been at this blogging thing for a while now. The initial surge of
WOO HOO has worn off. You survived the inevitable downward part of the
enthusiasm cycle that follows that first massive high. And you’re still
keeping at it, maybe even with renewed passion and energy. Welcome,
you’re now a middle aged blogger!
Middle aged blogs are brand new. For the most part, this is uncharted
territory. The middle aged blog has different needs than its younger
counterparts. Middle age has brought new opportunities to be explored,
and new challenges to be faced. Let’s look at some of those now.
A changing audience
It’s likely that when you started blogging, you knew why you were doing
it, and who your target audience was. Since you’ve been chugging away
though, I’m betting that your audience has changed. The blogosphere has
gotten a whole lot bigger, and blogs have become a more accepted place
for the non-blogging public to get their information. Competition in
virtually every sector has exploded. How many other bloggers are now in
the same niche you once had to yourself?
Your own business or interests may have changed as well. Are you
still writing about the same topics you did when your blog started?
Maybe it’s time for you to sit down and redefine your target
audience. Take out a pen and paper, or open up a new document, and write
out your current blogging goals. Do it quickly, without pausing to
think or edit your thoughts. Now, review your notes and ask yourself the
- Does your blog meet your goals in this new blogging environment?
- Do you need to shift your blog’s focus?
- Do you need to shift the audience you’re attracting to meet your new goals?
- Have you educated your audience to the point that you need to introduce more complex topics?
- Or do you need to go back to the start and educate a whole new bunch of folks?
New competition has very likely affected your blog, either for the
better or the worse. Once upon a time, we had the commercial blog design
niche nearly to ourselves. These days, there are a whole bunch of
people playing in this niche, and many of them are very, very good. I
come from the “competition is good” school of thought, so I welcome
this, but it definitely has affected my own blogging.
Dealing with this new competition may force you to make your own
niche even more narrow. Or conversely, it may offer you an opportunity
to look at your industry as a whole, and shift your focus from purely
creating content to reporting on content.
Let’s repeat the same exercise as above. On your pad, or in your doc,
quickly write down how new competition has changed your blog. Again,
review your notes, and ask the following questions:
- Has your niche become saturated?
- Where does your blog sit in your niche’s overall matrix? Are you the top dog? Middle of the pack?
new opportunities have opened up? Has your once narrow niche exploded
due to new interest? Are there new sub-niches to be explored?
- Should your mix of reporting to new content change?
Flatline traffic levels
At first, you blogged to an empty room. There was no one there to read
your posts. Eventually though, you built traffic in a nice growing
curve. In likelihood, that curve has leveled off, and maybe even tilted
down a bit. Human nature dictates that unless there’s a reason to do
otherwise, we rest. That first traffic building exercise you went
through when you were building up your blog was both exhilarating and a
lot of work. I know from experience that a lot of middle aged bloggers
have stopped doing external promotion.
The nature of promoting your blog has changed a lot since the early
days. It’s harder to get noticed, and the tools available have changed.
Once again, jot down everything you’ve done to promote your blog
in the past month. Review that list, and ask yourself:
- Are you active in the blogosphere? Are you “participating in the conversation”?
- Are you using any of the new social bookmarking services to promote your site?
- Can you make any new blogging alliances to help co-promote your site?
- Are there any offline opportunities to reach your niche that you can explore?
The middle aged blog may have lost some of its luster, but wow, does
it ever have some hidden opportunities and gold mines. Most of these are
unfortunately hidden from sight, buried deep in your blog’s
archives. Here are a couple of ideas to help mine that gold
Create a best-of list
In a prominent location, list your best articles. This can be a
subjective collection of what you think are your best posts, or it can
be the posts with the most comments, the posts with the more views, or
whatever you like. It need not be complicated, but it should be
visible. This will help new readers get up to speed quickly, and will
remind existing readers of your best work.
Similar to above, select a couple of really great comments, and use them
as testimonials. Let your own readers speak about your expertise,
wisdom, etc. Pepper these quotes liberally. They’ll help new readers get
a sense that your content is valuable, and encourage interaction.
Create an e-book
Why not extend the medium, and create a value-add for your readers. Take
your best posts, and use them to create a pdf e-book. Make it easy for
readers to print out your wisdom, wit, and insight, and take it with
them. This will also help build the sense of reciprocity your readers
will feel towards you (assuming of course that your e-book contains
valuable content). You’ll also have something to promote. This can act
as a keystone for a new traffic building exercise.
You can accomplish all of the above without redesigning your site. But
mature blogs are prime candidates for redesign. There are a couple
of reasons for this:
- Your needs are more defined than when you started
- There’s a gold mine of evergreen content in your archives waiting to be exploited
- Competition has upped the ante
seen the benefits of blogging, and are ready to switch up your
marketing plan to create a budget for a professional design
This post is just barely scratching the surface of the
challenges and opportunities facing the middle aged blog. I’ll be
examining this a bit more detail in upcoming posts.