7 Ways to Be a Blogging Rebel and Turn Your Industry Upside Down

by Marcus Sheridan

There is one rule I’m 100% certain of when it comes to blogging, be it business or personal:

We all want to be noticed, seen, and respected.

Some folks act like they don’t care about these three words but I honestly feel it’s a bunch of bull. Why?

Because if we didn’t really want to be seen we wouldn’t have an online blog in the first place for the entire world to see.

I freely admit that like everyone reading this, I want to be viewed as a thought-leader in my field. (Why are we embarrassed to admit this btw??) Whether it’s swimming pools, inbound marketing, blogging, etc—I want readers.

I want growth.

I want to spark discussion.

I want to force myself and everyone around me to take a stand.

(***Notice here I didn’t say I want everyone to like me, but that’s another point for another day.)

But again, I’m by no means alone, we’re all in this boat together.

Despite our overall uniform desires of recognition (of some kind), well over 90% of us fail in this endeavor. When it comes down to the brass tacks, our blogs lack the ‘it’ factor. Notwithstanding all our hard work and efforts, we miss the mark. We’re left out of the crème that rises to the top.

As I look around the world of business blogging today, and the saturation that is occurring at a faster and faster rate within each industry, I wanted to offer my thoughts on how any of you reading this can stand out from the crowd. How can you, despite the competition, stake your blog’s claim as one of the best in your business?

Let’s talk about it…

1. Compare Like Mad

Some of you have read before how I’ve discussed the power of ‘vs.’ and ‘comparison’ when it comes to blogging. Without a doubt, this is still the most underutilized  and untapped content tool in the world of blogging today.

For example, when I started in the fiberglass pool industry, consumers kept asking me which manufacturers were the best, and which ones I suggested they stay away from. (Similar to someone saying, “Which is better, Ford or Chevy?”)

Upon hearing these same questions over and over again, I knew it was my duty as a content marketer  (and thought-leader) to put my opinions to pen. So I started writing. Just a few of the articles were:

Viking Fiberglass Pools vs Trilogy Pools Reviews/Ratings: Which is Better?

  • (Results: 125 inbound links and 13,195 page views)

San Juan vs. Viking Pools Ratings/Reviews: Which is Better?

  • (Results: 22 inbound links and 6050 page views)

Fiberglass Pools vs Vinyl Liner Pools vs Concrete Pools: An Honest Comparison

  • (Results: 201 inbound links and 21,577 page views)

With each one of these articles (plus the many, many more I’ve written), they all rank #1 on Google for their respective key word phrases, and the reason for this SEO domination is very simple: I was the only one writing them in the industry, and Google appreciates rebels that aren’t afraid to write about what others aren’t willing to.

2. Don’t Be Bullied by Dinosaurs

I was about 30 years old when I started voicing my opinions online with respect to swimming pools. Most of the leaders in my field were in the +45 crowd. This being said, I was attacked, verbally, a lot. I was also sent letters from lawyers, a lot.

Before long, I realized an important truth: Many industry leaders and their lawyers are like the big bully on the playground—If you stand up to them and even punch them in the face, they’ll likely run away and their true colors will come out.

Once I stopped caring about false threats and started realizing I was always within my rights (due to the fact I was stating the truth), everything changed, and the amount of attention we received as thought-leaders skyrocketed.

3. Question the Way It Has Always Been Done

Don’t like the way things are done in your industry?

If so, then stop complaining and do something about it. Use the power of words or video to change the status quo. Stand tall and tell everyone why you believe what you believe.

As an example of this, the warranties in the fiberglass swimming pool industry are ridiculous. Full of tricky semantics, some are very, very misleading to consumers.

Seeing this problem, I posted an article entitled: The Most Egregious Fiberglass Pool Warranty I’ve Ever Seen, and to say this article got much attention and page views would be a mild understatement.

Remember, this applies to every single niche, field, industry, etc., so don’t feel you’re the exception to the rule.

4. Be ‘The Drudge Report’ of Your Industry

Whether you’re a republican or democrat, you have to respect what The Drudge Report has done in terms of building its brand by breaking news and events.

So often on the web, ‘timing’ is everything, which is why your blog should report on the latest events, as they happen, in your industry. If a major manufacturer makes an acquisition, talk about it. If someone files bankruptcy, talk about it. If there is a significant innovation, talk about it.

But remember, the timing to this is critical, so as you see things start to unfold, get to your computer.

5. State the Best and Worst

Everyone loves ‘Best of’ and ‘Worst of’ Lists. Surprisingly, most industries don’t have them. Most folks refuse to write about them. Why? Because they’ll get attacked, judged, criticized, etc. Just ask Jade Craven who writes ProBlogger’s ‘Bloggers to Watch’ List every year. Heck, Jade doesn’t even call them the ‘best bloggers’, she just calls them ‘worth watching’, yet the article is still anticipated by thousands every year, discussed all around the internet, and at the same time criticized by many.

Again, this goes back to having an opinion about your industry and putting it out there. Write your opinions down. Tell us why you’ve reached those opinions. And then stand by your claims.

6. Question Authority if You Feel They’re Wrong

What’s the deal with people being afraid to question authority in their fields? I see this everywhere and wonder sometimes if 99% of us have become the sheep that aimlessly follow the shepherd without any rhyme or reason.

Here is a good rule of thumb my friends: If someone in your industry, especially a leader, says something you don’t agree with, then write about it.

Got me?

But there is a second part to this: Don’t be a jerk. Don’t call someone names. Don’t question motives. Just state your opposite opinion with class.

I’ll give you a couple of examples of exactly what I’m talking about:

I’m sure most of you have heard of Chris Brogan, a major authority in the field of social media marketing, Google +, and other areas.

What I love so much about Chris is that because he is always stating what’s on his mind, his findings, and his opinions; I know if I read his blog I’ll likely be moved in one direction or the other in terms of agreement or disagreement.

Chris once discussed on his blog the merits of asking other people to ‘share’ our online works. Because I didn’t agree with his take on the matter, I wrote this post, cordially expressing my differences.

On another occasion, Chris was called out by many for his Twitter unfollow experiment. Considering I thought it was nuts that his actions had affected and polarized so many, again, I wrote an article about it, one that ended up in my top 10 all-time here at The Sales Lion, entitled: Chris Brogan Unfollowed Me on Twitter, and Now I Hate My Whole Life.

Yes, this was a very sarcastic article, but my difference of opinion with others, as well as my support for what Chris had done, was well made.

Through these experiences and others, Chris and I have developed a friendship and mutual respect for each other, even though we might not always agree with each other. (Which is a good thing.)

Readers have also noticed I’m not afraid to take on issues or question authorities, all while not being a sheep following a shepherd—something most folks appreciate quite a bit.

7. Lose the Filter (Be Authentic)

Do you remember the day Gary Vaynerchuk made waves across the entire social media industry when he responded to a social media ROI (return on investment) question by stating, “What’s the ROI of your mother???”

This one little statement seemed to catch everyone’s attention. Some adored it. Others despised it. But as for me, I elected to focus on the beauty of his unfiltered approach.

What makes Gary Vaynerchuk so appreciated and respected is his lack of filter. (And no, I’m not at all referring to his language here.) What I mean by this is he isn’t a social media politician. He doesn’t throw his finger in the wind too see which way it’s blowing. He feels it, he thinks it, then he says it….and people dig that.

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Love ‘em or hate ‘em, we notice Gary Vaynerchuk for this reason.

Your Turn:

So there you have it folks, 7 ways you can become a blogging rebel and truly build your business and brand to a point where it impacts your entire industry and is viewed as a though-mecca for your field.

Considering I quit at 7 because this article was starting to get a little long, I wanted ask each of you this:

What other qualities do you feel enable a blog to reach the top of its industry? Of the qualities and techniques I mentioned above, are there any you disagree with? Why? Which of these have proven most effective in your efforts to be ‘read, noticed, and respected?’

Jump in everyone, your voice here matters.

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