This is part 1 of the Performancing Blog Reboot.
Let’s dive right into this as there’s a lot to cover today.
For the first step, we’re breaking it down to 3 phases:
- Collecting basic information
- Evaluating / measuring the good and bad
- Defining purpose, focus and audience
Let’s get started on the first one, collecting stats on our target blog, Performancing.com.
1. Collect Stats
This is a 3-part process:
- basic blog stats
- comparison with top blogs in that niche
- blog history – what the blog is about, path from launch to current state, reputation issues
Basic Performancing stats:
Daily / Monthly Uniques: 1.5k / 44k
Daily / Monthly Pageviews: 9k / 282k
RSS Subscribers: 5K
Registered Users: 42k (remove 50% for dead accounts / spam so you’re left with 20k)
PageRank / Alexa: PR 7 / 11k
Site Age: Started October 7, 2005, so that’s 1 year 9 months.
Content Count: 7000+ pages
Comparison with top blogs in the niche
There are other leading blogs in this niche (Daniel’s Daily Blog Tips, Liz’s Successful Blog, Lorelle’s blog on WordPress, Chris’s new blog, Blog Herald, etc) but I think you can safely say that if Perfomancing can match the reputation and attention these blogs enjoy it’s a good start (I say this without judging whether Perf is ahead or behind these sites).
So how does Performancing stand up to these players?
Performancing vs Problogger – no contest, Problogger wins hands down in terms of community, RSS subs, reputation and momentum. Potential-wise I’d say ProBlogger edges Perf as well, although Performancing does have the pMetrics ace up its sleeve.
Performancing vs CopyBlogger – once again, no contest – Brian wins in momentum, community, RSS subs, reputation, etc. What works in Performancing’s favor here (again) is pMetrics plus the added fact that Performancing probably has more resources to dedicate to growing the brand than CopyBlogger.
Performancing vs WeblogsToolsCollection – It’s a close one – WTC has a lot of mindshare but to be honest (no offense intended Mark) it’s core strength is that’s its the primary announce board for new plugins and themes. WTC edges it in terms of mindshare but out of the 3 top competitors I’d say that WTC would be the easiest to overtake.
In a full reboot (I’ve cut some steps out to save time here) you’d compare hard stats as well – RSS subs, traffic (estimated) and rank blogs based on community / comments ratio on their latest posts.
- Fantastic launch, chock-full of content, within a couple of months of its launch Performancing was easily rivaling ProBlogger as the leading blog ‘about’ blogging.
- ScribeFire (formerly Performancing for Firefox), pMetrics and the Performancing Ad Network were all well-received blogging tools and services that further established the Perf brand.
- Like it or not, the blog’s biggest problem was that it was branded by the ‘voice’ of Nick and Chris – any new blogger coming in / taking over would have big shoes to fill, not to mention be an experienced blogger and write extremely well.
- The protracted sale of Performancing took away a lot from the brand (for several reasons that we won’t go into detail here), and till now I’d say the blog has struggled to regain that ‘oomph’ it once had.
- Right now Performancing is moving in the right direction (rebuilding services, offering quality content for bloggers) but by my account it’s much harder in 2007 to reclaim that place Perf had over an year ago and as such there needs to be a change in focus AND an acceleration in the rebuilding process.
I’ve been a Perf reader and member for a long time so it’s easier for me to summarise the history – if you’re doing a blog reboot in a niche that you’re not so familiar with, you’ll need to get this info from the site owner himself.
So what does this tell us?
2. Good and Bad
We know what Perf’s objectives are, what it’s capable of, and where it stands now.
- Thousands of premium-grade articles on blogging.
- pMetrics – fantastic stats tool that needs better promoting.
- Established user-base (members and RSS subs).
- Mindshare – on the RSS readers / radar of many influential players in the blogging niche.
- It’s a lot harder to succeed in the blogging niche today than it was in late 2005.
- Dormant user-base / community – they’re are thousands of registered users but few of them participate anymore.
- Still talking about blogging like its 2005 – the leaders get away with it because of their momentum, but blogs that are a bit behind need to do something special / extra.
We’ve done a comprehensive job of setting the scene for Performancing in terms of where we are and what we need to do.
Next step: where to go from here.
3. Purpose, Focus and Audience
Now for the big question:
What’s the point of Performancing?
The tagline reads: “helping bloggers succeed”. It’s specific about ‘helping bloggers’ bit and open-ended about ‘success’. This can be a good and bad thing – leaving it open-ended allows the site itself to define the term and introduce various services as long as they all target the same goal. The downside is that if you have to maintain high standards in your pursuit of ‘actually helping’ bloggers – if you let up and don’t deliver on the quality of service expected of you, readers will drift away.
I wouldn’t change the tagline – it’s perfect as far as Performancing is concerned.
What I WOULD do is redefine the focus of the blog and the services / tools it looks to provide based on current circumstances and future expectations.
Blogging ‘about’ blogging is like flogging a dead horse. There is already such wealth of information in the archives of the leading blogs on blogging that most of the new stuff is just regurgitation / rehashing and eventually, a waste of time (no offense intended, mind you).
So for Performancing, here’s what I think should be the way forward:
- Get maximum value out of the archives. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
- Establish a high level of quality and only allow the best posts to filter to the front page. To put this in context – there are some articles I’ve written here on Perf in the last month that I wouldn’t put on the main page.
- Focus on developing tools and services for bloggers to help them succeed. We’ve had several discussions on this behind the scenes and I’ll talk about this a bit more in future parts of the reboot (still on part 1, remember?).
- Get the old members back.
Who Is Your Audience?
It would probably be better to target one segment of the blogging audience, but we like big challenges here and Perf has done it before, so we’re going after the whole niche. Having said that, you need to cater for different segments of that niche and treat newbies, experienced bloggers and fellow site owners differently (and feed them different content / tools / resources).
The newbies are still at the start of the learning curve, so for them the content will be the main draw (followed by the tools). For the experienced blogger you’ll need a different level of content (in terms of depth and topics) plus the focus would be more on the tools and services that Performancing intends to provide.
But how do you target fellow site owners? It’s something we’ve been discussing and I think that this is something that’ll happen through time and building relationships – maybe a trip down under is in order? 🙂
Next (tomorrow), we’ll talk about what Performancing can offer to its readers in terms of content, tools and services (without revealing too much 🙂 ), so stay tuned.
I’d love your feedback on this very public blog reboot, so let me know what you think.
wrote it in a rush, so no, not an overt strategy. Thanks for correcting me here, fixing it now.
Personally, I’ve really been enjoying Performancing lately… I was a bit worried that the site was doomed due to the sticky transition, but you guys are pulling together something nice and distinctive.
I do find it troubling that you don’t link out to your “perceived” competition in this post. Nick and Chris didn’t blog that way, and you’re going to ultimately bury yourselves within your own little walled garden if this is an overt editorial strategy.
how many blogs about blogging do we read and then fail to act on?
Thank you for putting it so well – I’ve been trying to say that for a while now but it hasn’t come out so clearly.
Or what about AdSense tips on a Monday, SEO Tuesday, Copyrighting Wednesday….maybe difficult to coordinate though. – possible, although a more manageable idea could be to copy SEL’s format of columns.
I like your rotation notion Ryan. I’m starting to approach it like running a magazine – identifying related topics and creating a series of posts, possibly even working on a collaborative venture like your Harry Potter site. That was a great one because it was real life application – how many blogs about blogging do we read and then fail to act on?
Also like a magazine, various members could have features. Or what about AdSense tips on a Monday, SEO Tuesday, Copyrighting Wednesday….maybe difficult to coordinate though.
Maybe even ‘borrow’ Darren Rowse’s group writing ideas to focus the members in on a topic and post either on their Perf blogs or their personal sites?
franky, that’s a good idea. especially the brainstorming part. any “list” article could probably be enhanced by multiple sets of input.
Ryan, I remember that when the ‘secret 9rules forum’ first leaked, they said that in that forum members helped each other writing content, giving ideas on what to write.
Maybe such a thing might be worth a consideration for a platform with a focus as broad as here at performancing. Take your most active/most core members and create ‘killer content’.
I know from myself that I hardly have time to work at a performancing-worthy entry, but I’d chime in my ideas in such a kind of board. Collaboration for blog entries.
Main stream outlets still work regularly with co-written entries, and many times those are their best entries/articles.
That’s a bloody good idea
Not to get philosophical, but preparation, of course, is a relative notion (in more than one way). You must “prepare” for some event, located in time. If your event is a fairly discrete period of time (say 3 months) and there aren’t other operating responsibilities to focus on, then you can jack up, and then squeeze.
Let’s analogize to sports. Most athletes prepare for a seasons, but then “perform” and “maintain” during the season. Performancing is a 365 day per year event. Unlike sports, there isn’t an off-season.
So how does one prepare for something that is always happening? That’s an important question. Does there need to be a rotating staff so that one set of people are preparing while the other are performing?
Again, a great question, and one that I’m not sure I have an answer to.
They prepared content beforehand and then went on blogging overdrive as well in the first month of the launch.
Like Gerard said though, it’s not the same niche anymore.
I’m sorry Ryan, but I can’t be more specific. I just remember reading that this new site was launching and before you knew it, there was an impossible amount of content churning into my RSS reader from Performancing. Bloggers everywhere were talking about them and they wound up on the Digg homepage. After a couple of weeks, I had to unsubscribe because at the rate they were posting I had no chance of keeping up.
Matter of fact, looking at Digg’s archive should show give you an idea of what content Performancing started up with.
I figure they prepared a huge stock of linkbait before the launch and just let it rip when they went live. Looking back at that Digg page, you can see a lot of it was common sense. These days, I think it’s harder than before, so we may need to cover more guerilla tactics that not everyone is using.
Obviously the free tools, pMetrics and PFF/ScribeFire drew much attention too.
If you look back to the original Performancing launch, the guys threw down an overwhelming amount of quality content in an incredibly short space of time. I remember reading a lot of it and being blown away with ideas.
Ahmed, it would be interesting to quantify this statement from Gerard. “overwhelming amount of quality content” – it would be good to know what constitutes an overwhelming amount and also to see the time span over which this was written. That might help us in duplicating the method.
Give someone the chance to establish themselves as a monetisation expert, or an SEO, or a community builder. Do that in return for a backlink from each front page article. I’d be happy to write a few articles on that basis.
You’re on mate – PM me.
If you ask me (and you did), Performancing is suffering from a kind of identity crisis. The probably stems from the original sale, but I don’t think it ever regained the strength afterward (through no fault of Ryan’s).
If you look back to the original Performancing launch, the guys threw down an overwhelming amount of quality content in an incredibly short space of time. I remember reading a lot of it and being blown away with ideas. It was all top quality linkbait. We’re seeing an entirely different set of posts at the moment which I’d argue are more about the business of managing websites than about blogging. Is Performancing aiming for the more established blogger? Is that a conscious decision to cut out the novice blogger who wants to get serious? If you want to capture that market, then you need to write some good articles for newbies or mine the archives for relevant material.
Oh, and can we get avatars working? It’d be nice to see the other folk on the forum and blogs and would give us all a shot at improving our ‘brand’ through Performancing!
I agree that the motto needs to be refocussed – there are several levels of online success: making money, brand, traffic and community building. Depends on your focus. Maybe if some of the members agreed to write on their area of strength, that would help. Give someone the chance to establish themselves as a monetisation expert, or an SEO, or a community builder. Do that in return for a backlink from each front page article. I’d be happy to write a few articles on that basis.
I think the openness is really awesome. This is a great learning experience for everyone involved and everyone reading. I have learned a lot from reading this blog, and the tools that Performancing rolls out are top notch. I am kinda hoping the ad network comes back too, though I am sure with the resources that are behind P.com now it will be even better.
Everyone has a different view of what Performancing offers to them (mine is different from Raj’s, Raj’s is different from yours, etc).
I like what you said – more thought-provoking stuff.
Actually something I missed out on here is how to measure ‘success’ for Performancing. I may have implied it but I didn’t actually spell it out.
The idea is – do you want to be successful in matching the top blogs for mindshare or do you want to earn $X per month or do you want to get x comments per post on average or do you want to increase traffic by X% in 3 months?
With blog goals I tend to focus on one objective at a time, so I’d say that yes, all of those are targets for Perf but we’d rather do them one by one than try to hit all nails at the same time.
Parallel processing is just an illusion, after all
Honesty and truthfulness are the best tools for self-improvement. Thanks for being honest here. I really don’t know very many bloggers who would lay it on the table like this. I think we’ll look back to this emerging document as the Performancing constitution;-)
I think, today, Performancing has to continue where it is: helping bloggers think how to blog.
Performancing is much less a blog about blogging as Problogger and eg. Daniel’s are. Performancing doesn’t really track what goes on, Performancing doesn’t throw alexa stats and digg stats or similar around. Preformancing doesn’t really come with quick and dirty/simple polls. Performancing isn’t all about ‘how do I moneytize’. It is about ‘how do I manage the whole blog/site’.
For me P.com is in the same category as Copyblogger and Chris’s new blog: make the blogger think how to write, but the focus is wider, broader.
Plenty of times we get confronted with many questions on how to manage a blog, but contrary to all other mentioned blogs in your list, here at P.com you guys confront us with the questions and I have the impression that every time you also learn from the answers (well sometimes). More than on any other blog mentioned P.com is an open discussion thread.
Not the compellingly written howto write (no offense meant here), how to market both Brian and Chris publish. No, rather the thought provoking how-would-you-do-it.
And maybe that at the same time is P.com’s weakness. Many times you can’t just read an entry, pick out what is most interesting and move on. Sometimes move on after having left a quick comment about how great the entry once more was. No, most of time the entry is just the beginning and then the thinking begins. You guys offer us the thoughtful questions. No manuals on how to make an entry visually attractive, or when to insert affiliate links.
IMHO many entries here are the work of all participants. On the other blogs, many times there’s no need to read the comments.
P.com is no collection of tips, but a collection of provocations, thought provocations IMHO.
And requires much more initiative from the commenter, participant, member than any other blog about blogging.
To conclude: maybe this style, this concept is less compelling (read: not as fast) than Brian’s or Chris’s new blog, but AFAIK it brings me more, it makes me think about the whole picture and not just the content and how the content is written.