If you take a look at the most successful bloggers out there, you can notice that they all have a unique angle that they’ve adopted, and most of their content is presented through that angle. I believe in most cases, these successful bloggers have identified a balance between what value they can contribute to the topic in a way that will be relatively easy for them to achieve but at the same time harder for their competitors to try and imitate.
This is an interesting topic that I don’t see discussed that much in the digital marketing world, and yet it can get you a lot of leverage in your content production efforts.
- What is a blogging style?
- What are the most common blogging styles and angles?
- Which blogging angle should I take?
What is a blogging style?
If you write enough content, you will probably notice that you’re developing a blogging style. And even if you don’t notice it, you’re probably still developing your style, you’re just not noticing it.
Here’s an illustration of the point. Out of the 30 initial articles you write, maybe 10 will rank well, and those 10 may be written from 3 different angles/styles. So at that point, you will have a good idea of which angles could work, and you will gain an extraordinary competitive advantage if you try and stick with whatever angle is easiest for you to produce the most.
Since there are only a finite number of content creators, and all of us are unique, you will be either the only one, or one of the very few creators that creates content from that specific angle. And since most niches are relatively big, audiences will often prefer several different styles and angles for consuming what’s essentially the same piece of information, and that’s what opens up possibilities for several different bloggers to target the exact same audience, and they can usually all get a slice of the pie.
So, if you decide to start a blog, even in some competitive niche, you can still be quite successful in that niche if you find a good angle for it.
Let’s see some of the common angles that have proven to work well so far.
What are the most common blogging styles and angles?
This is not a definite list, but so far I’ve seen bloggers make these approaches and angles work for various niches:
- expertise or first-hand experience
- long, detailed, helpful content
- main focus on backlinks and authority
- blog + Youtube channel
- blog + Pinterest
- blog + community (usually a Facebook group, or sometimes a subreddit)
- lots of original and authentic photos, creative graphics and illustrations
- interviews, quotes, and comments
- dirty blogging
Obviously, you can (and should) mix and match several of these, but I recommend choosing one, or at most two, as your primary angles.
Let’s check each one of these out.
Expertise or first-hand experience
As the name suggests, this approach is based on deep research on the topic, usually derived from your personal experience with most of the products, services, or processes you are covering. Doesn’t matter if you’re writing product reviews or list articles or educating your audience on how to learn something, this approach is probably applicable to every single niche or topic.
Today, this is almost certainly the best angle to take on. Your authority will be either unrivaled, or at the same level as the authority of the top bloggers in your niche, and over time, you will win. Personal experience is impossible to replicate, and your audience will always appreciate that.
In fact, I’d go as far as saying that this approach is impossible to fail if you give it enough time. I just don’t think an authentic expert that shows his or her face in every blog post, in tons of photos of them using the product, can ever fail. And reviews done by people that have actually used a product will almost always beat general reviews that just state almost the same things that the product page on the online store states.
The main problem with this approach is that it will not be feasible for most people.
Most people are simply not experts in the topics they want to write about, and have no easy access to the products or services they need to write about.
Also, trying to fake expertise is even harder than actually getting it (don’t ask me how I know this). And doing authentic, hands-on reviews requires more time, more money in most cases, and more effort in general.
That’s why you’ll have an enormous advantage if you’re already an expert at something, or you are very enthusiastic about a certain line of products and frequently geek out about them.
Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea here – non-experts with other approaches can most definitely be successful. They will often be at a disadvantage, and sometimes may have to accept the second place in a niche (which can also be pretty lucrative), but they can (and do) still provide value to their audience and they do deserve a piece of the pie.
There is one way to somewhat hack expertise, and that’s through what I call complementary expertise. That’s when you’re not necessarily the most knowledgeable person in the world on your niche, but you are pretty good at another skill related to it, and you can often give your content that twist that makes you stand out and also provides some original value for your audience.
The best example I can think of here may be some of my blogs. I’m a programmer by trade, and if the niche I’m writing in has an opening for content that’s at least somehow related to programming, you can be certain that I’m going to take that opportunity. The digital marketing may be a good example here. While I’ve been in it for a few years now, and I believe I have more than enough success to justify talking about it (certainly more than some other “experts”), I’m probably not yet an expert (usually, “expert” means someone who’s been in the field for 10+ years, and digital marketing has barely been around for that long). But adding a touch of programming to my content gives it a lot of uniqueness and it will be massively valuable for some people. So even though digital marketing is not too heavily related to programming, there are some angles I or other programmers may take that can still be valuable to our readers (some fast and custom HTML, some clever WordPress hacks, etc). Not to mention the fact that I also used my programming skills to code the apps themselves, which is another way you can use your other skills to bring value to your readers even in a niche you’re not an expert in.
Long, detailed, helpful content
Creating long, detailed, helpful content for your audience is probably the next best thing you can do for them after offering expert content.
This has been my main approach for most of my blogs, especially the ones where I haven’t been an expert.
Interestingly enough, if you spend a lot of time crafting this type of content, you will often find that you’re actually becoming sort of an expert. While practical experience will beat theory any day of the week, you will still learn a ton in the process.
Plus, every expert has been a student at some point.
This blogging angle requires a lot of research, and you’ll probably spend the majority of your time doing that, especially at the beginning.
It’s also very helpful if you sharpen up your communication, presentation, and writing skills, as those will be some of your main weapons as well. You shouldn’t expect to beat expert content very often, but sometimes it will happen. Turns out, we shouldn’t underestimate the value of knowing how to clearly communicate an idea, and if the people in your niche with more experience are not as articulate and can’t formulate their ideas clearly and don’t know how to present an argument, you will have a fighting chance.
Finally, another useful tool you will rely on here often will be good old keyword research. By knowing what to write about, how to structure your articles, what your headers should be, and some other clever SEO jiu-jitsu, you will establish a permanent foothold in some pretty powerful topics in your niche, especially ones that don’t necessarily require that much hands-on experience and where readers are interested in the generalities.
So, while it’s clearly better to be as much of an expert as you can on your topic, this approach can work well (and you should also adopt it to a degree, even if you’re already an expert). I believe this angle can be taken on by everyone, and that makes it very powerful for beginners. You should still be authentic and transparent, but there’s nothing wrong with being a student, and your audience will often not even mind it if the content gives them what they’re looking for.
Remember, the student becomes the expert.
The backlinks-first approach is still viable and can work great.
Just do 20 random Google queries, and open both the number one and number two results. You will almost certainly find that in at least 5 of those cases, the number one result was not better than the number two, and sometimes the difference will even be so big, that you may start to have doubts about the actual intelligence of the artificial intelligence.
The main problem I have with this angle is that it’s probably going in the opposite direction of where search engines want to go, as their goal is probably to be able to evaluate the quality of every piece of content without having to see whether other websites link to it (and, implicitly, regard it as a source and an authority).
Another problem here is that you still need the content. And, you need it to be at least somewhat good, so that trusted websites will link back to it.
Plus, I don’t think this is a very beginner-friendly approach. There are several good methods of building high-quality backlinks, and they all take time to execute and even more time to master, and beginners are usually already struggling with learning how to write good blog posts (and of those two, only the writing is absolutely necessary, as you can’t build links to nothing). Splitting their time and attention will not do them any favors here, and they will probably end up being mediocre in both of those areas.
Anyway, this approach clearly works, and will probably work for a long time.
In fact, after your 100th or 150th article, your blog will probably be at a point when one high-authority backlink will bring you more value than yet another article, and that’s why I recommend incorporating some link-building at that point. But only after you’re good at writing and have a lot of content!
Blog + Youtube channel
The combination of a blog and a Youtube channel is a very powerful one. For some niches, and for some people, this is easily the best angle and the clear path forward.
As you’ve probably noticed yourself, Youtube videos tend to pop up into Google search results more and more, and I suspect this will continue to grow as a trend.
Also, the blog posts of bloggers with strong Youtube channels also tend to rank higher lately.
It seems like a blog and a Youtube channel feed each other authority and traffic.
It makes sense too, when you think about it. You may even manage to fake some expertise in a blog post somehow, but a Youtube video is pretty much impossible to fake.
The obvious problem for many here will be that they hate being on camera.
But also, I can guarantee you that for every excuse you may ever dig up from the back of your nervous system, I can find you 10 super-successful Youtubers that have the same shortcoming you are self-conscious about, or have it worse.
No equipment is not an excuse. Look at my channel – the only equipment is an Android phone I got basically for free, and yet, it’s slowly but surely starting to get some attention. And trust me, there are worse examples than me.
Being shy is not an excuse. That’s just a part of your skillset that you can work on, and you will be amazed by how fast you can progress (this is coming from a massive introvert).
Inability to face criticism is not an excuse. Number one, really? You’re gonna let that stand in the way between you and your success? Number two, people that criticize you unfairly, or hate on you, or troll you, are almost 100% of the time people that are hurting themselves, and are probably in a much worse place than you, and often times they just want your attention. Number three, come on, grow up, and share your knowledge with the world, because we need you.
I truly recommend trying to start a Youtube channel to go along with your blog. It doesn’t even have to be anything spectacular to help your blog a lot. I mean, look at my videos – they’re just me saying basically what I wrote in the blog post 20 minutes earlier! Everybody can do that! And should!
In essence, if you can’t produce true expert content, and for some reason you don’t want to produce detailed and research-heavy content, then you will probably want to take a stab at a Youtube channel. I still recommend trying to get one going even if your primary angle is a different one, as it’s really not that hard to get started and see some good results from it.
Blog + Pinterest
Pinterest has been a somewhat hidden source of traffic for a number of bloggers for years now. It gets a few mentions here and there, but I believe most people are not aware of how much traffic can Pinterest get them.
As with some other approaches, driving traffic from Pinterest has a learning curve to it, but I believe it’s not that big as with the other approaches. If you watch most of the videos of Anastasia Blogger (which you can do in a day), and start applying all of the tips (they are not that many), you can start getting good at it in a matter of weeks.
The main problem with Pinterest is that it doesn’t work for all niches.
Weddings, food, travel, lifestyle, weddings, home decorating, kitchens, weddings, weddings, a few related niches… and the list practically ends there. While the male demographic has grown somewhat, it’s still largely a place for products primarily targeted at women.
And, another downside is that Pinterest is not that good at giving away free traffic as it used to be 5 years ago, or even 1 year ago. That’s part of the natural progression of every platform – first they attract users by encouraging marketers to publish content there, but as soon as they start getting a critical mass of regular users that create content there mostly for fun, they start cutting out the traffic supply for marketers and try to make users stay on the platform as much as possible.
Anyway, it’s still a good angle for a blog. If your niche is the type of niche that can succeed on Pinterest, and maybe if you enjoy creating cool pins in Canva, then it might be the right approach for you.
Blog + Community
I’ve seen bloggers that make this approach work, but personally I don’t prefer it, and I don’t recommend it.
A lot of your time will be spent moderating comments and putting out flame wars and making sure the kids are fed up and in bed and not fighting (meaning, your community members). And, as soon as you stop the babysitting, the whole things starts to decay and fall apart.
I don’t think it’s a good business model, unless you’re planning on being a permanently active admin of a community. Probably even trying to hire someone to do it for you will have a noticeable dropoff in performance.
Plus, your community will probably be either in the form of a Facebook group, or a subreddit on Reddit, and both of those are big companies that don’t care about your business very much, and can change the rules from right under you at any time in a way that will just make your entire business disappear over night. I’ve seen people lose 95% of their traffic with some of the Facebook changes… not fun!
Not to mention the fact that as time goes by and organic reach continues to die a slow and painful death, you will feel more and more pressure to advertise on those platforms, even just to reach the audience that is “yours”.
And, of course, building a community with a substantial number of members is not an easy task, and in fact it may take even more time than building a nice and strong blog.
Now, it’s not like it’s all bad.
The community founders have a certain hero-like status within that group, especially among the more engaged members (which are often times some of the early adopters or even trendsetters in that niche), and the amount of trust and authority they have within that group is huge and spills over into the niche in general.
Also, the possibilities for selling directly to the community are practically endless. It’s like having access to the best part of the audience of a niche.
And, of course, you get to ban people, which I’m sure it’s a huge thrill for some.
Still, in general, I wouldn’t recommend this approach, and especially not recommend it for beginners. You will typically find that the most successful Facebook groups and subreddits are already several years old, and it’s hard for newbies to build up a large and engaged community easily.
Lots of original and authentic photos, creative graphics and illustrations
For a certain subset of bloggers, this approach can be massive. If you’ve done graphic design in any meaningful way, or plan to do it, this can be a very easy path to victory in some cases.
If nobody else is doing it, you can simply be “the blog with the good images/graphics/illustrations/infographics/creatives/photos/…”, and even if you’re not the only one, there’s probably room for another blogger with this angle.
While you will still need to write good content as much as possible, the visual element of your blog will be not only covered, but probably bring you a lot of social shares and backlinks from other bloggers that post your images in their posts and link to you as the source. Even journalists from high-authority websites will link back to you, and those links can take regular bloggers months to get!
And, if you combine this with some data and research, you can be almost certain that you will be getting pretty good backlinks if you’re in a niche with at least some decent search volume.
Not a bad approach at all. But you need to be good at those graphic-y thingies.
Interviews, quotes, and comments
I’ve seen this approach pulled off successfully by some bloggers, although most of them were bigger blogs, and I suspect this is only one of several blogging styles they’re using. This is more typical for a newspaper-style type of website.
While it can work relatively well, I wouldn’t recommend it to most people. It will take you a lot of outreach, that will result in only a handful of responses you can use, and even fewer backlinks. Mostly you will get tweets to your articles, which are not entirely worthless, but won’t do you much good in the long run.
It may be an approach worth exploring at least once or twice. If you like, try doing a roundup of the biggest experts in your niche on a hot topic. It will probably take the same time and effort as three blog posts, and there is potential for a payoff much bigger than the one of three articles.
But in general, I believe this approach is best left to journalists and bigger blogs that are moving towards magazine-type of content.
This is still experimental, so don’t try it at home… yet! You’ve been warned! 🙂
“Dirty blogging” is the placeholder name I’ve given to an approach to blogging that I’ve sorta stumbled upon in the last few months and it seems like it has been providing me with disproportionately high returns compared to the effort I put into writing. (The name might stay, I kinda like it.)
Caveat number one – dirty blogging will probably not work unless you are at least somewhat experienced in your niche. I’m saying “somewhat” because you don’t really have to hold a PhD on the topic, but you must know what you’re talking about, so it will not work for anyone that’s still learning about the niche.
Caveat number two – you need to already be a decent writer. I would estimate that you need at least three months of blogging experience to be able to pull this off.
So, in essence, you probably don’t want to try this as a beginner, but you may be ready for it if you’re an intermediate.
Ok, so what’s dirty blogging?
In short, it’s creating content that’s good enough to rank highly in one half to one third of the time it takes you to create content usually.
There are three tips, three keys you need to follow.
One, you need a content scaffold ready, meaning you know how to structure your article beforehand. You can’t waste time thinking of how the outline of every blog post will look like, in terms of the header structure, the overall flow of the article, and the points you’re trying to make. This will have to be premeditated. Of course, the more proof you have that this content template works, the better, but that will not always be a luxury you can afford, so you will have to roll with the punches.
But in general, you will already have a form of this prepared probably, because, well, you will probably notice a pattern in your blogging style after some time. I mean, how much different can the reviews of two blenders be? They all have to address the same concerns, talk about the same benefits and drawbacks, compare the same specs, right? So, after your 10th review of a product, you will probably already have something like this going for you. I don’t want to say that this is like “fill-in-the-blanks” type of thing, but it may remind you of that in some ways, and that doesn’t necessarily mean it will not result in good content in the end.
Two, you will keep research at a minimum. That’s why you need to be familiar with the topic. The result will not always be perfect, but unless it’s an important topic, and more importantly, an important data point you’re writing about, then some minor mistakes will not be a huge catastrophe.
I should note that you should still be careful here and don’t freestyle too much on the important metrics. All I’m saying is, you can cut out some of the unimportant research as long as you’re certain enough in your expertise. For example, maybe you’ll write that a certain blender weighs 4.25 lbs in your article because that’s what you remember about it, and later it turns out that it actually weighs 4.2 lbs. Not too far off, and not that big of a deal.
Three, and probably most importantly, you will keep editing at a minimum. I’m not gonna lie to you, this is my favorite part to skip. I just hate doing it, and maybe that’s why I developed this approach. I recommend one final run with Grammarly to get rid of spelling errors. As I said, you will need to be an already somewhat decent writer (or consider yourself one).
The result is content that’s good-enough to rank, good-enough to bring value to your audience because of your expertise, and doesn’t take too long to produce.
The biggest advantage of dirty blogging is the sheer volume of good content that you output. I’m not saying great content, because it’s not great (although it can easily become so), but it’s still good. It’s especially good for covering low-volume keywords with some or no competition. As I’ve said in several other places in this blog and on my channel, I truly believe that it’s very important for independent bloggers to learn how to produce a large quantity of content (even if they have to sacrifice a bit of quality). You will probably find that you will a harder time ranking. You simply need to cover a lot of topics before Google starts to see you as an authority today, and that’s only gonna get more true as bigger publications take on smaller niches. That’s why I would take two-and-a-half good-enough articles on a low-volume keyword over one perfect one. It’s just better bang for buck.
The biggest downside is that you have to get back to the content at some point. Obviously, this content will not be all that it can be, and it may have some points that you’d ideally want to get back to and double-check. But at the same time, I believe that editing is done better after a certain amount of time, with a fresh set of eyes, so you may end up saving quite a lot of time in the end.
As I said, dirty blogging is still more like an experiment than a proven framework for blogging. I wouldn’t recommend you trying it unless you’re feeling adventurous. But, if you have at least some experience in blogging, and you know a thing or two about your niche, then you can give it a shot, and I think the results will outperform the effort you’ve put in.
Which blogging angle should I take?
The expert angle will always have a substantial advantage over the other approaches. If you are an expert on something, consider starting a blog and creating detailed content based on your time and experience in the field, you will be hard to compete against.
Since most new bloggers are probably not experts at the niche they’ve chosen, I’d recommend either the approach of detailed and helpful content with a lot of research, or the blog plus a Youtube channel combo. In fact, try them both at the same time – just don’t fear the camera, create a useful blog post, and summarize it in a Youtube video that takes about an extra hour to create, and the results will be so much better than just writing a blog.