Don’t Let Your Brand Hold Back Your Content

  • December 6, 2011 by Corbett Barr
  • 12 Comments

Welcome to another Think Traffic monthly report!

If you’re new here, this is where we explain exactly what we did to grow this site over the past month and reflect on things you can do to build your own audience online.

This month I want to talk about one of the most important mindsets you can adopt when building a content-based site (like a blog, YouTube channel, etc.).

I talk with new entrepreneurs every week about their businesses. Most are at the point where they haven’t discovered their “secret sauce” yet. They don’t know exactly what makes their business stand out, and why people should really care about the content they produce.

In cases like these, there’s usually an unfortunate similarity. It’s unfortunate because it holds these entrepreneurs back, but it’s actually an easy thing to break through, with the right mindset.

These content producers decided on a brand for their site early on, and selected a topic. For this example, let’s say an entrepreneur in the making decided to set up a blog about health and wellness, and that they further focused that blog on how herbs can help with health and wellness.

In this example, the blogger decided that their mission was to help people understand how herbs can help with various health and wellness issues.

The problem with this (and other scenarios like this in various niches) is that this value proposition is weak. It’s too similar to other value propositions that exist already (I guarantee that thousands of blogs already exist on similar topics).

The value proposition is also weak because it doesn’t address the underlying problems, needs or desires that the potential audience is wrestling with. It doesn’t get people fired up.

“Herbs” maybe interesting to people who are familiar with them already, but unless you’re trying to attract massive search traffic, you won’t connect with people deeply enough with a topic like that to keep them coming back (and to share your site with other people).

Instead, you need to think about the underlying issues. If you’re talking about health, people have SERIOUS life-threatening issues, and SERIOUS problems with depression, anxiety, addiction, weight, disease and health conditions. People are fat, sick and nearly dead.

There are countless issues you could address, and there is advice and information you could be providing to dramatically change people’s lives for the better.

You could be serving impressive gourmet cuisine, but you’re serving nursing home mashed potatoes and chicken.

In this example, you shouldn’t be focused on herbs (one solution), you should be focused on the underlying problem, regardless of the solution.

Here’s the problem I see many bloggers get trapped in. They start out with a narrow topic in mind (because they heard “niching down” is a good idea). Choosing a specific niche can be a good thing, but only if you’re prepared to address that very specific niche day-in and day-out until you’re recognized as an expert by the market and by Google.

Unfortunately, most people give up long before that.

Instead of boxing yourself in to that topic, even though you don’t have the stamina or interest to really make it happen, you should give yourself the freedom to explore every nook and cranny of your mind, your interests and your audience’s problems, needs and desires (regardless of how related they are to the narrow topic you chose).

This experimentation will lead to breakthroughs. If you don’t experiment, you’ll continue down the same boring path, second-guessing yourself and producing uninspiring content that doesn’t hook anyone.

Don’t box yourself in, especially in the beginning.

You should let your content inform your branding, instead of letting your branding dictate your content. If you experiment enough and challenge yourself to write the things that scare you and make you uncomfortable, you’ll make breakthroughs. When you find those sparks in your content, you can use that to refine your branding and run in that direction.

Don’t hold back. Try writing a rant, try writing about what you see is wrong with the world, try writing for the audience you really want. Don’t be afraid to push boundaries.

You might turn some people off, but you’ll equally turn other people on. That’s how you create true fans instead of lukewarm visitors.

Alright, enough of this little rant. If you have questions feel free to ask in the comments below. I’m happy to answer as always.

Back to the monthly report for Think Traffic.

What went on here in November?

Last month we launched our new site Expert Enough. We already covered the launch, and are very happy with the results.

We saw 32,441 visits this month (versus 34,640 last month). There was a slight decline in this month’s traffic to TT, but if you look at the launch of Expert Enough (our case study site for the MDBP) we had over 54,000 visits to our two sites in November. Sometimes taking on a big project is the best way to broaden your reach online.

Now, let’s talk about some stats for the month.

This Month’s Traffic and Growth Statistics

Here are some other stats for last month:

  • New Comments: 416
  • Re-tweets of New Posts: 381 
  • New Subscribers: 430

12 total posts were published last month (vs. 10 in the prior month), including 5 guest posts:

Thanks to Danny, Tom, Jason, and Jon for the guest posts last month.

Have you enjoyed the guest posts and interviews we’ve published lately? If there are any special guests you’d like us to interview or ask to write for Think Traffic, we’d love to hear it in the comments.

Top Traffic Sources

Search traffic topped 10k visitors for the second month in a row. We don’t focus on SEO here, and I don’t recommend beginning bloggers worry about SEO, other than to maybe optimize post titles for popular keywords.

Search optimization goals are often at odds with your other goals of reader engagement and appealing to a social media crowd.

Top Search Terms:

  • think traffic: 446
  • unique selling proposition: 445
  • personal introduction: 309
  • thinktraffic: 303
  • sales pitch: 277
  • unique selling point examples: 151
  • unique selling proposition examples: 129
  • unique selling proposition example: 110
  • million dollar blog project: 101
  • best sales pitch: 82

Top Content

Check this out. 5 of the top 9 posts/pages (not including the home page) are posts that were published in previous months. That’s what’s known as pillar content (epic shit, if you will). Put in the effort, and your content can bring in new visitors for months to come.

What Can We Help With?

If you have questions about our strategies, or something you’re working on for your own site, we’re always happy to answer.

Just ask in the comments below.

Thanks as always for reading! We appreciate it and are so thankful for the relationships we’ve built here over the past 20 months.

I wrote a post over at my other site yesterday that I would love your comments on as well. If you have a minute, stop by to let me know if you think marketing is the scourge of the internet.

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.


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jonknep December 6, 2011 at 5:59 am

Loving the report as usual Corbett, especially the introduction. What example would you pick as you’re biggest success (either personal or promotional) in terms of breaking that mindset?

Sarah Russell December 6, 2011 at 6:21 am

This is incredibly timely for me, as it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I know I haven’t quite got the details right about my site’s mission or value proposition yet, but it’s something I’m working on. I have a lot of ideas about how to improve things and am looking forward to trying them out over the next year.

Cross your fingers for me!

Cristina Ansbjerg December 6, 2011 at 8:06 am

Your blog is great Sarah. I cross fingers for you but you really don’t need it.
Looking forward to your new ideas!

Brian December 6, 2011 at 6:40 am

I’ve had a similar experience with my blog. I started out with thinking quite a lot about the direction I wanted to take it. But I didn’t enjoy writing posts and found the whole process rather frustrating.

About a week ago I switched to just publishing a post every day without much planning and editing on whatever I’d feel like writing about. I enjoy writing about ten times as much now and it actually comes really easy.

Having a brand is great, but for me I found that worrying about brand and how my posts would ‘fit in’ that brand was a HUGE block.

Michelle (The IM Koala) December 6, 2011 at 6:50 am

What if you have the opposite problem? I’m just now starting a site about an issue which underlies a bunch of medical conditions – so many that the research is only just beginning to prove all the connections. While the site will be a great help to folks who already know what their underlying issue is, how would you suggest helping others come to the same realization? Is it a simple matter of outreach? Or do you believe it could be better addressed via something other than the standard guest posting/forum haunting/blog commenting routes?

Michael December 6, 2011 at 7:09 am

Hi Corbett,

Everything shared was on point, especially the SEO part.

When I got started, everyone kept ramming “optimize each post” and I believe that severly limited the effectiveness of my content in the beginning.

Its clear to me from everything I’ve read hear now for over a year that the key to building a thriving audience is to write epic shit people care about.

And my site’s reluanch is going to reflect that from the first new post!

Cassie | womenswaytowealth December 6, 2011 at 7:10 am

Thanks for another great article. Finding the “secret sauce” is hard and something that takes a lot of thought and understanding of your market. I’m still refining mine and can see why people give up.

Some of the best advice I’ve had is to start coaching people in your target market to really understand their problems and challenges. Sometimes it’s not obvious what your market needs, despite what we think. We have to leave our opinions and assumptions to one side and really listen.

I’m already finding trends in my market that are surprising. I’m in the home business, make money from home niche, very competitive. One of the biggest issues I’m seeing already is fear. Fear that stops people from getting started, or being afraid of putting themselves out there on social media. Never mind posting a ranting blog post!!! (Which by the way I think is a great suggestion for turning lukewarm visitors to loyal readers. I’m going to find something to rant about and see what happens).

Thanks.

Tushar Agarwal December 6, 2011 at 9:13 am

I always live reading traffic reports from other bloggers and compare them with my blog. You certainly have nice traffic to your blog. keep up the good work

Extreme John December 8, 2011 at 3:58 am

I enjoy writing but to me the passion is not enough without putting efforts into it. I totally agree with writing everything that you think is worth writing and never holding back. Sometimes, I even write about my personal life experiences that can help others to learn from. And I love the figures too. Very impressive. Congratulations and keep up the great work.

Ocha December 8, 2011 at 5:08 am

I think the writing a rant ideas is one of the best. It seems people are always listening to those on the soap box in some form or fashion.

Madeleine | Age Myths December 10, 2011 at 9:50 am

There’s some terrific advice here, Corbett. I particularly agree with
1. “…let[ting] your content inform your branding, instead of letting your branding dictate your content.” and
2. “Don’t hold back. Try writing a rant, try writing about what you see is wrong with the world….Don’t be afraid to push boundaries.”

My experience in writing about health and healthcare among other aging-related topics is that there’s no way I could do it in the current political climate without some ranting. By that, I don’t mean making ignorant, mean-spirited statements but giving a respectful rebuttal to some of what’s being done or contemplated these days,

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