The convention season ramps up as we approach the WonderCon, San Diego Comic-Con and the myriad of other awesome cons. I regularly get asked about blogging advice. What I love about our geek community is how our fandom inspires us to express our thoughts through social media, Youtube and writing original web content. Comic-Con has been a great inspiration for many of us to create a platform to share our ideas and bring our tribe closer together. It has always been my dream to inspire as many fellow nerds to create/blog/podcast/tweets in the name of fandom. However, as many of you know, starting a blog is easy, sustaining it with a growing audience is HARD. What started out with a few of your ambitious friends has degenerated into just you posting once a month. I feel your pain. It’s not easy and sometimes it feels easier to just quit. Well, here are a few lessons I’ve learned that not only has helped to create better original content but kept me in the blogging game.
1. First and foremost, you have to create a unique interaction. The point of what you are doing is not to gain followers, get sponsorship, or to get a press pass- but to create connection. Empathy, passion, resonance, stories and a call to action are the experiences that your readers should have when interacting with your site. Just posting data won’t keep an audience unless you are the best of the best (and can maintain that). If you connect your readers with their passion, with each other or with a cause, the future of your site will become more clear. Help your readers find their story and share it. Connection should be the foundation and the starting point for everything you do.
2. Focus on your distinct contribution. There are a million geek, nerd, tech, or comic con sites out there. It’s impossible to be noticed and, unless you have a built in audience, it will be very difficult to grow in a sea of competition. The key is to solve a specific ‘problem’ that no one else is solving. A nerd/geek website is not solving an existing problem out there. In contrast, writing a blog about how to raise a geeky daughter does address a unique problem modern geek parents have. Being specific about the problem helps a tribe find you. It also helps you build trust with a new audience and helps you build your brand. Your brand should do one simple thing: deliver what you promise. If you don’t know what you are promising, how will your audience know why to return to you?
3. Inspire a tribe. With plenty of news sources out there, I don’t think most of us should be focused on trying to ‘get the scoop’ on the latest in pop culture happenings. Instead, write about topics that are more daring and on the edge. Commit to doing scary work by expressing your deep personal thoughts on topics that matter to your tribe. We need less noise and more significance when it comes to online content. Resonating with a reader and making a difference not only has a longer impact but fuels you as as content creator. Posting the latest geek wares will hardly get your noticed, however writing about how to take personal nerd fashion risks inspires and creates a following.
4. Develop deep domain knowledge in something. Being a mile wide and an inch deep will only get your blog limited appeal. Then you have to depend on cheap parlor tricks like contests, gimmicks, sexiness or highly controversial statements to get you noticed. Instead, bring a profound knowledge about one thing and regularly dive deep in that area. It doesn’t even have to be the sole purpose of your site but it helps if you want to be seen in an infinite black hole of content. Crazy 4 Comic Con was launched 6 years ago for the first timer at SDCC- and despite all the random stuff I am involved in, it still exists for that goal. Writing about every nerd/geek topic out there will just give your audience an excuse to move on to someone who is doing it better. However, to write about why everyone has to be a US History geek because of the theatrical play Hamilton– creates a unique domain knowledge that will attract (and keep) and audience.
5. Lastly, be good at it. When I mean last, I mean this is really the lowest priority out of the five. Some may disagree with me on this, but it’s much harder to develop the first four points than this one. Sure it’s awesome to know big words, spel correctly, or to have gramtikal prowess and I am not undervaluing writing excellence. However, I do believe it is more important to focus on being passionate and prolific rather than technical expertise. Your readers should believe in you and you should deliver quality regularly and often. Posting once week is barely enough. Once you start slipping a few weeks, you will have lost your audience. That’s why it’s less important to wait to post the ‘perfect’ piece. Get your content out there (that follow the first 4 points) and build your audience. I started blogging a few sites ago with the commitment that I would blog every day for a year- no matter what. The content ranged from the inspired to the truly horrific- but it got me into a pattern, helped me find my voice and ultimately gain a little audience. Lastly, you should aim to be great at what you do. Excellence is important and it will help you stand out from the crowd. For example, having a couples photo blog is one thing, reshaping and refreshing marriages takes it to the next level!
The comic con season is here and it is time for you to write, blog, YouTube and tweet out the thoughts that have been ruminating in your geeky soul for sometime now. There has never been a better time- in fact, you should have started yesterday. I have been grateful for those that have shared that I have played some sort of inspiration in the formation of their own sites- keep the stories coming! If you resonate with anything above or have other valuable lessons to contribute, then comment below. Thanks for reading and see you at the next con!