Tell me if this sounds familiar:
- “The number one rule of blogging is to pick something you’re interested in!”
- “You need to write on something you’re passionate about! If you’re not interested, you won’t write about it!”
How did “interest” become the cornerstone of blogging authorship?
In what other industry is interest the cornerstone of expertise?
Casual Interest Is a Foundation of Sand
Imagine I apply for a managerial position with a Fortune 500 consulting company. I walk into the interview surrounded by the board of directors. I’m floating in a sea of Armani suits and stained walnut table islands.
“What are your qualifications?” the suits ask, pens poised.
“Well, I was super interested!” I beam. “I’ve always been curious about corporate management, and this seemed like a great opportunity to try it out and see if it works.”
You can imagine the end of that meeting. And I dare say it would come about rather quickly.
So here’s my unpopular opinion: Your interest in a subject is not the rock upon which you should build your blog.
Passion Doesn’t Drive Knowledge
Have you heard any comments like this before?
- “I’m so passionate about health and wellness. I want to build a blog about it. I just don’t know where to start!”
- “I know blogging is the career for me. I’ve been dreaming about it for years. I just don’t know what to write on!”
- “Can someone help me out? I’ve started a blog about personal budgeting, but I’ve run out of topics to write about it.”
I’m a part of a few blogging Facebook groups. And these sorts of comments show up all. the. time.
Here’s one from two days ago:
“Pls I need assistance on choose a niche. I have suggestions of the following niche:
- Book and fiction
“Please house, help me to check it out.”
Either we’re dealing with a true polymath, the archetypical Rennaissance man – a recreational angler, a fiction writer, agricultural specialist, marksman and gunsmith, and world traveler …
… or we’re dealing with someone with fantasy aspirations of blogging and no True North sense of business direction.
Call me harsh. But there’s a reason 99% of blogs fail.
I would like to lay down a different foundation: Your blog should be based around a subject upon which you can build Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E-A-T).
Your New Best Friend: Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (EAT)
E-A-T isn’t my invention. It’s Google’s. It’s a term found in the Google Quality Rater Guidelines. SEMRush has a pretty good breakdown of what EAT is all about.
Google wants to serve the Reader with the most useful, relevant, authoritative content possible. That’s their business model.
That means the who is just as important as the what.
If you want to learn the technical ins and outs of how Google measures E-A-T … well, just Google it.
But don’t make it over-complicated. You’ve known about EAT your whole life. E-A-T is the same reason your college professor is required to have a PhD. It’s why that job posting requires a minimum 5 years of experience.
E-A-T = credibility = experience.
I’d like to draw a parallel between Shark Tank and blogging.
Shark Tank, for those of you who aren’t initiated, is a show where a group of venture capitalists pick and choose which small businesses to invest in.
There are a couple of questions that pop up in almost every conversation: “What are your sales?” and “What makes your product unique?”
I believe what works offline works online. So let’s ask ourselves the same question: What makes our blogs unique?
Surely “interest” doesn’t make you unique!
Authority does. Expertise does. Building trust does. Experience does.
Example: I don’t read Mr. Money Mustache because he has a passing interest in personal finances. I read his blog because he figured out how to retire at age 30. And I want to learn from him.
So I’ll present my unpopular opinion again:
If you can’t bring E-A-T to the table, maybe you shouldn’t be blogging.
For Best Results, Combine Interest with Authority
Don’t misunderstand me – picking a niche is hard! It’s normal to struggle with committing to a specific niche. You’ll be married to it for at least 2-3 years.
But you should use the IRL (In Real Life) test.
If you sat down with a friend in a bar, could you speak about your subject? Could you captivate your friend? Could you regale them with stories, bore them with trivia, and suggest a helpful product?
If you can only recite what you read on the 1st page of Google … I doubt you would be able to carry on the conversation past a few minutes.
Yes, interest is important. Yes, you should write about a topic you’re passionate about.
But passion only fuels you, the writer. Passion doesn’t do a darn thing for your reader.
Passion puts words on the page. Authority gets the clicks.