• Scott Herring

Spice It Up with Personal Flavor

Confession: I started writing this post before Michael published his Rock Star piece, and I'm a little giddy that I can add some color to it. I read Michael's day-gig post when it goes up every Saturday, and I look at his Renegade Blogger post early in the week (often, I have to fix his SEO. Michael is a master of The Tease, but I'd also testify that he's a master of using personal flavor. Michael walks the walk, which gives him credibility as a Rock Star in his industry. And if you parse his work like I do, you'll see four key ways he spices things up using his personal flavor.

Use Your Voice

Most brands fall into one of four categories:

1. Leader

If you're the 800 pound gorilla of your market (back in the day, Hertz, today, Amazon), you're a market leader. The competition looks at you, copies you, and tries to dethrone you. If you're not on the #1 or #2 rung in your space, you need to make a new ladder. "Know your stuff," as Michael says, to gain authority.

Examples: Goldman Sachs, Amazon, Four Seasons, Mercedes Benz

2. Renegade

Heh, heh. If you're making your own ladder, guess what? YOU BE RENEGADIN'! Tim Ferriss was a rebel who created an industry with the 4 Hour Week. Steven Kotler is rebelling against multi-tasking culture and helping us get into flow. We're not yacht rock. We're punk.

Examples: Renegade Blogger, Tesla, MailChimp, Virgin Airlines

3. Reporter

Some blogs just share the news, not as much for commentary, more for being a hub of information. Think MSN.com for your market.

Examples: MSN.com, Yahoo News, Billboard, Inc.com

4. Reluctant Hero

I profess to be the bass player in the proverbial renegade/punk band - I prefer not to be out front in the spotlight ((e.g.,not lead singer, but without me, your songs suck). A reluctant hero feels compelled to share what he or she knows. I guess I'm a hybrid.

Examples: Michael Lewis, Linus Torvald, Jason Fried, Anthony Bourdain (hybrid)

Pick your voice and stick with it a while. You need to be consistent.

Stories Last

If you're walkin' your walk, you gain experience. I share stories about SEO (sometimes the good stuff, sometimes the failures). Michael shares stories all the time based on what he's doing with his main blog. It's one thing to say you know something, but the points are far more compelling when you have an anecdote. If I tell you that you need to use Moz.com, you may roll your eyes. But if I pepper every post with a story about how Moz helps me rank pages, points out flaws in my SEO, gives keyword ideas, tracks my progress, and makes life way easier), you may dig a little deeper to see if it works for you. My stories underscore the point, and yes, build authority.

Mistakes Make You Human

Speaking for stories, the best ones are based on screw-ups. If I mess up and tell you about it, you won't do what I did. And there's probably a lesson.

For example, I recently sent a newsletter that promoted the month's four blog posts. To my horror, the subject line of the email was not the subject of the month's email. I had copied last month's newsletter, updated all the content, shared it with a reviewer, sent a test email, and thought I was done. In this case, it was using Constant Contact (NOT my fave!), which has a weird place for changing the subject line. I missed it, and it was an ugly mistake (to me...). Moral of the story: make a checklist of things to test, and test them. Every. Single. Time.

Reading Is Fundamental

We say it all the time. Michael and I are avid readers -- we regularly share "have you read this?" messages. Reading is fuel. Reading helps us synthesize new ideas. If you don't like reading, try audiobooks (I do both paper and audio). My library card is well-worn. I read far & wide -- some things in my industry, lots and lots of books about the brain and psychology, novels, how-to books, and books about music (a distraction for a wannabe punk rock bass player?). I also read newsletters and blogs, not always from my industry. I'm learning about blockchain now, so I have 3-4 new newsletters coming in. I'll unsubscribe eventually. It's learning & development. It's an onboing investment. You should do the same. Subscribe to Renegade Blogger, for example, so you don't miss our knowledge bombs. Look for some blogs outside your industry to cross-pollinate. I love food blogs, music articles, crypto trends, and brain research. Ideas from outside reading can fuel new ideas and influence your voice/style.

Make It Personal

Blogging should be personal. Sure, it's not a requirement for every blog, but the most successful ones are human, personal, and vulnerable. Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, Greg McKeown. They let us in. Their stories illustrate wins, losses, research, lessons, and influences. Something happens to them, and they share what it meant to them. If you let your audience in, like Michael does, you'll feel a bit weird at first. But over time, you'll connect. Make it personal. Spice it up with your personal flavor.


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