Archive for the ‘blogs’ Category

Dethroning the Internet Giants

Saturday, January 20th, 2007

On the net, there are several industries dominated by one major player. Some include video, search, books, social networks, auctions, and classifieds. If you are unaware of who the industry leader is in any of these categories, then you’re probably living under a rock. In any case, check your answers against my list:

These Internet powerhouses dominate their respective realms with little threat from the competition. Furthermore, in most cases, they’re surging even farther ahead of the competition as we speak.

So how do you dethrone these Internet kings? By slicing their product or service offering into verticals.

Chop, chop, chop. It’s the only way to compete. Any start-up looking to break into the above categories needs to carve out a niche and extract of subset of the larger player’s target market.

I touched on this concept a little bit in my post about the Evolution of a Hot Internet Space. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again and again and again… Verticals, fragmentation, and niches are what’s in store for the new web. Nobody can directly compete with the big guys right out off the gate. It’s certain death. But if they choose a smaller market, they can prosper.

Let’s look at potential niches within the big headings:

  • VIDEO - Vlogs, funny videos, news clips.
  • SEARCH - Product, forums, blogs.
  • BOOKS - Used, rare, comics.
  • SOCIAL NETWORKS - Age range, region, topic of interest.
  • AUCTIONS - Product type, region, auction type.
  • CLASSIFIEDS - By region… jobs, for rent.

As you can see, it’s easy break down the main categories into sub-groups. The hard part is creating a tailor-made service for the group.

An interesting point is focused around the marketing of the service. A generic offering is actually harder to market than a more specific service. Having ‘everyone’ as your target market is great, but doesn’t bode well for a marketing campaign.

Nowadays, blogs, blog communities, groups, forums, and niche interest sites are rampant. These make the task of marketing a targeted service much easier and more manageable. In addition, it’s also be much easier to locate and convert potential product evangelists and influencers.

So, next time someone says their target market is potentially everyone, tell them to grab a niche.

Choosing a Niche for Your Blog

Friday, January 19th, 2007

If you are thinking of starting a blog, you need to strategize. One of the first things you need to think about is your blog’s niche. This may also be the most important. You want to choose an area that you’re passionate about. This is vital as you will burn out very quickly if the topic is dry and boring. The content should excite you and spark your enthusiasm. In addition, you must possess a high level of knowledge in the given area. Writing above and beyond the education level of the average enthusiast in your realm is where you can add value with your blog.

So what constitutes a niche on the Internet? It’s definitely not the same as offline. In a given city, perhaps 300 people are hardcore poodle enthusiasts. On the Internet however, you may come across several hundred thousand.

In other words, you may think that a business blog is a niche topic. But that is far from the case. You need to drill down at least another level or two. Under the business heading, you may choose marketing. Below that, you may choose Internet marketing. Delving even further, search engine optimization (SEO) may be an appropriate blog niche.

You can either choose a niche with:

  • Large target market
  • High competition


  • Smaller target market
  • Lower competition

The latter choice is definitely the way to go. Though it may seem like posts will be hard to think up, once you get going they will start rolling. Furthermore, your reader base and users will likely be more loyal. Commenting and user participation is also more likely. Finally, if you choose to run ads, you can achieve a much higher CPM than a more generic blog.

And once you do choose a niche and begin to post, stick to your niche. Stay focused. Do not stray. Otherwise, your readers will become irritated and may ‘boycott’ your blog.

Just some food for thought for those thinking of starting a blog…

The Seduction of Acquisition News

Friday, January 12th, 2007

I don’t know about you, but every time I read the headline “Company A buys Company B”, I immediately and instinctively click on the link. For example, when I scanned over my RSS feeds and saw that eBay had acquired StubHub, I had to find out more.

There is nothing more exciting or news-worthy than a buy-out. But why are we so intrigued by acquisitions? Why do we immediately want to delve deeper into the news of a take-over? Well, there are several reasons…

  • People love reading about the success of the founders. Furthermore, people are extremely interested in how much money these entrepreneurs obtained from the deal. Everyone loves to see the underdog succeed. Others pull motivation from these success stories and visualize themselves achieving a similar fate. The ROI equation is always fascinating as well. For example… “The company only invested X thousand dollars and sold for Y millions dollars. That means they made Z times on their money!” It’s inspiring, refreshing, and enlightening.
  • Other people click on the acquisition news to find out more about what the take-over company plans to do with its new purchase.The most curious observers are usually users of the company that got acquired. Everyone is always interested in how the integration process will occur. In many cases, integration is non-existant and the take-over company lets the little guy develop on his own. Sounds like a web 2.0 mutual fund.

Sites like TechCrunch and GigaOM thrive off acquisition news. Not only are they usually the first to learn of such news, but they’re also usually able to provide exclusive details and in-depth analysis. These sources and distributors usually get bombarded not only with direct traffic, but also link-backs and trackbacks.

Now if only I could get these exclusives… I’d be able to provide sexy, tantalizing RSS feed headings…mmmmm…

MappingTheWeb Debuts at a PageRank 5

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

Google logoToday, MappingTheWeb debuted at a Google PageRank of 5. Patiently, I’ve waited until the Google algorithm re-adjusted. Up until today, the PageRank read 0. This didn’t sound reasonable. Nonetheless, this new iteration finally provided some clarity. Hopefully this will help drive more search traffic to the site and provide added exposure.

What does PageRank really mean to me?

PageRank paints a picture over time. An increase indicates a rising number of back-links (and vice versa). This also means that people are enjoying my content - this makes me happy. I am simply going to continue to write (what I hope to be) useful, interesting, and insightful content that readers can not only absorb, but respond to as well.

Thanks to all those who have linked to my page and enjoy the posts.


Why You SHOULDN’T Start a Blog?

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Blog iconI have read numerous books, articles, and posts stating why every person and company should have a blog. Obviously, I’m a huge advocate of blogs, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. I think they have a tremendous number of advantages and they’re a great way to get your message heard. However, every blog needs an underlying strategy and focus. Preparation and planning is key. There must be strong reasoning as to why anyone or any company would launch a blog. This vital communication tool cannot be abused or taken for granted.

I know there are many people out there thinking of starting a blog. Some may even be reading this post. Well, here are some things to consider before making the plunge. Here are the reasons you shouldn’t start a blog:

  • Fame and glory: If you have dreams and aspirations of becoming a top blogger known around the world, then you’ve got your priorities in the wrong place. The purpose of a blog isn’t to fulfill your personal needs, but rather the satisfaction of your readers. Therefore, write for them, not yourself. Blogging is a ‘journey’; becoming a top blogger is the ‘destination’. If you concentrate on the journey, the destination will take care of itself.
  • Regurgitate content: If you simply plan on re-publishing others’ content in your own words, don’t bother. Para-phrasing cannot carry a blog. With every post, you should be providing a unique voice and perspective. Re-hashing news and unoriginal content does not constitute the basis for a blog.
  • Personal diary: Ok, first let me re-phrase this. Don’t start a personal blog/diary if you want to acquire a large reader base. If you are simply looking to reach out to friends and family, then by all means do so. But… to be quite honest, if you want to generate a considerable amount of traffic, then do not blog about your personal life and your daily happenings. Nobody really cares. I am being truthful, rather than rude. Posting to a personal blog is like having baby pictures. Only you really care… and maybe a couple of friends and family members. But anyone who doesn’t know you will have a hard time relating. Instead, choose a niche topic that people can relate to on some level. The only people who can write a personal blog and gain massive readership are celebrities. Mark Cuban and Seth Godin are good examples, although even they blog mostly about universal topics.
  • Financial rewards: If you intend on making a lot of money with a blog (at least initially), then you will be unpleasantly surprised. Even some of the more popular blogs that display ads will only gross a couple hundred dollars a month. But don’t plan on even making that much for awhile. Monetary compensation should be considered a bonus.
  • Corporate marketing: Although a blog is a great place to discuss product features and announce news, do not cloud your messages with corporate hype. Blog readers are not naive individuals. They will instantly sniff out ill-intentioned material filled with marketing messages. Creating this type of content is not in your best interest. Injecting some level of optimism and enthusiasm is acceptable, but there is a fine line. Provide an objective perspective wherever possible.

Just some food for thought… 

Personally, I blog because I want to provide a new perspective on web trends and technology. Receiving feedback regarding how a blog post changed someone’s perception on a given topic or helped them in some way is what brings a smile to my face.