To gain a competitive advantage in your market as a book blogger, or simply as a blogger, take off your blinders and take a look at the practices employed by successful bloggers. Conduct a competitive analysis by evaluating successful blogs in your category or successful blogs in general to find ways to improve your blog site, blogging ability and book blogging techniques.
Successful blogs are ones that:
- Have large readerships (unique readers)
- Have large subscriber bases
- Have large email lists
- Have highly engaged readers
- Are ranked highly by technorati.com or blogcatalog.com
- Have built a business (income) for their owners
- Get talked about often on social networks or in the media
- Have given the blogger expert status
- Have provided the blogger with social media influence
For the purposes of this blog, a successful blog also is one that has landed the blogger a book deal (most likely due to high readership levels).
How to Find Successful Blogs
It’s easy to find successful blogs in your category. You can go to technorati.com or to blogcatalog.com and search for blogs using keywords or by category or by subject. Each site has its own way of valuing blogs, but you can find Blogcatalog’s list of top blogs by “blog value” or Technorati’s list of top 100 blogs. Spend some time looking around. You’ll easily find blogs “like” yours for among the thousands—or rather millions—of blogs listed on these sites.
You also can locate top lists of blogs by subject matter on Google. A variety of websites run contests and award bloggers “top honors” for their blogs and blogging efforts. For example, The Future of Ink ran a contest and this blog was deemed one of a “Top 10 Self-Publishing Blog.” I have another blog about dance that has won top dance blog awards the past few years consistently. There are top blog awards in all sorts of subject areas. To find top blogs in your category, use your favorite search engine and place the search terms “top 10 __ blogs” in the search box. You probably will find a list, if not more than one, someone has created. Often major magazines or newspapers also create lists.
Also, pay attention to the blogs and bloggers that influencers in your field talk about, quote or share. You’ll find the links in their social media updates. Click through.
While you can just analyze any successful blogs, it’s most useful to look at those written by bloggers on similar topics to your blogged book, or your blog (if you aren’t blogging a book). This is like analyzing competing titles for a book proposal or for the proposal process. In fact, this activity is not far removed from doing a competitive analysis on books at all, and I recommend evaluating books and blogs prior to blogging a book. You want to see what your competitors are doing and try to do it better. What better way to accomplish this than to check out their blogs? After all, while you are blogging your book and they probably are not, their successful blog may well be booked one day—if it hasn’t been already. You want to spy on them! See what they are doing well or right and what they are doing wrong or not so well. Then go do it better yourself!
What to Look at When You Do Your Analysis
Once you’ve located 5-10 top blogs to analyze, here are the things you want to examine closely:
- Blog content
- Page content
- Elements (pages, categories, visuals, email sign ups, advertisements, etc.)
- Navigation (What keeps you on the site, how do you get around, or what should you do after arriving on the home page?)
- Benefits (What’s In It For Me?)
Authority Blogger’s Chris Garrett, co-author of ProBlogger, suggests looking at the blog and asking: “Why should I read this site rather than the competition?” This is a great question, and you can later turn it around and ask the same about your own site (Why should visitors read my blog rather than the competition’s blog?).
I recently listened to Chris do a blog review, and it sparked these questions you can use for a competitive analysis as well:
- Does the blog title and tag line provide a clear message?
- Is there a clear call to action—for a subscriber list, a product or service or something else?
- Does it feature the blogger’s expertise in any way, such as the social or traditional media sites where they have been interviewed or guest posted, their bio or elsewhere?
Consider the gaps other top bloggers have left open so you can then fill them.
- What aren’t they doing that you could do?
- What don’t they do well that you could do better?
- What solutions are they not offering that you have?
- What questions aren’t they answering that you could answer?
How to Improve Your Blog By Looking at Other Blogs
When you are done with your analysis, take your notes and begin looking for ways to implement the positive aspects of the other blogs on your own blog. Look for the negative characteristics you’ve noticed that might be on your site as well; eradicate them if you are also at fault of making the same errors. And start filling in the gaps that you noticed other bloggers have left open for someone to fill.
This is how you move your blog up the ranks with a competitive analysis. Do one regularly to help you keep improving your own blog and blogged book. If you have trouble doing this by yourself, ask someone who knows more about blogs to help you. (I often do blog reviews with and for my clients.) And remember, even though these other successful bloggers aren’t blogging books, their blogs could land them book deals and end up booked.
And don’t feel overwhelmed by the improvement process. You can make small improvements over time rather than a full overhaul of your blog site all at one time.
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