I’ve given a lot of thought to the differences between traditional writers and bloggers. I do think there is a difference, but the primary difference isn’t in the actual content they produce. A piece of good writing is a good writing regardless the medium through which it is conveyed. Online does allow for more flexibility in the types of content which can be produced, but good is good.
The primary difference lies not in the story they create but in the meta-story.
What is a meta-story you might ask?
Most bloggers have some sort of meta-story behind them which the real appeal which is what really attracts followers. It usually can be summarized in a sentence or two and can fit into the description field on your Twitter account.
My meta-story would be something like: I’ve been traveling around the world for almost 5 years and have visited over 100 countries and territories.
While I try to create good content, I know it is the meta-story which hooks people. A meta-story can be being a celebrity (why else would people care about what Justin Bieber has to say?), something you’ve done, something you are doing, something you are going to do, something you are, etc.
I’ve had dozens upon dozens of people send me emails and tweets saying things like “What you are doing is so cool!”, “I wish I could be you!”, etc. Those are all responses to my meta-story not any particular piece of content.
A typical freelance writer will usually offer a meta-story which is only of interest to editors and other writers (I’ve written for X, Y and Z publications). Even if they do have a compelling meta-story, there is no way for the reader to act on it and follow the person in print.
Content can bring people in, but your meta-story is what is going to hook people. YOU are the ultimate content. All your content must spring from you.
In my niche, travel, where I go and what I do is just as much part of my content as what I write and the photos I create. Going to exotic places and doing interesting things is part of the mystique. If all I did was go to all inclusive resorts in Mexico, it wouldn’t be very interesting.
Ask yourself; when someone visits your site, how quickly can they figure out your meta-story? How succinctly can you tell it?