What Does “Stand out” Actually Look Like & Why Should You Care? Jason Zook

Today I share insights from one of my TOP 7 favorite people on the internet–Jason Zook from Wandering Aimfully. Why do I love him so? It’s NOT because every project he’s done has turned to gold and made $1B–but because every project seems to be UNIQUELY HIS. His touch. His branding. His content. We can all learn from Jason (and Caroline, his PIC in life and WAIM!)

I have two confessions to make.

First, I look at a TON of blogs. If you’ve ever interacted with me on Twitter, chances are I’ve looked at your blog and read stuff.

The next confession is harder to hear…

Much of what I see bores the heck out of me.

I understand “blogging” is made up of a MILLION little things to do and learn–over and over again. I get that it’s hard.

I understand not everybody can simply sit down one day and decide to “stand out”–whatever the heck that actually means.

Wait, what does it mean?

What does “bloggers need to stand out!” actually TRANSLATE to–in terms of fingers-to-keyboards?

Enter this post and episode.

Let’s dive in (and attempt to NOT be boring)

Listen to my episode with Jason Zook:

or listen on \\ iTunes \\ Stitcher \\ Google Play \\ Overcast \\ Spotify

Ok, so lemme add a disclaimer:

Jason didn’t necessarily say half of the stuff you’re about to read. I’ve extrapolated a bit and added my own opinions.

#disclaimed. <3 u Jason.

*

Reverse-engineering why you MUST “stand out” in your blog.

Let’s work backward to land on something you can DO.

  • End goal = to become successful. (Let’s be real. That means influencer status, part-or-full-time income from your online business, etc)
  • Things that help you get there = more email subscribers & “true” fans.
  • Things that help you get there = traffic, downloads, views (i.e. acquisition)

Those last two bullet points are “process dependent,” meaning you can’t actually control them. Wish as you might–you can’t snap your fingers and get traffic and subs.

Thus, they are by-products of your process. Action stuff. Content.

Frequency and quality of content.

Here’s where “standing out” and “setting yourself apart” come into play…

Tactics and strategies to stand out HELP YOU get more traffic and fans. Standing out accelerates the bullet points to get what you actually want outta life.

seth godin standing out

Still with me?

Tactic 1 – Not every blog post has to be created just for metrics.

A few days back, somebody tagged me in a Twitter thread asking questions about SEO.

twitter our next life
I mean–she’s not wrong about the “worry” part.

First, I disagree–but there is still a golden nugget of truth in Tanja’s comment.

By all means, please do learn SEO (or any other marketing strategy–well hello SEO course in Blogger U!) and write posts for SEO.

Or Pinterest or fill-in-the-blank marketing strategy.

BUT ALSO WRITE POSTS FOR YOURSELF.

Because YOU want to. Because YOU think something needs to be said.

My first “manifesto” on this blog generated 6 backlinks on day one (the most for any post back when it was published)–and contains absolutely no optimization for anything.

One of Jason’s most trafficked post was written just for himself–with no agenda or marketing strategy in mind.

Crazy.

Don’t just produce content that meta-bloggers like myself SAY you should–and that goes for marketing and topic. Sometimes, just gotta make something because you care to.

Tactic 2 -Don’t fall into accidental ruts caused by following other bloggers.

Let me explain:

No, you’re probably not simply copying and pasting what other bloggers are doing. You might get inspired by their content, or marketing strategies, or email copy, or whatever.

In fact, watching what high-performing bloggers are doing can be a fantastic way to learn and get better.

But you must be extremely careful not to fall into patterns based ONLY on what other bloggers are doing. Be your own brand.

matt giovanisci opt in
matt’s opt-in copy is fire

Learn what works–but then adapt and internalize for YOUR brand.

It’s your blog–which means not only do you get to choose what you want to say and how to say it–but you SHOULD say what you want the way you want to.

Get it?

Tactic 3 – Grow the confidence needed to be different

Growing up, what are we taught in school?

  • DON’T talk unless called upon.
  • DO stand in lines.
  • DON’T question the homework
  • DO sit at your desk (in neat little rows and columns)
  • DO good to high school. College. Masters. Jobs.

Do conform, else get in trouble. Get bad remarks. Get held back.

Believe it or not, I’ll actually prevent this education rant–for now–and focus on my takeaway for bloggers:

My point: It takes guts to brush aside 20+ years of mild brainwashing.

It’s hard to stand out.

It’s hard to write something people might not approve of. 

It’s hard because…

  • you might fail
  • you might get unsubscribers
  • you might turn people off from your blog

A mission, courage, and relentlessness are required to rise above those fears and be the blogger you actually want to be.

For DYEB, choosing my blue n’ green branding was hard at first–because I knew it was different than what other blog-folk are doing.

(Go check out the branding on Smart Passive Income or ProBlogger. We literally could be more different in terms of color-schemes)

It’s been hard for me to produce my content the way *I* think it should be produced.

I do get feedback like “it’d be nice if your podcast was more like ______________.” I ignore this at every opportunity.

Being fully confident to present your true self–through your blog–won’t happen overnight. But I will encourage you to step up and don’t hesitate to do what you know needs to be done.

Blogging Homework – Do something gutsy within the next 7 days.

You know that moment when you read something like “take out a pen and piece of paper” or “open a Google Doc and do this ASAP“…

But you never actually do it?

#internet.

Well, that’s not going to stop me from encouraging you to TAKE ACTION and do something that I personally believe will HELP your blog grow.

That’s what I’m here for, after all.

Here’s your homework:

  1. Do something gutsy on your blog that makes people do a double-take
  2. Report back to me via Twitter or Email

If you feel a bit of discomfort about your idea, you’re probably on the right track.

Here are a few more ideas of what you can do:

  1. Rebrand with colors that POP–even if it’s a bit outside your niche’s “normal”
  2. Write an opinion manifesto
  3. Write a prophecy (something you think will happen in the future, within your topic)
  4. Write a 20-word blog post

Do or create something that will make YOU incredibly happy and/or proud, even if it alienates 20% of your target readers.

Do something gutsy

(Then email me and I’ll send you something)

Go.

BLOG branding that stands out

Join the Conversation

4 Comments

  1. There’s an article I’ve been thinking about writing since the day I started my blog, specific to my target audience but I also know a lot of people will disagree.
    I’ve been nervous to do that as a new blogger, so I shelved it. I have like three posts up, and I haven’t been sure about making number four something I know will offend some people.
    But what did Rosemarie Groner made the point in her FinCon talk that having “Polarizing Passion Statements” on your site IS the thing that helps you find “your” people. I’ll let you know when it’s up next week. 😉

  2. I love this. My industry talks about minimalism, simple living, etc. I’m not against it. But I can’t blend in. So I changed the “simple” part to “epic”.

    Similarly, their blog design is rather black and white. Mine is all colorful.

    I’m not afraid to do things my way. I can’t afford to blend it. I will stand out.

    Thank you, Pete.

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