Sumesh Premraj left a comment today on a Blogging Tips post I wrote about 5 or 6 weeks ago about the changes I was making to this blog at the time. He spoke about how many blogging advice blogs like Blogging Tips are simply rehashing what has already been said. Now, this is a view which is shared by many and since this affects this blog in particular I want to talk more about the subject.
Before I proceed, here is the last part of the comment which inspired me to write this post :
Another point is that there are too many arm-chair theorists here. No offense to them, but most metablog readers (especially those who’ve read Problogger, DBT etc for two years or more) would find many posts here at BT rehashed. Perhaps the authors here do not realize that most things they have said have been said already, but that’s the way it is.
As I see it, traditional “blogging tips/make-money-online” blogs do not have much value any more. Most established blogs have said everything there is to say in the niche. Of course, with proper marketing and branding, BT could be popular even while rehashing some of the advice, but that would not make for an invaluable blog.
The challenge for new metablogs would lie in distinguishing themselves from the rest by providing what other blogging tips blogs do not. I can think of only 5-6 topics off the top of my head as I write this, but I’m sure there’ll be more (and I won’t tell you those 5-6 because I need them for my own metablog, BlogCreativity.com 🙂 )
First of all, I need to point out the irony that this comment was made by someone who has just launched their own blogging advice blog 😉 Also, I believe Sumesh was referring more to how Blogging Tips was a few months ago when we had more authors on the blog.
I actually agree with some of what Sumesh has said in his comment. I agree that some topics are rehashed however I don’t believe it is intentional and I think it hard to avoid too.
Heres the thing, any advice or tips blog will inevitably cover topics that have already been covered elsewhere on the web. Blogs which discuss the latest news or event for a given subject will not have this problem. For example, an LA Lakers fan blog would blog mostly about the last game played or upcoming transfers. Advice blogs are different though and that is the category which Blogging Tips falls under.
Advice blogs like this one will at one point post about a topic which has either been covered on another blog or the blog itself. For example, if I launched a brand new dating and relationship blog I would no doubt cover topics which have been discussed on other dating blogs and after a few years theres a good chance some of the topics will appear to be very similar to ones which appeared at the start. Does that mean you should stop posting, of course not!
Blogging Tips posts are rehashed
Sumesh stated that :
those who’ve read Problogger, DBT etc for two years or more would find many posts here at BT rehashed
I think that this is the wrong way to look at Blogging Tips and the wrong way to look at any blog to be honest. First of all, ProBlogger is without doubt the most popular blogging advice blog on the net. Compared to how long most other webmaster related topics have been online, blogging advice is a niche which is relatively young and Darren Rowse was without doubt the pioneer in this field. ProBlogger was started in September 2004. It was 26 months until Daily Blog Tips arrived and 30 months before Blogging Tips arrived.
In that time Darren wrote hundreds of great articles which covered just about every aspect of running, maintaining and promoting a blog. By the time DBT and BT arrived it was practically impossible to cover a subject which hadn’t at least been touched upon by Darren. Does this mean that these blogs should not have been created? Does that mean we should not cover topics which have already been discussed elsewhere on the web? If that was the case 99% of people reading this would be best to close their blog and stop blogging. It reminds me of the South Park episode entitled ‘Simpsons Already Did It‘ where the creators acknowledged how difficult it was to cover subjects which hadn’t been covered by The Simpsons because the show had been on so long.
One other major point is that Darren himself has covered topics which he has already covered years before. This does not mean he is rehashing his own posts, far from it. Firstly, whenever he touches upon a subject he has covered before he links to the original post. He then adds more to it by repeating or changing his view on the topic and explaining why.
Secondly, and for me more importantly, is the changing readership. Just like everything in life, there is a learning curve with blogging. Blogging advice sites attract a lot of people who are new to blogging. As time passes many of these bloggers will change their working and their reading habits. If you have been blogging for a few years and run a highly successful blog then the need to read blogging advice and making money online blogs everyday obviously reduces. Therefore, it’s safe to say that the majority of people who were reading ProBlogger every day and reading comments 3 years ago are not doing it now because they either stopped blogging or developed a successful blog and no longer need to read it every day. Sure, they may still visit it from time to time and they probably still subscribe but they don’t rely on it as much as they did.
This is one of the main reasons why topics which have been covered before are discussed again. You need to cater for your active readers and you just cannot assume that your readers have searched all of your archives and read all of your old posts.
With regards to Blogging Tips
With regards to this blog, it is difficult for Blogging Tips not to have comparisons drawn with other blogging advice blogs. Daily Blog Tips has about 6 times the number of subscribers as this blog and ProBlogger has an incredible 25 times the number of subscribers we have so it’s safe to say that most people who read Blogging Tips also read those blogs too.
Being the smaller blog means that if I cover a subject which has already been touched upon on more poular blogs some readers may assume I am copying or rehashing what has already been posted. Of course, the opposite is not true. I have wrote posts about subjects which have later been covered on more popular blogs and no one suggested they were rehashing something which had already been discussed. This isn’t a complaint, it’s just the reality of how things work.
There are a variety of subjects covered on Blogging Tips but generally speaking they can be split into 3 different types of posts :
- Blogging Advice posts : These are the types of posts which Sumesh was referring to in his comment. Posts like ‘Top 10 ways to promote your blog’ etc. Posts such as these stay relevant for quite a long time. They should be of interest to new bloggers as they give basic tips on blogging however more experienced bloggers will not get much from these kind of posts.
- News type posts : News posts discuss a new webite, product or a current event. These posts interest bloggers of all levels however their relevance is short lived. If someone comes across one of these posts via a search engine theres a good chance it’s already old news.
- Technical and reference posts : My post today entitled ‘An explanation of CSS List Style Types’ is a good example of the technical posts which can be found at BloggingTips. These posts should stand the test of time and should be as useful to bloggers in a years time as they are today. However, new bloggers who do not have experience with coding may struggle to understand this kind of post. I do my best to explain technical posts for newbies but I’m sure many new bloggers simply skip these types of posts.
As you can see, different types of posts are written to cater for bloggers of different experience. Blogging advice type posts are the type of posts which you are likely to see on other blogging advice blogging however that does not mean I will not cover these posts here. Bottom line, if I have something worthwile to say about any blogging subject I will write a post about it. I cannot allow posts on other blogs to have a negative influence on what I cover here, I cannot write posts on the assumption that all readers subscribe to other blogging advice blogs.
If you are thinking of starting a blog in a competitive niche then you should be aware of your competitors, however don’t be overawed by them and don’t be discouraged to start a blog in the first place. If you enjoy blogging and you have an opinion you should start the blog. Who’s to say the most popular blogs in a niche today will be the most popular in a year or two.
Blogging advice and making money online blogs are incredibly popular nowadays. Yes, I do agree there are a lot of people bringing nothing new to the table however there are a lot of great bloggers coming through too so it’s unfair to put everyone in the same boat. I have spoke a lot about blogging advice type blogs in this post thought I’m sure you can see how all of this can be applied to any blog which gives advice.
Trying to cater for all your readers can sometimes be a juggling act but if you be yourself and continue to improve as a blogger I’m sure your blog will grow.
Last of all I would like to thank Sumesh Premraj for his comment as it inspired me to write this post. Nothing beats a good debate! 😉
As always, I’d love to hear your opinion on all of this 🙂