As a blogger, you are part of a community. If you want to be successful, you must get involved. While it is very important to become involved and read blogs within your blog’s niche, it is also a good idea to spend some of your time reading blogs in other niches. It might seem like you just don’t have enough time to add anything else to your to-do list. But this is seriously an investment worth making. Here are three great reasons to read blogs in other niches.
To Increase your Knowledge
If you have committed yourself to being a blogger, chances are you are what is referred to as a “lifelong learner.” You still read books, you enjoy settings goals and you have an insatiable curiosity about all sorts of topics. With the right-now nature of the internet, it has never been a better time to be a lifelong learner. One of the best ways to learn about any topic is by learning from an expert. The on-demand nature of blogs makes it very easy to find experts on just about any topic imaginable.
Choose a few topics that pique your curiosity and run a Google blog search or visit Technorati. To find a real expert, spend some time reading archives and paying attention to comments. If a blog has a lot of comments then it is (1) probably popular and (2) engaging. These are both good signs that it is a good blog from which to learn. The most important thing is to be sure that the blogger knows their topic. The last thing you want to do is waste your time.
One of my favorite niches to follow is the green niche. I have a blog in that niche now, but I first started following green blogs way before I even started my first blog. I knew eventually I wanted to blog in the niche, but I wanted to feel things out before I jumped in. There are a ton of very knowledgeable bloggers in the green blogosphere so you have to know what you are talking about.
This is true in most niches, so if you are going to write as an expert, make sure you really are one. The Darwinian principle seriously applies in the blogosphere. The most knowledgeable, dedicated and educated bloggers are the survivors. Most blogs don’t last past the three-month mark for only a handful of reasons. One of these is that the blogger simply runs out of things to say. The more you know, the more you have to blog about. Knowledge – of any sort – makes you a better blogger.
Improve your Writing
The more you read, the better you write. When you read you learn new ways to write, hear different voices and further develop your own style. Yes, there are a lot of really terrible writers who blog. But there are a lot of really great writers who blog as well. It is just a matter of investing a bit of time to find the great ones.
To get the most out of reading a great writer you want to stop yourself from skimming. I know how difficult it can be to slow yourself down when you feel as though you already have so much to do. Some of the best writing is thoroughly skim-able simply because it is so well-written. Because you aren’t stumbling over it, you might not be giving it the attention it deserves. Just don’t forget that writing is a craft and developing it takes focus.
Often all it takes to slow down and really notice the writing is asking yourself a few questions. What is it about the article that makes it so easy to skim? Why are these sentences so smoothly readable? If you can pinpoint what you like so much about the writing then you can take it back with you. I am not saying you ought to copy another writer’s style exactly. But by carefully observing cadence and structure, you can understand what appeals to you and other readers.
New Tactics and Methods
Once a certain tactic has proven effective in a specific niche, other bloggers in that niche will quickly pick it up and use it as well. This means the tactic soon becomes stale and loses its effectiveness. In the “make money online” blogging niche, a good example of this is the “reviews for links” tactic.
Started by John Chow early last Spring, this tactic sped through related niches faster than an eight-year-old opens his Christmas presents. It was a killer way to get links and build community, but after everyone started filling their blogs with links to everyone else’s, it seriously lost its effectiveness. There will always be links traded for reviews, but not in the same whirlwind fashion as when Mr. Chow first introduced it.
The cool thing is, not all niches are connected. If you are reading blogs in other niches, you will see what those bloggers are using to pull in visitors. Even if a tactic is completely stale in that niche, it might be something that your niche has not yet seen. Because you were lurking in that other niche, you will get to debut the new method in your niche where it still holds maximum effectiveness.
As a writer, your style will constantly evolve. Everyone has room for improvement. You may think that, as a blogger, you don’t need to learn how to write because you just write like you talk. Most people who think they write like they talk actually couldn’t write their way out of a paper bag. To write conversationally and make it sound natural is quite difficult.
Even if you have the best ideas in the world, you won’t do well as a blogger if you can’t write well enough to properly communicate them. If I were teaching a course on blogging, it would be split into thirds with equal parts spend on researching, design/technology and writing. To be a self-sufficient, successful blogger, all three of these skillsets must be learned and regularly exercised.