When I began my freelance writing blog almost five years ago, there weren’t many others in my niche. As web writing and blogging became more popular and more writers began using blogs as a marketing tool, the field became more crowded. That’s not a bad thing, there are many wonderful freelance writing bloggers in the space. However, five years ago, it didn’t take a full time effort to stay at the top of this niche. In 2010, I’m working hard every day to continue to bring in readers and provide stimulating discussions for my community.
Make no mistake. There are darn good bloggers in my genre. I’m not worried that the folks in my community will read them, because I feel they should. My worry is that my readers won’t want to return to me afterwards. Therefore it’s a daily challenge for me to keep things interesting and keep them coming back for more.
How do I do it?
1. I ask Questions
I reach out to my community by asking questions. I want to know why they visit my blogs. I want to know what I’m doing right, and what I’m doing wrong. I want to know which areas of our niche are the most confusing and which topics we need to lay to rest. My blog is my business and any business owner must ask questions to be a success.
2. I monitor Community Discussions
What are writers talking about in the forums or on Twitter? I take some time every day to do some research around the social networks and writing forums. Having discussions with my fellow freelancers offers inspiration. It also allows me to see trends, learn about new concerns, see who is hiring, and, in general, keep my finger on the pulse of the community. I never run out of things I like to talk about. The challenge is making sure it’s stuff everyone else is interested in as well.
3. I don’t look at other Bloggers as Competition
There are so many freelance writing bloggers but I don’t consider them competition. Instead, I treat them as colleagues and people to with whom to bounce ideas around. I visit their communities and participate in the discussions and invite them to do the same. I direct my community to interesting topics and debates and encourage them to get involved. The way I see it, there’s room for anyone. No one has to be married to one particular blogger. We should all visit as many as we like and work together to provide the best information possible. There’s nothing wrong with cross pollination.
4. I monitor the response to my blog posts – and other bloggers’ posts
What makes one blog post receive one hundred comments and lots of link love, while others will slip by with nary a mention? To find out I monitor the response to my discussion topics, and also, the topics up for discussion on other blogs. If I see a blog post with hundreds of comments, I’ll explore why. Perhaps this is something I can expand upon or discuss further? How would my community respond to a counter discussion?
5. I Commiserate
I don’t only share tips and Ideas, I also commiserate. I know what it’s like to work at home all by my lonesome. I know what it’s like to receive rejection as a writer or to have to pull an all-nighter to meet a deadline. I let my community know I’ve been there too, preferably with humor. They respond well after learning I’m a regular person and not a guru.
6. I don’t claim to be an expert
When describing myself, I don’t use words like “expert,” “guru,” “rockstar,” or “extraordinaire,” because I’m not. I’m a freelance writer who likes to talk about my methods for success. Instead of pontificating, I share. I learn from my community and they learn from me. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
7.I keep close Eye on Stats
I analyze my stats every single day and take advantage of traffic boosters. If a certain piece does well, I’ll turn it into a series. If a certain day or time gets the most traffic, I’ll post my best work then. If I’m noticing trends with keywords, I’ll write around these topics. I’ll also note which content receives a poor response and what went viral. It’s important for any blogger to monitor trends, especially if that blogger wants to stay at the top.
8. I Consider all Feedback
I always consider feedback to be an opportunity, whether it’s positive or negative. Every single email, Tweet or comment directed my way is read and considered. Feedback is the most important gift I can receive from my community, even if they don’t like something I said. Without my community, my blog network wouldn,t be a success. Listening to them—and acting on their concerns — is the least I can do.
Certain blog niches are saturated. Every day a new and terrific blog launches and new blog stars are made. How does an old schooler like me stay on top of the game? By listening, observing, sharing and showing appreciation to my community.
What’s your niche – and what sets you apart from the rest?