This post relates to Day 4 of the Problogger 31 Day Build a Better Blog Challenge. The task for today, is very simple, 'find a successful blog (preferably in your niche), and spend 15 minutes analyzing it'.
You could easily spend a whole day analyzing a successful blog, specially if you try and cover all the areas suggested in the PBBB Day 4 Podcast. Here is our quick list of the points we managed to write down (we may have skipped a few):
- Topics - What kinds of topics are covered by the blog?
- Style - Are posts written in an authoritative tone?
- Post Frequency - How often does the blog post new content?
- Post Style - Are the posts mainly list posts? Are they opinion posts? Are the posts long or short?
- What Level Are Posts Written For - Is the content written for beginners with limited knowledge, or for experts with well established foundation knowledge?
- What Headlines Do They Use - Have a good look at the headlines. Are they questions or statements? Are they new information or a call to action? What headlines does the blog use to engage readers to click and read more?
- Single author or multiple - Does the blog have more than one writer? Are there guest writers? Is there scope for your to write a guest post?
- Front Page - Look at their front page. Is it just a list of the most recent blog posts, or is it an introduction to the company?
- Social Media - How has the blog incorporated social media? Do they have dedicated social media pages? How are they engaging readers to share more on social media?
- Do They Have a Newsletter - If they have a newsletter, then sign up for it. Have a look at how it is structured
- Monetization - Can you see how the blog is making money? Are they running advertising? Are they selling their own products or services? Are they part of an affiliate program?
- Can You Collaborate With This Blog - Is there potential to work with this blog? Can you partner with them in the future? Can you guest post on their blog?
We end the list with a very important tip: 'Don't Get Too Obsessed With What Others Are Doing'. Create your own content in your own way. What others have done well can serve as a great guide for inspiration, but don't let it get in the way of how your present your own ideas.
Our Day 4 Activity
We set out to find some successful Australian blogs about Finance, but most of what we found was more universal, and base overseas. After skimming over multiple websites, and bookmarking a few to come back to later, we found a site called man vs debt. Which we spent more than our allocated 15 minutes analyzing.
The front page was a post itself called Re-Evaluating Your Financial Priorities. At 1,113 words, there was too much content for our short attention span. However the content was scanable due to effective use of headlines and bold print. There was also a healthy dose of links to related content included. Based on what we learned in Day 2 - List Posts, we think this post resembled an extended list.
The post ended with an invitation to leave a comment, with a link to the comment section. For those like us, who continued to scroll down, there were links to previous posts, inviting readers to stay around for more than one page view. Each post had a headline, followed by a large picture and brief summary.
The promotion worked on us, as we clicked on a post called 'Business and Hustling: Lessons from the WWE Network'. Having watched the WWE irregularly since the late 80's, we are aware of the company, and their latest venture. It was a subject which we wanted to read more about. The post also had plenty of links to external content for those who wanted more reading on a particular point.
With 2,072 words, this post was even longer, but once again, we were able to scan through thanks to key points being highlighted through bold text and headings. I did not read the post in full detail, but I did enjoy the information from my scan, and might come back and read it in more detail later. I have printed it out and added it to my home reading material.
How Does Man vs Debt Monetize?
Naturally this is something we wanted to take note of. The Finance Guy is being run as a hobby. However if it were to start generating enough income to be classified as a job, that would make us extremely happy.
The right hand panel of the Man Vs Debt website is dedicated to promotions. There is an invitation to join their community (which we took), to make readers sticky and keep them coming back. Mixed in with the promotional material, is a google adsense advert. Google adsense also appears twice in the body of the text
The only form of monetization we could see other than Google Adsense, was that you can buy a movie for $5, maybe we will look into that later on.
It is encouraging to see that Google Adsense appears to be a main source of revenue for Man vs Debt. We are already doing this on our website. Like us, they seem to limit their adverts to 3 per page. Unlike us, they have varied the style and placement of the ads within the post. Perhaps this is something we can learn from :)
We are already getting some income from Adsense, but it is our goal to significantly grow this revenue so that we can dedicate more time and effort to building and growing The Finance Guy. For that to happen, we need our content to reach as many readers as possible. Building an audience will take time, but while we wait, we can feel good that we have a monetization strategey in place.
What Did we Learn from this Podcast?
- There doesn't appear to be a lot of Australian based finance blogs - This seemed a little odd. Where are they hiding, or what format are they in. They don't come up as blogs, but that doesn't mean that they're not out there. We need to look harder
- There's nothing wrong with lengthy posts- Given our tendency to write longer posts, we often worry that they are too long for our readers. Today's activity put an exclamation point on the importance of writing content that is scanable. Improving on this is something we will continue to strive toward.
- Adsense can work for blogs in our niche - Obviously to make revenue from adsense we lots of traffic. More eyes and more clicks means more revenue. Our revenue is also influenced by how much advertisers are willing to pay. One of the many factors that influences how much we earn, is which niche we focus on. We are fortunate to be writing about topics which seem to generate higher than average advertising revenue. That is according to this list of the Top 20 Most Expensive Words, but weren't not sure how accurate it was given it was not published by Google.
- We Need to Put More Effort into Bringing readers back - We do make an effort to link to related content and entice readers to stay around for more than one page view, but this is another thing we can do better.
This post ended up being a lot longer than we thought it would be. We will follow Pro Blogger's advice and repeat this exercise on a weekly basis. We might come back to Man vs Debt or we might find a different blog to analyze. Know your competitor is an invaluable activity which we should all pay attention to.