The Samurai approach to blogging is a way for the blogging master, a path to highlight your blog. Nowadays, the net is inhabited by myriad blogs. Therefore, to stand out has become more and more challenging. Some people write about excessively specialized or personal topics, which have a narrower audience. On the other hand, topics discussed in plenty of other blogs may appeal to a broader public. Moreover, themes in different blogs touch on similar concepts or ideas, or at least are loosely related. So, blogs have to compete for traffic. Positioning in search engines such as Google and Bing is a good example of what I’m speaking about. Thus, the question arises: how to highlight your blog in order to distinguish it from others?
It’s simple. Follow a “samurai” approach.
Popular imagery depicts samurai as brave, blood-thirsty and ruthless warriors. And partially, they were. However, let’s not forget that the word “samurai” is derived from a Japanese verb (samorau) meaning “to serve”. Therefore, a samurai is a servant, concretely, the servant of a lord. For the “samurai blogger”, such lord is the group of blog’s readers, and his weapon, the katana, is content.
1. The Katana
The soul of a samurai lies in his katana, in a similar fashion to the blog’s soul lying in its content. Content is what determines, in first instance, the profile of the reader-base and visitors. We should write our content in a humble but clever tone.
- In the Samurai approach to blogging we should offer content of high quality, which readers can understand and harness. For increasing the number of readers the best strategy is to offer original content, things that cannot be found anywhere in the net besides your blog. If people cannot benefit from our articles, why they should keep going to our sites?
- It’s nonsense to write a post and expect that everybody loves it. Don’t worry too much about being popular. There always are people who will like your writings, and they will turn into loyal readers. And it’s for them, and of course, for us, that we should write. Remember: It’s easier to keep a reader, than it’s to gain a new one.
- Adopt the mindset of winners.
- Decide on and respect a lower bound for your posting frequency. For example, if you decide on a weekly posting frequency, your blog should contain at least a new post every week. Readers love to form an idea about when they could find new content on your site. Regularity is a key aspect for blogging. From a pure technological standpoint, we should post as often as possible. This way, crawlers and web indexes would consider our sites as very fresh, regularly updated ones, and will tend to direct more visitors to our blogs. Furthermore, high publishing rates amount to a higher probability of being linked from other sites, which would increase our blog’s rank. But we are no machines. Rushed posts generally exhibit a degraded quality which may scare your readers away. This is even more important if you have already consolidated a good base of readers. Please, post as frequently as you can, but always satisfy this: high-quality content and a publishing rate above or equal to your posting lower-bound frequency.
- Perhaps we are not very good with composition or choosing the right words. Our texts may be too verbose or too bantam. Don’t worry. Just write, but doing your best effort to communicate your ideas. Time shapes masters, you’ll see.
2. Bushido: Samurai’s Ethical Code
Originality is an important issue. We should strive for creating a different blog. Your blog’s name and headings should have peculiarities that allow users to easily remember them. Please, don’t be affraid of being different: invent new things, or oppose to the status quo with your ideas, methods or design, in a good sense. This will capture the attention of people.
You can think of your blog as a product. Thus, your titles, headings, images, the logo, etc., all should act as branding elements. Pay attention to these, as you want they to stand out (in a positive way, of course.)
3. Learning to Unsheathe the Katana
For a the aspiring samurai, simply learning to unsheathe his sword correctly could take months. Your readers should find your blog’s content as easily as possible. Thereby, a neat design for your blog, and a straightforward presentation of your articles is mandatory. Additionally, we should pay close attention to the following blog usability tips:
- The link for subscribing to your RSS feed should be clearly visible.
- Access to your full posts should proceed cleanly.
- Organize your content into a Categories section. Include a search box. Quick access to the latest blog entries also proves to be useful for visitors.
- However, don’t oversaturate your blog with widgets and features. These items divert users from your content, and only a few would use them.
- If technical or specialized terminology is inevitable, you should explain them at full (it depends on your targeted audience, of course.)
4. Don’t be a ronin
In Japanese, the word ronin means “wave man”, a person destined to wander aimlessly forever, like the waves in the sea. The best blog of the blogosphere, if isolated and practically unknown, has a value of zero. In upcoming entries, I’ll discuss this (long) topic at full. For the time being, we should concentrate on:
- Search Engines: Verify that your blog is optimized for search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) so that your site is able to receive traffic from such sources. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an interesting, long and tricky area, and we will not cover it here.
- Blog Crawlers: Ping to update services such as Ping-o-matic and Pingoat. You may configure your publishing platform (e.g., WordPress) to perform the ping automatically. Such pings notify popular blogs sites about updates in your blog.
- Social Networks: Try to share and submit your content to social or news networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc. It’s best if other people (your readers, preferably) submit your content to such sites; submitting your own content and stories may easily lead to your submissions being marked as spam.
5. The Feudal Lord
Finally, your readers are your Feudal Lord. Listen to them. Follow them. A blog cannot be exclusively about what you like… your readers’ preferences should be reflected too. You may achieve a successful status as a blogger, but if you don’t listen to your readers, sooner or later, they will leave and make your blog short lived. Please, don’t isolate your readers. Unlike samurai, you don’t have to do what the Feudal Lord says, but you must not ignore him.
Happy “samurai” blogging.