When you think of content, focus on the audience. When you think of business strategies, look at the competition. Content is straight forward in many ways because it’s always in the same format: blog posts. For your business strategies, there are endless possiblities. You might use ads, create products, partner, sell affiliate products, create events, or any number of ways to monetize. How do you know what’s working best, in your niche, right now in 2017?
Thankfully there are people out there doing endless market research on this for you. Your competition.
Finding Your Competition
It’s hard! You’ll have to dig around a little bit to find everyone, but you’ll want to start a spreadsheet and begin tracking people. You can re-purpose this information latter when you’re launching products and reaching out to your peers.
Places to look:
FB Audience Insights
If you play around with the “interests” field, you can find many of the bigger bloggers in your niche. However, I’ve noticed some gaps, even with bloggers with 100,000+ FB followers, so it’s not a perfect tool. I like to add sites I know in my niche then take note of who FB auto-suggests based on that pick.
Feedly and Bloglovin are both RSS readers – they let you enter a blog url and it will go and grab their latest posts for you. It’s a great way to track people in your niche and to keep up on what people are writing about. BUT it’s also a great way to find new blogs. Both sites have ways to explore topics to find new sites.
In Feedly there are two ways. Go to “Add Content” then choose “Keyword Alerts”:
You can track topics in your niche across the internet, and over time you may begin to see some trends. This is a great way to find bigger sites that might write about your topic 20% of the time but they aren’t a single topic blog.
The other way in feedly is to go to “Add Content” then choose “Sources”:
Of course you can add a URL of a blog you want to follow, but you can also search by keywords.
For Bloglovin, it’s as simple as logging in and searching:
I recommend using both Feedly and Bloglovin to find blogs because they will give you very different results in the search.
Use one of the “best of” lists from Feedspot
I’ve only recently been aware of this but Feedspot has begun compiling “Top 100 Blogs” lists in hundreds of categories. You have to check out their blog section and dig around for them. Or you can search google for your niche and the word “feedspot”. I googled “best travel blogs feedspot” and got these results:
Research the competition
Once you find a list of 20 or so blogs in your niche, you’ll want to start following them, signing up for their mailing list, starting to peek into their business model as much as you can and try to understand how they are monetizing. Look for affiliate links when they link to a product. Look at their mailing list… do they send you emails to sell you products or just straight content? Do they have a shop? A course? An event? Ads on their pages?
In your spreadsheet, you can create columns for the different kinds of monetization that is happening in your niche. If you notice one site is doing affiliates, make an affiliate column. In the field for that blogger put the companies they seem to be working with. You know? Start tracking how people are monetizing across the niche to get the big picture.
Why all this focus on what other people are doing? Well you want to be unique with your content, but boring and predicable with your business model. If people are all selling the same product as affiliates, that means they pay well, people are buying it and those bloggers are making money. They’ve just narrowed down your focus from “affiliates in general” to “REI’s backpacks” — it’s hugely useful information.
Now this is not to say you’ll create the exact same product mix. For example, if everyone in your niche is teaching courses, look at the price point. Look at the length of the course. Get information about what is working from a business perspective, but consider creating a course that’s completely different. Or massively improved. So you know that most people in your niche are teaching courses, the average price is $200 and it’s usually about six weeks worth of content. THAT is the helpful piece. The fact it’s a course on backpacking or yoga or eating healthy doesn’t matter, the topic and content is going to be tied back to your AUDIENCE.
Your assignment for this week to is create an overview of how people are monetizing in your niche. I want to see information about the different formats, but also specifics. What price point? Who are they working with? How involved is their sales process? Is it a shop? A landing page? A series of emails? Is there a trend in your niche or is it all over the place? Imagine you’re a consultant hired to write a white paper about the “State of Blogging Monetization in YOUR NICHE” – what broad things can you say about what is working and what is not? Go out on a limb. It’s okay to be wrong. Just take your best stab at it. Ready? Go!