31DBBB – Day 4 – Analyze a Top Blog In Your Niche
I try to take life one day at a time, but lately my days seem to be ganging up on me!
This post is two days late, but as some of you know I had other more pressing minor-emergencies to deal with. Back to the grind now!
Seriously though, this was another challenge that made me stop and think. Think about what you ask?
Who shares my niche?
Not just little guys, but at a higher level who is out here serving a similar market or at least doing a similar approach?
It isn’t CopyBlogger, goodness knows I could use a course in copywriting and I’m a study in what-not-to-do in some posts! LOL
It isn’t Katie Freiling, she focuses a lot on personal development and I gladly leave that topic to her! I write about that elsewhere but not here. While she does venture into discussions of blogging, MLMs and personal branding, she does so out of need rather than as her primary passion. She also is admittedly non-technical.
It isn’t Jonathan Budd, as while I talk about MLMs they make up only one component of the big picture here. I also am way more likely to talk about MLM’s elephants in the room (more on that in another post) than he is. Besides that, I try not to sound like a 25-yr-old-might-have-gotten-rich-too-quick-boy, LOL Last I checked I’m all girl and majority of my target is actually females who make up the largest percentage of the micro-business work-from-home market.
It’s not really Kary Rogney et al. that last year were mostly network marketing via social media and have migrated into the beginning blogging niche. Excusing their recent focus on a ton of beginning blogging keywords which match their recent product, their niche really is mostly social media education (and tribe syndication) for the network marketer. I think it’s too early to say if they will stay in the beginning blogging niche or find it constricting. They do a great job between them of teaching the Tribe Syndication small team model and it’s interesting to watch them make some course shifts. While they venture into teaching it, their strength really is not on the technical or details side. While their approach may be different, their target and mine share a ton of similarities.
The closest match I can think of currently is ProBlogger, but they kinda come at it opposite from what I do… they focus on the blog side and then add a little monetization discussion on top. For me, most of my target audience has a blog BECAUSE they’re trying to monetize something (generally themselves). Not the other way around. However, they’re fairly close.
What I’m doing has more of an element of 2 parts ProBlogger + 1 part Frank Kern + 1 part Grade School Science Project, shaken vigorously until its hard to tell where one stops and the other begins.
I had a hard time deciding I wanted to take a shot at ProBlogger’s reputation (Alexa: #2,265) however, and I knew there had to be sites not quite that big but rapidly on their way to going there.
So that got me thinking about the blogs I enjoy, those of people who have quickly become friends … Sire’s WassupBlog , Sunil Jain’s Tech18 and Harsh Agrawal’s ShoutMeLoud. These blogs are related to mine and serve as fair landmarks. (Also, friends generally don’t mind me picking on them a little, LOL!) Currently I’m ranking Alexa #88,722, so substantially below all three.
WassupBlog is actually Sire’s (@AussieSire) ninth (concurrent) blog and while he has some focused on specific aspects, I find it a pleasant mix of online marketing, blogging, affiliate information, reviews and general opinions on many of those topics. It’s a single-author PR4, Alexa: #69,334 blog, founded August 2008. (I have not seen any guest posts, but I didn’t search too deeply.)
Truth be told, describing WassupBlog niche-wise is hard. Being the youngest sibling of 9 must make it hard to know your place in the world. What’s fascinating though is that this is the blog where Sire really shines at community building and where I have learned so much from him.
If you follow the link over to his blog, you’re likely to be put off by all the ads and “clutter”. You’re not alone, I feel you there. However, open a post, read it and keep scrolling down – and down – and down – through the massive run of comments and you notice SOMETHING is very different there. That something is that through use of the dream team stack of plugins (#10 in this post) and through replying to every comment AND to being a member of the “I comment back” community, Sire has built a reader base that not only tolerates his ads but keeps coming back to hang out. Go hang out with Sire and leave him a hot comment and I guarantee you that pending emergency within a few days he’s going to turn up to leave you one on YOUR blog. How sexy is that? (Pay attention to the number of times readers come back to reply to follower up comments, this is important!)
He averages about 4 page views per visitor (wow!) and about a 55% bounce. Time on site averages 5-6 minutes (again wow!) and % of traffic from SEO averages %4. This SEO Traffic % makes me chuckle since it’s a pretty well-known fact that Sire has little interest in SEO or keyword work. Alexa reports 328 sites linking in.
I don’t tend to surf WassupBlog daily, preferring my usual reading style of letting it build content and then coming in and reading and commenting on a bunch of stuff at once. Partially I do this of preference and partially to play the Top Commentator game (see the footer) and get a free footer banklink off this blog. I couldn’t read this blog daily or I’d get nothing else done and that’s exactly the kind of “sticky” quality you want a blog to have!
The subscription options are RSS (in the WP Greet Box) and RSS to Email (on the upper right of the page). He doesn’t appear to be doing any lead capture. Theme is FlexSqueeze.
There’s a literal ton of affiliate banners, links, ads, Adsense, boxes, pixels, ads, text links, oh yeah and did I mention banners? Most are related to blogging & MMO (make-money-online) but some appear more random. A few are banners to his numerous other sites.
Sire’s blog is in a very personal voice. While he may introduce you to a product, skill or service and might even occasionally include a step or two of action, he very much blogs on his opinions, personal views, and perspective. There’s a deep sense in this blog of getting to know Sire as a person and that’s what keeps me coming back. He’s witty, cheeky and all around a good sport. He’s the kind of person you find yourself really rooting for! His ability to give the site a personal touch and connect personally with his reader base is incredible and worth learning from.
Unfortunately with no consistent focus stemming with no strong niche definition, this blog is up and down all over the traffic numbers. It’s really hit or miss to say what this blog will be ranking in traffic day-to-day. I also think the degree of clutter is off-putting for a lot of readers. While I like that it feels less “sterile” than many sites today, it’s a few degrees past the feeling “lived in” mark and venturing into “cluttered” or worst. There’s a ton of potential in this blog but it’s a long way bringing it all together in a tight package. Would be real nice to see him tighten up the niche, bring the energy and content that’s going into two related blogs into this one, clean house a bit, and really run with this.
Even if he doesn’t though, many of us still love him and the site and will be forever loyal. Be sure to check it out!
Tech18 is a three-owner blog that also displays a fair amount of guest posting. It’s a PR2 (Alexa: #62,908) currently but it has the feel of a PR3 and I’d say will probably change rank again shortly. Its averaging around 50 comments per post and while some have as few as 15, many exceed the 100 comment mark. It was founded December 2008.
However, I noticed this blog end of last year and it was third quarter 2009 when he broke the Alexa 100,000 mark. It’s almost like this blog was re-founded end of 2009 as its suddenly taken a huge growth spurt and Sunil has put a lot of energy into it. I’d love to know what generated him the huge (temporary) traffic spikes at the end/beginning of 2009/2010. I wasn’t able to catch him online to ask him however! This is definitely an up and coming rockstar to keep an eye on.
While “gupshup” is defined similar to chit-chat, this blog a is actually very fact/teaching/education based and lacks a lot of elements of personal story. Probably due to being multi-author, the personalities of the author are not easily apparent until you start reading a lot of the comments. Most of the comments have been replied to but there is really not the easy sense of camaraderie that you see on WassupBlog. I probably would not have come across this blog normally but have developed a great relationship with Sunil (@gupshupblog) on twitter.
He averages about 1.5 page views per visitor and about a 75% bounce. Time on site averages 2 minutes and % of traffic from SEO averages %20. Alexa reports 43 sites linking in.
The subscription options are RSS and RSS to Email. He doesn’t appear to be doing any lead capture. However, with the strength of content, traffic and quality, I feel this blog could do well to start list building, even if just with a newsletter for now, to allow it to expand on its marketing and affiliate income. I also think that with that bounce rate, a popup box for capture may be in order. I would love to see him trial test one and hopefully he’ll read this and consider it!
Shoutmeloud is one of several of Harsh’s projects (though I’m uncertain how many blogs he runs now, I know there are several within a shared network). He (accurately) describes it as being “about Blogging, Social media, WordPress, SEO, Internet, Computer tips and tricks, Make money Online, Affiliate Marketing.” Also like me, he offers a variety of blogging and internet related support services. It’s a PR5 blog (Alexa #5,490), founded September 2008. (Was Third Quarter 2008 a good time for founding successful blogs? LOL)
Unlike my blog, Shoutmeloud is a multi-author blog, with a ton of guest blogging, that participates in Google Adsense Revenue Sharing. Since I’m planning a guest post there and have a guest login, I was able to look under the hood and find that the site has had #1,824 Posts and #18,652 Approved Comments. It also has 38 categories and while I initially thought they weren’t all listed anywhere I JUST discovered that site has a really nice set of footer widgets. (Can you tell I don’t usually scroll to the footer??)
He averages about 3 page views per visitor (solid!) and about a 60% bounce. Time on site averages 3 minutes (but has recently had a sustained rise to 4 minutes) and % of traffic from SEO averages %20. Alexa reports 907 sites linking in. Shoutmeloud shows a beautiful fairly consistent steady rise in traffic rankings and really looks well on its way to giving quite a few high Alexa ranking sites a run for their money!
Due to the blend of content, social media use and SEO relevance, ShoutMeLoud is a blog that I very likely would have discovered through countless avenues. I came across it by way of sharing one of Harsh’s tweets from it well before I knew him as someone who is wonderful to get to know. He’s on twitter at @DenHarsh. While like Tech18 there is very little personal story in Harsh’s multi-author blog, you can again see it show up in the comments and in his appearance on twitter. If you’re in this niche you might also want to check out the SML Retweet Club.
Subscription options are RSS, RSS via Email and a Subscribe by SMS (RSS via SMS) that I just noticed. (I can’t seem to get the sms subscription to work for US numbers, it appears tied to google.co.in which is India for now as part of Google Labs (essentially beta stuff).)
The target market appears to mid to late twenty, male, Indian bloggers that while they may have a tech interest also are looking for a site to help them stay current on whats available and what’s changing. It’s hard to speculate at the economic bracket of the target market and what degree of willingness to open their wallet may be present were Harsh to utilize list building and supplement the blog posts and updates and such with solid product recommendations. I know a lot of India is economically struggling but many of his visitors, and thus I would speculate his niche, appear to be in their later years of advanced schooling which might indicate enough financial stability to be profitable.
Gaining direct control of the list subscription, rather than relying on the closed environment of feedburner, would allow additional messages to be sent, more relationship building with the community on Harsh’s part and I would speculate better income. I would wager he probably has a large number of “subscribe by email” readers that never return to the blog and get exposed to click-ad revenue streams.
In my opinion this site might also benefit from a popup but it would need to be the sort that only shows up once. There’s a pretty loyal fan base, good page view numbers and low bounce rates. I think capitalizing on that would be smart but so many things here are already done so well that it will take caution not to disrupt the regulars.
Structurally, Shoutmeloud has a great use of white-space, a great balance of content with relevent ads, and while I personally loathe the Adsense ads that like to be jammed into any site’s content as if they’re native, Harsh is turning what could be a negative into a positive with his revenue sharing system.
It really was a fascinating study to dig through both of these blogs about pages, first posts, histories, page ranks, inbound links, etc and basically dissect them with my trusty fork!
All of them has early posts that had almost zero traction. You can see some of their close friends present at times but a lot of the early posts are seriously lacking in love. However, I could tell in the case of Shoutmeloud that I was not the only person to look into the history of the blog because the first post has had some recent comments. All of them have put in massive amounts of time, legwork, effort and as the saying goes “blood, sweat and tears”.
All three of these blogs still match their initially presented niche, have not done any 180s, have stayed true to their niche, and generally speaking have worked their asses off. They’re a comforting ray of sunshine that as long as you’re in a profitable niche and put in the work, results will come. (They are also a reminder that results take time.)
Because all three of these come from the blogging side first rather than the internet marketing side, they share the element of lack of list building. This seems true throughout the blogging sector as a whole. Personal Journal style blogs certainly have no need for list building, but all three of these blogs are aiming to generate revenue and so because my focus is on that before the blogging side that’s of course the first questions that come to mind.
As the number of people that check their RSS readers daily for new updates falls, I think we will begin to see bloggers that are interested in revenue generation start to pay more attention to list building. More about this in this post, in this post from Paul, titled “Feedburner is the canary in the mineshaft”.
All three of these bloggers have connected with their readers, in comments as well as on twitter. Sunil and Harsh also make use of Facebook and StumbleUpon.
Good stuff all around! Three great blogs, three great authors, so much to learn and to piece together in a way that suits me. In some ways although these three blogs are similar they are also proof that there is more than one right answer. This exercise has also made me look seriously at the idea of purchasing some advertising space on their blogs since our niches are similar and there might be things I do of value to their reader base.
That’s all folks!
What a study in some related sites, what they’re up to, where they came from, how they’ve grown up, and more!
I look forward to reading and replying to your thoughts below!