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One Way Reading a Competitor’s Blog Can Help You Succeed

blog_commentsSo you’re thinking of starting a blog. You’ve chosen your niche and you have all these great plans about how you’re going to become an authority, and how you’re going to have thousands of subscribers. You daydream about make a living from just selling products from your blog, whether it’s through e-books, courses or consulting. Maybe all of the above.

But then you hit a block. It occurs to you that no matter how nice your site may look, no matter how much time you spend guest posting and connecting over social media, no matter how ‘on point’ your content maybe, there is one thing that drives a blog’s success. Without it, the chances of having a thriving blog are slim.

Do you know what it is? I’ll tell you:

You need to figure out what makes your target audience tick.

There are several ways to go about this. You can read publications your audience is likely to read, you can embed yourself in forums, or you can simply ask on Twitter or Facebook. However, these methods can take time, and they’re not exactly foolproof. So what’s a beginning blogger to do?

Read your competitor’s blogs. You may already do this, and you may have found some success. You may even leave well thought out comments, hoping to increase your visibility. But I suspect many don’t take advantage of a quick and easy way to take a peek into your target audience’s collective brain.

Let me ask a question: do you take the time to read the comments’ section of those blogs?

If you don’t, I understand. It’s often long and tedious. Many times, you find several variations of the same comment. However, the comments’ section can be a treasure trove of information, and I’ll illustrate this in four ways.

Find Out ‘Hot’ Topics in Your Niche

If you’re struggling to find the pulse of your niche, if you need to find out what captures people’s attention, the comments’ section is a good place to start looking. Controversial, polarizing topics usually invite a lot of debate. If there is something affecting the community (whenever Google changes their search algorithm, for example), posts discussing this change will have many comments from readers describing their experiences with the changes, good and bad. All of this seemingly random talk gives you an insight into what your audience is thinking and experiencing at the time, and you can craft your next few posts around this information.

Gain Intelligent Insights About Your Niche

In most niches, the popular blogs have a very savvy audience. They are usually well educated about the topics discussed, and most will have some personal experience. Their opinions are usually well thought out and they are very firm in their beliefs. Reading the comments on popular blogs can give you a whole new insight to your niche. The audience usually has something important to add to the article written, even if they agree with everything written. Most don’t disagree just to be contrary; their reasons for dissenting are usually clearly and concisely communicated. In this situation, you have many different angles you can approach a topic.

Learn the ‘Culture’ of Your Niche

Different niches have different ‘cultures’ among their audience. One niche may be more laid back and open to anecdotes and funny memes, while the other may be more receptive to long, informative articles. Visiting different blogs and seeing how their audience responds to the way information is presented can be invaluable to you. Also, one of the ways to get your name out there as a blogger is to do guest posts for other blogs within your niche. Peeking through the comments’ section can give you an idea of how to present your article. You could find out that one audience prefers more traditional, expert-styled writing, while another may prefer an informal, friendly approach. This is valuable information to know.

Make New Friends and Contacts

Ok, so this is a little off topic, but it’s worth discussing. As you scan through the comments section, you’ll find comments that intrigue you, or a person may tell a story you may want to lear more about. You may even find someone you’d be interested in collaborating with in the future. Many blogs offer links to a commenter’s blog or at least a Twitter feed through plugins like CommentLuv. If all else fails, you can Google their name and see what comes up. You never know, it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

These are just a few suggestions to help you along. Of course, this isn’t the only method you can use to build that mighty blog of your dreams. But if you need a quick way to learn about your niche, or if you’re an established blogger looking for new ideas, this is one quick (and even fun) way to get to know your niche a bit better.

About the Author

Nicolia Whyte is a freelance writer and blogger. She is a stay at home mom and is currently making plans for her own ‘mighty blog’. You can find her on Twitter.

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