So, we've established that the core concept for success in business and, maybe, blogging is Differentiation. Not exactly rocket science is it? Then again, neither is rocket science. Light the blue touch paper and stand clear. What's difficult about that? Except, plenty of people still don't get it. Take a look here on Debra Hamel's blog to read about the soldier who thought it would be a good idea to launch a rocket from his arse.
So, let's assume before you launch (or indeed re-launch) your blog you decide that you must differentiate it in some way. How? If you pose the same question to a group of would-be entrepreneurs as I said before the first response is likely to be price. But blogs are free so that option isn't open to you. The next most popular response is usually "Quality". This is a difficult concept to define but in business terms it's practically useless. In business today quality is a given. If you're not offering a quality service or product you're not even at first base because everyone else is doing just that. Quality is not a differentiating factor any more. Which is a sobering thought in blogging terms. There are so many blogs out there, and so many of them are outstanding, that you are going to have to keep up a fearsome standard if you wish to build up and retain your readership.
Before I started my own blog I looked at the "competition" and tried to identify what qualities might be missing in the particular niche I wished to enter. Which happened to be books and writing because that's what really interests me. After a lot of thought, but with no particular end in mind other than the need to attract a few readers, I reckoned that humour and the personal angle seemed a little underprovided for in the rarefied atmosphere of the literary blogosphere. I decided to make those two attributes the defining features of my blog. I'll let you decide how successful or otherwise I've been in realising my aims.
Something else you might want to think about before you launch is sustainability. In business we're always talking about the struggle to sustain our competitive advantage. That's because, once you're up there the only way is down. I would put a slightly different interpretation on the concept in blogging terms, but there is obviously no point in majoring on something that runs out of steam after a few months just as you're getting established. Make sure, in other words, that you've got plenty to write about and a big enough market to sustain the interest you provoke.
Finally, how was it for me? Well, so far it's been a pretty rewarding experience. I've had a few wobbles of course, nearly went bust on a couple of occasions when I ran out of things to say and the world seemed to get on top of me. But the surprising thing is that by and large it's been a hugely enjoyable experience. I've also learned a lot about myself. In baring my soul to the world I've had to take a long hard look at myself to find out what was really lurking in those dark recesses. As a result I've seen things I didn't even know were there.
So have other people. A few posts back I wrote about the trauma of going to University while my mother was having yet another mental breakdown. I don't think I'd ever talked about this to another living soul before. Somebody called Chris left a Comment to say how fascinated he was by the story.
I don't know for certain but I'm pretty sure that the Chris in question is my youngest, grown-up son. If I'd only ever attracted one reader to this blog and it was him then it would all have been worth it.