Sometimes at GBW we get people that want to start a blog because their competitors have launched blogs.
In some cases, a competitor launched a blog a year or more ago and now the blog is doing really well. They’re getting all kinds of social shares, comments and other engagement with the posts.
This is tough for a business because you’re looking at your competition and you figure they’re getting new clients because of their efforts. But you’re not really sure how to respond because you’ve never blogged before.
And you don’t just want to write the same posts they’re writing.
It can be a challenge especially if you’re in an industry with a lot of blogs, but there is always opportunity for unique and better content.
Here are the steps you can take to launch a blog that is better than the competition even if they’re already doing something pretty good.
Step 1: Research Your Target Audience And Industry
You might think that you would start by researching what the competition is doing, but a good content strategy begins with an understanding of your target audience and the industry you’re in.
Create a profile for your target reader, which is almost always your target customer. Give them a name. Give them a photo. Then list out a description including the things they like to do and the content they like to read. This is a good practice for your business in general. When I worked in the catalog industry we would do this for each catalog. It worked then and it works for blogging and content.
Search Google and forums like Quora to find the questions your target audience is asking relative to your industry. We like to find questions people are asking because we can answer those questions with a really good blog post. This approach addresses specific needs and it earns trust. You’re helping people by giving them answers and that earns their trust and usually earns their business.
Step 2: Research The Competition
Now you can research the competition. This is where it can actually be a good thing if there are a lot of blogs in your industry. Look at the blogs and see what content has the most engagement. A lot of blogs share the social sharing information at the top or bottom of the posts. When you see a lot of shares it’s usually a sign that readers find that post engaging.
But also look at the relevance of the post. You want to cover topics that are relevant to your industry.
For example, a plumbing business could write a post about the 10 Craziest Shark Attacks and it could get a lot of shares, but it’s not relevant to their industry. They would be better off writing something like 10 Craziest Places To Put A Toilet or 10 Details That Can Really Make Your Bathroom Special.
Step 3: Prioritize Content Ideas
After you’ve done research on these two areas you’ll have a list of potential ideas. Prioritize the list using your experience and knowledge of the industry. Put the most common questions at the top along with topics you feel your target reader wants to know about the most.
Then go through each of the items and see if the competition has addressed it. If they have you’ll have you work cut out for you because you’ll have to create something that is better than what they’ve published.
Just because your competition has a popular post on a hot topic in the industry doesn’t mean you should cover something else. Your audience clearly has an interest in the subject. You can cover it and earn their attention, but the only way to do that is to make something incredible.
If you’re in the plumbing business and your competition has a successful post about how to install a bathroom sink you have to find a way to do it better. They might have easy to follow steps, but only with text. You can take it to the next level with more detail, more images and maybe even a video to go along with the content.
Step 4: Setup A Content Schedule
Now take your ideas and put them in a simple content schedule. We use schedules for every client at GBW. You might think you can commit to blogging once a month, but putting it on a schedule really keeps you honest.
A schedule also makes it easier to write the posts for whoever will be doing the writing. You’ve already done the research and work to fill in the titles and topics. The writer can take that and do the research and writing.
You don’t necessarily need to follow the same schedule as your competition. They might publish every week, but if you don’t think you can then don’t push yourself. Focus instead on doing one really great post every month. That can work just as well.
Or you could go for more posts if you feel you can. It can be an advantage you have over the competition.
Step 5: Assign Roles For Creating And Promoting Content
Finally, assign the role for the person creating and sharing the content. If you have people in-house that can handle things then let them know they’re new job. Setup times to check-in with them to review the content and to see what’s working and what could be improved upon.
Also assign someone to do the promoting. It could be the same person, but it’s another job itself so you might need another person to handle it.
These are the steps you can take to make your blog better than the competition. It’s not enough to just write a few posts to give blogging a shot. You have to do the research upfront and from there setup a schedule with the idea that you’re going to create better content.
This approach can work. We’ve done all these steps with our clients at GBW that are in competitive blogging landscapes. You can use their popular content to develop better content. And as you get into the blogging you can look at what’s successful on your site and adapt to the point where you’re developing your own topics.