The Secret Weapon that Makes Your Content Successful

The Secret Weapon that Makes Your Content Successful

Reader Comments (114)

  1. Singing your own song has been something I’ve been advocating now since 1998 – it really is the best (and only, when you come right down to it) way that you can stand out from the thundering herd.

    Think about – just about every possible topic has been hashed online now at least 2,834 times. The *only* difference is the *way the readers feel* when reading the material.

    Does it compel them to share it with their friends?

    Does it make them feel smart/good/10 feet tall/etc.?

    Does it cause them to add the feed to their reader?

    Making your site and yourself memorable to your visitors – that’s truly where it is.

    • Probably the problem a lot of people have is knowing what song is theirs…not everyone has that rare self-understanding to know what voice is theirs and uniquely theirs. But when it is found, it is the best way to go. Hushing your voice just so you can sound like someone else is a disaster.

      • Oh absolutely — the challenge of self-awareness is a big one for many. But focusing on that journey — and turning off the chatter of the blogosphere sometimes — is the only way to get down the road and arrive where you want to go.

    • Hi Carol

      First off thanks for an encouraging article. I agree that as writers we do need to be ourselves and add our own unique flavour to the blogging world. However it is one thing to add your own flavour but another thing entirely to get the traffic in. Yes by being unique we do keep the traffic we get but getting the traffic in is really the hard bit in my opinion. I wonder how many really well written blogs are out there that nobody knows about as they just don’t understand traffic pulling techniques.

      Bloggers try endlessly to build traffic, trying to find places to guest post, making lots of intelligent comments on popular blogs, facebook, twitter, etc etc… the bottom line is if there was a set formula we would all be popular and there just isn’t. It is either your day where Brian Clark chooses to write something nice about you or you just swim in an ocean of loneliness forever.

      This site alone exists because people want to know how to get traffic, keep it and make money from it. The fact that there is a post a day written about these things means that it is far more complicated than just being yourself.

      That being said I take encouragement from a lot of what you wrote.


      • Hi Mark —

        I agree with you that without promotion, your awesomely unique, personally infused blog can still go nowhere.

        But without that authentic content that’s what only you can deliver, you have no CHANCE of going anywhere.

        • Hi guys, I totally agree. So what if I happen to think my blog is pretty awsome because it is a reflection of myself. Yes, it is not perfect, but am I? It has its quirks, shortcomings, but what it does not have is a self esteem issue. All of this won’t make it a ‘successful’ blog, promoting it will.

          Since I have started, about 6 weeks or so, I get about 100 hits on a good day and about 50 on average. Being a super busy mum with two little kids, like a lot of other peope, I can’t spend hours looking at other blogs and posting to bring traffic. But when I do love a post, then I will definitely post a response. I often fret about the really cool blogs I haven’t discovered as yet. 🙂

          Great post though. Nice to know I am not alone.

  2. Look..the best thing to do is just write and make good use of your content, and if people love it..great you just scored..if not…then you live to see another day..

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  3. I like the ideas you brought up. I think one element that makes writers unique is writer’s voice. If you Google “writer’s voice,” you will find a good Wiki article on the topic. I won’t expand on it here.

    It does take time to develop a writer’s voice. It also takes time to become familiar with a topic, and to develop a personality. This doesn’t happen overnight. But when it does, you starting spinning things in a different light.

    And you need to practice, practice, practice. The winners of Noble prizes in literature didn’t get there overnight. And even commercially successful writers, like J. K. Rowling and Steven King, took time to find their voice and show their success.


  4. “Keep getting better at being you.” With this single piece of advice, I don’t know how anyone can go wrong. I think too often we’re so focused on becoming better at certain skills, whether it’s writing, web design, SEO, what have you. But if you look at any successful blogger today, what they all have in common is that they’ve mastered the ability to always improve at being themselves.

    • I completely agree with you.

      In my most recent article, I encourage people to forget thinking that they can be like their heroes. We cannot be. We can only be ourselves.

    • The great Chassidic Jewish sage Rabbi Zusya once said, “When I reach the world to come, God will not ask me why I was not Moses. Instead, he will ask me, ‘Why were you not Zusya?'”

      Becoming our best selves and realizing our unique potential is really our life’s mission. Imitating the greats is not…even if they’re really, really great.

      • What a great quote, Carol! I’ve seen (and never gone back to) so many blogs that try to be someone else. Blogs that offer a truly unique perspective, even if it’s one I don’t agree with or don’t yet understand, are ones that I tend to add to my feed reader.

        I love to get a window into the lives of other people, and I won’t return for a second glance if I feel I’m glancing in at plastic mannequins dressed in a mish-mash of the latest trends.

  5. This is a great post.

    I don’t know that I’m afraid of not being good enough at blogging, but I probably don’t have all of the tools to do that.

    This post mentions two ways to do that: 1) inject your personality into the blog and 2) get better and better at writing.

    The first ones easy as long as you don’t overdo it. The second one is a little bit harder, but it’s very very important.

    The one thing that can help you stand out from every other writer is stellar writing.

    It’s a good thing that writers can always improve. It just takes practice.

    Thanks for the great post!

  6. This one post could really replace about 50 how to books. Spot on for reminding folks that really all you have to do is show up… show up all the time and constantly improve yourself. You can take away so much other stuff, and if you do that one thing, enough, the rest will fall in to place.

    That’s the number one thing I have gotten from CB in the last month or so, the more you feed the beast that is your creativity, the easier it becomes and the better you get.

  7. So, if you analogize this idea with a weapon, what does shooting, killing, reloading means?

    Shooting: Promoting your content.
    Killing: Success in promoting your content.
    Reloading: Writing more content to promote.

  8. Thank you so much for the wonderful tips. It seems my mind opened when I read your article.

    In fact, we cannot write a compelling article every day but it can be improved overtime.

    Thank you.

  9. Write from your experience. Write to celebrate your uniqueness. Write to assert your rarity.

    It does not matter matter how many readers you have. What is important is that when you read your work you can say to yourself, “this is mine”.

  10. I have always keep in mind a saying: ” Nobody will never know even yourself how high you can fly until you spread your wind and start reaching the sky”

    I love to use my secret weapon every time I intend to write something in any of my blogs.

    I know that because my loyal readers always post awesome comments on them.

  11. I found this site a few days ago while searching for a specific topic on the internet. After reading several articles related to my search I decided to subscribe to your newsletter. So far it has been well worth the time I have invested in reading some articles.

    This article is informative and will help me to improve my writing. As I continue to read other articles and learn more I am looking forward to use my secret weapon to find my voice to impress my future blog post readers and customers.

  12. One of the best and worst parts of being online is that you have instant access to the creative talent of the entire world. No matter what you do, you can easily find 100s of people who do it better, and social comparison has never been more dangerous. At the end of the day, you can choose to envy them or you can choose to be inspired by them. Either way, though, you’ve got to shut off the noise and just get to work.

    • It’s true…there’s never been more chance to be intimidated by the work of others than there is now! Think about how it took weeks for people out west to learn Lincoln had won the election. You read the books your local library had, and one newspaper, maybe two.

      The media world was pretty small. A lot of great writers of old such as the Bronte sisters filled the media void in their lives — just getting a letter was such excitement! — with their own creativity. In a way I think it was a lot easier to do back then.

      We’re just bombarded with every successful person out there now, whether they’re in Australia or Greece or wherever. It’s overwhelming. We need to tune it all out sometimes and take in less media so we can focus on creating, I think.

  13. Each piece of content needs to have a set of goals in mind. Ask yourself why are you broadcasting this content? Does this article position me (or the brand) as an industry thought leader, is it informative or is it created to stimulate conversation?

  14. Carol, I couldn’t agree more, especially about polishing posts.

    My guess, though, is 95 percent of bloggers won’t seek the advice of editors who polish because they fear doing so will conflict with their secret weapon. I’d guess 95 percent of bloggers aren’t entirely sure what to look for while polishing.

    All editors do is turn secret weapons into leaner and better-looking secret weapons. For example, if I see the phrase you’re going to be, and I suggest changing it to you’ll be, I didn’t take a blogger’s secret weapon away, but I did allow him to say the same thing in half the words (a win for readers).

    You don’t have to hire editors to edit your blog posts either. Just follow them on twitter and pick their brains. They don’t bite, and they care about your success. 🙂

  15. You’re right about not trying to be other writers. I would add a small addendum to that. If there is another writer (in any genre) whose writing you like a lot, it’s a good idea to emulate them, but not copy them. For me, that would be Elmore Leonard. When I write fiction (sheepish grin) I will always take time to look at a few pages of Leonard’s dialogue. Over time, I think emulation (not adoration or duplication) turns into your own style.

  16. Interestingly, I’ve found that my personality (which comes through very strongly in my writing, I think) is the aspect that either inspires people to subscribe … or move along.

    Just like how you know almost instantly if you “like” someone or not, I’ve discovered that people feel the same way about blogs. And because my writing reflects my personality, readers know pretty quickly whether they “like” me or not!

    Interesting insights — thank you for the reminder.

    • “Just like how you know almost instantly if you “like” someone or not, I’ve discovered that people feel the same way about blogs.”

      I’ve never thought about it that way before, but you are absolutely right! Whether I like it or not, I have a lot of respect for bloggers who are totally tuned into their preferred reader base, and write the right content for those readers.

      • Well, being tuned into your reader base is essential…but this post to me is about being tuned into you. What is the most amazing thing you could share with those readers? That’s the question. What do you have to say that no one else could tell them?

  17. This is exactly where I’m at with my blog right now Carol. Honestly, in the last 2 weeks I’ve really been reflecting on what it is I really want to write about and I did change the whole direction of my blog. Initially I started off writing about my weight loss journey, but I could only stay passionate about until, well, until I lost my weight.

    I have tons of personal experiences in other areas of life that I know other people can relate to and laugh about. I’ve since switched my focus to writing about “cutting the fat” from all the areas of my life and letting people laugh about my screw ups and learning experiences.

    Thank you!

  18. Building the brand of you is the only way to go. You are the only one to compare you’re writing to. You are the only one to beat in the race. Your only competition should be yourself. Self improvement. The name of the game.

    • I love that you say that Brian…the first draft of this blog post was about my philosophy of writing…which is that I only compete with me. I just need to be better them I was last week, and the rest will take care of itself. That’s it in a nutshell.

  19. Giving yourself permission to change and evolve on your blog will make your writing better. Sometimes we write ourselves into a corner and are afraid to hack our way out by doing something different. It’s OK to change!

    Also, another powerful weapon is to work with a writing group to edit your work. It’s amazing how others can tighten up your writing because they don’t have an emotional attachment to each and every word and phrase. It’s the reason I love working with a good editor. Their insights are invaluable.

    • Those are two great points!

      I’ve encountered a lot of people who worry about making major changes on their blog because their audiences might be weirded out. “They’re not actually spending that much time thinking about you” is the usual answer. And even if they are, who cares. You’ve got to have that room to find the right fit for you.

  20. I love this Carol!

    We live in a world that thrives on comparison and as writers/bloggers it’s hard not to peek over the fence, see what is perceived as a “better” blog, then curl up on our side of the fence wondering if we’ll ever measure up. Thanks for reminding us that our individuality makes our blog, not how well we can mimic someone else.

    Great post!


    • Thanks, Brandon.

      Here’s the thing — you’re probably not struggling to be you. You ARE you.

      Taking a guess here, I’d say it’s probably a fear thing. You’re afraid to BE you.

      But what else is there to be? You can’t imitate anyone else as well as you can be authentically you. See Rabbi Zusya’s comment above. I always find that inspiring.

  21. So true, and exactly what is overlooked with keyword-stuffed, SEO optimized content. I’d prefer something authentic and interesting any day!

    Thanks for reinforcing that.

  22. Ah I answered, Yes, to your question at the beginning of the post. It is true, what really matters in our own uniqueness and individuality. I think maybe fear, confusion and trying to live by other people’s definitions, make it difficult for people to be true to themselves and hence write from this place. For me, its about ‘knowing oneself’, liking oneself and then writing from there. Thank u for a great post.

  23. Perhaps the other term for the “secret weapon” is writing from the heart. I would like to think that despite the many brilliant ideas in the blogging world, when you write from what’s real and deep in your heart you will be presenting something that’s unique. Thank you Carol for affirming that uniqueness is one great power, that one could launch and be successful about it or maybe achieving a niche on any subject and be happy of the liberation that you feel. Of course, one’s uniqueness is governed by the core values that had been acquired throughout the years and the lessons learned from life’s experiences.

  24. Loved this article… so true. You can really get bogged down thinking about what else it out there. I try to use the blogs I like to inspire me to write more and in my voice. PS I loved the shout out to The Suburban Jungle. It’s not the most popular blog out there, but the readers are amazingly funny, insighful, and loyal. It’s my pleasure to count you as one of them!

  25. I always read my emails from you and check out the referenced sites for information and was quite disappointed with the link to as your sample of a great site. I am sure the content is great but the site design that I saw was so bad that I couldn’t read anything beyond the first post that had a white background. The entire blog had a plaid background and it was impossible to read any of the text so I was unable to absorb the lesson from the blog.

    I loved the article as I do everything that you send my way. With little time on my hands yours is one that I faithfully read for true, useful content.

    Love & Peace

  26. Big foot, stuffed in big mouth…Never mind, after I wrote the comment, suddenly can see the text, must have been slow loading on my end, my bad.

  27. Smart writers know to always be aware of their situations for story ideas. That’s embedded in your secret weapon of uniqueness.

    Sure, the line in the super market was really long and you just wanted to get home–but how can you apply that situation to what you write about to create informative and compelling content?

    “Everyday” situations are common, so your audience can relate, but it’s your unique perspective that adds something interesting to the mix.

    I’ve applied traffic jams, underwear, and laundry to articles about grammar and writing mechanics.

    Similar to Jon’s Mad Men post earlier in the week, he doesn’t “take a break” to watch television; he’s working. Writers always are.

    • Hi Stefanie!

      It’s so true.

      Recently my teen was telling me about a great new MMORG he found. I asked how you win the game, and he said, “Mom, there is no win. It’s all about the experience and the journey. That’s all there is.”

      WOW. You know that’s showing up in one of my blog’s real soon…

  28. I definitely agree that there are tons and tons of blogs out there, but ones that provide quality content on a consistent basis, are few and far between.

  29. My art teacher said, just last week, that it’s easy to be intimidated by that whole history of art that surrounds us and is part of our lives. What matters is this present moment, that piece of paper in front us, and that pencil in our hand.

    Writing is the same … thanks for the reminder, Carol.

  30. Carol,

    You are so right, there is only one us and being unique and “ourselves” in blog sure helps. I never have a problem coming up with ideas to write and write well (I think), having published tech reports for my work and so it helps. But still marketing is one toughie for me.

    I guess my writing teacher’s work paid off for me 🙂

  31. I think this is a secret weapon in all businesses to be unique. I find that in many walks of life, people get bogged down in comparison with others instead of working on finding their own way.

  32. This post is quite timely. BIG synchronicity. I was just thinking about this very subject of having a blog in a niche that’s utterly glutted. I love the “fresh approach to a well-loved topic”!

    As a writing coach, I always advised my clients to send their inner critic on a mini vacation when they wrote a first draft. I tell writers to “Give yourself permission to suck.” When you do that, you remove the inhibitions keeping you from getting something on the page, and you usually remove the stilted writing that results from trying to emulate someone else’s style.

    Writing my posts has never been a problem, but having that niggling voice reminding me, after I wrote, that so many others write in the same general topic bugs the heck out of me. Your post has confirmed for me that the unique take I’m giving to the subject is what matters. Thank you!

  33. Hi Carol. I enjoyed the article and it gave me some heart for my own writing. I am writing to help me in my first niche online and it is certainly not easy. I use PLR content so it helps give my articles and blog posts a direction. I wish I had my time over again as I would have chosen a niche more in line with my personal interests. However I am trying to bring my personality and uniqueness to my articles and I feel good about that. I like how you emphasize bringing your personality to it as that is the one thing that can make you stand out from the myriad of blogs and websites in a niche.

    • Well…you can’t have the same time back again…but if your niche isn’t in line with your personal interests, it’ll be hard to let your personality really shine with it. Why not begin again and blog about something you’re passionate on?

      Got to be more fun — and likely more lucrative in the end — than stuffing PLR articles on a site you don’t care about.

      • Good advice Carol. Thanks for the tip. I am planning to do this at some point. Was just worried that it would be spreading myself too thin but I think it definitely makes sense. It would be so much easier if I had a blog in line with my personal interests such as politics, history, contemporary events/developments and my take on them (it would be hell controversial though LOL) as I could keep churning out the content and I know I’d enjoy it more. Writing for a niche to promote your site is hard and you are right in what you are saying. I seem to be saying the same thing a lot but just in a different way. But I guess on the bright side it is a useful skill.

  34. Practice makes perfect. Even though you are not that good writer but the moment you start writing and you are not stopping and you make it a daily routine then you’ll be more good at it. The hard thing to do is to make your content successful.

  35. You must be yourself, but not the boring conservative self that wants to impress everyone else. Make it special and colorful and loud. Use profanity if that’s how you talk with friends. Just make it real and if it’s too real for your niche, change niches. Or just give up!

  36. I agree 100%.
    Stop comparing yourself to others. There will be always bloggers that are much better than you.
    Also true is that even the beets bloggers have been an amateurs once. So don’t be afraid and just do it. You will learn from your mistakes.
    A great way to improve your blog articles is to ask your readers what could you do better next time. This little sentence at the end of your article can make a huge difference.
    Great article, keep up good work.

  37. wow. Loved the article. Clicked through to your blog. LOVED the blog.
    Amazing, generous, informative work. Thank you, Carol!

  38. Hi Carol,

    You nailed it in your opening two paragraphs. How odd. Writers work in solitude. And yet, mind-chatter fills that solitude with doubts instead of introspection.

    I believe that the straight-laced, linear thought pattern required for coherent editing is always at war with the foggy, creative side that just wants to upchuck ideas onto the page.

    When the linear mode is in charge, it can take the tiniest negative thought and follow it to an imaginary future filled with mistakes, failure, and disgrace, (oh my!), and you find yourself staring at a blank screen thinking, Oh my God, I’m stuck.

    And when the creative side takes total charge and runs amuck, weird stuff shows up on the page, and the next day you wonder who wrote it.

    When the writing goes well, it feels like a dance between the two modes of thought. The linear mode shoves the creative mode out of the way at just the right time and says, Wake up and edit. And when the editor edits too obsessively, creative pops up and says, You’re making it boring.

    I wonder. . . is there a third voice that arbitrates? Hmm. . .

    It’s getting crowded inside my skull. I hope those nice young men in their clean, white coats come into my room and loosen the restraints pretty soon.


    Great post,


  39. Great advice. As someone who has recently entered the blogosphere with aspirations of someday becoming one of those “it” blogs, I’m still working on finding my personal song. I know who I am, but translating it into text isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Your post gives me hope that I can eventually get there as long as I stay true to myself. Thanks!

  40. This is great advice and dead on. Every time I discover a new blog and really get entrenched, its because the author is just laying it out there, being him/herself and not worrying about the consequences.

    Those are the really interesting blogs.

  41. Hi Carol.
    Thanks for the great post and reminding me to focus on my unique point of view. To keep getting better at being me seems like good advice for my blogging and life in general!
    I feel that my voice comes through best if I imagine having a conversation with the reader rather than trying to ‘write something great’. Just wish I had a default button in my head that reminded me to do that each time I write.
    Many great comments to your post too – I love your quote from Zusya, so true.

  42. Carol,
    This is the advice I give writers in my writing group! It’s the building block all good writers need to base their writing upon. You’ve got to be yourself and write from the heart. If you’re trying to be someone else you’ll run out of steam – fast.

    The focus I’ve chosen for my self development blog is how to use and develop your intuition to improve your life and become more successful. Intuition is a subject I’m an expert in, so it made sense to write about how to apply it for practical purposes – not to predict the future, but for gaining a competitive edge in life.

    Thanks for the great advice!

    • Right on — when you pick something you’re passionate about, the post ideas just flow, and so does the writing. And your readers are more likely to connect with it emotionally as well. Kind of a triple win.

  43. Hi Carol!

    This is such an honest and straightforward piece! Every inch of your post is oozing with positive vibes and actually makes me feel good about myself.

    It is really true that in everything that we do, know thyself first. And we should always strive to be better.

    Have a great week ahead of you!

  44. This is so true.

    People become loyal to other people, not information or websites. I think injecting even just a little bit of personal experience into otherwise droll content and visitors go mental for the freshness.

    Great post.


    • Hey, Blog Tyrant…you’re like VISA this week, everywhere I want to be!

      I’m with you, it’s amazing how little gritty realness you need to add before you stand out…in the sea of mostly boring blather that is the blogosphere.

  45. Hi,
    I really enjoyed this post. I’ve already had to write a little bit about how reading ‘copyblogger’ gave me stage fright for starting my own blog. Although once I’d admitted on-screen that I’m a tiny little fish in a great big pond I found it easier to write. Even tiny little fish can have original opinions and, being much smaller, they do better if they don’t follow big fish too closely. No one wants to get eaten.


  46. You’re right on the money with one heck of a blog post. Thanks.

    I like to watch Woody Allen and read the work of Dave Barry because they have distinct, quirky personaliies. They are one of a kind, truly.

    They have a knack for comedy and they make me laugh. That’s why I keep on coming back for more.

    Most people out there feel like square pegs in round holes because they are too afraid to take the risk just to be who they really are.

    If only people would bring their unique voices to the fore, it would be a better world for all of us.

    We need more characters and less robots who know the drill but are too fearful of speaking up and being authentic.

    They play defense and build walls because they don’t want to be judged by people. In the event, they lose out on golden opportunities and life thows them a curve ball. Cheerio.

    • Hi Archan,

      I agree. Finding your unique voice takes introspection, a willingness to experiment, and the courage to risk getting it wrong. The opposites are all fear-based actions: imitation, following formulas, and aiming for the safe middle ground. Dull.


  47. Nicely done Carol. This reaffirms conversations I have with myself. 🙂

    The tricky part is the transparency of the blog or published content. From my experience, I had to go through a threshold of being comfortable enough to be as opinionated and chatty online as I am offline.

    Once the mental barrier had been removed and I became transparent, writing became easier resulting in better content, thus attracting more readers.



    • Well, I hope you’re wealthy enough to talk to yourself. You know if you’re rich and you talk to yourself, you’re eccentric, but if you’re poor, you’re just crazy.

  48. This is very helpful. Also, I find that it is a lot easier to write if I focus on letting my own, unique voice or “perspective” come out, rather than just trying to re-state what somebody else has already said.

    When I try to duplicate what somebody else has already written, it is often very difficult to put together a good piece of writing that is going to stand out and be of good quality.

  49. This is some terrific advice Carol. My readers often ask me for advice on what to write about on their own blogs. This article will be a huge help. I have shared it on my blog. Thank you!

  50. I was intrigued to discover the secret weapon and how true! Everyone seems obsessed with automation from autoblogging to autotweeting to PLR articles and blog posts. No one follows robots! People will always follow people. So roll up your sleeves, find something to discuss and write a short post. Do this daily and you’ll have 30 original posts in one month! Original content is the secret key to online success. Do it. And do it yourself! 🙂

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