Thursday, 20 December 2012

How To Get Popular Online & Why You Are Not

Some people seem to have so many online fans that you wonder if they are able to walk down the street without someone trying to instagram their shoes, or if they go in shops and don't have to pay because every outfit they post online seems to be c/o a company you haven't even heard of.

They all have similar traits, and yet often it's their individuality that has attracted sponsorship or book deals.

When I looked hard at the people and blogs that I religiously follow and read, I noticed that they could be grouped into 3 different categories, and that these categories were the reasons that I loved reading their contributions to the internet. I'd like to share those categories with you today, and ask, where do you think you fit in?

1. Likeable.

Some people can't help it, they are just intensely likeable. It's a great trait to have offline, but quite difficult to fake in person. However, you can 'fake' likability online by simply removing the areas of your personality that you know people react negatively to. One embarrassing example for me is, in real life, I can be a little be...bossy. I don't really like admitting that, but I do have a tendency to think that if I know (or more often, think that I know) the way to do something, then it should be done that way. I just don't show that side of me when I'm writing online or radio presenting. I hope! I think this might be why I can write tutorials better than I can tell you about what I've been doing that day ;-)

The key to likability is not to try being someone that you are not. If you aren't naturally outgoing or comedic, it will show very clearly in your writing that you are struggling. Accenting your most positive characteristics and downplaying the ones that perhaps might not be as likeable means you have to know yourself well enough to be able to admit that you aren't perfect. It's a good life lesson. Noone likes people who come across holier-than-thou and I personally find reading blogs like that irritating. My favourite are the ones that strike a balance between realism and obtainable high-achievement.

2. Knowledgeable.

Some of my favourite blogs are written by people that I don't know a huge amount about, but whose knowledge of SEO or business practises are interesting and unique to me. If you know something about anything, then chances are, there are other people who would like to know about it as well! The people who have made the most money online (don't jump down my neck! I know that success isn't defined by monetary values. But I do think that if people are making money from their own writings and opinions they must be doing something right.) are people who have found a way to gain respect from (and put a price on) their knowledge.

Think about your favourite blogs and what topics they focus on. You probably won't read a huge amount of blogs whose opinions and knowledge directly mirror your own. I imagine that you, like myself, hope to learn something from at least some of the articles and blogs that you read online. Contributors to SEO forums and portals fall into this category. I often read a lot of duplicated information, but my favourite reads are those which either present information that I didn't already know about, or offer a new angle on an old topic.

How can you integrate this into your own writing? It's key to think about your demographic when you are blogging. I have interests outside of social media, looking after my son, painting my nails and taking photos for instagram, but I know that people reading my blog are expecting these kinds of posts from me. I like to think I'm relatively knowledgeable about some aspects of blogger SEO and Social Media so I like sharing that. Matching what you know about with what people want to read is really key. You might be knowledgeable about tracking down vintage clothes, where the best shops are, what prices are reasonable, how to fix them. This information is the kind of stuff others would be very interested in. You might be excellent at building birdhouses out of wood, and be able to share plans, tips, carpentry ideas or even your business knowledge running a small operation as a craftsperson.

3. Aspirational

These are the bloggers and website owners whose lives seem so perfect, so pretty, so enviable, that you pretty much want to find out where they live, turn up on their door and beg them to be your friend. I really hope that it isn't just me that feels this way or that will be a little bit of a humiliating confession. The biggest culprit of this is Pinterest. Sometimes, I come across blogs through Pinterest that detail home renovation projects or amazing craft ability, and just for a second I think 'Well that's it, I may as well just give up'

Not giving up is one aspect of blogging that has come hard for me to learn. My old blog is still getting over 1,000 hits a day. Every single day I think, why don't I just go back to that one? I don't want to be 'twinklyspangle' on the internet anymore. It doesn't fit in with the SEO/Social Media work that I do and also I've done and posted some silly things during the 12 years that I inhabited that name. I needed to shed my skin. But it's hard to carry on day after day when you feel you are not getting anywhere. Especially when faced with an avalanche of people who seem to have such amazing lives, living in such beautiful homes and whose jobs are self-employed and earning them enough to go on amazing holidays.

I was going to say that it's impossible to reach these levels, and therefore the purpose of these blogs in my readers is difficult to pinpoint. But I have suddenly realised that they are there to inspire me to push myself to levels that I didn't even know I could go to. That is something that can be implemented in writing, blogs and pictures that you post across the web. How can you inspire people? Have you an amazing story in your background that you could share parts of? Have you overcome adversity? I like to think that I can inspire people because I am a single mum who is trying to build a life for my son. Perhaps you could inspire people with how you have made a tiny rental home look like a luxury apartment on the cheap? Could you inspire someone to overcome discrimination or bigotism? Everyone has a story, and sharing parts of your story (although as always I remain a strong advocate of keeping a lot of your personal life to yourself online) could inspire someone else to make a change. Those are the sorts of blogs that *I* love reading.

I hope this post has inspired you to make your online presence something that other people can't get enough of. I'd love to know if you have any different categories of blogs that you read, and the reasons behind them :-)

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