Free Pursuits 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:
- 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)
- 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?
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, Free Pursuits ___________, 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.
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?
- Productivity folks
- Cubicle escapees
- Passive income dreamers
- Silver surfers
- … 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.
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 Free Pursuits 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
- 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.
- 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
- An excellent way for your audience to get to know you better
- 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.
Free Pursuits is an excellent blog and has been given a great start, and is now ready to be taken to the next level.
Over to you – what do you think about Free Pursuits? What would you do differently? Do you disagree with what I have said here? Give the benefit of your thoughts in the comments …