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 and

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?


  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.


    • I guys, sorry for being absent yesterday, but life happens. I have thought about this for a long time, and THE blog that got me going was

      This is what I have modeled my blog on intially. I am currently going through a change period with my blog, so my niche has not been defined for myself yet, and hopefully as I discover that, I will be able to model some things of my blog on what the other players in that niche does.

    • My blog fits the niche of Christian Inspirational. I follow many blogs with the same theme. My top three are: by Ann Voskamp by Claire Burge by jennifer lee

      Ann Voskamp's site features posts that emphasize God in the everyday life, marriage,gratitude, Christian seasons of the year, and grief. It is writen in the first person and she does not have a place to comment. You can email her. Her design is elegant yet strikingly simple. The black background is highlighted with white lettering, sometime giving way to colored ink for emphasis. There is a fluid style of presenting the post with photos punctuating her story. She has topics twice a week which encourage readers to post blogs related to her topic at their own site~and then tie back into Ann's site with their URL & photo. She also has music playing that is gentle and contemplative, making you want to stay. You can subscribe to Ann's blog by one of several different networks, noted by symbols at the bottom of her page. Ann writes every day.

      Claire's site was great to review. She had already analyzed what draws people to her site as well as others. In her post today, she said, "People relate to another's vulnerability, to a display of pain or weakness." She went on to note that these elements in a post have received the most feedback. She also commented that the reader is attracted to "open display of kindness". Claire's blog has a large banner of design at the top of her post. Her background is white with black ink on it. Her site has a crisp, clean feel, making the type easy to read. It's not all bunched up. As she is learning more about photography, she often has several photos posted on each site. Both at Ann's and Claire's, this makes for great appeal. Most of Claire's post revolves around Christian Inspiration, her travels, life's lessons, and photography. Readers to her post comment on how the post makes them feel or what touched them personally in her post. You can subscribe to her post by email or RSS feed.
      She writes about every other day.

      Jennifer's blog has a colorful design with a scrapbook feel..She writes in brown ink on a white background and changes ink color in the post for emphasis. Her blog has an airy feel like the others. It makes everything easier to read, and helps you stay with the story. Her posts focus on Christian Inspirational from personal experience, her interests that are global (like running), and family topics. She also writes extremely well in first person mostly. Her readers comment on her writing ability, photos that she uses lavishly in her posts, and share how they relate to her post. Readers can subscribe by email or a reader. And she has a button to grab on her site. She has an extensive list of blogs that she follows. Her posts draw anywhere from 15 to 40 comments, averaging in the teens. She writes every couple of days.

      One of the common factors in each of these blogs is the airy feel that makes them inviting to read. In addition, they all use numerous quality photos with each post. Their designs are relaxing to look at–not structured and stiff. And none of these three writers have any advertising on their sites. They are all top-notch creative writers but their styles reflect their individual personalities.

      As for my blog, I have started using photos to make the text more interesting. I want to redo the design of my blog to give it more of an airy feel rather than the look of a column in a newspaper. As my blog stands now, I have a pink background with darker mauve type. I'm not sure if I would stay with those colors when I redesign. My type face is too big. I need more ways for people to sign up and share. I want to be able to reach more people and become a more creative writer focusing on inspiring Christian women.

      In Him,


    • This is a really difficult assignment. There are a few really great bath and beauty blogs, so I am still working on this assignment. I probably will be for quite some time. One thing I notice is most of them post more often than I do. Thinking of ways to increase posts without sacrificing quality.

    • I apologize for being late to the party with my post. But I am committed to working through this project even if it means I'm running at the back of the group.

      I've enjoyed following your comments and your blogs. Here is what I discovered with the Day 4 assignment.

      My niche is arts leaders in the church. This seems to be a small and unique group. Often in churches this role is filled by the worship leader. So, the blogs I reviewed are and Rich's blog does come at this role from the worship leader perspective while Nancy's blog is more closely the niche that I fit in.

      I love the creativity of Rich's blog. It's the first thing you see at the top of the page. My own blog has been long overdue for a face lift and my perusal of Rich's blog cemented that for me. A creative's site should be if nothing else, creative. While it is something I don't always take note of, one item in a blog that I personally appreciate is a brief "about section" on the home page. Nancy does this well on her blog. I find it very helpful and enjoyable to know more of the person I am reading from and about. So to know some of the author's life and experience in a brief overview gives me better understanding of their point of view.

      I always enjoy a "currently reading" list as is on Nancy's blog and was reminded again of the importance of keeping it up to date.

      I really like the recent comment listing Rich uses on the top right column and love the potential it has to spur on further discussion. I wonder if he's finding that to be the case and wonder how to create such a module.

      I think some of the ways I will best be able to differentiate my blog will come in content, specifically offerings of practical organization and systems tools to use in ministry. Much of the other ways I think I could improve what I offer would come under visual improvements. Now… to figure out Dreamweaver….hmmm….

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