freedom and flexibility to move with your ideas.
Bonus: 5 Tips for Overcoming Blogging Plateaus
Anyone who has maintained a blog for even a few months or more knows that there are frustrating times in the life of a blogger where growth seems to come to a complete standstill. The nature of blogging involves adding new content to the site and continually picking up new readers through that content. However, there are times when stats like visitors, pageviews, subscribers, and even income are extremely difficult to improve upon.
These blogging plateaus typically lead to frustration. Here we’ll look at some things that you can do when you’re on one of those plateaus to help make that push and get things moving forward again.
1. Focus on Actions Instead of Results
A lot of bloggers incorporate goals into their daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly routines. Goals can be highly effective because most bloggers are working on their own, and there’s no boss or anyone else to keep them motivated. In this type of situation, goals can help by encouraging the blogger despite that lack of accountability to others.
Typical goals for a blogger might include:
Draw X,000 visitors in a month
Attract X,000 search engine visitors in a month
Make $X,000 in a month
While these goals can serve as motivation, they don’t show you what you need to do in order to achieve them. If you’ve hit a plateau, one of the best things you can do is forget about statistics and results and focus instead on actions. Actions will be more relevant to you in this situation because if you set up good action goals, they can show you exactly what you need to do in order to get better results. This removes the mystery of where to focus your efforts.
For example, here is a set of action goals that you could use:
Create a list of 100 possible post topics, and then chose the top 10 ideas.
Write and publish 2 news posts each week.
Write guest posts for 2 different blogs in the niche.
Introduce yourself to 10 other bloggers in the niche.
Publish 1 post per week to 5 different social media sites.
While it may be things like the number of visitors and the number of subscribers that you’re having trouble improving, by focusing on these specific actions, you’re likely to improve your blog, which will result in better numbers that help to get you off of that plateau.
2. Maintain Consistent Effort
The typical reaction of a blogger when hitting a plateau is discouragement and a loss of interest, and the effort winds up decreasing, which of course leads to poor results. However, if you’re able to maintain a consistent effort and just keep pushing forward, you’re likely to break out of that plateau before too long.
Plateaus happen, as do peaks and valleys, and every long-term blogger will have to deal with them at some point. Try not to let slow or stalled growth to take away your focus and effort. If you set strong action goals and you maintain a consistent effort, things will improve.
3. Spend Extra Time Brainstorming Post Ideas
The best way to break out of a plateau is to publish a post that resonates with your readers and winds up being shared over and over again. These posts often wind up attracting more search engine traffic in the long-term because of the links, and the viral nature also leads to more subscribers and followers.
Unfortunately, creating a great post is easier said than done.
From my experience, one of the best ways to maximize the impact of your posts is to spend time brainstorming post ideas. This is helpful for coming up with creative ideas and allows you to do something unique with your blog, which is when you really have a chance to break out of that slump.
If post topic brainstorming is not a normal part of your process, be sure to make time for it when you’ve hit a plateau. At this time you may want to take a detailed look at your blog’s statistics and determine what types of posts tend to work best, and which ones have the least impact. Obviously, this can be useful knowledge for deciding on post topics to pursue now.
There are any number of different ways that you can go about brainstorming, but essentially you just want to come up with a big list of post ideas. They don’t all have to be good ideas that would turn into successful posts, just write things down that are challenges faced by your readers, strengths you have that you could share with others, trends in the industry or niche, predictions, controversial topics, etc.
Don’t judge your ideas immediately. Just write them down and try to keep building on them. Eventually, you’ll have a sizeable list and you can then read back through the ideas and see which ones you think might have the most potential.
4. Look for Opportunities Away from Your Blog
While it may seem like working on other things wouldn’t help your blog to grow in the short-term, that actually might not be the case. For example, you could contact the editor of a popular blog in your industry to see if they accept guest post submissions. If they do, you could possibly get a post with your author bio published on a major blog that shares your target audience. The link from this guest post can lead to click-through traffic, name recognition, and eventually improved search engine rankings.
Other opportunities, especially in the design industry, could include creating a resource to be distributed for free at another blog. Many designers create resources like icons, vectors, and brushes and then allow other bloggers to give them away for free in exchange for a mention and a link. Depending on the blog(s) that release your resources, it could provide a spark that gets your own blog moving in the right direction.
Still, there are plenty of opportunities. You could participate in an interview to be published at another blog, collaborate with another blogger on some type of group project, be more active on Twitter and Facebook, and the list could go on. While these things will not directly impact the results of your own blog, they are all capable of sending traffic and increasing exposure in ways that you couldn’t do simply by focusing on your blog.
One caveat, this shouldn’t come at the expense of working on your own blog, but rather in addition to working on your own blog.
5. Increase Your Networking Efforts
One thing that all successful bloggers have in common is that they are surrounded by a strong network. Does the network make the blogger successful or does the successful blogger have an easier time building a strong network?
The answer is a combination of both, and if you focus on establishing a strong network of your own, you will be one step closer to achieving the success that you want.
A strong network won’t make up for a lack of quality content on your blog, so be sure to continue to focus on content, but also set aside some time for getting to know other bloggers and influential people in your niche. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook make it possible to communicate with influential people, but in order to build a deeper connection, you will probably need to move beyond just using social media.
Don’t be afraid to fill out a contact form or email someone that you would like to get to know. Sometimes you may want to simply introduce yourself and what you are working on, and other times you may want to try to find a way to help the other person or have something to offer them in order to catch your attention.
Bloggers who run popular sites typically get flooded with email, so a simple introduction may not always catch their attention, but if you have some way to help them you’ll likely have more success. For this reason, I think guest posting is a great way to network with influential people. Most bloggers and editors are always looking for quality content, and if you can help them out by providing a post (or several) that interests their readers, they will appreciate you and you’ll have a better opportunity to network with them.
By building up a strong network you will increase your opportunities for getting links, having your content shared through social media, and you’ll also have valuable contacts that you can reach out to when you have questions or need some advice.