James Johnson Exposes Stuart Walker On His Own Blog

Filed in Blogging, Case Studies by on October 1, 2015

Today I have a special opportunity:

I get to expose Stuart Walker on his own blog.

That’s right.

For this post I’ve taken control of Nichehacks.

And I’m going to show him how the site should be run.

Okay, maybe I should explain:

Last month I wrote a post about how I saved a dying blog. And turned it back into a profitable, lead generation tool.

And Stuart asked me if I could run the same assessment for Nichehacks.

So he can see what he’s been missing and how to improve the blog.

Which, you’ve got to admit, takes balls to do, doesn’t it?

He’s let me into the deepest, darkest reaches of the site and given me permission to expose everything.

Here’s the results…

(See how to find your niche for blogging)

 

What You’ll Learn

This isn’t the longest post I’ve ever written. But, it’s one of the best. I’ve done a full analysis and got lots of points that Stuart can improve the blog with.

Everything in this article can be done by you as well.

So if you want to improve your own blog, you can copy and paste any of these techniques for yourself.

But here’s what you should take from this article:

  • The one thing Stuart has got wrong about social media for years
  • The most obvious type of content Nichehacks has been missing
  • Just who our ideal reader is (and why you should care)

Ready? Good.

Let’s take a look at where Nichehacks is right now, then…

 

(P.S. If you'd like to download a free checklist of 31 blog traffic secrets click here or the image below)

 

Where Is Nichehacks Right Now?

Before you know where Nichehacks needs to be, it’s important to know where it is right now.

That way the whole analysis makes more sense. Because you have a point of reference that tells you where you’ve worked from.

This part of the process itself can teach you a lot about your site. What you’re doing right, and what you’re doing wrong. What works and, well…what doesn’t.

So let’s look at the vitals of Nichehacks over the last 50 articles.

 

craigdavis

"We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in"

- Craig Davis 

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Average Shares Per Post

This stat is super low. Especially for a site in the Internet Marketing niche.

Where, as you know, people love to share content.

Over the last 50 articles, each article has only managed an average of 94 shares:

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 12.59.38

 

And while 4,707 might look like an attractive number, it’s not that great. Why?

Because we know Stuart has a mailing list of over 6,000 people from his yearly review. Which by now is a lot closer to that 10,000 mark.

So even if nobody has joined his mailing list since, it shows something vital:

Per article, only 1.5% of his mailing list is sharing.

So there is a lot of room for improvement here.

 

 

Most Shared Network

Facebook is our most shared social network; followed by Twitter in a close second.

What I do find interesting here is the lack of shares on LinkedIn per article. Only an average of five shares per article.

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 12.55.03

 

This could come down to the end user – more on that later – but a lot of Internet Marketers use LinkedIn to share articles.

 

Most Shared Content Type

This is a useful nugget of information.

While common thinking would tell you that list articles would be the most shared content, Nichehacks readers share more of our How To's and Tutorials. But, more on that later.

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 12.55.10

 

 

Best Days To Publish

 This is a need to know statistic for any site.

And for NicheHacks, if you want shares, it’s better to publish on a Thursday or Saturday:

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 12.55.22

 

You can also use this statistic to understand when you need to post your content to social media, too.

For example, setting a Buffer Schedule to promote your content on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, you could reach a lot more people.

 

Most Shared Content Length

As a writer this is my favourite statistic.

Currently, Nichehacks most shared content length is 3,000 – 10,000 words:

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 12.55.31

 

But after a closer, manual inspection, that’s down to 2,500 – 5,000 words (on average).

Another nice to know stat here is that the average reading level of a Nichehacks post is Grade 8.

 

 Top 10 Shared Articles

And, here’s the list of the most shared articles on Nichehacks. I ranked #8, woo!

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 12.55.42

 

But, I would like to make a point here:

The top two posts are outliers. They don’t really count.

Why?

Take the most shared post on that list. There are 56 experts on that list. All with their own audiences.

If they all shared it to their audience, and got an average of 10 shares each, that would be 560 of those shares accounted for.

And you’re thinking, “So what?”

That’s who whole point of an article going viral, isn’t it? People who don’t know you, sharing it to people who don’t know you.

But the key difference here is that this article was set up to get shared. The odds were stacked in its favour.

What you want instead is an article that is written for your audience, and shared by hundreds (or thousands) of people organically, without being weighted in its favour.

 

(P.S. If you'd like to download a free checklist of 31 blog traffic secrets click here or the image below)

 

What All Of That Means

Simple.

If the Nichehacks approach needed refining, there’s a lot of data to go on here. Stuart could easily improve all of the content just using that information.

But instead, it’s going to serve as a baseline.

So we can compare all of Nichehacks competitors, readers and sharers against this information. Then we can see where we need to improve, and where we’re doing things well.

Let’s start looking at how Stuart can improve Nichehacks, based on the data out there, then…

 

Phase #1: Who The Hell Reads Nichehacks?

Here’s an interesting fact I’m sure Stuart won’t mind me sharing:

In the whole year I’ve written here, he’s never mentioned a target reader.

I think we’ve always had an idea of who reads the blog. But, nothing specific.

The first phase of this process, then, is to look at who the hell actually reads Nichehacks.

To figure that out I’m going to use that lovely top 10 list of articles you just saw.

Note: If you want to learn how to follow this process for yourself, check out this article.

 

 

shareasimage (38)

 

 

Finding Your Ideal Reader

I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel or show anyone up here. In fact, I want to do the opposite.

I want to know who exactly reads the blog. There’s no right or wrong here.

So, I analysed the 10 most shared posts from the site in BuzzSumo. I looked at the sharers, and made notes on their:

  • Job
  • Gender
  • Location

But I hit a little snag in this. Because the Nichehacks twitter presences isn’t huge, there wasn’t a whole load of data on this.

Some articles had rich data. Others had nothing at all.

Which meant I had to do a lot of digging into the Nichehacks private mastermind group and from the Facebook page.

For these bits I looked manually at sharers, and people’s Facebook Profiles, to see what information I could gather.

Now this might sound a little vague. But, watch as it unfolds…

 

Their Job

Why am I interested in their job?

Because people share content that helps them in their every day life. And, they want to read content that helps them progress.

For example, if our ideal reader was mostly Freelancers, that would change the whole dynamic of the site. Seeing as it’s geared towards Entrepreneurs at the moment.

And, if there turned out to be a big demographic who were Social Media Managers, it shows another area of content that’s been neglected.

So, here’s what I found:

  • The majority of sharers are digital marketers: But they don’t claim to run their own sites. In fact, a lot of them work in house for another company. They’re just here to see how they can grease the wheels in their place of work.
  • But, there are a lot of Niche Marketers: The majority are entry level. Some work multiple jobs and have this as their ‘side hustle’. But, for the most part, they’re finding their feet. There aren’t many who would consider themselves experts.
  • Bloggers are here, but not for the reason you’d think: Most bloggers who read Nichehacks using blogging to promote their business. Instead of building a business around a blog.

Already having this information opens up a lot more content options. But, let’s keep digging deeper.

 

Their Gender

Knowing the gender of a reader fascinates me. Because it can impact so much of your content.

From the topics you write about, to the tone of voice you use. Everything can be affected by it.

So what gender are the Nichehacks audience, and what does it mean for us?

 

The Engaged Audience Is Mostly Male

From blog comments. Facebook comments. And, Twitter shares.

Men shared and contributed more than women.

In terms of creating a persona, it’s important to know this. Because it means that you need to assume, for the most part, that your reader is a man.

Sorry, ladies.

 

 

dougkessler"Traditional marketing talks at people. Content marketing talks with them."

- Doug Kessler 

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Their Location

When you’re making money on the Internet, location doesn’t matter too much. People can buy your e-products from anywhere.

But it does matter when you’re creating content.

Look at it this way:

  • If there is a large portion of your audience that speaks English as a second language, then you need to cater to that
  • You can provide higher value content by offering local alternatives
  • You could discover a sales market in a whole new location

If they aren’t good enough reasons to pay attention to location, I don’t know what is.

I found that the Nichehacks audience is mostly in three locations:

  • United States: America, baby. Standard for the Internet.
  • India: Big population. Big interest in Internet Marketing. Chance to make a lot of money relative to their currency.
  • SE Asia: Similar situation to India.

To me, that means that the information NicheHacks needs to be as accessible as possible. That is, that the reading level of posts, and readability of the posts needs a lot of focus.

As the average reader on reads 45% of a post right now, this could keep a lot more people on page.

 

Your End Reader

Let’s call him Phillip.

Here’s Phillip, in a nutshell:

  • He’s a digital marketer, who runs a Niche Site on the side
  • He likes blogging. But only in addition to his niche site
  • He’s a male. Because he’s called Phillip.
  • While he has a good reading level, he likes clear, crisp articles with lots of images, that are easy to decipher.
  • He’s also interested in Indian or Asian alternatives, if they’re available.

See how that slightly vague line up becomes something concrete? Now we’re cooking with gas.

Now, let’s find out who the NicheHacks competitors are…

 

Phase #2: What Else Are They Reading?

Your competition is not the enemy.

In fact, they’re a great way to learn about your own content.

Because if your audience is reading them, they’re doing something right. And there are more people out there who think the same way.

So for phase two I needed to narrow down just who else our audience reads from.

Which I did.

And here they are…

 

 

shareasimage (39)

 

 

Nichehacks Top 5 Competitors

 Here are the top five blogs competing for the same space as NicheHacks, in order:

  1. Neil Patel / Quick Sprout
  2. Jeff Bullas
  3. Social Media Examiner
  4. Buffer
  5. KissMetrics

This is all based on content that our readers share over and over again. These blogs all came up 20+ times in my analysis.

Now, I know you’re thinking, “So what? What happens now?”

Good question.

It’s time to look at what they do well, and what Nichehacks should be doing, to reach more of their audience.

 

Phase #3: The Bit Where You Steal Stuff

At the start of this article I did a little analysis of Nichehacks and the content we product right now.

 This time, I’m going to do this for all of our competitors.

But don’t worry; I’m not going to write out each one.

I wouldn’t want to bore you to death.

Instead I’m going to give you the highlights and explain what they mean for Stuart and the team at the end of it.

Competitor Content Analysis

Right now, I’m looking for elements we have control over.

Like:

  • Word count
  • Social media platform
  • Style of post
  • Topics to cover

All based on the information from each competitor.

 

Word Count

There’s a long history in writing that long copy does better than short copy.

And that’s true here, too:

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 17.46.21

 

Here are the most shared content lengths from each site:

  1. Quick Sprout: 3,000 – 10,000 words
  2. Jeff Bullas: 2,000 – 3,000 words
  3. Social Media Examiner: 3,000 – 10,000 words
  4. Buffer: 2,000 – 3,000 words
  5. KissMetrics: 2,000 – 3,000 words

That means that any post under 2,000 words isn’t worth having on the Nichehacks blog.

Because, statistically, it isn’t going to get a lot of shares.

Most of the posts we run should be 2,000 to 3,000 words.

And, if an article needs it, you have the space to move up to 5,000 – 6,000 words comfortably. Especially if they’re in a more readable English.

Nichehacks is sort of in that range right now.

But adding a minimum and a maximum range could make a big difference.

 

 

Social Media Platform

There was one startling fact that came from all of this analysis:

People are getting far more shares on Twitter than anywhere else.

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 17.59.14 

 

And this is true for all of the competitors.

Now, Nichehacks has quite a poor Twitter presence. Facebook for us is far better. So it could be time to develop a more tweet-friendly strategy.

 

Style Of Post

Okay, now you’re starting to get a clearer picture of what Nichehacks needs.

And this style of post review is an interesting one.

Because, it seems all of our competitors get most of their shares from List Posts. Unlike us, who get more from How To’s.

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 18.13.06

 

Now, you some marketers might think, “Well, our audiences are just a little bit different. No biggie”.

Not me.

That throws up three red flag in my eyes:

  1. We’re not using list posts to their full potential
  2. There could be something wrong with the list posts we write
  3. We haven’t written enough list posts in the last six months

Which one of those requires a little more investigation, and is beyond the scope of this article. But, if you do know, feel free to comment on it.

The second fact that came up was that two of our competitors had great success with Why posts. In fact, it was KissMetrics most shared style of article:

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-09-22 at 18.18.07

 

And that’s not something we’ve used at all at Nichehacks.

Articles like:

This could be a new style of post that we run with in the future.

 

 

shareasimage (40)

 

 

Topics To Cover

This is the content other audiences are hungry for, and that we could do with creating.

I’ve pooled this from common themes on:

  • Their top 10 ranked content of the last six months
  • Their evergreen content

That’s going to give us a solid idea of topics to cover in the future.

Here they are in no particular order:

  • The basics of SEO  (Learn about backlinks from here: 3 easy ways to get powerful backlinks without SEO)
  • Content creation (blog and social media)
  • Social media outreach and improvement
  • Psychology of sales and marketing
  • Pro tips, tricks and apps
  • Content marketing strategy

Again, this might seem a little vague or broad. But imaging the hundreds of articles that could spawn from that.

If I asked you to write down 10 headlines for each, you could come up with a years worth of content in a heartbeat.

 

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"Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue"

- Andrew Davis 

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Putting It All Together…

Okay, you’ve taken in a lot of information over the last few thousand words.

So if you’re still with me, you’ve done a great job.

But now it’s time to put together all of this information into one, easy to digest format, that Stuart can use for every post.

This is what I like to call his new content strategy. (Learn how I took 5 quick steps to revive a dying blog)

 So, here goes...

 

(P.S. If you'd like to download a free checklist of 31 blog traffic secrets click here or the image below)

 

 

Stuart’s New Content Strategy

The Nichehacks ideal reader is Phillip.

He’s a:

  • Digital Marketer by day
  • A niche site owner by night
  • He’s interested in blogging, but only if it grows his side business
  • He likes his articles in plain, accessible English
  • And he cares about topics in Indian, SE Asia and America
  • If he’s not reading Nichehacks, you can fin him at Quick Sprout, Buffer, KissMetrics, Jeff Bullas or Social Media Examiner

When it comes to his content tastes, he wants to read:

  • Articles that are 2,000 to 3,000 words
  • But can be as many as 10,000 if they really need to be
  • Content that he can share on Twitter to his followers
  • That is based on SEO, Content Creation or Content Marketing (variations above)
  • List Post, How To or Why Format headlines, because he likes to click and share those best

Phew!

Okay, so where does Stuart need to focus his time and effort most over the next few months?

Here’s a four step action plan to get started:

 

Step #1: Set A Post Minimum – Make sure all content is a minimum of 2,000 words. (Learn how to write a good blog post here)

Step #2: Explore List Posts – Think of new and exciting ways to create list posts. Find what sucks about them now, and improve it.

Step #3: Trail Why? Posts – They seem like a gaping hole in the content schedule right now.

Step #4: Build Twitter Presence – Click To Tweets don’t seem to be improving Twitter engagement. Research new ways to get more shares on that platform. Visual content would be a good place to start.

 

What Do You Think?

I’ve had my turn to bring a data focused point of view to improving the blog.

But, I want to give you the microphone for a second:

What do you think Stuart can improve?

 Let us know in the comments…

 

 

James Johnson
James is a Freelance Blogger from Manchester, England.

He specializes in the topics of blogging, growth hacking and content marketing.

You can read more topics from James by clicking on his name.

Comments (12)

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  1. Andy says:

    I really am not nice a lot... This was brilliant amazing in fact you should follow up on what tools you used to provide you with the data needed 🙂

  2. Kam says:

    man this was phenomenal. Really great to read how you analyzed all that data and developed a plan of action based on it. Bad ass.

  3. This is great man,
    You really did a very nice job here. I always wonder why Stuart don't usually get lots of shares on his posts even though every blog post published here are always superb.

    • NicheHacks says:

      To get shares you need to have a content promotion strategy in place and quite simply we don't at NicheHacks.

      When I first started I did a lot of manual outreach to get shares etc but it was so time consuming. I need to outsource it.

    • Hey Theodore,

      Yeah, the content here definitely deserves more attention and shares! But as Stuart just said, outreach is time consuming too.

      But, it's an essential part of the game.

  4. Sundu says:

    Reddit and Stumbleupon still works well for me when it comes to drive traffic for the niche sites.

  5. Malka says:

    This is a great case study!
    I like the way you broke down the elements of the blog and without sounding too technical gave a clear sense of what is and what can be. Great advise for bloggers!

  6. gavin says:

    Great post again, you guys kick ass period.. Im not here to only congratulate on your what is to me as a well oiled machine, I would like to write kick ass posts like you but how to produce 2000 - 10000 words posts a week and maybe two three more is incredible. How do I do that? meet you at the top.

  7. Scott says:

    Hi James,
    What a great analysis post of NicheHacks performance.You have done a top job of researching with stats that are a bit thin in places.Once my sites are mature enough I would love to do the same and get a really good look at my work.Don't be too hard on Stuart!
    Thanks for your hard work,Scott

  8. Emmanuel says:

    This is solid. Made note myself as I plan to relaunch my blog. I wil be coming over to this post to read again. Well done to everyone.