What’s Your Blog Post Adding to the Conversation?

I imagine there’s not much you can Google right now that won’t give you a boatload of articles that all say roughly the same thing.  I’m almost positive.  Content creators great and small have generated so much Internet flotsam that it’s almost impossible for an average user to see through it all.  Fortunately, Google sees all.  Oh, mighty Googler.  Google me up a dream.

What I mean is that despite all the seemingly huge pile of — let’s say “chaos” so I can promote this post on social media — out on the web, there is still preference being given to better quality content.  High quality content is still king.  It rules.  It’s everything.  Don’t forget that.  But if you think your special way of regurgitating everyone else’s content is the key to creating blog posts that are truly useful, you’d better think again.  Sit down.  I’mma ’bout ta school ya one.

Value Added Content Matters to the Big Picture

Whether you’re writing a blog to entertain your friends or sell your new fiddly widget, there are rules.  You can’t just steal other writers’ work and hope to get away with it in the Age of the Googler.  The Googler knows all, remember?  It will downrank you for any sort of content regurgitation it can detect and it’s getting smarter all the time.  This matters to you, believe it or not.  You want your site to rank, don’t you?  You want to get like, site visitors and clicks and all those happy horse apples, right?

This is where your big beautiful pulsating brain comes in.  Absolutely you don’t have to be an expert on a thing to write about it, but it’s vital that you have a functional knowledge of the subject area.  That’s because of this value added thing I’m trying to come around to.  When you take an article someone else wrote and attempt to simply rewrite it, you not only create a reasonably obvious attempt at being a dirty hack, you also don’t come off as being particularly knowledgeable.

Sure you can check out the other articles on the topic and hopefully gain a bit of insight from them.  Absolutely you should note what else is being said.  How else will you be able to add something that’s not being said to the conversation?  For example, let’s say I’m blogging about the history of the umbrella (I have no idea why so many of my examples revolve around raincoats, umbrellas, rubbers and duckies, but that’s life).  There are other articles on this topic already, but a quick scan reveals that not a one of them is discussing the very important but little-know fact* that the Aztecs used human skin stretched over a small frame to create the first parasols yet discovered.

Obviously, you’re going to have to overlap some information to write the article you or your client needs.  That’s the nature of the beast.  But, because you know a fair amount about umbrellas, you can chuck that nugget of wisdom in there with the rest.  That’s a value you’ve added.  Now, when people google “History of the Umbrella,” some of them will come across your piece, read it and recommend it to their friends because it paints a more complete picture.  More people will come.  More people will READ and that sort of thing gets the Googler’s attention.  The Googler will then bless you with a higher page ranking, so sayeth the Googler Blog.

The more you can differentiate your blog from the others, well, I mean, the better.  You’re not a sheeple, are you?  Naaaaaaaaaaaaah.  (I’m hilarious)  A blog doesn’t have to be long to be impactful or helpful or useful or just straight-up good.  I’m not talking about making it longer, necessarily, just… better.

4 Ways to Add Value to Blogs

So, I’m sure some of you are staring at me like I have three heads, but I swear there’s a way to do this.  In fact, it’s not even that hard.  You just have to use that thinker and the Googler will bless you.  Here are a few tricks to add value to your blogs and subsequently, earn notoriety and prizes:

Insert missing information.  Like in the example above, there’s almost always something missing that should be in a blog on any given topic.  “Six Ways to Make Your Colleagues Feel More Welcome” probably includes ideas like giving them candy and inviting them to meetings and asking their opinions, but I dare say, none of the articles I see mention office shenanigans.  And what office is complete without them?  Really?  That’s a value add.  When doing a list, I try very hard to ensure at least a third of my list items are unique, but the more the merrier, man.

Correct incorrect claims.  Oh boy.  You could spend literally all day doing this with Natural News, but I digress.  As an industry mind, someone who writes on these topics a lot, you probably *know* a fair amount of stuff about it.  I mean, even if you didn’t mean to, some of it stuck.  That’s the sad truth of this life, we collect bits here and there and our brain sort of hugs them until they’re needed.  So, if you see a lot of blogs claiming that the sky is orange and we breathe sulfur, you can totally value add by correcting that bad information and then citing an unshakable source or getting a quote from an expert that says as much.  Here: “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration certifies that the sky is, in fact, blue and humans breathe a mix of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon and other stuff.”  Or “‘Of course the sky’s blue and we can’t breathe sulfur,’ said Dr. Bob, Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of Your Mom.  He added, ‘Are you some kind of idiot?'”

Zig where others zag.  Oh, the zig-when-they-zag trick is an oldie, but a goodie.  Say you’re writing “5 Things to Do at a Party.”  I mean, let’s just say.  The other articles you see are all focused on what to do as a party-goer who likes to vacuum chips and quaff free soda.  Instead of following that mess, you go get a snack, then sit down and write about activities that an invited person could spontaneously lead at a party.  Perhaps the Hokey Pokey.  Or shooting off fireworks out of soda bottles like proper ‘Murricans.  Digging a hole for the bodies.  You know, what you do.  In journalism, we call this changing the angle of the story.  In copywriting, we call this fucking unheard of.  Be a thought leader.

Provide some fucking data.  I get really exhausted by articles that make wild claims and then never bother to back them up.  “30 percent of all divorces lead to spontaneous orgies, so you should really look into that.”  Um… source needed?  I can’t tell you how much it matters when someone finally has the iron labia to actually find that original study or meta analysis.  Sometimes they can’t be found, in which case you shouldn’t be fucking declaring that thing as fact.  But if you, my precious ones, if YOU can give us facts where we only had claims, well, that’s something glorious and miraculous.  Amen.

If any of you read Dan Savage’s “Savage Love,” you’re gonna be familiar with the Campsite Rule.  Basically, Dan says you should leave your lover in a better shape than you found them in.  I say this also goes for your content and even your reader.  Just because some other lazy fucking slag was willing to stop before the article was really done right doesn’t mean you get to.

You’re one of mine now, motherfucker.  Do the shit right.

Get Organized, You Slob!

Messy DeskWriters are among the most disgusting fucks I know.  Not only do they forget to bathe for days or weeks at a time, they usually end up working in a pile of feculence the likes of which can only be matched by an open garbage dump.  There’s no excuse for this level of gruesome and odious filth.  Period.  Dot.

If you want to make it in this business, you’ve got to get your shit together.  Get your vile pile under control!

How Disorganization Costs You

When you’re extremely disorganized, there’s no hope for you — but most of you don’t fall in that range, you’re usually just some disorganized or a little confused and have a few piles.  Total disorganization makes our job impossible.  There’s no way you can juggle multiple clients with their various needs if your desk look like that one up there.  You’re fucked in that regard.  But, if you’re somewhere between that and organized, I can help.

Being disorganized costs you in more ways than financial.  Even if you never have a video conference (I recommend you don’t until you get your ass organized), your clients will notice the sloppy work your environment encourages, they’ll start keeping track of how often they have to remind you what their voice should be… and they might even end up calling you at home because you’ve started missing deadlines.

Basically, your disorganization is going to lead to the ruin of your business and potentially the fall of humanity.  That’s a big burden to carry, I know.

Emerging From the Pile

Of course, you can change your putrid ways today.  TODAY!  You can clean the fuck out of your desk, get your papers in one stack (Why do you still have papers?!  This is the digital age!) and generally make life a lot easier for yourself.  Any organizational system is a personal thing, but I’ve been crafting one for years and I have a few items I think everybody needs:

Whiteboards for Client Tracking.  Whiteboards bring me endless joy and utility — I have them scattered throughout the house.  But the ones in my office are of special value, they help me keep track of client needs, give me a place to jot notes and draw things and allow me to visualize how much of my hard-earned cash is still out there floating around.

Scheduling Calendar.  No writer in their right mind should be without some kind of scheduling calendar.  I use Google Calendar, but you can use a paper calendar, a whiteboard calendar or whatever works.  Fill your daily work into each day’s section as individual pieces, and move things around as need be.  This way you can easily see if you have time to take on more work or if you have to pass on that awesome offer that just came randomly to your email.

Shelf for Reference Books.  No matter your specialty, you’ve got some reference books, even if they just consist of a tattered copy of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, a half legible dictionary and a 1998 edition of the Associated Press Stylebook.  Everything needs a fucking place.

Drawers for Files and Pens.  Other things, like pens and files, are less frequently used than your reference materials, so stash them nearby, but away.  Get them off your desk with a rolling file cabinet or buy a new desk with some storage.  Treat this shit like an investment, because it is.

Spreadsheet for Income Data.  This is less of a physical thing, but if you really want to know how you’re doing compared to last year or where you’re headed based on five years of income data, a spreadsheet can give you that info.  It’s even a great way to curb your spending on expensive, but necessary things like fast food hamburgers, the mana of life.

Post-It Notes.  I should really buy some stock in 3M, because I use the fuck out of Post-Its.  They’re a great way to keep track of who wants single spaces in their deliverables, what needs to be done right away and new ideas I’ve left to implement.  They’re great for everything.  Sometimes I stick them to my husband’s head.

I promise you that if you get your shit together, it’ll pay off in the long run.  Clean your desk, you filthy mongrel, pick up your space and get fucking organized!!