I Admit, I am No Expert in Blogging…
Confession time. It may surprise you that I am not actually an expert in blogging.
Yes, it’s true. I don’t own a million visitors blog. Not Boing Boing. Not also TechCrunch, Engadget or Gizmodo. Nothing close to those.
That doesn’t make me less of a professional blogger though. Since 2001, I have been using a blog for my personal note-taking system. Since late 2004, I’ve made a switch to WordPress. I never look back.
By no means I write this post to brag although certainly I can do that.
I promise there will be something huge in this post for you, especially if you have been wondering whether you should start blogging despite your objection about not knowing the topic enough.
Now do I get your attention?
You Don’t Have to Be an Expert to Blog
Don’t get the wrong. Certainly there is an advantage of knowing something thoroughly. If you are knowledgeable about certain topic and can write in-depth articles with style, chances are many people want to read about them.
Not everyone is in this position though. I certainly was not one when I was getting started. Heck, professional blogging has only been around for less than a decade. There’s not yet an expert who has been around for 20 years or so.
Even when you’ve just read a book about any topic, you are already an expert because you know much more than perhaps 85 or even 95 percent of the world’s population.
Do you think with this knowledge you just possessed, you may teach someone else about the topic? Of course you do. That happens on a daily basis.
The first time I learned how to shutdown Windows 95, I was like the coolest guy in the block and taught a few others how to do it. And I’m no Windows guru.
Blogging is also about communication. If you use it to deliver your content and teach others about something, then focus on that. There is enough room for everyone.
Pay Attention to Your Target Market and Nothing Else
I probably have blogged about it a few times but it is worth repeating here. You can’t satisfy everyone.
As with anything in business, you focus on who you serve and do the best. The rest is out of your control, which you should learn not to worry about.
Even the best product out there will get complaints and refund requests. It is just how life works.
A true expert may talk about something so thoroughly that newbies may not be able to understand it. This leaves wide gaps to fill. People are making a fortune by creating bridges for these gaps. You may see more blogs in a specific niche that they discourage you, but if you think about it, they may not be serving a certain market segment that you have in mind.
What made me think that I can start a blog about blogging? I saw a huge gap, unfulfilled desires, and paying customers who can’t spend their money because the product is simply non-existent — it is an underserved market within a crowded market. Can you image that? As they say, the rest is history. I took the plunge.
I’m happy with the result so far. Note that this is not the first time I did this. I’ve done it repeatedly in other niches. Nowadays, you may not be able to discover a new and untapped niche. You should be very suspicious if you could.
Why? Because untapped niche means dead niche. It is not profitable. But you can explore the gaps and corners. You may pick up gems in the process.
If your idea is so unique, and you’re confident about it, you may even jump headfirst into the deep sea and compete with the sharks. By playing with sharks, you are also a shark. Use a smart strategy and turn those sharks into your partners.
Sharks don’t eat sharks but they team up and target a victim.
Business involves risk taking, doesn’t it?
Again people may complain about your lack of whatever and recommend that you should stop blogging. They are not your target market. They represent none of the people that you care. There are probably millions out there waiting for you to reach but once in a while you will reach the wrong people.
The Challenge with Quality, Community Building, etc.
Bloggers who are just about to get started often worry about quality of their posts compared to existing blogs. How could they build a community if there are people out there who are doing things better in every way?
Admittedly I didn’t know the answer until a few years ago. After thinking about it for some time, it became obvious that the answer also lies in niche marketing.
Let’s take an example from the niche that is close to my heart. Ubuntu Linux. (I’m not part of the team but just an avid user.)
The project has a documentation team and community but the Linux distribution could use much more educational content from unofficial third parties too.
If the official site has everything the readers want, why haven’t everyone gone there? There are a few reasons for this:
- Visibility. Whoever is able to get in front of the audience wins. If someone search for an Ubuntu problem and she sees your blog on the first page of the search results, guess who will get the visit?
- Relationship. Some people will just prefer a personal Ubuntu blog rather than the official site because it is much more personal.
- Content format. Ubuntu screencasts may be more suitable for some audience than text-based documentation. Other readers prefer books, although there are free documentations.
- Freshness. The official documentation may not contain everything that you want. Sometimes it is faster to post tips to your own blog than to the site. Although Ubuntu does have community contributed documentation, the type of content you would like to post may be different. The way the topics are managed right now, posting to the official site means burying your content at least four or five levels deep.
Again as long as you have a unique value proposition and a model that you think will thrive, you may start a blog focusing just on Ubuntu. Perhaps as the result you may even create a forum besides existing and official one. There is definitely a room.
When it comes to model, some people prefer to join in and make themselves recognized as documentation contributors. That may end up with a book deal or two, which may in turn promote their names and when the time is right, their consulting services.
Others like to take their own approach and use search engines to get their content found by Ubuntu users.
Both ways work.
There are unlimited possibilities. With Twitter, Facebook and other new marketing channels, the opportunities are wide open.
What about quality? If you target new Ubuntu users, basic tips without a doubt is quality. Perhaps you should concentrate on the details instead of depth of the content.
At the end of the day, it boils down to knowing your prospective audience before you even start a blog.
I haven’t yet understood the whole WordPress code, but I’m going there. Until then, I think you’ll agree that the fact that I build a lot of blogs and web sites, design themes, develop plugins and create niche web sites that make full time income from them is enough of a reason to blog and impart my knowledge back to the community.
Some people out there definitely can take advantage of this blog. Those who disagree are noises. They don’t do any good for my business.
How could you use this for your business?
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