Standing out when there’s already too much of too much

When I started this blog a year ago I wondered if there was really room, thinking I’d long missed the bus. After all, you have a bevy of A-list bloggers who have established their positions and corner of the market. Maybe there’s too much competition.

Listen to Dan Perez and you wonder if that’s true when he talks about many of us #UsGuys coming to similar conclusions in our new weekend theme posts. So you wonder, should you simply give up? Or say, hell no! I’m not looking back in three years and think, I should have. Woulda. Coulda. Shoulda. No, such feedback is a healthy nudge to think a little deeper.

This happens to my fourth blog domain I’ve started. The others long abandoned; failed because I over thought them rather than just purposefully writing. But as this one has my name on it, the stakes are bit higher. I can’t run away.

Maybe I’ll never become an A-list blogger. Seriously, how do you compete with the likes of the Huffington Post, Mashable or The Daily? Or the many content farms focused solely on monetization rather than advancing compelling thinking? But is that the point? Is this just a popularity contest?

Or maybe it’s about getting my thoughts out in the public. Testing ideas, garnering a comment or two, and seriously clarifying my thinking so that I can connect some dots. Just maybe I can help those in my corner of the world. But blogging forces me to practice the art of writing. To put a little craft into it and make me a better communicator everywhere else. Part of the 10,000 hours to mastery.

In any job or relationship, you need an ability to communicate ideas and vision. You need to be able to articulate what you stand for and back that up with credible examples. That’s what this is all about – finding a voice and providing substance.

But to stand out in a crowded blogosphere comes down to differentiation. The battle for attention. And since all of us are starved for time, that’s no easy feat. But isn’t this what most every product we marketers market face every day? Aren’t we always thinking about how to expand our customer base, expand our brands’ reach? Something like 156,000 new products launched to the world last year. No matter where you look it’s endless. How about the actors, musicians, artists vying for attention? Blogging is no exception. Many won’t make it. Many give up their blogs before they make it through Seth Godin’s Dip.

But how cool is it that you and I can write these words and push a button and share them with the world? Or those in the world that find them?

I think a lot about possibility and asking what if? The only way to find out is to do it. So one year in, I’m just getting started. And enjoying the process more with each post. It’s a game. It’s a puzzle. A challenge to figure it all out that keeps the mind nimble and curious.

And to Dan’s point about us sharing similar thoughts, I think there’s value in the perspective. And while we #UsGuys may have come together with a common vision on many fronts, there are distinctions. And that adds richness to the whole. And the more themes we tackle via #UsBlogs or Letsblogoff, the more you’ll discover the differences. Each of us also has different audiences who may not be exposed to the same ideas. What’s stale to Dan might be fresh to someone not so enmeshed in social media.

So write on I say. Enjoy the journey. Find your points of differentiation and focus on your craft. It’s the little things that make a difference.

On the point of craft, there are three books I recommend:

The Writer’s Coach by Jack Hart – former Oregonian editor and someone I’ve respected since my days in Journalism school.

Syd Field’s Screenplay – you’ll never watch a movie the same way again.

Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark – useful strategies to mix things up a bit.


  1. Dane Findley says:

    As I often say to my colleagues, playfully, “Careful, blogging may make you a better person.”

    It hones your thinking, puts discipline into your exploratory process — it develops you (or it can, if done with an open heart).

    I think just about everyone can do one blog post a week. That’s probably not enough to “hit,” but it’s enough to gradually build a body of work you can be proud of.

    Having said all that, I would add one caution: please don’t blog if you don’t love blogs. If ya don’t read ’em, don’t write ’em!

    { twitter = @danenow }

  2. Patrick says:

    Dane – you hit the proverbial nail on the head with these thoughts. I appreciate your addition about the reciprocal nature of blogging – you should read others if you expect others to read your own. It’s a two way street. But isn’t that the basic tenet of social media? Building that two-way relationship?


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