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The Importance of Standing Out in a Crowded Market – YoungPrePro Blog Critique

This critique will be useful to you if you believe you are doing all the right things but are still not getting the results you want.

I get a lot of clients come to me with similar situations and many are on the verge of giving up due to this frustration.

Fact is, you could be doing many things right. The design could be lovely, your content great, and you have products and services that people should want. But still no further towards your goals.

What could be going wrong?

Onibalusi ordered a critique for he YoungPrePro.com site and I think he is in the situation I described above. He has good traffic, he has subscribers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans. He has appeared as a guest writer on popular blogs.

His site actually looks great – much better than many.

If he is doing so many things right, why are few people taking up his offers? Why can’t he live the passive income lifestyle that he wants?

Looking around his blog you quickly discover three fundamental issues holding him back, plus a few less critical items. I will start with the foundational pieces:

Uniqueness or Point of Difference

The first thing we need to straighten out is there is an overwhelming sense of “been here before” about the blog.

This is one of the major problems with “doing all the right things” – if you only do what is expected or the “done thing” then why should anyone visit your site? It is just like all the rest. And the rest have been doing it longer and with more to talk about.

So we see

  • Make money online content
  • Income reports
  • “Quit your day job” promises
  • how I make over $3,000 online monthly” ebook

We have seen it all before.

What is fresh? What is new? What will make us take notice?

A unique personality and back story is very important, and he has this going on. But we need more.

You need a hook.

  • Be different
  • Stand out
  • … in a positive and beneficial way

Fill in the blanks in the following statement:

Unlike other _____ blogs, I ________ which means you benefit from ___________

This exercise will make sure you find a point of difference that has a compelling benefit for your audience. It’s not about what you do, what you talk about, it is what they get that they really want and need.

Outcome or Deliverable

Which brings us to the outcome or deliverable.

What is it you show people? What do people get from hanging around your site?

You need to really drill down and define your exact target reader. Who can you most help and who would you most want to work with?

  • Do you know the motivating goals of your target audience?
  • What is the mission your readers want help with?
  • Why would people click through from your guest articles?

The header says “Helping Young Entrepreneurs Change the World” – is that really what your audience wants? Is that a compelling and specific benefit?

How many people can credibly say they are helping people change the world? Chris Guillebeau? TED? Pace and Kyeli?

Big claims need big proof, which brings us to the next point …

Proof

All of the rest might not matter so much if there was strong proof to back up the claims.

Darren and I see messages all the time from people who follow this logic:

  • People are making money blogging
  • I want to make money blogging
  • The big blogs I see making money blogging blog about making money blogging
  • So I will start a make money online blog
  • … and one day I will make money blogging

Is this familiar?

What is the crucial step they are missing out?

(Ignoring the fact there are a gajillion blogs out there claiming to help you make money online).

Yes, the problem is you are not going to be able to teach others to make money online until you have made some money online!

Look around at the popular blogs that talk about this stuff.

  • I started out back in the mid 1990′s blogging in the programming and IT space. I spent 7 years working for top advertising, direct marketing and branding agencies before starting my own consultancy, and twice I ran online advertising networks.
  • Brian was in real estate and is an expert copywriter. Jon Morrow, one of the editors at Copyblogger, also started out in Real Estate.
  • Darren’s biggest blog is about photography (makes me feel sick that I sold my own photography blog, heh) and before that he had blogs on all kinds of subjects.
  • John Chow has been running a tech site since 1998 and has an associated advertising network.
  • David Risley also started with tech and computing stuff.
  • Yaro started out with Magic the Gathering amongst other things.

Notice a trend? (Apart from the extreme geekiness, that is)

Yup, none of these folks started out with teaching “Make Money Online” … until they had made some money online!

Why Should Someone Learn this from YOU?

It comes down to WIIFM. What’s In It For Me?

There are all these choices and options out there, why should someone choose you?

What have you done that stands out? Something that someone else would want to learn.

I would say in the case of Onibalusi, there is something in the guest blogging – a great deal of workload and visible experience.

Instead though the claim is that you can help people make thousands of dollars a month! The earning reports are actually working against this claim because essentially Onibalusi has a writing job. My definition of job is where you work exclusively for one employer:

This is due to me signing a contract with my current client not to take additional writing job so for my blog to have brought me over 7 clients I think it is a business and I’m qualified to talk about making money online.

If it is true that you have turned work down, and we have no evidence or testimonials, then you have some credibility to show people how to get freelance writing work. This is a good market that tons of people are getting into every day. Perhaps you could negotiate with your current contract to allow some hours per week to work for other clients? Being exclusive to one company is very dangerous, I have been there and got burned by it when we parted company – don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

My point is, teach people what you demonstrably know.

You will get more attention, your credibility will grow, and your income opportunities will open up.

Bottom Line:

The blog looks great and you have done an excellent job of generating a traffic and audience through your guest blogging. Use your actual knowledge and experience as a strength and as a compelling hook, rather than try to come across as something you are not (yet!).

Share your unique point of difference, show how that will benefit your audience towards their goals, and back it up with proof!

What do you think? Was I too harsh? Do you have any other thoughts to share? Please let us know in the comments …

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Comments

  1. Wow! This is Great.
    I dont know what to Say….

  2. No, Chris, I don’t think you were too harsh. I completely agree, actually. Point of difference and “what’s in it for me” is the most important thing about any website, especially when it comes to a site claiming to help you earn money online.

    If I may, I’d like to add two things:

    1. I know he asked for this critique — and it was great — but I’d also like to applaud him for putting himself on the line and asking for it. He’s clearly serious and it takes a big person to be humble.

    Which leads me to…

    2. He’s obviously got some kind of humility if he’s able to sit back and ask for this critique — but I don’t see that anywhere on his site. I see slick, kind-of-icky salesmanship. I definitely believe that there’s a balance to be struck between what will sell to your audience, confidence, and communicating with integrity.

    • “2. He’s obviously got some kind of humility if he’s able to sit back and ask for this critique — but I don’t see that anywhere on his site. I see slick, kind-of-icky salesmanship.”

      Different strokes for different folks – I see lots of humility in him and I am not an avid reader of his blog. In fact that was one of the first things that struck me.

      However, as analysis goes, everything in this critique is a sound business model which if applied will work well for him.

      Personally, I think one of his strengths is his candidness – perhaps a bit more personality with the business model will do the trick.

      • Actually this is an excellent example of audience. I’m definitely not the audience he’s writing for, you might be.

        • @Trista You’re right about creating a point of difference and focusing more on what value to provide to my readers. I’m definitely working on that!

          @Roz Thanks a lot for the awesome comment! I’m working more on integrating more of my personality into my content and I will also be making a few changes on my blog very soon based on Chris’ advice.

  3. Really interesting critique because you listed all the reasons I unsubscribed from his email list and stopped following the blog after landing on it from a guest post a few months ago.

    I wasn’t quite sure what made him unique since I was reading blogs from well-established bloggers with social proof who were telling me similar things.

    • Hi Lindsay,

      That’s really great to hear. The more I know why people unsubscribe, the more I can do to make my site better for them.

      I’ll be taking Chris’ advice to improve my site over the next few months and I hope I can have you back once everything’s changed.

      Thanks a lot and have a great week!
      -Onibalusi

  4. Chris –

    I don’t think you were too harsh at all. A few thoughts crossed my mind however. One thing that stands out is how similar this is to Pat Flynn’s blog – - and as companies/businesses learn everyday you cannot copy or duplicate anyone’s success. But that goes back to your mention of point of difference.

    The only thing, however, I will say is that you can have a passion and not a lot of experience and do very well – - take Manvsdebt for example….Adam has says he is not a Personal Finance expert other than just his own personal interest but he does very well….and we all know that there are massive personal finance blogs out there. But one thing he talks about is “getting rid of stuff” so that may be his differentiation.

    This site, seems to not have that one little point of difference – and it could even be a small one that makes it unique.

    • Hi Shane,

      Thanks so much for weighing-in your opinion about this critique and my site, and I can totally relate with you.

      I’ll definitely be taking necessary actions over the coming months to improve my blog.

  5. I really like Onibalusi’s blog and I’ve read a lot of guest posts he’s done as well as been aware of him on Twitter and G+.

    I haven’t visited his blog since reading this but I have to say that I never noticed that he was making these claims of being a passive income guy. To me he seems like fantastic internet marketer and that there’s something special about him. I just wish I had the gumption to work as hard as that at 17 – or even 27!

    I’m not saying your critique is incorrect but I seriously gloss over the mistakes he’s making in his presentation (cause I’ve seen it all before) and just concentrate on the words and there he has something that will benefit him greatly. He’s a good writer/communicator and that’s really important.

    • Hi Rob,

      Thanks a lot for the comment, I really appreciate it!

      I never really made any point about being a passive income guy. The point of this critique is that my blog should be focused more on educating people on how to make money writing for the time being instead of generally talking about making money online.

      Thanks so much for the awesome support as always!
      -Onibalusi

  6. Cristina says:

    Hi,

    I like Onibalusi too. He’s a nice guy and very hard worker, especially for a young boy. But I agree with the critique.

    The name tag on the sidebar says: “I make over $5000 from this blog monthly”. Then, you read the reports and technically the income comes from writing for one client.

    It’s fine, it’s a legitimate source of income, however, from my point of view, it makes an incongruence. It creates an expectation but delivers something very different.

    On the other hand, Onibalusi has learnt a lot following people like Pat Flynn or Glen Allsopp. Now it’s time for him to give all that knowledge his own personality and style.

    Congratulations, Oni, for being so brave. Definitely it’s not easy to put yourself on the line.

    • Thanks a lot for the comment Cristina!

      I haven’t really thought about my eBook on how I make $3,000 online monthly being confusing, and I’m already working on a workaround to that. I will also be taking Chris’ advice and will be moving my blog niche more towards building a successful online writing business instead of making money online.

      Thanks so much for the awesome support as always!

      -Onibalusi

  7. Vicky Hennegan says:

    I probably had a different experience because I went to his site w my iPhone. I won’t see the stuff you guys see, maybe that is good.

    The button at the bottom of your homepage has a switch button that allows the reader to turn off/on the mobile broswe. When I tried to turn mobile ‘off’ it refreshes the page and I’m still in mobile and the default setting which is mobile ‘on’. This is not part of the critique but I want you to know what I experienced so you can either fix or remove the switch option.

    My couple of things are regarding your header The first thing is the text YoungPrePro. I would replace the word pre with a word that starts w pre. Pre generally means before something, so I read PrePro as being this site is before you become a pro. So it could read YoungPreparedPro that’s not a good one but then on your site in the About and FAQ’s put in parentheses (our web address is easy to remember, YoungPrePro.com). That in a couple of places will let them know why Pre is there, it’s a shorter version and easy to remember.

    The other thing is i think the site should be branded for ‘Young’ but I would add pictures on the site pages, not post pages that push up the age to at least 32 yo. I think people need to feel like they belong there and that may help widen your audience that feels like their your target customer.

    Good luck! I think the critique was spot on so your ready to go!

    • Cristina says:

      Hi Vicky,

      I visited Onibalusi’s blog from my laptop, but I clicked the switcher to mobile version because I wanted to see how the plugin works.
      When I was in the mobile version there was no way to go back to desktop version.

      According to the plugin developer there should be a switcher too. But it’s not the case.

      I tried to send Oni a message through the contact form but the submit button didn’t work.

      I reloaded the page several times, cleaned the chaché, etc. Nothing worked.

      Cristina

    • Great point about the Pre. I guess as I’ve known the blog name a while I’ve stopped wondering what it stands for! But yes, what is the pre part of youngprepro all about?!

    • @Vicky I’ve removed the mobile option after reading your comment and I’m working on having something better for those reading my blog through a mobile phone. You’re also right about making it clear what the name of my blog stands for, and I’ll be including it in my list of what to clarify.

      @Cristina That really sucks! I’m very sorry for any inconvenience that has caused you and I’ve removed the plugin. I’ll also try including my email address on the contact page so that people can easily contact me using that.

      @Annabel Not to worry, I’ll be putting that on the blog soon :)

  8. Chris,

    This was a great eval.

    The big take home for me is talk about what you know and have experience in and make sure your reader knows how your knowledge can benefit them.

    It seems that if Onibalusi tweaked his WIIFM/hook a bit his success would be even greater.

    Thank you – I’m taking this information and evaluating my hook.

    And Onibalusi, kudos to you for putting yourself out there. Your success potential is huge, if you keep looking for ways to improve!

    Theresa

    • Thanks a lot for the nice words Theresa!

      I’ll definitely be taking Chris’ advice and I will be implementing them in the coming months. I’m sure that will make a huge impact in the kind of results I’m getting from my blog.

  9. Hi Chris, I like Onibalusi a lot. I like that he’s young and enthusiastic. I think that sets him apart from others. But as you say this is a crowded space with some huge names to compete with.

    I’d love to read your suggestions for how Onibalusi fill in that blank sentence “Unlike other….” because he is unique, he does have a point of difference. But what is it?!

    I’d also love to know why he ordered the critique. What results does he want from his blog that he feels he’s not already achieving?

    “I make over $5000 from this blog monthly” seems pretty good for a 17 year old so I think he needs to take heart from that and recognize his huge achievements so far. This is a fabulous beginning.

    Looking at his last eight posts they all seem to be the generic stuff everyone is writing about now such as Google Plus. My feeling is he needs to be more personal in his writing, include more of his story and draw his readers in that way.

    For me the most interesting post (or headline) is Get Out of Mom’s Basement. Its message could really strike a chord with his target readers. This post turns out to be a guest post but that would be my suggestion to Onibalusi. Make it more personal, include more of you in the posts.

    For example the headline Should Bloggers be on Google Plus? doesn’t really interest me as I’ve read loads of them already but if it was 5 Things I Love(Or Hate!) About Google Plus that would interest me more. I’d get some handy tips as well as finding out more about Onibalusi and his business and blogging methods.

    Most of all I’d love to know what takeaways Onibalusi will have from this critique and what he now plans to do to change his blog or his business. Hopefully he will leave us a comment soon:)

    Thanks Chris for getting me thinking. This post really shows the huge problems with blogging! Let’s hope it gets us all thinking about the solutions too:)

    • Hi Annabel,

      Thanks a lot for the nice words, it really means a lot to me!

      I ordered the critique because I’ve always had a feeling within me that something is really wrong with my blog, and now that I’ve read the critique I can see clearly what that is.

      I’m glad to hear what you think about the Google+ and I think I really need to work on improving how I use my headlines in the future.

      I definitely had a lot to takeaway from this critique, and I’ll be implementing them on my blog soon!

      Thanks so much and have a great week!
      -Onibalusi

  10. Chris,
    you are right about that. Everyone tries to teach others to make money online and it´s hard to figure out if the person is doing that or if not. I know Omnibalusi from guest posts and also visit his blog from time to time. I actually enjoy for years reading all kind of make money online blogs – just for fresh ideas and opinions. So I don´t mind if someone is “not there yet” – I mind if he (or she) claims to be and is not. So honesty comes first in my eyes. If I say I make money for three years online but I didn´t make a full-time income so far – I might be more honest than others who claim to make millions. And maybe that´s the difference. If we “as newbies” (more or less) do not try to claim that we quit our day job and make millions but share our way to do it. I´d say: don´t be shy NOT to make millions and give a honest approach :-)

  11. Chris wow! I finally get it. I don’t even have a blog up yet. Why I thought from all the other adds and claims from others I was supposed to be a bazillionaire over night. I didn’t realize I actually had to work at this. Now I know. When I get it up and running I may not make alot of money but I do know from reading a lot of your advice that when I give it my very best and a 100% more. There is a good possibility others may help me along the way.
    Thanks again Chris.

  12. Well, I would say not too harsh at all but then it’s not my blog you’re critique-ing lol!

    I don’t usually like to give unsoliticed advice BUT… I think at 17, wow GREAT JOB Onibalusi! Yep guest blogging looks like a good way to go for you. On the flip side, I guess maybe I’m out of touch (being a long way from 17) but I wasn’t sure if the name of the blog was meant to mean anything??

    Also a general comment but it looks as if Onibalus could be just coming up to that success barrier where a lot of entrepreneurs give up – keep going and I sense a great career ahead.

    All the best

    Cathy

  13. Glad to have found this site. This site has been able to confirm a lot of my own theories as to how to get an edge over such a harsh market. One other methods that seem to work well is to keep it simple.

    Thanks for your blog
    Like it and thanks for sharing. :)

  14. I read this critique as soon as it was published. Knowing Oni from a few corners of the internet I knew that he would take the criticism in a constructive way, and so it is good to come back and see that is exactly what has happened.

    I always admire Oni for his consistent hard work and the courage to put himself out there in ways that many of us shy away from. It will be fascinating to watch how he moves forward from here.

    • Thanks for such a nice comment Paul!

      I knew I was ordering a critique and even though some of the comments might hurt if taken the wrong way I noticed that they are all pointing out clearly my mistakes – it is now left for me to brood on the comments or to notice my mistakes and act on it. I have decided to choose the latter :)

      I already have a lot of changes planned soon – it’s definitely going to skyrocket my blog and internet career.

      • I am impressed with your humility or may I say your ability to accept advice as how to to improve.
        I will be following your blog more closely. I am alot older than you and hope to have my blog very soon. Thanks to all those who have given good advice to you also.

  15. I must say here that i respect Onibalusi,for his bravery of setting himself up for criticism, despite the fact that he has made some level of success, which some people, like me still admire, for the critique, it was a genuine and very insightful one, and would help you a great deal, if you act upon what you have learnt here.

  16. This is an excellent critique of YouPrePro’s blog. I wish I’ll have the opportunity to be able to pay you so you’ll check out and critique my blog too in the near future. Thanks a lot.

  17. Maybe this is off topic but one thing that strikes me as odd, Onibalusi, is that you don’t have a gravatar. Maybe it is just a glitch on my end. The fill in the blank line that Chris gave is great. I am curious what you came up with to fill in the blanks. Thanks for putting yourself out there and being a guinea pig for us to learn from.

  18. Great review. I took some tips out of this and made a change to my blog. Outstanding post!

    I’m sure Oni will see an increase in his site based on your review.

  19. This is really amazing about youngprepro…I am a regular follower of Onabaulsi and now i found Yourss….Thanks a lot Chris..

  20. I must say I really enjoyed this review, a lot of insightful feedback about Onibalusi blog.. :) And..I can say he’s not writing for one client, he’s also helping 1stWebDesigner with content production..and I am amazed how productive is he.

    I cannot criticize about his blog quality, but I know very well, that you can easily make very good income if you’re hard and SMART working fellow. And Onibalusi has both of these characteristics.

    thank you.