Maybe you love to write. Maybe you hate it…
Or maybe you are brand new to blogging and you feel like you lack credibility.
Whatever your situation, the truth is that it’s still possible for you to build a wildly successful blog.
Let me explain…
By focusing on the right publishing model, you may feel reborn with passion to finally share your voice with the world.
This article will show you how to identify the right publishing model for you and why this is a critical part of your blog strategy.
A publishing model is the format you use to produce your blog content.
And not all formats are created equal. These different models show you that there are many ways to create content.
It can be done yourself, by others, co-created, ghostwritten, or even “borrowed” for free from others.
Whatever the path you take, there is a model for you.
So, let’s dive into the 5 publishing models…
The journal model is pretty straight forward.
It is primarily a way to express yourself and/or document your journey.
You could already be successful or you could just be getting started, and the topics may be all over the board.
Self-expression and inspiration trumps blogging for business or to make money.
I admit. I should journal more.
When I am consistent with it, I have exceptional clarity and achieve more of my goals since they are in writing.
Even when it comes to problem solving.
I just open to a blank page and write. Usually by the time my hand gets tired, the solution appears to me.
But, what is even more powerful about the journal model, is the self awareness it brings from public accountability.
Let’s say you have a goal to lose weight.
By openly sharing your goals and documenting the process, you become a source of inspiration for your readers. They are there to support you, hold you accountable, and celebrate your victories.
I truly believe when you have nothing to hide, you become more committed to the process.
“The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” ― John Wooden
This can be a great way to start collecting content to one day publish a book. Or, how Crossfit gyms post the workout of the day for their clients.
You probably fit the journal model if…
- You share random thoughts and maybe you are just doing it as a hobby
- Your motivations are purely self expression
- You want to document experiences and thoughts in your life
- You are not as concerned in monetizing your blog
- You may be building your email list, but you use it just to update your readers
- Most of all the thoughts come from you and you don’t care to have guest bloggers
Examples: Unfiltered.me, Mark Cuban, Crossfit Defined
The expert model differs from the journal when money becomes the motivator.
In fact, many blogs that start out as journal blogs evolve into expert blogs when they realize they can easily monetize their efforts.
But, being an “expert” can be a controversial topic.
If you have kids or you pay any attention to pop culture, Macklemore is responsible for making it cool for your kids to shop at the thrift shop.
Macklemore recorded a song entitled “Ten Thousand Hours”, where he sings about is journey to success as an artist. One verse from the song that always hits me is where he says, “10,000 hours, I’m so damn close I can taste it”.
The song continues…
I observed Escher
I love Basquiat
I watched Keith Haring
You see I study art
The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great cause they paint a lot
The whole song is based on a theory by Malcolm Gladwell from the book Outliers, where it takes 10,000 hours invested into a subject to become an “expert”.
Countless times I have held back at expressing my opinions because of a internal dialog of not knowing enough; worrisome of being judged and criticized by other “industry leaders”.
What helps me move past that every time is my intention. I’m not writing for them; I don’t care what they think and I don’t care to be a thought leader of my industry.
I’m writing this for you in hopes that this helps you and that is all that matters.
If Macklemore was paralyzed with fear of judgement from other rappers, he would not have changed the face of hip-hop with his positive music; voicing his opinions on topics of gay marriage, materialism, addiction and religion.
So, before you say “well, I am not an expert in anything”, realize that you likely already know more than your readers about a subject.
And in any scenario vulnerability will beat the “fake it until you make it” experts any day. And it brings you closer to your readers because they feel they can relate to you.
This means you don’t need 10,000 hour level mastery in order to build around the expert model.
Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience. ― Denis Waitley
You can become that “thought leader” of your niche by being the guinea pig much like Tim Ferriss does.
You probably fit the expert model if…
- You prefer to write everything yourself
- You are a wealth of information
- You can talk about a topic all day long
- You get fired up about teaching others
- You enjoy the spotlight and telling your story
- You want to turn what you know into a business
Examples: Kris Carr, Chris Mccombs, Tim Ferriss
On February 17th 2014, Jimmy Fallon ended Jay Leno’s 22 season run at the Tonight Show. Many including myself feel he knocked it out of the park with his humble opening monologue.
But, I want you to just put yourself in Jimmy’s shoes for a moment.
Imagine YOU are the one sitting behind that desk. Imagine it were YOU interviewing some of the most talented, dedicated and successful people in the world. Imagine it were YOU bringing laughter and inspiration to the world.
If you had the Tonight Show as your “platform”, what kind of connections and opportunities would open up for you?
The possibilities are endless, right?
Well, this is exactly what the host model is…
You get to leverage talented people for content by doing interviews like you would if you had your own talk show.
Sure, at first you must gain traction and credibility with your site, but once you do it will be a privilege to get on your show because who doesn’t want more exposure?
One of our Learn To Blog Insider students, Navid Moazzez, decided when starting his blog that the host model was right for him. He went from nothing to producing tons of traffic-pulling interviews with the top names of his industry in less than one year.
Here’s what Navid told me about choosing the host model:
“I started doing interviews with successful entrepreneurs because I wanted to connect and become friends with the influencers in my field. It’s also a fantastic way to build your brand by association, since you’re surrounding yourself with many successful people. I’ve found it’s one of the most powerful ways to build authority when you are starting out with no experience.”
The host model is a great way for you to create a lot of content fast.
Let’s say you decide to do use the host model. You can do a video interview, post the video on YouTube, create a transcript for a blog post, and strip the audio for a podcast.
This gives you three different traffic sources for your blog; all without having to be the expert on any topic.
You probably fit the host model if…
- You are great at interacting with people
- You are great at listening and asking questions
- You are genuinely interested in other people
- You enjoy spotlight, but don’t really need it
- You prefer to showcase others talents
Examples: Entrepreneur On Fire, Mixergy, Navid Moazzez
When you have others writing for you like a magazine, you are in a publishing model.
This is easiest achieved if one already has an audience or traffic. Since you are the “distribution channel”, the main motivation for people wanting to write for you is exposure and credibility.
The publisher model is one that is more scalable than the previous two if done correctly.
After six years of blogging, I have seen many blogs evolve. I have seen some evolve from journal to expert. Then from expert to publisher. Then even from publisher back to an expert model.
In the publishing model (and every other model for that matter), quality trumps quantity. There’s so much content on the web for people to filter through, that you are much better off focusing on fewer higher quality, research driven posts.
Rather than having a cattle call for guest writers, consider cherry picking writers by reaching out to them and telling them an idea of a article you are interested in, why they are perfect for it, and what’s in it for them.
You know what your readers want…
So, when you do your research on a guest writer, it’s much easier to get a response from someone when you plant the idea in their head, rather than making them think of the idea of an article that is going to fit your audience.
Your intent is to get a response like “oh, I could totally crush that topic”.
But, not all people do the publishing model right correctly.
I’m sure at some point you’ve asked Dr. Google about a health related topic and chances are that you’ve run across an article on the Livestrong blog.
You know, the little yellow bracelets from Lance Armstrong?
I don’t support a lot of the decisions he has made, but I do love the mans courage and ability to overcome adversity.
Sadly, he went from being the face of his sport to the black eye of it when he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs, was stripped of 7 Tour De France titles and banned from cycling for life.
The whole Livestrong brand has become another dent in his image as it has become greedy content farm.
Their goal is to publish articles that rank for every health term possible, so that they can get tons of traffic and and ad revenue.
But, if you actually read the articles you will see the are lackluster at best. There’s a reason that the articles have no comments on them.
This is a perfect example on what not to do with the publisher model.
The smart move is to post fewer articles of higher quality and spending more of your time marketing those articles.
You probably fit the publisher model if…
- You are a networker and connector
- You like working “behind the scenes”
- You put experts to teach on your platform
- You have great ideas for content that spreads
- You’d rather promote guest writers
- Traffic generation comes easy to you
Examples: TechCrunch, Copyblogger, Young and Raw
You are scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed.
You are curiously stopped in your tracks by a post shared by one of your friends.
The catchy headline reads something like, “This guy was cut off in traffic and you won’t believe what he does next…”.
It’s accompanied by an irresistible image that makes it too compelling not to click on.
Greeting you on the other side is a two-minute video that provides immediate gratification to your curiosity.
You, my friend, just experienced the curation model.
Curation is finding content that is freely available around the web and repurposing that content for your site. This model has flourished with the popularity of video sites like YouTube.
For example, you find a video on YouTube, embed it on your site and write a quick review on them.
So, is it a sketchy way to get traffic or is curation a legitimate model?
Pawan Deshpande from the Huffington Post says that “curators are subject matter experts who have a knack for finding, organizing, and sharing the best and most relevant content on a given topic.”
Curation is not anything new. Deshpande says that “museums and art galleries have been doing it for centuries”.
But, the barrier to entry is just so low for anyone to start publishing content online.
With so much noise out there, it is hard to cut through it all to find what really matters. So, naturally there will be more of a demand for curators as more content is published online.
Recently, our team at Learn To Blog have been testing this model as a experiment by launching Riseable. The goal is to help small business owners cut through the fluff and find the best free content online that will help them grow their business.
With only a few hours invested into the project, we generated 17 new email subscribers who joined the list for updates.
It’s nothing to scream about from atop the mountains, but the only cost was the purchase of a premium theme. We are growing our email list from free content and free social traffic.
We’re documenting the process of growing this site, so I encourage you to follow along so that you can learn from the experience.
You probably fit the curator model if…
- You are good at finding great content
- You want to quickly build a brand
- You are okay with not “owning the content”
- You are a great copywriter
- Traffic generation comes easy to you
Examples: Upworthy, GodVine, Book Cover Archive
So, Which Publishing Model Are You?
Now, if you made it this far, I can predict exactly what you are thinking right now.
“Do I have to choose just one model?”
The goal of this article is to help you pick a path that you feel inspired by, not be limited by a box.
I suggest that if you are going to combine models, that you focus on a primary model and compliment it with a secondary model.
For example, most of your content is expert and every once in a while you sprinkle on an interview under the host model.
Like I mentioned before, many blogs also evolve over time. Maybe you want to start with a journal model and crossover to the expert and eventually to a publisher model.
It all depends on the vision for your blog. The canvas is blank and ready for you to create your masterpiece.
But, I’m very curious of your thoughts on this topic.
1. What publishing model do you fall into?
2. Why did you choose that direction?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below.