Easy as 1-2-3

1-2-3

In 1999, Michael Dell gave a presentation to the Detroit Economic Club. His message was simple — how to create a successful online business. At a time when few people owned a home computer, some scoffed that such advice was even necessary, but others embraced it. The substance of that talk is the basis for the majority of online corporations today. The good part is that Dell’s concept is as easy as 1-2-3.

There are three steps to online success, that apply to bloggers as well as businesses:

Content, Commerce, and Community (a.k.a. “Michael Dell’s 3 C’s”)

Most of the future posts on this blog will fit into one of those three C’s.

We’ll begin with Content.

In today’s information-based society, bloggers must provide compelling content to compete. How does a blogger save her blog from drowning in the overwhelming flow of words posted online each day? Is it even possible to propel a blog from stagnant to stellar?

The answer is YES!

It doesn’t happen every day, but bloggers and even micobloggers (such as those on Twitter) have been launched into stardom — all due to the compelling content of their breakout blogs. The keyword here is compel — “to have a powerful and irresistible effect, influence.”

Compelling content takes a relatively common subject and uses an uncommon angle or “slant” toward that topic. To catch the reader’s attention, you must think “differently.”

Slanting Your Blog at the Right Angle.

Chefs know that presentation is everything. It’s what transforms an ordinary dish into a culinary masterpiece. The same goes for writing. Take a seemingly worn-out, clichéd topic and give it some pizazz by presenting it in a way the world hasn’t yet seen, and viola! — you have a winner!

Take a few minutes to consider a unique slant to some otherwise broad topics and write down your ideas:

  • Exercise
  • Business
  • Music
  • Marriage

If you came up with something interesting, please share it in the comments section.

Hundreds of books and blogs have been based on each of the above topics. Can you think of some slants authors have used to transform those topics into compelling content?

Below is a list of books based on those four topics:

  • Shrink Your Female Fat Zones by Denise Austin
  • Get Better or Get Beaten!: 31 Leadership Secrets from GE’s Jack Welch by Robert Slater.
  • The Mozart Affect: Music for Babies by Don Campbell
  • Sex Begins in the Kitchen Because Love Is an All Day Affair by Kevin Leman

Even though these four books are about exercise, business, music, and marriage, the authors “niched” their topic to intrigue readers.

Consider Julie Powell’s blog — “The Julie/Julia Project.” Who know when Powell first stared at the blinking cursor back in August of 2002 that her blog based on such an ordinary chore as cooking would develop into a major motion picture starring Meryl Streep? Powell picked a perfect niche for her cooking blog, and the rest, as they say, is history.

So, how do we come up with a unique angle for our topic of choice?

Here’s another exercise. Pick a topic that interests you  — one that you are qualified to write about — and write your topic  in the center of a piece of blank paper. Circle the word. Now close your eyes and brainstorm a minute on that topic. What thoughts come to mind when you consider your topic? Open your eyes and draw lines out from your word and write the words you thought of. Circle the words you just added. What concepts do these new words conjure up?

Make more lines and more circles. Set a timer for five minutes and branch out as many levels as you can within that time limit.This exercise is called “bubbling” or “clustering,” and writers apply it for many purposes. This exercise will help you develop a concise concept  as you plan your new blog or refocus an existing one.

The diagram below is a simple bubbling process my son and I did together as an example of this exercise. I picked animals because, being a hobby farmer, I’m surrounded by them, so I felt I might be qualified to pen a few posts about critters if called upon to do so.

Figure One

Even though I’m around animals daily, many of the above subtopics would have never crossed my mind had I not participated in this exercise. And it’s okay to have a partner to assist you. You may wish to try this alone first and then have someone else join in to see just how many ideas you can come up with together.

You may already have a clear angle of how to approach your topic. If so, great! Try the above exercise anyway and you may be amazed at some of the possibilities you might have missed.

Have you found your niche?

Great! Please take a few minutes to share with us what steps you took to discover it.

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