When starting out their blogs, many people do so without any real sense of direction. On the one hand it’s ok, because it’s totally within your right to do so, and change direction later on. However, if you do have some sense of direction from the start, you could save yourself a lot of time, and become profitable much sooner.
Here are a few things you may want to consider:
1. Your blog is your personal space where you raise – and find – your own voice.
Regardless of what you write about, your blog will carry your unique perspective. It will reflect your personality. Considering this, who do you expect to resonate with? What type of person would you like to come and read what you have written, and will they be able to relate to what you write?
For instance – if you are a plumber, and you want to blog about knitting, you will be able to attract people to your blog due to the topics you write about. But once your visitor arrives, she will undoubtedly find that your unique voice doesn’t really resonate with her, and you probably won’t be able to do much with that visitor.
On the other hand, if you are a plumber, and you write about home improvement, you can write from the perspective of someone who fixes things, and who has seen the potential for improving homes at a low cost, while also having seen the tendency for home owners to neglect their homes. You will resonate with your audience, who are people who want to make their homes better places to live in.
Once you resonate with your audience, they are more likely to trust you and buy from you, or buy based on your recommendations.
So – be sure to pick a topic that you feel comfortable with, and for which you can bring something to the table, even if you have to go and do research before you write a new post.
2. What will you offer to your audience?
Regardless of whether your aim is to sell outright, or get people on a list, or just to sell advertising space on your blog, you will still need to offer something to your audience in order to make money from your blog.
Considering the people you are most likely to attract to your blog, what would make sense to them? Do they have specific problems, or common problems or desires?
Having considered that, what’s available in terms of affiliate products? Can you find products or services that are related to the topic of your blog, and will these make sense to your audience?
Keep in mind that, especially if you are going to build a mailing list, you will have a multitude of opportunities to present offers to your list. Are there enough affiliate offers that make sense to offer them? Or will you create your own products?
Or will you simply sell advertising space? Even if this is all you aim to do, you still need to keep in mind that if the ads aren’t a good fit for your audience, the click through rate will be poor, so it’s unlikely that your advertisers will stick around.
Keep in mind, however, that there are a multitude of things you can offer – besides affiliate products or services – like memberships (both content-based and fixed-term), coaching, online courses, paid access to resources, physical products, etc.
Note: You may want to read my upcoming post on internet business models to get some more ideas.
3. Who are you competing with?
Don’t be scared when thinking about competition. You may see other blogs on the same topic as yours as competition – but they needn’t be. Let me explain:
A similar blog is only “competition” if you offer the exact same type of content and the exact same type of products, to the same target customer.
Look at what other people in your niche are doing. Look at the content they are creating, and what they are selling as a result of it. Look at their blog comments to see what type of audience they are attracting.
Once you have done that, keep the following three things in mind:
a. When a kid at school doesn’t understand what the teacher is trying to explain (like math, for instance), he or she will ask a fellow pupil. That fellow pupil isn’t a teacher – but at that very moment, he or she knows something the struggling kid doesn’t know. Be the “smarter kid” – and you will never need to compete with the big guns. You will just attract a different audience.
b. How can you differentiate yourself? You don’t have to be drastically different from everyone else out there – you just have to offer or do one thing they don’t. It doesn’t have to be a big difference, either – it just has to matter to your target audience.
Just look at news stories – you will see how journalists regularly come up with new “angles” on the same story. Think of it as being similar to preparing food – all you need for it to taste different is to add a little bit of ONE unusual ingredient.
All you have to do is to find that ingredient.
4. Look at what works – and simply work it into your own presentation. Fair enough, you want to be different from the other blogs on the same topic – but if you are working with the same audience, you will find that other people have already figured out what works for them. Take it, and just add your own unique twist or angle to it.
5. Look at the REACH of the competition – the real competition:
Your actual competition (if you are unable to differentiate yourself), are people who sell similar stuff to a similar audience. But what is the actual impact of that competition? if you want to compete – directly – with someone who has 2 million followers on Twitter, good luck with that.
But if you find your direct competitors have no way of reaching all of the available potential clients, then it doesn’t matter that much if you start out doing pretty much the same thing. However, in the long run it pays to be able to differentiate yourself from the pack.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to being yourself, trying to be unique, and using what has already been proven to work. Define your audience, and give them what they want.
It’s as simple – and as difficult – as that.