AskPat 144 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey what's up everybody, Pat Flynn here and welcome to AskPat. This is Episode 144. Thank you so much for joining me and spending time out of your day to listen to the show. And today's question is from Zane.
But before we get to that I also want to thank today's sponsor which is FreshBooks, the easy cloud-accounting solution that's helping millions of small business owners. I've used the software myself. It's amazing. It saves a lot of time. Just keeps things organized, especially come tax season. And if you are creating invoices for clients, for example, it' going to be extremely fast and helpful for that as well. You can try FreshBooks right now for free. Just go to GetFreshBooks.com and enter “Ask Pat” in the “How Did You Hear About Us” section for a free trial. Check it out.
Now let's get to today's question from Zane.
Zane: Hi Pat. My name is Zane, and I've been following your blog for a few years now. I've been struggling with a problem for over a year and it's paralyzed me. I started my own blog a few years ago, and in that time it's gained a respectable amount of authority and traction, with links from many other big sites and several thousands of visitors per month, even plenty of comments.
With a clean design and a fairly memorable name the problem is that it lacks a clear niche or focus. The site is called Life by Experimentation and the articles are basically anything that catches my interest, from sleep-hacking to language-learning. I am afraid that without a clear focus I cannot really grow my brand. Google and users both don't know exactly what to expect. And with general life tips I'll never be able to compete with big brands like Tim Ferriss or Lifehacker.
I think users stumble upon one article which they might like, but the nature of the site means that's a relatively isolated topic. A language learner probably doesn't care about my computer programming or sleep articles. How can I turn my site into something that really connects with users without abandoning the work I've already done and the interests that I have? Ideally, I'd like to start to be everywhere, incorporate a podcast and YouTube into my offering. But every idea I have seems to fragment my offering more instead of refining it. Thanks.
Pat Flynn: Zane, thank you so much for your question. I am at Life by Experimentation right now and I am looking at some of your articles. They look great, you are a great writer, they are very interesting. You are obviously putting a lot of time and effort into these experiments that you are doing. I think it's a fantastic concept. So I am going to talk about what you said about competing with Lifehacker and Time Ferriss in just a second, because I have some words and thoughts about that.
Let's break this down. You have this website. Thousands of visitors coming in, lots of engagement. I see some articles on here with eighty-one plus comments. And your assessment is probably right, where some people are coming to read one particular article and some of the other articles on your site may not necessarily be helpful for them. And you are worried that this lack of focus is going to sort of drag the site down in terms of really providing value to the people coming to your site. I get that. It's a legitimate concern, definitely.
But I think if you look deeper into your site you can actually see that there are a lot of connections between a lot of the articles that you are writing. Lot of your popular posts for example are about sleep and productivity hacks. Things that a lot people who … you know … I'm interested in both of those things, entrepreneurs and just a lot of people in different industries are interested in those two things, in general.
There's a lot of patterns that can be found with the types of articles you are running. They may seem random to you because you are doing all these different things. But they fit a particular pattern, and it's for you to discover what those patterns are. For one, all of your articles about, you know, all these different topics should absolutely be linked to each other. Whether they are directly related from, you know, your sleep-hack articles, to your sleep guides, those are obviously connected already, and that's smart, of course.
But I think the sleep hacks and the productivity hacks, for example, can be linked. All the stuff about being a vegetarian and yoga can be linked together as well. You can sort of create these themes within your site as well. First thing you should do is actually find what things seem to resonate with people the most. Just so you can understand what it is that, you know, people are interested in.
I think it's cool that you have this website with a bunch of things because you actually have the capability to see what people are interested in. You could talk about a whole bunch of different things and that's okay, because that's what your site is. But then you can discover and validate what it is that people want to hear more about. So the topics that people seem to be interested in, you can start talking about those a little bit more. And discovering what else is out there, what else you could experiment with, related to those things.
And you could almost create like eye and vision, for example, with sleep stuff specifically, like if you really wanted to make an impact online with this stuff. Don't just write one article and then move on to the next one, at least give it a week or a month of just pure dedication to your particular experiment or sets of experiments related to sleep or one particular thing. And then you can move on to the next thing.
I think that's also your worry. And that's a legitimate worry, where you are going to be focusing on one thing too much or just getting rid of all the other cool stuff on your site to focus on one thing. You could focus on all these different things, but I would give it time and create themes around them but also longer periods of time that you are focused on them before you move on to something else.
I think that would be really interesting. It will be a way for your readers to sort of get involved more, not just come in one day, like something, and then come in the next day and there's nothing there for them. I think having them come on for, for example, a month's worth of content about sleep would be a great way to have people become fans and then sort of dig deeper in your site and discover everything else you have to offer—perhaps just connect with you and who you are and follow you no matter what you do.
I think that's the coolest thing about what you have going on here, is that your site is a representation of you. But the fact that you are talking about all these different things makes it hard for people to connect with you because what helps us connect with people are the sort of things we can relate to them with. I think you need to give people more time with these articles and these themes.
Give them some value over a longer period of time for them to connect with you in that way, where then they are going to become people who follow you no matter what you do or will actually see that's there's a lot that you have to offer beyond that one topic they are interested in. They would only dig deeper if they were able to connect with you more on that level. So I think that makes sense. Hopefully that makes sense.
So I challenge you. I want you to do this, Zane. If you wanted to pick one of your top two topics for example, and create maybe a two-week theme where you just, everyday or however many days you post, talk about that thing. And always upgrade the content, you know, take it to the next level each time and, you know, create an event out of it. Say, “Hey okay, the next post coming tomorrow is going to talk about this part of the experiment, or it's going to talk about this cool thing you could do related to this particular topic.” You know, just keep it going and have people come back and also get people to subscribe for that as well.
Make the whole blog the theme about that thing for just a couple of weeks or even a month, and just see what happens. See what kind of engagement you get and see what kind of connection you get with people as well. I think it will be really interesting. That will be a way for you to get even more engagement in a short period of time, which will of course help your rankings in Google and will help Google understand what exactly you say it's about, like you said you were worried about.
Then over time you can create these themes and you can have links to these themes in these categories on the right-hand side in your side bar. And you know, people will get a more clear direction on what you have to offer them. And they could be about different things, but they just have to be clear. And right now I am just seeing a bunch of different things on your home page and even on your “About Me” page. I think if you just focused on what's working for you now, creating themes around them, little events and sort of series I guess you could say—is the word I was looking for—and just see what happens.
And I believe when you do this and you share more about you and how you are involved in this and these different things, that's what's going to help you stand out, from Tim Ferriss, from Lifehacker and everybody else, the fact that they are going to be connected to you. Because the truth is, nobody is like you, nobody is like you, Zane. For everybody out there listening, nobody is like you. And when you can provide value and give people a chance to get connected to you, there is no competition. Because it's you.
Now, yes, you might be talking about similar topics, but people prefer to hear things from different voices and different angles. And if you have, you know—you can do better than Lifehacker and Tim Ferriss, you could be more connected to your audience. I mean Tim Ferriss has hundreds of thousands of subscribers. Lifehacker is a faceless place, you know, it's a website. But I don't know who runs it. I don't know . . . I should know who runs it, but I don't know the people who are writing those articles. I don't know all the staff members. And it's just a giant company. Tim Ferriss is a giant company, yes he is a person, but he runs a huge team.
You are Zane. People can connect with you and ask you questions related to these different themes and get connected to you, and that's what's going to help you stand out. So Zane, I hope that answers your question. I hope that gives you some direction as well. Thank you so much for your question. An AskPat t-shirt is headed your way.
For those who are listening, if you have questions you'd like to potentially be featured here on the show, just head on over to AskPat.com: You can ask right there on that page. I'll try to get to as many questions as I can, although a lot of them are coming, a lot of fantastic questions. I wish I had the capability to do like ten questions a day. But then I won't see my family or get anything else done.
So thank you for listening, all of you, five days a week. That's awesome. Thank you Mindy who edits these shows; you are amazing. I just can't thank you enough.
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Thank you all so much for listening in. Hope you liked this episode and to finish off today and the week, I want to end it with this quote from Tony Robbins: “Stay committed to your decisions, but flexible to your approach”.
Cheers. Take care and I will see in the next episode of AskPat.
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