What is the real difference between the blogs that have a huge following and the ones that struggle to get anyone to care about them?
In this post we’ll explore the single most important thing you can do to get people to take notice of what you’re doing online: be blunt about why you are different.
We’ll do this by showing you six examples of successful blogs that other people have created and four examples of how we use our own blogs to stand out online.
Let’s jump right in.
1. I Will Teach You To Be Rich
Within our Traffic School course we have an interview with Ramit Sethi where he talks about why he actually encourages some people to stop reading his website.
Ramit is very blunt about the fact that if you think you get too many emails on his mailing list, don’t agree with his opinion, and are just going to hate on what he writes that he doesn’t want you as a reader.
He is also not afraid to create a video to call people out when they email him to ask whether or not they should trade-in a car they have only had for a year. (Spoiler: He tells them to “drive that shit into the ground!”)
By not holding back, Ramit’s huge audience values his real opinion and advice because he never sugar coats anything.
2. The Art of Non-Conformity
Another guest lesson in Traffic School is with Chris Guillebeau, who actually writes about a huge range of topics, but had an interesting enough story to help him stand out in the beginning.
His quest to visit every country is unique and inspiring to a wide range of people. His goal to build a movement of people living unconventional lives was also timed right with the downturn of the world economy and the rise of unemployment. All of these factors lead to the success of the Art of Non-Conformity blog.
He then delivered a wide variety of products to help people reach their goals through freelancing, travel hacking, and blogging.
Chris doesn’t follow anyone else’s plan for life and his audience connects with him because they don’t either.
3. Art of Manliness
In a world where men’s magazines tout driving sports cars and getting six pack abs, Brett McKay began the Art of Manliness to go back to the roots of what it means to be a man.
By branding the site’s design and content towards something your Grandpa would admire, Brett immediately showed visitors how his site was different from a brand like Maxim, Men’s Health, or Sports Illustrated.
In our interview with Brett on Expert Enough he talks about how when he was in law school he decided to start the blog that now has over 125,000 subscribers and how he was able to stand out from the crowd.
4. The Personal MBA
Josh Kaufman set out to create an alternative to dropping five or six figures on a graduate level business education and started reading a ton of business books. He blogged about the books he was reading at The Personal MBA, developed the best books into a “top 99″ list, and also published all of the top lessons into an international best seller.
Instead of just writing about the same thing over and over again, Josh’s quest to put together the ideal selection of business knowledge in a single place led to his success.
In our interview with Josh Kaufman over on Expert Enough he discussed exactly why people started to care about what he was doing and how most of the business books he was reading through his initial research were actually pretty awful. The value he added was in saving people’s time by telling them which books were the best for them to read.
5. Mars Dorian
You’d be hard pressed to find someone that draws in the same style that Mars does, not to mention how he uses his drawings to teach people about building an audience online.
In a relatively short timeframe he became well-known amongst bloggers just for doing something completely different: comics about blogging.
He drew comics that poked fun at the different kinds of bloggers and genuinely commented on blogs all over the place.
His no B.S. approach to blogging and unique drawings led people to immediately take notice of what he was doing.
6. Smart Passive Income
In an “internet marketing” niche that is full of websites that look spammy and are just trying to get you to buy something, Pat Flynn built SPI around his likable personality. I’d argue that injecting himself into his brand was the catalyst for his massive success online so far.
His podcast is like you are just sitting and chatting with him 1-on-1. He doesn’t hard-sell his affiliate products, but instead gives his actual experiences with them.
To explain how he was different in July 2010, Corbett wrote a post called ‘33 Things I Have Never Told You‘. That post now has nearly 200 comments and 50 trackbacks of people doing the same kind of thing.
By writing this post he showed his readers that he wasn’t afraid of being open with people and seeing what he is really like.
Transparency online makes us human.
8. Expert Enough
To explain how EE was going to be different we created the Expert Enough manifesto. The manifesto has been shared on social media over 600 times and has spawned numerous other manifestos on sites around the web.
And heck, this wasn’t even a fresh idea. We used the Holstee manifesto as inspiration.
On Expert Enough, we also work hard to publish meaningful editorials on where society is headed like The Lost Art of Becoming Good at Things. This pillar article alone lead to massive amounts of traffic via Hacker News and social media (1,250+ shares and counting).
The main message of EE is simple to understand and that is what attracts people to it the most.
9. Pocket Changed
Sometimes a good rant is what you need to publish to make yourself stand out.
At Pocket Changed I commonly write to dispel common misconceptions I start to see around the blogosphere, social media, or just internally with my own audience’s responses.
For example, I wrote about why you probably shouldn’t quit your job to travel the world. I also write to position myself out of the boring “personal finance niche” by writing about why my site isn’t typical or what you might expect on your first impression of the brand name.
Go on a rant every once and while. People will see that you actually have an opinion.
10. Think Traffic
We know there is a lot junk online about the best ways to “make money on the internet” and that is why we work so hard here at Think Traffic to explain why we’re different.
We don’t promise any get rich quick schemes, just long-term strategies that actually work if you follow them.
In our footer we directly point out this out by saying:
“Internet “experts” will tell you if you just learn the latest social media and SEO tricks you’ll have a massive audience beating down your door.
They’re convincing enough to believe until you try the typical advice and realize it’s just a bunch of empty promises. Find out how Think Traffic’s approach is different.
Our about page then goes on to share exactly what makes us stand out from the noise.
What makes you stand out online? Why should people even care about what you are saying?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
– Caleb Wojcik