In the very first Blogging Case Study update I told you to research your industry and the other bloggers operating in it as much as possible. Simply put, I said that you can’t know too much about what other bloggers are doing. Armed with this research, keep the strategy on the previous page in mind and now see how you can differentiate yourself from others and where you should follow the crowd.
I’ve broken the concepts below into three main sections. Keep in mind that I will be talking about content ideas and traffic generating strategies more in future updates, but it’s good to have an idea about your approach before you actually start writing.
Post Frequency & Length
When I first started blogging, pretty much everyone was posting daily. I wasn’t personally, but that’s only because I didn’t have any readers and was simply adding more content to my site for search traffic purposes. When I entered the personal development niche a few years ago I found that a lot of bloggers were still sticking to this daily posting schedule, often supplementing days with articles from guest authors because it isn’t so easy to continually generate fresh post ideas.
In a year and a half of running the website, at which point I had over 7,000 daily subscribed readers, I managed to write around 120 posts. My focus was on writing high-quality content that people had time to digest and use before I wrote something else. Many of the posts were in excess of 1,500 words, with one even being over 4,400.
With this site I aimed to write two blog posts per week and then publish them a day apart. For example if I published a blog post on a Monday then I wouldn’t publish another one until Wednesday. Or if I wrote on a Tuesday then I wouldn’t write until Thursday or Friday. I never posted on weekends simply because less people are online then.
Now with my marketing blog, ViperChill, there are times when I’ll only write one or two posts in an entire month. I don’t think I’ve ever written more than five in a month in the history of the site. This is very rare in the marketing world but because I write such long and in-depth articles, it wouldn’t make sense (or really be possible) to be publishing three posts every single week.
Because of my success with the blog, a lot of people in the industry have started copying my strategy, which I find quite funny. The reason I think it’s funny is because this is the approach that enables me to help people in the way I want to help them. I want them to have all of the information they need in one place. This works well since a lot of advice is technical or needs a background story before I state why I’m recommending it.
When I said in the first update that you should know how you want to help people, this was why. There is a good and bad side to my approach. It’s good in that my articles tend to be very popular with an audience who likes to read longer content, but it’s bad in that there’s only so much I can write about. If I write an in-depth guide on building links to your site, there’s only really one time I can do that.
In every niche there are opportunities to take on a totally different approach to post length and posting frequency and be very successful. Seth Godin is thought to be one of the top marketers in the world a blogs almost every single day, with posts that are only a few hundred words. Though we write on the same topic in a broad scale, it’s two totally different approaches that are having positive results.
In the Tech/Startups industry you have sites like Mashable who try and cater to the social media masses with their constant “Top 10 X’ or “Hottest 21 X” guides and they do it well. Then there’s TechCrunch who take a more personal approach with strong opinions on the latest happenings in the industry. Two fairly different angles; both successful for their owners.
Just over a year ago I did some research into the post length of some of the top blogs in the world in different industries, and here were my findings:
Ultimately, what matters most is how you want to help people and what kind of schedule and length makes most sense to do that. If that happens to result in actions that nobody else in your industry is doing, then even better.
You’re the Pulse of Your Blog
If two blogs were to look identical, operate in the same industries, use the same monetisation strategies and even post on the same days with the same length content, they could still be very different. The reason for this is pure and simple: The authors behind the sites are going to have totally different viewpoints on their niche.
When I think of my favourite blogs I often think about the people behind them, people I tend to know quite well through reading their content for so long. We’re more likely to connect to the person writing the words we’re reading rather than the brand platform were reading them on. I put myself into my work a lot, and share a lot about my personal life which is a core reason that the blogs I’ve built have been successful. People feel like they can relate to what I’m saying and (in some cases) see what is possible for them to achieve themselves.
Your knowledge of your topic, the passion you have for it and your own personal story can do a lot to set you apart from other bloggers in your niche. Don’t be afraid to get personal. In fact, I highly recommend it. Not everyone is going to connect with you and not everyone is going to care about what you have to say. Heck, some people will just click off my website when they see how long some of my articles are. That’s totally fine.
The aim here is to build a connected audience of people who want value in the way that you want to present it. If you’re trying to market to everybody then you’re marketing to nobody.
Traffic Generation & Monetisation
As stated, we will be touching on this in future updates, but there are a few things that I do want to say on this topic. A lot of what I’ve said here is about differentiating yourself and standing out from the competition, but you don’t always have to do that. For example, if you found in your research that everyone is using Twitter and they have thousands of followers, you won’t do yourself any favours by not having a Twitter account and trying to ‘stand out’ that way. If the audience is there, create an account too.
If people are having success with Facebook fan pages, then I recommend you create one for your own brand and start utilising it as well. I’ve written a long guide to Facebook fan pages over on ViperChill that should help you get going.
Of course, you can do things differently when it comes to traffic generation as well. In some industries I’ve seen people focus solely on search engine traffic and have a lot of success. They don’t care about comments or social media interactions, but they research what types of phrases people are searching for in Google (which I covered on this update) and write content around that topic. They also use the likes of Google Hot trends to see what people are searching for right now and try to accommodate to those needs.
When I ran PluginID I put together a list of the top 100 blogs in the personal development industry, ranked by stats such as their Google Pagerank, Alexa rank and number of blog subscribers. It cost me $100 (£62) to get the whole thing coded together and the page, in time, ended up with over 10,000 (!) links from other websites and tens of thousands of visitors landed on my site as a result.
After sharing my results with this on ViperChill the idea has since been heavily overused, but it shows that thinking outside of the box a little still brings a lot of potential traffic. Once you know what everyone else in your industry is doing, just take time out to see if there are any gaps that may be missing or other areas that you can utilise.
If everyone is constantly writing, would videos take your blog to the next level and help you get more traffic? Would people like a podcast to go with your posts? Is there any kind of competition you can run to get some audience participation? Could you utilise something like Cloud Flood in a unique way?
I hesitate to give any direct suggestions since so many people here are following along and that would probably invalidate any creativity points you get from your audience. Hopefully the suggestions here though and more importantly your own niche research are able to give you some ideas.
I had a lot of feedback to the last update for the additional page I’m putting together about Andrea’s progress so far and the challenges we / she have faced on the journey. Sorry that I can’t reply to every single email, but they have been read and they do help me, so thanks again!