Awhile back I read the Four Hour Work Week. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s written by this guy named Tim Ferris who redefined his life in order to take a series of mini-retirements all year long rather than wait until he’s 60 and sick to enjoy life. He did so by placing himself on income autopilot.
Yes, it sounds way too good and too easy to be true. BUT, I learned a variety of lessons from the book. One of which is the power of the niche. He talks about developing a product designed specifically for a small group of people, then advertising it in various trade magazines.
Of course, he’s not the only person I’ve heard recommend this sort of thing.
But why niche? Well…
- The people who find your product are more likely to want it—Some people are concerned that if they market to an extremely specific niche, then they will cut down their sales possibilities to a small number. And while it’s true that less people out there will probably want your product overall, but we can assume that the people that DO find it will be more likely to want it. In other words, say you sell guitars. If people come to you searching for any old guitar, you may or may not get a sale. After all, what are the odds that you have the exact style and model they are looking for? But what if you marketed yourself as a seller of left handed guitars? They are much harder to come by and if someone is frustrated looking for one, by the time they find you they are more likely to buy. Now let’s take it a step up—what about left handed bass guitars? More niche, more high quality traffic. I’d venture to say your conversions would be higher.
- It’s more reasonable to assume you can hit top search rankings quicker—Say you’re a web designer and you’re looking at targeting that keyword (let’s assume you’ve already hit it locally). The term “web designer” gets about 4,090,000 global searches a month. Wow. Good luck getting on page 1 for that! On the other hand, let’s say you decided your specialty was the restaurant industry. If you build a niche website and hit it with a keyword like “restaurant web designer,” you are looking at closer to 2,900 global searches a month. Not very many, right? But I’d venture to say it would still pay to get the top spot for that keyword—and it would happen much quicker too.
I know what you’re wondering, have I put this to the test personally? No, not exactly. But I am in the process. I recently wrote an ebook directed specifically at new, first-year teachers. The plan was to have it go live this past summer, except I hit a snag. State governments everywhere started slashing the hell out of budgets and suddenly the steady inflow of new teachers shut off. So much for that product.
What I learned in this instance is that not only is finding the right niche important, but timing is almost everything too. So I’m holding onto it for whenever the hiring starts up again. Who knows, I may just go ahead and release it toward the end of this year and see what happens. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
So am I writing about something I really don’t know anything about? Nope. Because I have seen example after example of this line of reasoning working out. Car dealer website designers, MMA website designers, Civil War painting salesman, hospital wayfinding designers—you name it. It’s hard to argue with tangible results. So start to create niche sites today!
So my question for you is—what’s your niche?
September is here and that means two things for the Gulf Coast—hurricanes and football. And since hurricanes are so depressing, let’s talk football (although football has been quite depressing the last decade for Houstonians).
So I’m sitting here watching the 4th preseason game for the Houston Texans and suddenly I have this epiphany—football…SEO…they aren’t all that different. A successful football team shares quite a bit in common with a worthwhile SEO firm. Let me show you what I mean.
They have experienced management in place
Ever heard of a first year coach taking his team to the Super Bowl? Not likely. Coaching a team to the highest level of the game takes years of experience. It also takes being surrounded with the right people. Just look at Houston—Gary Kubiak seems to be a good enough coach, but his defensive coordinator sucked. Now he has Wade Phillips on his side and the preseason has looked pretty solid (besides tonight’s game).
Now let’s apply this to the world of SEO. As you probably know, rookie SEO “coaches” are popping up all over the place. But can they deliver the results of an SEO with years of experience? The fact is, you find the right guy with the right experience then you can rest assured he’s going to boost your rankings.
The underdog may be your best option
Look at the Packers last year. Who thought they’d win it all at the onset of the season? Not me. And even in the Super Bowl, most people thought Pittsburgh was going to hand their butts to them. Wrong again! It’s good business to go with the underdog (just ask Vegas).
Now let’s look at SEOs. You have the big marketing companies that you can go to for the supposed big results. And you can wind up with an even bigger hole in your wallet. Or you can choose an underdog, a smaller SEO organization, and take your chances. Hey I did it. And I’ve seen nothing but positive results.
They have multiple players producing outstanding stats
How often do you hear of a winning team only having one player putting up good stats? Not usually. Instead, the best teams usually have multiple pieces producing winning results. Compare this to SEO. The SEO company you really want isn’t going to push everything aside in hopes for a single high ranking keyword. Instead, they are going to produce results across the board. They’ll start with your highest ranking, produce quick results, and then move on to the next. And you can see proof of these reports through their free SEO report.
Here’s to a great season
I’m excited to watch some football this season. This is also my first year to play fantasy, so I have some added interest. I’m also excited to watch my SEO guy produce results and bring me more traffic.
Here’s to a great 2011 season!
After all of these years, I still challenge anyone and everyone to find a show that can trump Seinfeld in overall awesomeness. Smart, funny, easy to connect with and understand—Seinfeld is everything you wish your blog was. That said, I got to thinking about the characters on the show and what they’d be like as bloggers. Here are a few of the best and the worst. Which one best describes you?
- Jerry—Sure every Seinfeld character was funny in his own way. And honestly, I don’t think Jerry was the funniest character at all. However, funny was (and still is) his business and he has a knack for taking mundane topics and talking about them in a way that they haven’t yet been addressed. Of course, this sometimes led him to get hung up on issues that didn’t really matter, but let’s call that a minor character flaw. Overall, I’m thinking Jerry would make quite the blogger.
- George—Liar. Self-loather. Sloth. Largely unemployed. Completely unlikable. Yet he’s probably the most adored Seinfeld character amongst diehard fans. A George Costanza blogger would be one who BS’s his way through just about everything. He’s a good writer, but can we really trust anything he says? Whatever it takes to get someone to buy a product or click an ad.
- Kramer—Some bloggers just write about the strangest things they can come up with. Except they aren’t “trying too hard.” They’re just downright quirky. A Kramer blogger is a fun but not so deep read. And chances are, he’s going to get super lucky and win a blog contest.
- Newman—Completely unlikable, yet irreplaceable. Newman makes his sole mission to instigate at every turn. As a blogger, he would garner a large audience by pissing people off. People would love to hate and comment nonstop.
- The Soup Nazi—Some bloggers just have no patience for those who don’t share their opinions. This blogger either heavily moderate their comments or else he constantly get in fights in them. But his words command your attention, so you keep reading his blog. And if the Soup Nazi was a forum moderator, you’d be watching your every word because you’d get banned.
- David Puddy—Let’s face it—Puddy was stupid. If he was a blogger, bottom line he’d suck. If you’re a Puddy blogger, you might have a few fans like Elaine who like you for, well, some reason or another. But do yourself a favor and quit. Disclaimer: When I say Puddy is stupid, I don’t mean I don’t like his character. He was hilarious. Just dumb in a typical paint-my-body-and-go-to-a-football-game kind of way.
- The Maestro—Was there ever a Seinfeld character more pretentious than this guy? Remember how he insisted that everyone call him the Maestro, even Elaine? The Maestro made everyone around him feel like they weren’t as good as him. And who likes that guy? Certainly not blog readers.
I’d like to think I’m a Jerry blogger. But sometimes I can come off as a Maestro blogger. Which one are you? And what Seinfeld characters should I have included here that I didn’t? Tell me all about it in the comments.
So we talked about BWI (for those just no joining us, that’s “blogging while intoxicated”)—but what about what follows? You know, the blogging hangover.
Everyone’s experienced it. You wake up early in the morning and force yourself out of bed. You wince as you plop down in front of your computer and turn on the screen. Forced to shield your eyes from the piercing light, you groan as you face the reality—what the hell are you going to write about this morning? And furthermore, how the hell are you going to get rid of this pounding headache?
Yep, you have it. After a night of overindulging in BWI bliss and having the best post of your life, you’re facing the blogging hangover. Now what?
Blogging Hangover Cures
- Rehydrate—Anyone who has ever drank too much knows that the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is get a big glass of water (or as I like to do, stick my head under the faucet). Well, similarly, when you’re dealing with that blogging hangover, you need to rehydrate. In this case, that means you need to pull up your favorite blogs and pour through them. The more you refill yourself with good content, the more likely you are to suddenly have a great idea for your next post.
- Eat something greasy—The only good thing about a hangover is it gives you a great excuse to eat something terrible for you. What’s better than that giant, greasy burger to calm your twisted, churning stomach? So what does this mean for blogging hangover cures? Same thing. Take a break and go get something to eat! Give your mind a minute to clear and give your brain some fuel. It’s much harder to think of a topic for your next post if your stomach is growling. Your brain just can’t focus.
- Pour yourself another—As a last resort, or just for the true alcoholic, if all else fails you can always hit the bottle again. Another drink the day after will quench that hangover in no time. Of course it will also lead to BWI again. But hey, if the BWI leads to another hilarious, engaging post…does it really matter?
- Go back to bed—If all else fails, give up and go back to bed. Look, sometimes your hangover just isn’t going away until you sleep all the way through it. And sometimes, no matter what you do and how hard you stare at your screen, you just aren’t going to come up with anything good. If you continue to sit there, the only thing that will come of it is a really crappy post. Do yourself a favor and go sleep it off. Try again tomorrow.
I’m writing this at 5 AM. So glad I’m not dealing with a blogging hangover today. But then again, I wasn’t engaging in BWI last night. I try to keep that to the weekend as much as possible so I can get up early and get to work.
What about you guys? Anyone suffering from a blogging hangover? How do you guys handle it?
I have a confession to make. I have an ice cold Shiner Bohemian Black Lager sitting next to me as I type this. Sure it’s no Shiner Bock, which happens to be my favorite beer in the world, but it’s a pretty solid beer—Shiner’s #2 selling beer, to be exact. But anyway, I’m drinking this beer as I blog in remembrance of a post I read a year ago, “Why You Should Blog Drunk.” It was part of The “Bad Ass” SEO Guest Blogging Contest. In fact, it was posted on this very blog.
If you go back and read the post, it wasn’t actually advocating drunken blogging. Instead, it was a metaphor for how the no B.S. in-your-face-who-cares-what-you-think attitude you get after two too many drinks would serve you well as you blog.
But what can I say? I tend to take things quite literally. Excuse me a minute while I go grab another beer.
An Idea That Sticks with You
However, the fact that I’m actually drinking as I blog about a post based on drinking and blogging isn’t really the main theme here (albeit it is certainly an interesting little side thread).
What I’d really like to focus on here is why I still remember that post a year later. And I bet I’m not the only one that remembers it.
Now I haven’t actually spoken to Gerald about how much traffic that post got, but it did get well over 100 tweets. So I’m going to guess it was pretty successful. The question is—why? What did Jennifer Van Iderstyne, the author of the post, do to make it so memorable?
To be honest with you, I haven’t really thought it out yet. But as soon as I get another beer I’m going to dive into it and figure it all out. Excuse me for a second.
Why “Why You Should Blog Drunk” Was Such an Awesome Post
Okay, where was I? Oh yes, what was so good about that post… okay let’s start from the beginning:
- The Title Caught My Attention There are lots of good titles out there. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the catchier the title, the more people will want to read it. But in this case, the title isn’t just catchy. It’s different. And not only is it different, but the whole “Why You SHOULD Blog Drunk Thing” made me think Wow, how in the world are they going to argue in favor of this?! See, if the title had been “Why You Should NOT Blog Drunk,” then I wouldn’t have been as intrigued. Of course you shouldn’t blog drunk. Any rational human being would agree. Instead, she took the opposite of the obvious answer and made it work. That’s skillzzz.
- The Metaphor Wasn’t Forced or Trite Metaphors are hit or miss. And when it comes to blogging, a field that is flooded with a few really good writers, a lot of decent or average writers, and a BLEEP LOAD of really terrible writers…well let’s just say you get a lot of crappy metaphors. And these crappy metaphors can be broken into two categories. Either they are really forced and try to compare two things that are absolutely not related (I’m trying to write a post comparing the Houston Texans to copywriting on my personal blog but haven’t figured out how to avoid this pitfall yet). Or the metaphor will be so overused that I want to kill myself halfway through the post. Example? Eh, don’t want to call anyone out. You know what I mean. But this post… comparing blogging to drinking. Wow. And not just the act of drinking, but the mindsets you run through as you progress through a drunken night. I’m serious—it’s genius.
- It gave me something I could use that I hadn’t already read or thought about How often do you feel like you’re reading the same old crap over and over and over. Seriously, go to one of those sites like SERPd.com and come back and try and tell me that half the stuff isn’t just the same BLEEP, different BLEEPhole. Hey, even I myself am guilty of this. You are too. After all, it’s difficult to come up with completely original themes every time you blog.
But those posts we all do from time to time that don’t really offer anything new—they don’t resonate with people. They don’t stick with you. They’re just filler to meet a quota. You know, getting that link you want so bad.
Don’t shout me down because I’m telling the truth.
How Would You Grade This Post?
Okay, I’d say that about covers it. Now let’s take what I’ve determined makes a sticky post and apply it to what I just wrote. Did I succeed in creating a memorable post? Or did I feed you the same ol’ BLEEP?
Comment and let me know while I go grab another Shiner.
Among other things, I do business blogging (ghost blogging). And it never ceases to amaze me how many peers and potential clients and just random people have never even heard of ghost blogging. In fact, a recent client asked me “can you even do that?” when I told her I could take over her blogs for her and build her reputation as an expert by tagging her name on each of them.
It gets funnier. I was contacted a while back by a writer who wanted to do some work for my agency. While I’m not actively looking for writers, I did talk with them about what sort of work I do, and what kind I might consider using another writer for. Read more >>
So I subscribe to lots of email lists. And I mean lots. Do I ever buy anything from them? Nope. So why do I do it? To get ideas. All sorts of them. Marketing ideas, ideas on what NOT to do, product offering ideas, even article and blog ideas. In fact, I got the idea for this post from another I just read.
Now before we go any further, understand this: I don’t mean to say you should rip off someone else’s content by any means. Instead, you should look for something that strikes a chord with you and use that as a spring board for your post. And that’s exactly what’s happening here.
Last night I was going through email and clicked a link that took me to a post entitled Google Thinks Article Marketing SUCKS. Since one of the key pieces of my business is writing articles for article syndicators, the author had my full attention.
Of course, the topic is nothing new. SEO guys have been arguing back and forth about the value of article syndication for quite some time. But since the whole PANDA deal (debacle?), the debate seems to have heated up a few degrees. Read more >>