06/16/2016 11:13 am ET Updated Jun 17, 2017

How to Write a Blog That People Will Actually Read

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How can one build a successful blog if they have something of value to share? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by David Kadavy, author of Design for Hackers, solopreneur, gentleman neuroscientist & economist, on Quora.

There's a place, far away from the noise of Twitter and Facebook, where literally every person who reads what you've written is actually interested in it. Most of the time, there's an endless supply of these people. They're people who use search engines to look for stuff. Know any people like that? Of course you do, you're one of them! Every day, there are billions of people using search engines to find out things like "what's the best turntable," "why do my teeth hurt," and "how to tie shoes?" If you search for any of these terms, you'll find that the bar is actually set pretty low. Most people who are writing this content haven't lived it, and just want to finish writing the damn article so they can collect their 20 bucks and start writing the next article. Additionally, the experience on most of these sites suck. They're full of ads for one weird trick. The content there is just a number on a spreadsheet to the people who run the site. These people don't really care.

This is an opportunity for you. Every day, you have experiences. You encounter problems and challenges. You buy products to help you with those problems and challenges. These are all things you can write about. You can beat the competition because 1) you've lived it, and 2) you care. Whatever your experiences, and whatever challenges you face, chances are, someone out there has had the same experiences. When you write about these experiences, and you use the language someone would use to search for them, people find your writing. The best part is, you're actually helping the people who find your writing. Yes, eventually having a following on Twitter or Facebook or Snapstagraminator is helpful, but when you throw content out there, a low percentage of people care. When you write for search traffic, everyone cares.

How has this worked for me over the years?

Yes, eventually I was able to write more in-depth about topics nearer-and-dearer to my heart that weren't being searched for and have blowout blog posts that landed me a book deal. But all of the above was just preparation for that. These things let me practice writing, practice the art of explaining things, and - most importantly - they brought in passive revenue that freed me up to concentrate on my craft.

So, my advice to build a successful blog with something of value to share is to learn the very basics of SEO (you don't need to know more than that), and write in-depth about one of two things:

  • Challenges you're currently facing, and overcoming: These have value because other people likely have the same challenges, and they're easy to write about because the learning is fresh in your mind.
  • Knowledge you take for granted: You may think you're an expert on something, but do you know how to tie your shoes? Well, there are millions of people who don't know how to tie their shoes. Write about things you know so well, you take that knowledge for granted. If you're stuck, think about what friends ask you about. It wasn't until a friend asked me about design in a coffee shop that I decided to put together a tiny talk that two years later became a book.

Forget about everything social, and concentrate on this only. Once you get comfortable with that, you can start messing with Twitter, etc. At that point, the best channel is the one you actually enjoy using.

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