"You provide value by identifying a specific target audience, filtering through relevant online content, then sharing only what you find most interesting, trendy or applicable to that audience . . . then adding in your own expertise and opinions as you share what you’ve curated."
And, put like that, it does seem to have a purpose and a value. And, certainly, I use my weekly newsletter to tell people on my list about the best articles on aspects of internet marketing that I've come across in the previous week.
But, in trawling through numerous blogs to find those articles, I am all too frequently coming across what I can only describe as clones. Someone will bring out an infographic - and suddenly there are six or eight articles by different authors, using the infographic as the core, with an added paragraph or two of comment.
Or there will be a sudden glut of articles on one subject. This may occur when there has been a recent change that affects internet marketing - for example, the recent introduction of 'tabs' by gmail. A lot of people have been writing about whether it will affect email marketing (some say yes, others say no) and, if it does, what marketers can do about it. And a few days ago, after changes to the Facebook news feed were announced, one multi-contributor blog carried four articles on the subject, by different authors, in quick succession. Sometimes, though, a clutch of articles seems unrelated to any changes and, here, I suspect that one good article has led to a load of copycats.
When I left school, and before I went to medical school, I trained as a journalist. This was in the pre-internet era when news was provided in large part by newspapers. And the thing that every journalist wanted was a scoop. Because if you were writing about something completely different from your competitors, you were likely to sell more copies. But if your stories were just a variation on those of everyone else, then readers had no incentive to buy one paper rather than another.
And, of course, newspapers (unlike blogs and the internet itself) have finite space. They can't afford to fill that space up with run of the mill articles. As a journalist, you can't keep writing about the same thing or copying the rest. You've got to be original. And originality is something we seem to be seeing less and less of online. Unfortunately, this is inevitable if we follow the frequently-given advice that we should blog every day in order to keep our audience.
As you will have realised, I don't blog every day. I write only when there's something I want to write about and something that I think may interest you, my reader. I don't want to be a bore!
So, to anyone who is thinking of starting a blog, I would say:
- write only about those things that interest you
- write only about those things that will interest the audience that you are aiming for
- don't worry if your opinions differ from those of other people writing online - your opinions are what people will come to your blog for
- keep up to date with what is going on in your niche but don't write about a subject just because everyone else seems to be writing about it
- be original - express your own thoughts, not thoughts regurgitated from other people
- and don't try to write every day if you haven't any original thoughts to write about. Of course, you don't want to leave it too long between posts but I believe that you are far less likely to lose readers because you only post once a week or once a fortnight than because you're constantly writing about the same thing as everyone else.