This is a question that I got yesterday while hosting an online workshop. And it is such a relevant question because as I am sure you know, there are literally BILLIONS of blogs out there.
“How do I differentiate my blog from the rest?”
How do you get your content to stand out and be different to such an extent that people will want to know what you’re thinking and saying on a regular basis? Have do you have a unique blog?
You don’t. Not at first anyway. In the beginning, you look at what everyone else is doing, especially the people with a huge following who seem to be doing something right, and you copy them. And that’s fine – it takes a while to get into things. But once you can figure out what your blog is about, what your own look and feel wants to be, and what your voice and your style is, that’s when you can start to stand out from the crowd.
That’s when you become authentic.
Authenticity is essential if you’re going to make it as blogger. And that’s the exciting part – you can be successful simply by being more of who you already are. Simple, right!?
When I started blogging, I didn’t even really know what I wanted to blog about. I was a new mom, a full-time interior designer, I lived on a farm and I wanted to write. In that already, there are a few options. I didn’t want to necessarily write about design at that stage though – writing was my way of getting away from work! – so I decided to have a blog about my son and our life on the farm. I started out as a diarist blogger with a blog called Playing House. I still like the name – it’s fun and has a bit of a design / decor ring to it. And I loved it: I wrote about the activities I did with my boy; the food I made him – there are full blogs dedicated to getting toddlers to eat, and there is a reason for that! – and other kids-related things that interested me: events, interiors, graphics… everything really!
Playing House did pretty well – I think I built up my following to a couple of thousand in those first 2 years. But I wasn’t authentic yet. I devoured everything I could on how to blog, what to do, what not to do, how to get followers, run competitions, get advertisers. And I did anything and everything and kind of lost my voice in the middle of it all.
By the time I was ready to quit my job and start blogging full-time, I realized that this kids-centered online world that I had created, which by then included 2 boys, was becoming very limiting and I wanted to do other things as well. The reality is that my kids would grow up, and then if I had built a brand and following for a kids blog, I would have to stick to that.
So that’s why in April 2014, with a 2 and a half year old blog and a small but dedicated following, I rebranded. And it hurt. It took me more than a year to get my numbers up again. I have never regretted doing it though and I deeply love the brand that I had built since then. Because that rebrand was my first step towards authenticity. Towards having my own voice and style, and being true to that.
I realized then that there weren’t a lot of interior design / decor and DIY blogs in South Africa. That in itself was an advantage – but of course fast-forward 3 years and it’s not exactly the case anymore!
While I still get blog layout ideas by looking at other websites, I am quite confident in my own style now. The blog was a lot more feminine and vintage at one point – that was while we were writing our book and that had a big influence on how the blog looked. But now, I am much calmer and centered and without the frills, and that shows in the look and feel of Homeology now. I also do regular look and feel updates, sometimes small tweaks and sometimes a complete overhaul. But that’s because I change regularly and the blog is reflection of me. That also keeps it real.
As for the guest bloggers on my site, they have their own personal voice and style and I don’t interfere with that. The ways in which they do things, add variety to my content and I also don’t want them to do what I do; they need to do what they do best.
So the best thing you can do for your blog, is be authentic. Be honest and true and try to find your own style and voice in the din of it all. You’ll be amazed at how people will appreciate that.
Styled natural elements desk feature image background from Shutterstock