The question of how to start a tech blog comes up very often, and usually it’s aimed at bloggers that are already established in the tech realm. When it comes to the hottest trends online, technology seems to be the subject that comes first as early adopters latch on to the trends and everyone else follows. So goes tech, so goes the world. Unfortunately, the technology genre is absolutely flooded with blogs and sites that cover a wide range of topics. So, how do you position yourself to stand out when you’re just starting? Here are five things to avoid when starting a tech blog:
Being Too Broad
General tech blogs are a dime a dozen. A quick blog search for any general tech story will reveal thousands of posts on various tech blogs ranging from small single-person sites to larger brands backed by an entire staff of writers. The fact is, unless you’re bringing something absolutely new and unique to the way you present tech news, the chances of success are slim. If you concentrate your efforts on one or two niche topics, you’re much more likely to achieve some level of success.
The reason for this is simple. If I’m looking for the best handheld controller, I’m more inclined to go to a site that is dedicated to handheld controllers than one that covers everything from tech news to product reviews, unless that blog is one that has a brand name I recognize and trust.
Passing Along News Releases
News releases are often written by marketing and PR types that are written with a one-sided lean to present an announcement or piece of information in a positive light. Copying and pasting them, giving them a catchy title, and considering that a completed article isn’t going to do much to enhance the value of your blog. If you don’t inject some personality and insight into what the announcement means, there’s little reason to actually make the post in the first place.
Frankly, too many blogs (including some of my own) have fallen into this lazy habit and suffered because of it. Reporting tech news means explaining the technology so everyone can understand it. Being a blogger gives you the freedom to inject your own opinion more often, and this is a very important part of the overall process. Feel free to link to the press release, but don’t let it substitute for your content.
If at all possible, have a friend or family member double-check your work before you send it out. Having two sets of eyes on something is much better than a single person reading over it three or four times. Often, someone else can catch your spelling errors and misused punctuation better than you can. Looking at your work from a different point of view, they may also have some insight into how to improve your points so they make more sense to the reader.
Taking Yourself Too Seriously
Check your ego at the door. You’re a tech blogger, and even the most popular tech bloggers on the Web today know that someone else can come along and take that position from them very quickly. Things change frequently in the world of technology, and people with big egos tend to fall the hardest.
Chances are, the majority of your readers will be looking for information from you. Presenting it in a manner that caters to an ego does little to encourage the reader to return to your site, except to leave nasty comments on your post. Remember that the person reading your article today could very well be the person you look up to in the future.
Copying and Quoting
It’s generally OK to quote what someone says when an important aspect of the article depends on their words. For example, a post about an upcoming Apple product may benefit from a quote or two from Steve Jobs or another member of Apple’s team. Constructing the majority of your article out of quotes is very different. Avoid this if at all possible. People don’t check your blog to hear what Steve Jobs said (there are plenty of other places for that, including Apple.com) — they come to your blog to see what you have to say about the upcoming gadget.
Copying other bloggers’ work is another huge no-no in the industry that may cause you legal trouble down the road. If you don’t think they’re checking, you’re wrong. Each blogger relies on their unique content in much the same way a novelist does. Your writing is your bread and butter, and you wouldn’t want someone else stealing it, would you? Google search rankings suffer when multiple copies of the same content are spread across multiple sites, and because of this, copying will only hurt your chances of becoming a successful site in the future. Your success depends directly on your ability to create unique and interesting content for your readers. If you feel that you can’t do this, you’re in the wrong game.
Over all, tech blogs are fun and can be very profitable. Avoiding being too general, taking the easy roads, and taking yourself too seriously can help steer you in the right direction as you head down the path of success. Before long, your inbox could be filled with email from PR reps asking you to try their new product and potential advertisers looking for ways to leverage your platform to get the word out about their new product.