How To Build Reputation With A Blog – Differentiate

This is the 5th post from the series: “How To Build Reputation With A Blog”. If you came here directly, you may want to read the first articles too:

How To Build Reputation With Your Blog – The Series
How To Build Reputation With Your Blog – Clearly State Your Expertise
How To Build Reputation With Your Blog – Write Constantly
How To Build Reputation With Your Blog – Interact With Your Audience
How To Build Reputation With Your Blog – Interact With Your Peers

How Do You Value Things?

The answer to this question is fundamental, not only in blogging, but in every value based process. Every time you want to establish the value of a thing, you will have to come up with a way to identify that thing first, to get around it somehow. Most of the time you do that in two steps:

  • by finding common traits with other related objects
  • by spotting the differences from other objects

The first step will help you identify and place the object in familiar contexts. The second step will make you see its real value. You value things not by common traits, but by differences. That’s why it’s fundamental to differentiate as much as you can if you plan on building your online reputation. Stay on an identifiable niche, but do it your own way.

A car is a thing which will get you from point A to point B. But a BMW is far more than a car. And you will buy a BMW not because it gets you from point A to point B, you can have that with a Tata (in case you didn’t know there is a company called Tata, which makes millions of cars in India). You get the BMW because you are looking for the differences. You need style, power and a sense of luxury. This is what you are actually getting when you’re buying a BMW.

Your needs will push you to pick a certain object or service, and you’ll choose it based on its common traits. I need something that can take me from point A to point B. It may be a car, a motorcycle, an ATV or a public transportation subscription. But once you identified the common traits of the object or service, your buying decision will always be made based on a specific difference. That special twist that will make you feel fulfilled and balanced. We’re buying differences.

The Meaningful Difference

More clearly, we’re buying meaningful differences. We’re getting something that we don’t have and that it’s difficult to find in common places.

How can you, as a blogger, create that meaningful difference, that special something which will make you a reputable character?

First of all, don’t look outside. Look inside. Inside yourself. See what you can provide, not what the “market” needs. That’s tricky, and you know why? Because we’ve learned so many things and we know so many processes that we forgot our own identities. We have a very hard time to find what’s genuine and original in ourselves. Asked to fit in, to perform socially correct, we played the games as they were taught to us, leaving our own ways behind.

And your meaningful difference is in your own ways, not in the common practices. This is why I don’t buy “mainstream”. Never did. I buy things, I admire persons or I use services based on the personal brand, on what’s different. For instance, I still dig Steve Pavlina. By many standards, Steve is a weirdo. The guy is into polyamory, hate regular jobs and spend his time doing exactly what he wants without giving a dime on what people think of him. Recently, he started a 30 days trial in which he considered everyone a figment of his reality, and acted accordingly. I met him in person and although we didn’t “clicked” as friends I still consider him a highly valuable personal development blogger.

And you know why? Because I’m learning something from him that I can’t find anywhere else. I’m learning how to be a weirdo. In other words, I’m learning how to take responsibility for my decisions and not feel guilt or shame for accepting myself exactly how I am. This is a pretty big thing to learn, believe me. I didn’t learn from Steve how to create a popular blog, although he’s still running one of the most popular blogs in the world. This is the “common” part. There are a lot of popular blogs out there. But very few meaningful weirdos.

Your Biggest Liability Is Your Biggest Asset

That leads me to the core of this post. Your biggest contribution, your most important difference lies not in what you have in common with other people, but in what you have different. The thing you’ve kept deep down, hidden, the thing that made you feel guilt for not fitting in, the thing that created tons of rejection thrown at you incessantly, that thing is your biggest asset. Because that thing defines you. That thing is your unique contribution, your irreplaceable value, something that nobody else is having.

In my case, I guess my biggest liability is my attempt to do things everybody considered out of my league. I had an incredibly huge share of hurt because of that, but I also learned tremendously. I created an online business from scratch, 10 years ago, when nobody gave me any chance. I got hit pretty bad a few times. By competition, by crisis or by my own stupid decisions. And yet, after 10 years, I created enough value to profitably sell that business and embrace another challenge. Namely, being a personal development blogger, in a language I never studied (learned English by watching movies and reading blogs) on an incredibly crowded niche. And yet, in this niche, I am Dragos Roua, that Romanian weirdo who never quits, although he’s constantly laughed at for being ridiculous.

I have a very high risk tolerance, meaning I need way bigger challenges than the vast majority of people I know. And not only in business. If you think my career was a roller-coaster, you should look at my personal life. I have two kids from two different relationships, one divorce in my pocket and the second one preparing to catch me in the coming months. I entered those relationships despite being warned that “they’re not good for me”. For a while, I thought that myself. Look, I have this incredible talent of picking women who are not good for me. Then I realized it wasn’t that. It was my attraction to challenges. If a relationship had a high enough potential of being “difficult” I embraced it like a mosquito will hit a lantern in the night. Full power.

By many standards I failed in my personal relationships. But not by my standards. Not only I learned and gained experience. But I also enjoyed the trip. I’ve been in love with each and every woman and I hated them with equal power. Even when the emotions were dried and we had no other choices than to spend our lives together because we had common responsibilities, I enjoyed being friend with them. I still keep that friendship. But then again, don’t think at a “common” friendship. It’s very different from what you would define as friendship. 🙂

That difference, both in business and personal life, that risk taking capacity (way over the average and almost pathological) that is the thing that created the real value in my life. It inspired people. It pushed stalled lives ahead. It shook old structures and forced the building of new, more powerful ones. It destroyed to create.

What To Keep From This

Now, you may have noticed that this post has a different structure from the first ones. And I did this on purpose. It’s not a list you can hang on your fridge. It’s not a collection of actionable items you can put to work. It’s a mix of left and right brain messages which will most likely leave you dazzled. And I did that also on purpose.

Because now it’s time to forget what I wrote in this post and go find your own difference.

Do things your own way.

14 thoughts on “How To Build Reputation With A Blog – Differentiate”

  1. Dragos, this is right on target in my opinion. There is so much repetitious blah, blah, blah that if you don’t seriously try to be different you will fail.

    I still read Steve once in a while. I was a huge fan but he went off the deep end in my opinion. I also believe he lost a lot of influence when he did.

    You need to be different for sure, but being different doesn’t make it work by itself. It has to be a difference that enough people will value. Nonetheless, being the same is a sure loser.

  2. I love this series… well thought out and great information. In this particular post I really appreciate the left brain/right brain concept. Very interesting…

  3. Genius Dragos!
    This is my favorite part of the series so far 🙂 Cause dude you are talking my language (except the hating with equal power 😉 )
    But embracing who we are in its totality is the first step to gaining confidence enough to conquer the world…so the blog-o-sphere shouldn’t be any different …right 🙂
    Thank you for this reminder…i seriously needed to unleash the “weirdo within” !
    Much Love,

  4. Dragos,

    I loved the message of this post because you hit on something which so many people overlook. We have something that is special and unique and our work should reflect that skill.

    All the people that are successful used what made them unique and worked with it. There is no reason to be a copycat…it is good to innovate.

  5. When I started my blog in a very crowded niche, like you, the one thing I would say to myself when doubt crept in is…nobody can do what I am doing. It took 42 years of being me to have the material for this blog. There isn’t anyone but me that can offer that. I think I said it so many times I started to believe it because six months later here I am! 🙂 Thanks for putting this out there and giving me a reminder when I happened to really need one and congrats on all your success.

  6. Dragos,
    A wonderful post. It is true that we loose ourselves trying to fit in. We forget what makes us unique. We turn our backs on it. For years I did the “socially correct” and I wasn’t happy. It got me nowhere. So I’m trying to be true and genuine. I’m rediscovering my voice!


  7. There is great value in “being out there.” We all love people who just let it all hang out. People will always be enamored with authenticity.

  8. “we’ve learned so many things and we know so many processes that we forgot our own identities”, that´s exaclty how our society has been working on us, making us know a lot of things but not searching our own uniqueness.

    It´s always good to be reminded and remind others of how we must know ourselves better and how we can relate to others showing what´s inside of us.

    I found your article on twitter by the way…

  9. I’ve found too that our greatest ‘weaknesses’ are the greatest strengths. Rather than hide those things, if we put them up on a flagpole and fly them high, people will gather round. They’ll know this isn’t just the same-old thing they see everywhere. It’s the bumpiness and strangeness in our lives that makes us interesting.

  10. Dragos,

    It is amazing o see how most people miss the point you explained so well in while talking about creating a MEANINGFUL difference. It is a big one indeed and something to really ponder upon.

  11. Dragos,

    This is my favorite line in the post…”…accepting myself exactly how I am. This is a pretty big thing to learn, believe me.” I applaud you for this.

    You have given me a lot to reflect on with this post. You’re right, it does kind of dazzle the brain.

  12. Great post!

    I’ve been working on Danielle LaPorte’s Fire Starter Sessions recently, and one of the most fundamental questions that I go back to all the time is the “what business are you really in”-question.

    I was thinking about why I chose this one travel store A instead store B. And in regard to this question, the answer was clear. Store A are not in the bookstore or travel equipment business like store B. They are in the dream business.

    In my opinion it’s all about how you make people feel.


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