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Creative Penn Blog Critique

Joanna Penn describes The Creative Penn as a site … aimed at people who are interested in writing, self-publishing/print-on-demand and internet marketing for their books (in print/ebook or audio format). That is a great niche, there are thousands of people struggling to get their book written, published and sold. I know the pull of books […]

Summer Traffic Blog Project

Every year I get questions from people asking how they can fight the “summer slump” where traffic droops over the summer months. Also, who does not want more traffic any time of year, right? So this year I came up with a plan. Starting 1st July until the end of Summer, I will be posting […]

Everyday Guide Blog Critique

Wow these blog critiques have been popular lately – I hope you are getting as much out of them as I have fun writing them 🙂 This critique is for Althaf Ahmed who runs a site called Everyday Guide which he described in his email to me as “an online repository of mini guides”. He […]

Spiritual River Blog Critique

Patrick Meninga, aka skinnyninja to forum members, won this blog critique in the Blogger of the Month competition. If you would like to win a blog critique or Authority Blogger membership there is still time to win the June prize, you just need to participate in the forum by being friendly, asking excellent questions that […]

Join Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett on a Live Call

How would you like to ask Darren Rowse of Problogger fame a question? Next Tuesday Darren is joining me on the telephone where I will be asking him YOUR biggest questions about blogging, traffic, subscribers and how he makes so much money – and you can join us online. Windows users will be able to […]

Free Pursuits Blog Critique

Freepersuits is a blog about “Lifestyle Design”, or How to Live the Good Life Without Being Independently Wealthy or Retired

  • Find the flexible career you were meant to have
  • Manage your career to maximize your happiness
  • Make time for and pursue the things that really matter to you

What this means for you is a blog packed with content guiding you towards living the life of your dreams. Of course what this means for Corbett as a blogger is he is pitting himself up against Mr 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris and the fantastic Non Conformist, Mr Chris Guillebeau.

This is two challenges in one:

  1. Most people do not know what “Lifestyle Design” is (you need to do some keyword research to find what people are really looking for and build lots of content around those items)
  2. Those people who do know what Lifestyle Design is probably turn to the learned gentlemen mentioned above.

Now all is not gloom and doom because in Corbett’s favor he has a great blog. Let me briefly outline some of the good points:

  • Well set up (WordPress + Thesis)
  • Nicely designed and usable, if not a vast departure from the default Thesis look
  • The content is well written and clearly readable.
  • Good emphasis on reader benefits, including running a survey to get insights
  • Beginnings of some peer-outreach

In fact this all makes my job of critiquing much harder. You can’t see this but I am shaking my fist at the monitor, heh.

So the blog is on good foundations, what is the answer to the aforementioned challenges?

Differentiate!

You must move past the template, both visually in terms of Thesis, and also direction as compared to the rest of the niche. How are you different?

First with the design, while it looks great and a lot of people would love to have a blog that looks as good, the niche is competitive and dominated by strong, well positioned personalities. You need to stand out from the pack by offering something richer, more impactful and most of all, yours.

As always the strategy, once you have moved past infrastructure, is to decide, and to effectively communicate, your positioning. What is your uniqueness, remarkability, or brand?

When you are not the first, not the biggest, and not the most well known, in any niche, you need to find ways to stand out on your own and cut through the fog.

One way I like to approach this is by using the following fill-in-the-blanks phrase:

Unlike other Lifestyle Design Blogs, Freepersuits ___________, which means for you __________.

The first part of the phrase identifies how you are different, the second part answers “so what?”.

You could be different by painting yourself green, but that doesn’t mean anyone should necessarily care :)

After you can answer this in a compelling way, then you can translate that into action.

Audience Focus

Your first port of call when differentiating outside of yourself is your audience. After all it is these folks you are aiming to serve. At present the blog aims to capture pretty much everyone interested in lifestyle design. This could be a tough struggle, better to focus and grow outwards.

For example David Hobby writes a photography blog, but instead of all of photography he focused on photography lighting using inexpensive strobe lights. Now he is a world renowned photography rock star :)

So what part of the overall audience can you most appeal to and help?

  • Beginners
  • Advanced
  • Freelancers
  • Travelers
  • Wealth-focus
  • Spiritual-focus
  • Productivity folks
  • Cubicle escapees
  • Passive income dreamers
  • Silver surfers
  • Eco-living
  • Families
  • … the list goes on

You will find if you focus on a sub-group then you will have more content ideas rather than fewer, plus nobody will be in competition and therefore everyone will be much more willing to help, link and comment.

Multi-Author

Rather than fixate on one smaller group, you could go the other way and make your blog (and you have a great name for this) into a multi-author blog. Think of your blog as Techcrunch or BlogHerald for the lifestyle designers maybe?

You could even bring in the existing lifestyle design personalities for regular or guest posts.

Grow Your Community

Of course the logical extension of a community of bloggers is a community forum, membership site or social network. This kind of connection and interaction is practically designed for lifestyle design and nomadic lifestyles as very often the old face to face networks become strained and a virtual socialization takes its place.

Perhaps Freepersuits could be the biggest community for the lifestyle designer?

  • You need to drive more people to comment using in-content call to action
  • Post polls
  • Drive people to comment with questions in Twitter
  • Draw people over from forums and Facebook
  • Find out where people hang out and interact there

In particular you will want to look in social bookmarking sites for what was popular previously.

Once people are on your site you need to keep them around, and there are two main ways your site is ideal for this

  1. Build a real email list now, not Feedburner but with a service like Aweber – this will enable you to send out interactions and alerts, along with free reports and other exclusive content. It also allows people to reply and know they will get a human being.
  2. Create series posts on “big ideas”, and perhaps collect them into reports that you can give away

I also find conversions much better when I use an obvious email form rather than a sign up link.

Sell the Dream

Any lifestyle blogger needs to remember that the majority of the people reading will not make the full leap. You need to sell the dream, give vivid pictures, video, audio. The full multimedia life stream. Use flickr, youtube, twitter so people can live your life via proxy. Show Don’t Tell.

This is also

  1. An excellent way for your audience to get to know you better
  2. A way to introduce other prominent folks from the niche and network with them

Consider a blogtalkradio show? I imagine Webinars/Teleseminars would be a huge draw (and profitable if you wanted to charge)

Fix Real, Compelling Problems

So we have talked about how you can stand out, and we have briefly looked at community. Both of those are going to aid you getting more visibility and traffic, while branding your site.

The biggest impact you can make though is if you take the overall “dreamer” aspect of the niche and turn around and solve real, pressing problems for the people who really need to make a change.

Interact with your audience, on forums, in social media (particularly Twitter and Facebook) and find out the real challenges that people are coping with and can not find an answer to. Once your audience grows, make it obvious and easy for people to send you their problems.

Most of my best content ideas are from consulting clients or reader questions. You can not top the inspiration and good feelings that come from actually helping people with real issues.

A great example for how to gather reader issues is over at CopyBlogger … sometimes how people do something is more instructive than what :)

One of the problems with “Your guide to lifestyle design” (other than “what’s that?”) is the “That’s nice dear” effect. You know, when you tell someone something really cool and they just smile and say “That’s nice” rather than get as excited and passionate about it as you are?

So work out the real problem your blog solves on a macro level and for each post aim to solve a problem on a per-article basis also. A real problem that people can solve with your help. If possible use the exact phrasing that your audience uses.

Summary

Freepersuits is an excellent blog and has been given a great start, and is now ready to be taken to the next level.

Check it out now.

Over to you – what do you think about Freepersuits? What would you do differently? Do you disagree with what I have said here? Give the benefit of your thoughts in the comments …

Interview With Naomi Dunford and Sonia Simone

Today I had the pleasure of interviewing two very cool internet marketing gurus, Naomi Dunford and Sonia Simone of Marketing for Nice People. We talked about lots of interesting stuff in this fun interview, but there are definitely some strong lessons for all of us contained in this interview. Play the interview Download the MP3 […]

Social Media Success Summit Competition Winners

Did you win? 🙂 Wow! I knew this Social Media Success Summit was generating a lot of interest, but when I had the idea to hold a competition to win tickets I didn’t realize how much it would take over my Twitter stream and test my web hosting to the limit!

UsefulTools Critique

UsefulTools is described as … … a web magazine for people who love web tools and apps. There are new and exciting applications being developed all the time. We sift through the abundance of technologies available to you, and help you find the most useful tools. Right away you might be thinking this puts them […]

Win Tickets to Social Media Success Summit 2009!

Social Media Success 2009All around the world people are very excited about Social Media Success Summit 2009 — the first major online event dedicated to helping you successfully market your business with sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. More than 500 people have already registered.

Now you have the exclusive chance to win two valuable seats to the event for no cost!

I am not bragging when I say that the line-up is an all-star cast (well… maybe a little).

Presenters include bestselling authors and social media marketing experts such as Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library TV), Darren Rowse (Problogger), Mari Smith (Facebook guru), Jason Alba (wrote the book on LinkedIn), Ann Handley (MarketingProfs), Brian Clark (Copyblogger), Denise Wakeman (BlogSquad). Oh, and me.

Sessions include:

  • How to Create a Mega-Following and Mega-Sales With Social Media Marketing
  • Building a Loyal Facebook Following for Increased Profits
  • How to Grow and Engage an Audience on Twitter
  • Using the Power and Reach of LinkedIn to Grow Your Business
  • How to Productively Engage in Social Media Marketing
  • Five Reasons You Need to Be on Twitter (and Tools to Help You Manage)
  • Social Media Start Up: 3 Key Tools to Build Your Social Media Marketing Plan
  • How to Attract Tens of Thousands of People in Mere Days
  • Using Social Bookmarking for Improved Traffic, Links and Visibility

Go here to see the full details of all 11 sessions …

This event does not require any travel (no hotel, rental car or wasted time). You simply attend sessions online and meet the experts and network with peers from the comfort of your home or office. Pretty cool, eh? :)

Contest Prizes

There are two prizes:

  1. Twitter Prize: Valued at $497
    One ticket to Social Media Success Summit 2009
  2. Grand prize: Valued at $1,693.90!
    Two tickets to Social Media Success Summit 2009 (one for you and one for a friend)

PLUS

  • A social media marketing consultation with Michael Stelzner (Michael will spend an hour with you, helping you get your plan in order)
  • A blog critique by me (I will identify actionable steps you can take to improve your blog)
  • A copy of the Problogger book by Darren Rowse and me
  • A copy of the book Writing White Papers by Michael Stelzner

Just think how your business or online efforts could be boosted by this package. Just the consult with Michael is priceless; he after all put this whole summit together.

How to Enter

Step 1: Enter for Twitter Prize

Simply post a Tweet on Twitter using the button included here, or simply copy and paste the below Tweet message. This automatically qualifies you an entry into the prize draw to win a free seat at the summit. You may tweet up to 5 times between now and 21st May 2009. The tweet must contain “#smsuccess” to qualify. We will select the winner randomly on the 22st May 2009.

The Tweet:

Win a FREE ticket to Social Media Success Summit 2009: http://cli.gs/Grq8RX #smsuccess

How to Win the Grand Prize

To win the grand prize, write a blog post (no longer than 1,000 words) explaining why you want to win a seat at the Social Media Success Summit 2009. Have your post published by midnight 21st May 2009 (GMT). So we are notified about your post you will need to leave a trackback on this blog post or comment with a link.

Remember the grand prize includes two summit tickets, social media consultation, a blog critique and two awesome books, so it is well worth getting your friends on board. The more friends who enter the more chances you have of getting a seat yourself :).

Good Luck!

The winners will be selected by Mike and I and announced right here on this blog on the 22st May 2009.

Good luck, and tell your friends!