When it comes to blogging, why is there a class divide between the rock stars and the rest? Why are some blogs huge with thousands and thousands of dedicated fanatics and others not so much? What separates the wheat from the chaff? What’s the secret sauce that allows these rock star bloggers to dominate the field while most others remain drowning in obscurity? Ever wonder why some blogs stand out in an infinite ocean of competitors? Is it pure talent? Is it pure intelligence? Is it pure luck? Want to know how to write a great blog? Want to know what the secret sauce is? Come find out.
Alright, let’s leave out the Pat Flynns, the Seth Godins, and the Ramit Sethis of the blogging world, as they are in a stratosphere of their own. Actually, no, they are still relevant and apply to this post – keep them in mind as well. Since we happen to be in the personal finance niche of the blogging universe, lets look at some of the rock stars here: J. Money, Mr. Money Mustache, and Financial Samurai. What separates these guys from the rest of the pack?
Well, to explain, we will need to talk about 3 things: Charlie Munger, Good Businesses, and Moats.
CASTLES & MOATS
So, as one obviously does during their spare time, I happened to be perusing some writings by Charlie Munger. For those of you who are not familiar with Charlie Munger, he is the other half of Berkshire Hathaway – Warren Buffett’s long time business partner and vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.
What Munger and Buffett value the most in a business is the moat. What is a moat? The simplest way to explain it is to provide examples. Coca Cola is an example of a business with an incredible moat. So is Wal-Mart. So is Apple. What do all of these businesses have in common? People will continuously buy from them – sometimes at premium prices – even though there are other businesses offering similar products or services.
There are many components to what makes a good moat, from economies of scale to patents and intellectual property. But the component we are most interested in is the power of the brand.
If you think of blogging in a traditional business sense, it is business environment with no significant barrier to entry. Anyone and their cat can get started with a self-hosted WordPress blog in under an hour for around a $100. Premium designs can easily and cheaply be bought to make a website look professional and snappy. And the only thing left to do is pump out content for the world to see.
Unsurprisingly, blogging is a very, very crowded field.
But don’t let the sheer volume of existing blogs and the countless blogs coming online every single day overwhelm you. To be perfectly honest, most blogs are very, very underwhelming. Underwhelming in the sense of business potential. In the sense that the blog can generate significant following, and therefore, significant money.
Most bloggers won’t achieve significant success, as measured by traffic and hence reflected as revenue. You can argue all you want that traffic and money aren’t the only indicators of successful blogging, but they are really the only general metrics that can apply evenly across all blogs and bloggers to gauge success.
Successful blogs will have significant traffic coming through, and because of this traffic, they will be able to make significant money by it.
So what differentiates a successful blog from a mediocre one? What separates J. Money and Financial Samurai – bloggers who both make well over $100,000 a year – from the rest?
It’s their brand. That’s their moat. That’s their sustainable competitive advantage.
When you goto Budgets Are Sexy or Financial Samurai, you know you are going to get consistent, quality reads each and every time. It is exactly like how you can expect the same level of consistency and quality from Coca Cola anywhere in the world. And because of the consistency and quality, you go back for more and moar. Why pay for mystery no name cola when you know Coca Cola has never let you down?
That’s brand power. And that is the secret sauce to creating an incredibly successfully blog.
Building a powerful brand takes talent, skills, intelligence, hard work, time, and a dash of luck to all come together to catapult you to the vaunted realm of rock star status. But you need to work hard to make it happen. When all these elements do come together, you create a strong and vibrant brand that differentiates you from the crowd.
These insights came to me as I was reading some great business and investment wisdom shared by Charlie Munger. Warren Buffett also has equally great insights on what makes and keeps a business successful and competitive. Reading widely on business and money has direct parallels back to blogging: there really isn’t much difference between what makes a great business and a great blog.
I’m only here to enlighten you on what makes a great blog. I will defer you to Pro Blogger for the practical steps on how you actually go about creating a great blog. With enough time, consistency, and quality, you will eventually find yourself climbing and differentiating yourself from the rest of the pack.
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