Opportunities for the middle-aged blog

You’vebeen at this blogging thing for a while now. The initial surge ofWOO HOO has worn off. You survived the inevitable downward part of theenthusiasm cycle that follows that first massive high. And you’re stillkeeping at it, maybe even with renewed passion and energy. Welcome,you’re now a middle aged blogger!

Middle aged blogs are brand new. For the most part, this is unchartedterritory. The middle aged blog has different needs than its youngercounterparts. Middle age has brought new opportunities to be explored,and new challenges to be faced. Let’s look at some of those now.

It’s likely that when you started blogging, you knew why you were doingit, and who your target audience was. Since you’ve been chugging awaythough, I’m betting that your audience has changed. The blogosphere hasgotten a whole lot bigger, and blogs have become a more accepted placefor the non-blogging public to get their information. Competition invirtually every sector has exploded. How many other bloggers are now inthe same niche you once had to yourself?
Your own business or interests may have changed as well. Are youstill writing about the same topics you did when your blog started?

Maybe it’s time for you to sit down and redefine your targetaudience. Take out a pen and paper, or open up a new document, and writeout your current blogging goals. Do it quickly, without pausing tothink or edit your thoughts. Now, review your notes and ask yourself thefollowing questions:
Does your blog meet your goals in this new blogging environment?

Do you need to shift your blog’s focus?
Do you need to shift the audience you’re attracting to meet your new goals?
Have you educated your audience to the point that you need to introduce more complex topics?
Or do you need to go back to the start and educate a whole new bunch of folks?

New competition has very likely affected your blog, either for thebetter or the worse. Once upon a time, we had the commercial blog designniche nearly to ourselves. These days, there are a whole bunch ofpeople playing in this niche, and many of them are very, very good. Icome from the “competition is good” school of thought, so I welcomethis, but it definitely has affected my own blogging.

Dealing with this new competition may force you to make your ownniche even more narrow. Or conversely, it may offer you an opportunityto look at your industry as a whole, and shift your focus from purelycreating content to reporting on content.

Let’s repeat the same exercise as above. On your pad, or in your doc,quickly write down how new competition has changed your blog. Again,review your notes, and ask the following questions:
Has your niche become saturated?

Where does your blog sit in your niche’s overall matrix? Are you the top dog? Middle of the pack?
Whatnew opportunities have opened up? Has your once narrow niche explodeddue to new interest? Are there new sub-niches to be explored?

Should your mix of reporting to new content change?
At first, you blogged to an empty room. There was no one there to readyour posts. Eventually though, you built traffic in a nice growingcurve. In likelihood, that curve has leveled off, and maybe even tilteddown a bit. Human nature dictates that unless there’s a reason to dootherwise, we rest. That first traffic building exercise you wentthrough when you were building up your blog was both exhilarating and alot of work. I know from experience that a lot of middle aged bloggershave stopped doing external promotion.

The nature of promoting your blog has changed a lot since the earlydays. It’s harder to get noticed, and the tools available have changed.Once again, jot down everything you’ve done to promote your blogin the past month. Review that list, and ask yourself:

  • Are you active in the blogosphere? Are you “participating in the conversation”?
  • Are you using any of the new social bookmarking services to promote your site?
  • Can you make any new blogging alliances to help co-promote your site?
  • Are there any offline opportunities to reach your niche that you can explore?

The middle aged blog may have lost some of its luster, but wow, doesit ever have some hidden opportunities and gold mines. Most of these areunfortunately hidden from sight, buried deep in your blog’sarchives. Here are a couple of ideas to help mine that gold In a prominent location, list your best articles. This can be asubjective collection of what you think are your best posts, or it canbe the posts with the most comments, the posts with the more views, orwhatever you like. It need not be complicated, but it should bevisible. This will help new readers get up to speed quickly, and willremind existing readers of your best work.

Similar to above, select a couple of really great comments, and use themas testimonials. Let your own readers speak about your expertise,wisdom, etc. Pepper these quotes liberally. They’ll help new readers geta sense that your content is valuable, and encourage interaction.

Why not extend the medium, and create a value-add for your readers. Takeyour best posts, and use them to create a pdf e-book. Make it easy forreaders to print out your wisdom, wit, and insight, and take it withthem. This will also help build the sense of reciprocity your readerswill feel towards you . You’ll also have something to promote. This can actas a keystone for a new traffic building exercise.

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