One of my all-time favorite movie quotes is “the irony is so thick you can choke on it.”
It’s from the movie “In the Line of Fire” starring Clint Eastwood and John Malkovich. John Malkovich (one of my favorite actors) utters the line to Clint Eastwood when discussing assassinating the President of the United States. Read the dialogue here (if you care).
Down to business.
Seconds after I clicked “send” for the last one, it occurred to me that I came up with those topics because they are topics I would want to read on a blog like Fatstacks.
I wish more blogs in the space suggested interesting approaches to coming up with content (other than KW research, which I like and do but there are other approaches).
And so it’s fitting to add yet another approach to coming up with content ideas which is “write on topics that you would want to read about in the niche”.
The irony is so thick you can choke on it. Okay, not really but it is ironic.
I’m assuming if you’re tackling a niche you know something about it and/or have a slight interest in it (if not, then this email doesn’t apply to you).
As an aside, you don’t have to like, care or know anything about a niche you tackle. Hiring knowledgeable writers handle that. Do you think the CEO of Heart publications is interested in all topics and niches covered by all Hearst publications? Probably not.
But many of us are not funded like Hearst and so we get started in a niche that we know something about and/or have an interest in.
Which makes this blog post apply to you.
Instead of looking for content ideas, ask yourself “what topics would I like to learn more about? What topics would I read?”
If you can’t come up with something, visit some of the bigger sites in your niche and see what topics you tend to click into to read.
I do this all the time.
Other than the news sites I read daily, I usually pay attention to what I read online for inspiration as well as getting monetization ideas. While it’s combining work with pleasure, I can’t turn the analysis off. I actually enjoy it and have come up with many great ideas for my sites simply by reading other sites in the niche.
I don’t analyze news sites because I don’t publish news. It’s not a model I’m interested in jumping into so when I read news, I truly check out of work (unless some super cool ad presents itself).
Many articles I write about for Fatstacks are based on info I would want to read. Because content is my product across my niche sites, it’s something I think about, research and am always seeking to learn more about. While not rocket science (which makes being a content publisher easy to get into), there are always ways to do it better.
I’m a big believer in striving to be unique as much as possible. Sure, you’ll cover topics that go head-to-head with other sites. You strive to do it better to stomp them in Search. However, coming up with unique topics that nobody else covers can help your site stand apart.
For example, I can get the cold-hard news from anywhere such as Reuters or some service that spits out facts daily. However, I prefer news publications with well-written and insightful editorials about the news. While the story itself is important, what attracts me as a reader is the angle and supplementary details added.
Recently I read a tragic story on the CNN website about a woman who was killed when a log fell on her. It turned out the log was pushed over a 75 foot cliff by two teenagers. The woman had 4 teenage kids. Tragic. Heartbreaking. Horrible. While the teenagers did something really stupid, they never intended to hurt anyone, yet they’re being charged with a crime because of a horrible outcome. Chucking a log off a cliff isn’t necessarily a crime in itself but becomes a possible crime if it hurts someone. It’s similar to speeding. If you speed and get caught, you get a ticket. If you speed, crash into someone and someone dies, you’re could be charged with a serious crime.
While the falling log story was something I wanted to read upon reading the headline, I appreciated the article all the more because the writer added a few paragraphs of other examples of such incidents where people tossed stuff off a cliff that hit someone below.
I can’t tell you why that interests me, but it does. Maybe it’s because I live close to the mountains where I bike and hike regularly. Perhaps it’s the legal conundrum of the situation.
What else interests me in the online publishing world?
SEO for publishers fascinates me mainly because without it I’m not in business. It’s integral to what I do. I’m not interested in building links or blackhat stuff, but I’m very interested in on-site SEO and any other strategies that work that follow Google’s TOS.
I’m also very interested these days in brand building. I haven’t talked too much about brand building because I haven’t knocked it out of the park yet. Building a big brand in the publishing space takes time. More and more of my publishing decisions revolves around whether it will build the brand. While this often coincides with SEO, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I publish content with no thought about search traffic and instead solely focus on whether it’s something that will resonate with the audience.
When one of my sites becomes a powerhouse brand (I’m not even sure how to assess that), I’ll definitely write about brand building more. My biggest niche site is on the way. The name is searched over 1,000 times per month according to Ahrefs. Direct traffic is decent. While not a household name, it’s gaining a foothold in the niche.
Interestingly, Fat Stacks is probably my strongest brand by recognition within a niche (and not all that prominent yet). Other influencers in the space have recommended it and link to it. The name is catchy and sticks out. I publish content and courses that nobody else covers. I recently started a podcast and videos for more exposure. In time, I endeavor to make it a major brand in the space but it takes time, plenty of unique content and consistent effort.
But I don’t want Fatstacks to be my only brand. I want my other sites to be a major brand that people seek out in droves. I’d love the sites’ names to be one of the highest search volume keywords. I’ve seen big brands with hundreds of thousands of searches per month. That’s cool. That’s the mark of a successful brand.
How do you get there?
One way to start is to publish content you would want to read. If you think it’s interesting, chances are other people will. More to the point, it’ll be good and unique. You’ll slowly get your site to stand apart and hopefully eclipse all other players in the niche.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes that’s “the best blogging email newsletter around.”
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.