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31DBBB Day 4: Analyze a Top Blog in Your Niche

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This is Day 4 of 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, a group project 60+ of us bloggers are doing together in an effort to help each other become better bloggers. You can read an overview here.

Today’s assignment is to spend some time on a successful blog in your niche.  That sounds easy enough.  But I think this is a lesson and assignment many bloggers are going to have a difficult time with for several reasons.

1) Some bloggers don’t know their niche. For some the issue is similar to Day 1 where you’re still trying to figure out what you’re blog is about and find focus.  Others of you are probably bristling at the idea that your blog could be in a nitch because you don’t like to be labeled.

1.5 (Added 5 PM) Some bloggers don’t know what blogs are in their niche. If you don’t read other blogs that touch on the same topics you do, you may not know what blogs to analyze.  A couple of places you can search for blogs by topic are Technorati.com and PostRank.com.

2) This sounds like copying. When some of you read the assignment, “Analyze a top blog in your niche” you heard “Watch what the popular people are doing and copy it.”  This assignment is not about mindlessly copying anyone or losing your identity.  While part of the assignment is to learn things you can incorporate into your own blogging.  It’s just as important to identify how you’re blog is unique and how you’re going to differentiate yourself from other the blogs in your niche.

3) Golden nuggets are easy to miss. Chances are you’ve been to the top blogs in your niche.  You know what they look like.  You know what they write about.  It’s going to be real easy to skim over this assignment and not find anything meaningful.  When panning for gold, first you’ve got to dig, and second you’ve got to look real carefully to avoid missing the valuable nuggets.

Today’s lesson identifies some good elements to observe on other blogs – topics covered, posting frequency, which topics/posts are most popular, things you like & dislike about the design, etc.  Here are some additional suggestions…

  • What modules does the blog have in the sidebar(s)?
  • Specifically, what features does it have to facilitate sharing and social networking?
  • Read the comments.  When people say they like a particular post, what specifically do they like about it?

Discussion

  1. What is your niche?
  2. What site(s) did you analyze?
  3. What did you notice about them that you  may want to incorporate into your blog?
  4. How is your blog unique?  How are you going to differentiate it from the rest of the pack?

Don’t forget, if you’ve posted a new post to your blog today, you’re welcome to include a link to it in your comments.

The Extra Mile

A few other things you can do to take your blog, other bloggers, and this project even further today…

  • Reply & give other bloggers feedback on their analysis.
  • When other bloggers include a link to a new article they’ve posted today, click, read, and comment on it.
  • Check previous posts in the series for new comments.
  • Tweet, share, & bookmark this post.  (You could win a $25 gift card!)

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    About the author

    Paul Steinbrueck

    Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.

    163 Comments

    • I have run across a fun blogs that I would say are in my niche of God's grace and spiritual encouragement, and I am sure there must be more out there. I will spend some time searching and check out the ones I find.

      If anyone can recommend some I'd love some help!

      As for the assignment, I see its merits. For me it is more of a time challenge, but as the old saying goes, "nothing ventured, nothing gained." I and perhaps others have to be reminded that this is like any investment. Some work up front will hopefully yield great fruit in the future.

      I will work on a new post. Maybe I'll combine the last two lessons and create a list post of blogs I am reviewing and why!

    • Hi fellow 31DBBB bloggers. Hope all is well.

      My niche is encouraging people to bring God into their everyday moments–either by looking at how scripture applies to our daily-ness or sharing how God showed Himself to me through the seemingly mundane.

      One site that I love ishttp://www.chattingatthesky.com This is a friend of mine who has such a creative style. She is someone I often look to for advice in this writing thing.

      Something she does–that I am trying to do more often–is ask her readers a question at the end of her posts. This spurs conversation which ultimately causes us to actively think about what we read.

      My blog differs from something like hers in that I have such a passion for the Word of God. I usually have at least one post each week that is taken straight from my time that morning in His Word.

      Oh, and, she's on twitter. Yes, I'm still considering.

    • Hi fellow 31DBBB bloggers. Hope all is well.

      My niche is encouraging people to bring God into their everyday moments–either by looking at how scripture applies to our daily-ness or sharing how God showed Himself to me through the seemingly mundane.

      One site that I love is <a href="http://www.chattingatthesky.com” target=”_blank”>www.chattingatthesky.com This is a friend of mine who has such a creative style. She is someone I often look to for advice in this writing thing.

      Something she does–that I am trying to do more often–is ask her readers a question at the end of her posts. This spurs conversation which ultimately causes us to actively think about what we read.

      My blog differs from something like hers in that I have such a passion for the Word of God. I usually have at least one post each week that is taken straight from my time that morning in His Word.

      Oh, and, she's on twitter. Yes, I'm still considering.

    • Hi fellow 31DBBB bloggers. Hope all is well.

      My niche is encouraging people to bring God into their everyday moments–either by looking at how scripture applies to our daily-ness or sharing how God showed Himself to me through the seemingly mundane.

      One site that I love ishttp://www.chattingatthesky.com This is a friend of mine who has such a creative style. She is someone I often look to for advice in this writing thing.

      Something she does–that I am trying to do more often–is ask her readers a question at the end of her posts. This spurs conversation which ultimately causes us to actively think about what we read.

      My blog differs from something like hers in that I have such a passion for the Word of God. I usually have at least one post each week that is taken straight from my time that morning in His Word.

      Oh, and, she's on twitter. Yes, I'm still considering.

    • I believe my niche is tips for familly living. Live and learn.
      Would that fit as a niche name?!

      Here are 3 sites I've analysed with my comments.

      http://www.mereindigne.com/
      Banner, one column, archives, categories and links to other blogger.
      Published a book after writting for a while on her blog. Now broadcasted as a webpisode.
      Simple look.
      Don't really post on her blog now.
      http://lataiedoreiller.blogspot.com/
      On the right side column, shows what she reads, Twitter feed, Facebook link, archives and game dress up the duck.
      Simple look.
      Post regularly.
      http://www.banlieusardises.com/
      Love the look and the layout !
      At the top, navigation within the different subject (cuisine, jardin, loisirs, etc.)
      On the right side colum, shows ad, box for popular post/comments/recents posts, shows Facebook fans with images, Flickr feed, box to search the blog with keywords.
      Footer : infos (about, archives, etc.), and 2 more boxes.
      All posts have a picture.
      Post regularly.

      How's my blog unique? Beside being from Gatineau, I don't know. And even that. I didn't do that extensive a search… I'm kind of clueless about this one. Any suggestions from the outside?

      Also, today I talk about Lego blocs for my 4th day to become a better blogger ! http://lemondedenathalie.ca/2010/05/06/jeremie-et

    • I believe my niche is tips for familly living. Live and learn.
      Would that fit as a niche name?!

      Here are 3 sites I've analysed with my comments.

      http://www.mereindigne.com/
      Banner, one column, archives, categories and links to other blogger.
      Published a book after writting for a while on her blog. Now broadcasted as a webpisode.
      Simple look.
      Don't really post on her blog now.
      http://lataiedoreiller.blogspot.com/
      On the right side column, shows what she reads, Twitter feed, Facebook link, archives and game dress up the duck.
      Simple look.
      Post regularly.
      http://www.banlieusardises.com/
      Love the look and the layout !
      At the top, navigation within the different subject (cuisine, jardin, loisirs, etc.)
      On the right side colum, shows ad, box for popular post/comments/recents posts, shows Facebook fans with images, Flickr feed, box to search the blog with keywords.
      Footer : infos (about, archives, etc.), and 2 more boxes.
      All posts have a picture.
      Post regularly.

      How's my blog unique? Beside being from Gatineau, I don't know. And even that. I didn't do that extensive a search… I'm kind of clueless about this one. Any suggestions from the outside?

      Also, today I talk about Lego blocs for my 4th day to become a better blogger ! http://lemondedenathalie.ca/2010/05/06/jeremie-et

      • You ask how it's unique? Well the simple fact that you blog in a language that is not English makes it stand apart from the crowd.

        On top of that you are even getting comments – which a lot of English written blogs fail to get. My french is not what it used to be and never was that good so I cheated and used a translator – but some good stuff there.

        BTW, my son loves building stuff too – lego, connex, etc …

    • this is a bit hard for me since I know a lot of blogs that deal heavily in the technical aspect of filmmaking or are extremely professional. SynaptcLight is really an account of my journey and thought regarding filmamking.

      I'll have to say thathttp://philipbloom.co.uk/ is a seriously popular site in the niche I am in.
      Things I noticed:

      Lots of more videos using the equipment he Evangelizes
      Lots of Advertizing
      Definitely lots of stuff for filmmakers to benefit from in terms of reviews, tutorials
      He also get very involved outside of his blog with the reviews and films he shots – this gives more credibility, respect and trust

      What can I use/incorporate?
      Well I can certainly get together with local filmmakers or people interest and get a partnership going where we can write reviews and technical articles – inviting more professional people to be involved – take it offline.

      What makes Synaptic Light Different:
      Filmmaking is not my job, it is a hobby (a bit more than that), I don't do it for money, I do most of it for church and I am documenting my progress and what I learn as I work my way to be better in my spare time.

    • this is a bit hard for me since I know a lot of blogs that deal heavily in the technical aspect of filmmaking or are extremely professional. SynaptcLight is really an account of my journey and thought regarding filmamking.

      I'll have to say thathttp://philipbloom.co.uk/ is a seriously popular site in the niche I am in.
      Things I noticed:

      Lots of more videos using the equipment he Evangelizes
      Lots of Advertizing
      Definitely lots of stuff for filmmakers to benefit from in terms of reviews, tutorials
      He also get very involved outside of his blog with the reviews and films he shots – this gives more credibility, respect and trust

      What can I use/incorporate?
      Well I can certainly get together with local filmmakers or people interest and get a partnership going where we can write reviews and technical articles – inviting more professional people to be involved – take it offline.

      What makes Synaptic Light Different:
      Filmmaking is not my job, it is a hobby (a bit more than that), I don't do it for money, I do most of it for church and I am documenting my progress and what I learn as I work my way to be better in my spare time.

    • this is a bit hard for me since I know a lot of blogs that deal heavily in the technical aspect of filmmaking or are extremely professional. SynaptcLight is really an account of my journey and thought regarding filmamking.

      I'll have to say thathttp://philipbloom.co.uk/ is a seriously popular site in the niche I am in.
      Things I noticed:

      Lots of more videos using the equipment he Evangelizes
      Lots of Advertizing
      Definitely lots of stuff for filmmakers to benefit from in terms of reviews, tutorials
      He also get very involved outside of his blog with the reviews and films he shots – this gives more credibility, respect and trust

      What can I use/incorporate?
      Well I can certainly get together with local filmmakers or people interest and get a partnership going where we can write reviews and technical articles – inviting more professional people to be involved – take it offline.

      What makes Synaptic Light Different:
      Filmmaking is not my job, it is a hobby (a bit more than that), I don't do it for money, I do most of it for church and I am documenting my progress and what I learn as I work my way to be better in my spare time.