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March 19, 2005

Random Blog Tips - Purple Cow Blogging

Posted in: Blog Promotion

PurplecowOne of the common mistakes that I see in many blogs is that they are quite simply unremarkable.

We’ve all seen seen these blogs - (and most of us if we’re honest will admit to having written them at some point) - they are the blogs you look at for a few seconds without actually seeing anything before you surf on to some other site.

A couple of days ago I told you that blog readers stay on any given blog for an average of 96 seconds. Its not long so you’ve only got just over one and a half minutes to make an impression - to do something remarkable that will rock your reader’s world a little and shake them out of the web surfing zombie like state that they are probably in.

Two great books that I think all enternetuserss should read are Buy the Purple Cow and Buy the Free Prize Inside (afffiliate links). Both are by the author Seth Godin. There is lots of goodness to chew over in these books that relate to blogging - but one of the major take home lessons is about being remarkable - about being a ‘purple cow’.

We live in a world where we’re bombarded with messages all day long from a variety of media (including the web) - in order to break through the noise with your blog its going to take something remarkable.

How to be a Purple Cow

How does one become a Purple Cow blogger? Its not an answer I can give you - there is no formula to it, if there was everyone would be remarkable in the same way and in the process become just one of the crowd again. However there are some things you might like to consider in your quest for the Purple Cow:

Design - One way to grab attention of readers is with visuals. Seth himself does this pretty well on his books and blog with that Bald Head of his. I bet that is one of the first things that people look at when they come to his blog every time. It grabs you, it stays in your mind - the blog suddenly becomes ‘that blog with the bald head’.

Titles - Have you ever been looking through your News Aggregator, or Search Engine results and been totally grabbed by the title that someone’s written for their post? I know I have many times. The title of your blog and blog posts are crucial attention grabbers. Consider using them to do just that. Of course your titles should match up with the content you write (so don’t call every post you do ‘Britney Nude’) - but experiment with your titles a bit. You might also like to read this previous post on titles.

Pictures - I recently had some testing done on my blog with Eyetools (I’ll publish something about this next week). One of the things I noticed was how pictures often drew readers into my articles. You have to be careful about their placement - but a picture has the ability to totally grab your readers - as do logos. I don’t know about you, but blogs that are just slabs of text turn me off faster than a cold shower! Break your page up a bit.

Content - ‘Content is everything’ is the cry that often goes up about blogs - I disagree, its not everything, but it IS pretty important. If you’re not writing compelling, intriguing, insightful, witty, humorous or useful content (or some combination of the above) then you might as well give up now. I’d highly recommend that you consider original content too - whilst I do have some more ‘news like’ blogs - its the original content that I write that almost always gets the attention. Quotes and links are a dime a dozen - do something original and you’ll stand out from the crowd.

Give something away - I’m not talking here about offering prizes (although they could work if they are the right ones) but I’m talking about considering giving your readers a gift. Seth’s book Free Prize Inside takes readers back to the days when we were kids and used to get those little plastic toys for free in our cereal boxes and writes about how we should consider what the ‘free prize’ is that we give away with our products or services. What can you give away with your blog? If you’re anything like me, you remember when someone gives you something for free - it makes an impression. Think outside the box a little with your free prizes, it doesn’t have to be an actual physical gift, perhaps its an award, maybe its some information that others charge for, it could be a newsletter, it could be some personal attention to readers, it could be linking to your readers blogs.

There are many ways to make your blog remarkable. Probably the best thing you can do is to go surfing of the sites and blogs in your bookmarks and start asking yourself what others are doing to stand out. Why do you keep going back to your favorite blogs? What hooks you in? How could you be more like them?

Be original, be surprising, be remarkable, be a Purple Cow!


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