By: Erica Dallas
Hi everyone! I am Erica Dallas, Digital Designer and Memphis-based Blogger at ericadallas.com/blog. The full tagline of my blog simply states, ‘a lifestyle blog on style, strategy, and success.’ Under each of those categories, I explore beauty, blogging, business, events and culture, personal development, wellness, and more.
My blog has been part of my website for quite some time, but that evolved over the years. I went through phases where I would take all of my content down and start all over. It was important to me that I stayed true to my brand. One day I realized that the making of a successful blog really lies with being open to tell stories, be transparent, helpful, and ultimately useful to readers.
This post is dedicated to those of you who may be confused about the direction of your blog or brand. You feel that you’re missing something – that X-factor that makes the process of blogging a bit easier. Well, I want to share with you a little bit of insight that has helped me write with more clarity and confidence.
L E T ‘S E X P L O R E
Bloggers and content creators all over the world usually have one question they ask themselves on a regular basis.
“How do I stand out?”
Chances are you or some of your fellow bloggers have met up over drinks, rallied together at a blog conference, or attended a brand event and discussed this very question. Many of the answers revolve around promotion. Host giveaways. Post endlessly on social media. Invest in advertising platforms. And so on.
Rarely does the discussion talk about taking good care of the followers and readers that DO support you. In the search for more readership, many bloggers neglect the people already riding with them. Don’t forget to work on creating the best content possible so that when numbers increase, you have quality content to keep people interested in you.
So, how do you position your blog to be the go-to spot for interesting content?
Since the beginning of time, the most powerful way to capture the attention of the masses and influence is through a good story. People love a good story. That’s how small time heroics turn viral. One person’s struggle can turn into a movement. It’s how some of our favorite artists completely keep us wanting more. If you are a blogger, a journalist, a novelist, or even a marketer, then know that until the ends of time, a story equals engagement.
Storytelling has always been the link that connects us. It humanizes us. Think about it. People who tell stories have the innate ability to draw us in and inspire us with thought-provoking words, entertain us with funny antidotes, and even bring us to tears with poignant candid tales of life.
For bloggers, incorporating the framework of a story into the content is a wonderful way to build loyalty with your readership. Whether you write about food, style, tech, politics, beauty, or even business, readers like to have real world references along with facts.
For ways to become a better storyteller and improve your blog’s personality, read on.
DISCOVER YOUR BLOGGING THEME
Rarely does a blogger burst onto the scene with a clear message and phenomenal brand personality out the gate. If you look at any successful blogger’s beginning, you’ll find a hot mess of a feed. You’ll find blurry photos, flatlays in disarray, grammatical errors, and incoherent streams of thought. They will be the first to tell you that it took months and sometimes years to build their brand and find their voice. Some will also say that they listened to their readers and this guided the direction of their blog. That’s the one gem I can tell you that most blogs and businesses miss. Don’t get so wrapped up in what YOU want that you overlook what your audience is asking you for.
So, I’ll ask you: Do you know the ‘WHY’ behind your blog? Not only why you started it, but why should someone read it. What are the major themes that your blog addresses? Tap into those themes and don’t be afraid to concentrate on a niche. For instance, as a designer, I had a variation of industries that I served. But I found that real estate was my sweet spot and once I did, a flood of clients in that industry came my way. If you love skin care and your audience responds well, then research to find the voids that you can fill from a content creator perspective.
ADD PERSONALITY WITH THE TONE OF YOUR BLOGGING VOICE
The beauty about blogging, is that some of those strict rules we all learned taking college-level English do NOT have to apply to our blog structure. Naturally, no one wants to read a bunch of misspelled words, but you will hardly be penalized for writing the way you talk. So if you want to joke, use colorful language (aka curse), or infuse the latest slang into your posts, do so! A great tip on practicing to write in a more conversational tone is to record yourself using a dictation app on your phone. It will seem odd at first, but once you loosen up, you’ll find it easier to speak your mind. This transcribes very well onto paper.
Disclaimer: When it comes to certain fields (medical, finance, etc.) a degree of professionalism is certainly required, especially if you want to be seen as an expert. However, this doesn’t mean your blog posts have to bore readers to tears. It just means your audience may appreciate a less colorful message.
TREAT YOUR BLOG LIKE A MAGAZINE
When I regularly wrote for magazines, I was always surprised by how thorough the publisher editorial calendars were planned out. Once I began blogging, I realized there was a reason they planned out content at least two years ahead… because being intentional helps you stay consistent. Also, it was a great way to see where things fit in terms of content themes. Do you plan out your editorial content? Readers like to know that you’ll be around in the next six months. Truth is, some bloggers fail to plan and that’s why you may hear from them every 3-6 months versus weekly or at least on a monthly basis. Get on board with planning and use a blog planner. The Blog Lively Planner has the setup to help you run your blog like a business.
CONSIDER THE WHOLE PACKAGE
If you visit a bookstore, you’ll notice that there are thousands of books on the shelves competing to be taken home and read by you. You’ll also notice that you take a gamble on content just as anyone else does by picking up a book with an interesting title, cover graphic, or even the excerpt on the back of the book.
This same concept can apply itself to blogging. It’s not enough to write a spectacular blog post. When promoting yourself, potential readers need an enticement to click the link. This is why paying attention to your blog title and excerpt, the blog image/thumbnail, and your call to action is essential. It’s part of your blog’s promotion strategy. No one will know how excellent your post is unless they are intrigued enough in the beginning to read more. If you’re not too design savvy, head over to Creative Market and buy a pack of social media graphic templates for less than $10 bucks. Another option is to use Canva to create your blog graphics.
DISCOVER YOUR STORY
What is about you that people like and are drawn to? It could be that you have an infectious sense of humor and can make others laugh. Perhaps you have a unique sense of style that people compliment you on all the time.
The marvelous thing about stories, is they can start in various ways. Think about the way you talk to your friends or family, or even how you share tales with people on social media live broadcasts. Pay more attention to those introductions and transitions. They do very well as highlights in your blog.
If you aren’t familiar with story structure, there are plenty of books at the library or available to download that can help you. A simple search will also lead you to find interesting ideas you can use to help your flow of consciousness. Readers love to hear about the lessons you learned or mistakes made. You could even go a step further and add video to your blog of you using anecdotes to entertain, educate, and empower readers.
Be sure to always leave your readers with a lasting impression and a call to action.
CREATE A UNIQUE APPROACH
Think about some of the world’s greatest brands and how they differentiate themselves to stand out. For example, in the beauty industry, there are dozens of beauty blenders and sponges. However, the original Beauty Blender brand still reigns. Why? They package and present themselves differently from other brands. Blogs are the same way. You may say, if someone has read one blog on (insert topic), then they’ve read them all. But you can’t think that way. Instead, recall that they haven’t read it from YOUR point of view. When you consider your audience, personal thoughts, images, story, and your voice, this is what makes a special and uniquely woven blog post.
M O V I N G F O R W A R D
Think about some of the posts, editorials, or even social media profiles you follow. What sparks your interest? Is it someone you relate to or aspire to be? Is it a person you have a connection with or know on a personal level? How do those individuals tell their story so well? What can you learn to apply to your own blog?
I hope this helps and I look forward to your growth.