Welcome to the Best Bloggers are Natural Hackers BlogStars Series!
In this series you’ll discover how to use your hacking abilities (creative ideas) to innovate and create unique features and posts for your blog.
This series will unfold over the next two weeks, so you might want to bookmark this post so you can return to it for updates.
Let me just clarify this – we are not talking about hacking in the techie sense only – we’ve hacked that definition and are moving beyond it – so be sure to stay tuned so you don’t miss out on some truly innovative blog posts.
7 Signs You’re Hacker and How it Can Help Your Blog
You’re probably a hacker, and don’t even know it. The term has developed a negative connotation, so many resist the idea. But let me start by breaking down the word.
Webster’s Dictionary defines the term Hacker as:
an expert at programming and solving problems with a computer (Yeah…boring!!)
a person who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system (that’s just criminal…)
Before you get all paranoid and start thinking that I’m secretly hacking your computer’s hard drive while you read this, I want to give you my “hacked” definition:
a person who adds his or her own special tweaks to an object, often using it far beyond what it was originally intended to do.
So in other words, a hacker is simply someone who takes something – it could be just about anything and extends its use.
We all do it – have you ever used a butter knife to tighten a screw? Yeah? Then, you’re a hacker, my friend!
I never really thought about how much I do this until I watched an episode of Cake Boss. In the Robots, Rollerskates, and Relatives episode, Buddy Valastro is commissioned to create a robot cake for a guy named Charles, who belonged to a hacker collective, for an interactive party he was organizing.
Buddy was just as cautious, asking, “Isn’t a hacker just just somebody who steals identities and stuff like that?”
Charles, the Hacker, explained, “Hackers are just people who take things and make them do things they don’t normally do.”
Immediately the Cake Boss could identify with what he meant – it was the same thing he did with cakes. On a daily basis, he took cakes and hacked them beyond their original two-layer intentions. In this episode, he would not only hack the cake, but in order to make it move, he’d have to hack two RC trucks, using the wheels to power his creation.
That got me thinking. How many times had I made objects do things they weren’t supposed to do?
I love the Sims game – I don’t play it as much as I used to, but years ago, when the first Sims game came out, I refused to be bound. I was making apartment homes for my sims long before the Sims 2 expansion pack was developed. I insisted on turning homes into restaurants, years before the Open for Business expansion. I didn’t realize it then, but I was hacking the game – not because I wanted to create some horrible computer virus, but simply because it enhanced the game for me.
If it wasn’t for hackers, there would be no Facebook as we know it in all its splendor. Thanks to all night hackathons or all-night coding sessions, we’re able to utilize so many awesome features.
Hacking is innovation in a nutshell; to hack is to be fearless.
What does all this have to do with blogging?
If you plan on being one of the bloggers who stands out in your niche, you’re going to have to be innovative. You’re going to have to embrace the inner hacker in you.
Like I mentioned earlier, you probably already hack things on a daily basis. I’m going to help you sort through the signs and show you how to use it to your advantage to improve your blog.
Here’s 7 signs that you’re a hacker:
1. (This is an easy one) If your blog is more than an online weblog or diary, you might be a hacker.
2. If you’re not a computer technician or expert by any means, yet you’ve spent hours figuring out how to get that new WordPress plug-in to work, you might be a hacker.
3. If you’ve ever created a blog post completely out of photos, you might be a hacker.
4. If you’ve ever created a video or a pod cast and published it as a blog post, you might be a hacker.
5. If you’re always searching for unique ways to generate an honest (and ethical) income with your blog aside from Adsense and affiliate sales, you might be a hacker.
6. If you’re always looking for new and innovative ways to bring traffic to your blog beyond the “traditional methods,” you might be a hacker. Ana Hoffman dares to bring new traffic to her blog by using Ebay – now that’s what I’m talking about!
7. If you’re always looking for new ways to relate and connect your blogging niche to unlikely topics or objects – for example, if you’re the type of person who could write a post about how basketballs and knitting needles are alike, at will – then yes, you, too, might be a hacker.
So you’re ready to admit it, now what do you do with all of this?
Here’s 5 ways to use it to your blog’s advantage:
Create an Innovative Design
Take a look at your blog’s design and find a way to tweak it so that it’s one-of-a-kind. Look around the blogosphere, find several designs that you like and pull one or two of your favorite features from each blog and combine them in a visually appealing way.
Combine Unlikely Ideas to Create Something New
When writing blog posts, to keep from producing the same mundane content as every one else, use your own personal experience to create original content. Don’t be afraid to combine unlikely ideas. If I’ve found ways to link blogging to insects – from mosquitos to grasshoppers, so can you. There’s always something new to learn from every experience.
Make Your Own Rules
Don’t blindly accept the rules. As you continue to develop your knowledge of blogging in your niche – don’t hold yourself so tightly to the guidelines. Things are constantly changing in the blogosphere and just because something isn’t considered popular today doesn’t mean you can’t make it popular tomorrow. Today’s best SEO practices won’t be the same tomorrow. Learn the rules then break and make your own.
Dare to be Different
Create something different. The crazier, the zanier, the more outlandish - the better. Of course finding what works for you will take trial error, but don’t be afraid to try. If you want to experiment with bending or even blending your niche – don’t be afraid to try it. Yesterday, on Ellen, I saw a Hot Guys and Baby Animals calendar – So who says you can’t blog about the two?
Go beyond social networking online – try doing it offline, too! There are people who are walking around your city who would love to hear about what you’re blogging about – get out and tell them about it! Find some networking events, add your URL to your business cards and go meet some people in person. There might be local businesses that would love to sponsor your blog, but you’ll never know if you don’t log off of the computer and get out of the house.
I could go on with this list, but who has that kind of time? Let the hacker in you fill in the blanks and add to this list.
Let’s have a little fun with this one – what are some other signs that you might be a hacker and how else could you use those things to your advantage?
Ready for Part II? Check out: How to Hack Your Own Blog Without Anyone Noticing by Alex Whalley.
Part III: 5 Traditional Blogging Rules I Refuse to Follow by Hector Cuevas.
Part IV: The Best Bloggers are Natural Hackers: Show Me What You’ve Got by Ana Hoffman.