The future of ryanwelton.com, aka: Using data to decide what to blog about

Anybody who knows me knows that I love the digital game. I love the process of creating content, promoting it and growing something from nothing to a lot. In this post, I want to talk about my current efforts and the notion of going wide versus deep.

First, I’ve been posting pretty much everything I do to ryanwelton.com. I have been posting sports columns and recipes, travel photos and personal essays. This is what’s known as going wide, touching many bases in hopes of growing as broad of an audience as possible. This strategy looks for quantity of audience and not necessarily quality. Where that can be valuable is when your business is judged by quantity of people, such as in TV. Sure, there are some demographics that are preferred to others, but at the end of the day, Station A wants to have more people watching than Station B.

The problem with this strategy is that you get a whole bunch of people one day and a whole bunch of people the next, and it’s possible that the first audience and the second are completely different. The people who sampled your product on the first day didn’t come back the second. In my case, the people who read by Oklahoma Sooners blog posts probably didn’t come back when I posted my potato soup recipe — and vice-versa.

At the point where you want to turn visitors into repeat content customers, you have to go deep.

In the news world, that might mean delving deep into a topic such as education, health or politics. Many local TV news stations have a “consumer beat” where the reporter works to right wrongs in the community. That type of deeper coverage can prompt a consumer to come back night after night. In the blog world, this strategy is all about the niche — and niche content and niche marketing are super powerful these days because people have proven to be willing to come back time after time when a topic interests them.

I’m also a YouTuber (http://www.youtube.com/ryanweltonmusic), and creators who teach YouTube channel growth are pretty adamant about only going deep. I heard one self-proclaimed expert say that there are no “variety shows” on YouTube.

Go deep or go home.

Going deep means longer posts. Higher-quality information. Varied types of content, e.g., written word, video and audio.

However, you have to be satisfied with having a smaller audience, reminding yourself that what you really have is the “right audience.” If you’re doing anything like Ad Sense or Amazon Associates affiliate marketing, a niche audience has a higher likelihood of moving the needle than a broad audience.

Why? Because you’re dependent upon each and every blog to convert.

Going deep allows you to suck the user into a rabbit hole of sorts, which translates into an appreciation from the reader and a higher chance of conversion.

Believe it or not, many content trends in 2018 are headed back to 2008. Take email for example: Gathering emails from your readers is probably the most important thing you can do from a marketing perspective because, if they opt-in to receiving a newsletter, you can use that to induce all sorts of sales opportunities.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never solicited email addresses because that’s not ever been my style. It makes me uneasy to do that. However, I should if I ever want to turn a blog into something that makes money.

And let’s talk about that for a second because the reality is you have to be selling something that is super-high-dollar or creating your own product to expect to make much of anything. I’m a musician; perhaps I could move some Korg keyboards through my site.

Not likely.

If I had just kept my original ryanwelton.com around from the early 2000s, who knows where I could have taken it. I used to write about American Idol and Big Brother and other reality shows, and I was getting terrific traffic.

ryanwelton-2008

Since restarting my site, the growth has been slow although it really jumped right about the time Mom died and I penned the tribute to her. That gave me some momentum, and you need that. Here’s a look at my stats for this year so far per month:

blog-stats-2018

However, what that chart doesn’t show you is that I only get decent engagement when I write about certain topics such as food, travel and health. My posts about the Oklahoma Sooners or Cleveland Browns only get consumed; nobody follows, comments or reacts.

This is key.

People are much more willing to follow a blog if it’s about a single topic of interest to them. Although food, travel and health are different topics, they do fall generally under lifestyle — and when the information comes from a certain demo, such as a man approaching 50, it has the potential to attract a certain audience.

So, if you’re interested in starting a blog, how do you choose a topic? You do keyword research, and my current favorite tool for keyword research is Keywords Everywhere. What you want to do is import some keywords for topics you’re interested in and see what the monthly average search volume is like.

keywords-everywhere-2

Ideally, you want to blog about a topic that somebody searches for, and you don’t want it to be so competitive that you’d never be able to break through the noise. There is a sweet spot to be had, and a tool like Keywords Everywhere can help you feel it out. It’s a process that I’ve gone through the past couple of nights in fact in hopes of moving away from a ryanwelton.com blog that is about everything.

Because when your blog is truly about everything, then it’s about nothing.

Focus is needed.

I narrowed my search somewhat based on search volume and competition stats. Keywords Everywhere measures a keyword phrase on a scale of 0 to 1 based on how aggressively advertisers pursue it. You’ll notice here that for whatever reason, the term “Cleveland Browns” gets ridiculous search volume but is also wide-open competitively. Based on what I see here, a person could break through on that term.

keywords-everywhere-3

However, more goes into it than this. Do I really want to start and cultivate an entire blog about the Cleveland Browns? I mean, really, the reason all of us Okies are such fans of the team now is because of the great Baker Reagan Mayfield.

I’m truly all-in at this point, but it’s possible I get bored at some point down the road. Alas, the thing that makes us love Mayfield so much is that he was a great Sooner — and that’s why I’m reviving thenormanfiles.com, which was a hyper-local blog of sorts that I tried to get going back in 2013, soon after I left KOCO.

Take a look at these keyword stats below:

keywords-everywhere-4

That indicates to me that there is enough global search volume between the Oklahoma Sooners, the Oklahoma City Thunder, Oklahoma basketball, football and even the Oklahoma City Dodgers to make thenormanfiles.com a worthwhile-go as a sports-centric blog on topics that would be of interest to people in Oklahoma.

But what else?

I already have beamediacompany,com, where I write about digital communications, social media and trends in the industry as it relates to 21st Century public relations and corporate communications. A post like this one here would ideally go there.

I’ve also revived my 80s music blog, but with a new URL: http://www.1980s.blog. Before I solidified the dot-blog top-level domain, I did some Google SEO research to see how Mother Google felt about non-dot-coms as TLDs — and what I found is that they don’t really care.

It’s the content, stupid.

And my thought was that in a mobile world, it’s about URL length, so 1980s.blog as a domain name really appealed to me.

I also have outandaboutokc.com as a blog that Kristi and I have talked about working on together with a focus on what businesses have available for families, for example: play areas and kids menus, vegetarian options and parking situations.

Just tonight I created two more: bunnygap.com and crazyforcaps.com. The former is a reference to the phrase, “The Rabbit Hole,” except that on this blog, I’d take the reader simply down a li’l bunny gap, not the full-on rabbit hole. I’ll write about YouTube and audio, movies and TV. It’s basically a pop culture site.

The latter is a site that would capture my obsession with baseball caps, and not just caps from baseball teams but all kinds of caps and, really, hats. Let’s go back to the keyword analysis here:

keywords-everywhere-3

Notice that both the term “baseball cap” and cap(s) are scored as ‘1’s. There is decent search volume for both, but advertisers attack it hard, which means that a person would have to really stand out — and my thought is that I could do that by taking a “Uni-Watch” approach to headwear, especially as it pertains to sports teams.

Boy, that sounds like a lot of work, right?

Well, one does have to create opportunities for efficiencies, and I study the subject pretty religiously. Plus, I’ve always been one to let the data drive the bus, meaning that if one of the sites really took off, there I’d focus.

All of this serves as a scratch to the itch that is for me ‘mass communication’ through digital. Well before social media came along, I preferred the blog. As I develop each of these new ones and re-tinker with the old ones, I’m going to have to think long and hard about social amplification.

  • Do I need separate Facebook and Twitter sites for each of these?
  • Or do I use the blogs to build more of an audience for my own Facebook and Twitter pages?
  • This doesn’t even consider Linked In, where a post like this must definitely live!

The tactical strategy end of this should never trump the formula that will never steer you wrong, and that’s to serve an audience. If you’re going to write about 80s music, make sure it goes deep and appeals to the geekiest of the geeky 80s children. And if you’re going to write about digital strategy or ball caps, delve into as much detail as you can, either taking the consumer down the proverbial rabbit hole or giving them something they can take away and use for real.

You might get a reaction, a comment or a new follower.

And that’s when going deep can help you build that big audience to which you can communicate wide. If any of these blogs in particular will be of interest to you, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Appreciate you reading!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.