Updated: December 20, 2016
When you have an understanding of your audience you might think that it is time to start writing.
I love your ambition but I would suggest to take some time researching the competition.
Competition is probably a bad word to use because when it comes to blogs people have no problem bouncing from site to site.
Think of your blog as a house in a neighborhood. You're new to the neighborhood so it's always a good idea to go around survey the other houses to see how they do things.
That's what you should do with blogs.
What Does Everyone Else Do?
One of the great things about blogging is that no matter what niche you pick, odds are someone else is already blogging within it.
That's so awesome!
You must think I'm crazy for saying this because you might think that some niches are too crowded.
If someone else is writing about it then why should I waste my time?
That's the question I usually hear from people.
The correct answer is this: having other successful blogs in a niche that you've chosen shows that you can build a popular blog as well. The reason why is because it shows people are interested enough in the topic to hunt down answers.
Most businesses fail because they believe that there is an audience out there that doesn't exist. Instead of doing research, they blindly start something that nobody wants.
Blogs in your niche show you that people want to learn about the topic. With 7 billion people in the world do you think that everyone is going to the popular site first?
Your blog has a chance of being the first site that someone comes across when they are looking for a solution.
Nobody thinks that if they've found the popular quilting blog that they won't bother going to other ones.
Do you think this is the only site showing you how to start a blog? Of course not and it certainly won't be the last.
But somehow you ended up here and are reading the site. I appreciate that.
Does this mean that if nobody is blogging in your niche that it is a bad thing? Not at all. Maybe you're the first awesome person to take that shot. More power to you!
What Do They Do Right
There are some people that think they are going to invent a new way of blogging. They try to outsmart the game when it isn't necessary.
When you come across another blog in your niche, whether you like the blogger or not, study what they are doing right.
- How are they getting people to their site?
- Why would people want to stay on their site?
- What compels people to subscribe to their mailing list?
- How are they making money?
- Why are people commenting on their blog?
- What are their most popular blog posts?
Nothing they do is unique. It's all borrowed from other bloggers so don't think that you need to be completely unique.
Learn how to stand on the shoulders of giants.
I often get emails asking about what theme Obstacle.co uses. When I tell them it's a custom one they get a little bit sad because they want to use it.
I tell them that if they can copy it they should go for it. Maybe they should use different colors, but nothing I do on the site is unique. It's just different pieces of things that I've picked up over the years.
Pretty much everything that a blog does to succeed is right in front of you. There is no secret lab that you don't have access to so take this opportunity to research the "competition" to understand what works within your niche and then apply it to your blog.
What to Look For
So you understand the value of researching other blogs in your niche, but what are you looking for?
You already have some questions that you can answer above, but other things that you can scope out include:
- What type of blog posts do they write? Long and informative? Short and filled with lots of pictures?
- What topics are the most popular? You can sometimes find this out by looking in the sidebar.
- How frequently do they post?
- Do they participate in discussions in the comments section?
Your Path Is Different
One of the most dangerous things you can do is blindly copy what other people are doing. It's okay to implement the same techniques that other bloggers use, but you should understand why they do it and why they work.
It's quite possible that there is a better way to do things.
For example, everybody uses pop-ups because they see everyone else do it. Yet, if you ask these bloggers if they like pop-ups or not they will tell you that they hate them.
So there has to be a better way, right?
Researching other blogs help you to get a good idea of different techniques, but these aren't always the best techniques. They are simply techniques that the particular blogger chooses to use.
I see blogs trying the crazy things that I try and I'm wondering if they even considered if they should do it as well. I'm constantly evolving my strategy so it's quite possible there are bloggers out there copying techniques of mine that didn't work at all.
Take the time to learn, but also keep in mind that this is your own journey so you'll have to try some things out to see what works as well.