Rock the Blog Part 2: Find Your Angle to Find Your Audience

In my last post, I talked about how to find a blogging topic you’re passionate about. In my next few posts, we’ll be looking at several effective angles for blogs, and how these angles have helped their authors find large and passionate audiences.  Let’s start with two:

The Insider:

Nathan Bransford is a (former, as of several days ago) literary agent whose blog has a massive and devoted following.  As an insider to the publishing industry, Nathan has expert credibility on a topic which hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people are interested in:  how to write well and get published.

If you can reasonably deem yourself an “insider” to a world which other people can only dream of entering, chances are there’s an audience for your blog.  The publishing industry is only one example of where “insider” blogs have found big followings.  I’ve seen successful “insider“ blogs by doctors, social workers, even college students giving juicy details on dorm life.

The key to writing a great “insider” blog is to give people a unique and detailed information about a world that is otherwise inaccessible to them.  You can’t get away with providing generic information:  the whole point of an “insider” blog is to let people in on the stuff they can’t find out anywhere else.  Write what you know.  If you’re a generous and interesting guide, readers will begin to trust you as an expert and your readership will grow.

The Living the Dream-er:

The oddly-named blog Bumfuzzle follows the adventures of a young couple who have been traveling the world by sailboat and VW bus for several years.  Their blog contains stories from their travels, as well as detailed information about the logistics of their lifestyle (e.g. how much do they spend per month on bus repair?).  Thanks to the blog’s popularity, they have also self-published a book.

I call blogs in this category “Living the Dream” blogs because they allow readers to live vicariously through the blogger.  The first blog I ever read was by an Australian backpacker doing his gap year abroad:  at the time I was considering going on exchange to New Zealand, and was curious about the backpacker lifestyle.  But not all blogs in this category are travelogues:  for some people, “living the dream” might mean raising purebred horses in Wyoming or chronicling the challenges and triumphs of building your own house.

The key to writing a great “living the dream” blog is to be actively involved in an experience that other people might daydream about or be considering.  You also need a strong voice and a willingness to share enough details—good, bad, and ugly—to keep readers interested.  The hard parts of living the dream often make the most interesting stories, and the most successful blogs in this category are not afraid of sharing the dirt, drama, and near-death experiences.

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