How New and Low Traffic Blogs can Compete with the Quality Content of News Outlets, Popular Blogs and Other Well Branded Web Publications

Thursday, November 10, 2011

By: Weston Bonnelle

Even though you are a new blogger that feels small in comparison to established and well branded web publications, you can create quality & competitive content that earns premium readership. The research article, “What Makes Consumers Willing to Pay a Price Premium for National Brands over Private Labels” answers the question…. What Causes News Outlets and Popular Blogs to Gain Premium Readership?

What is Premium Readership?
Price premiums for national brands can be defined as the consumers’ willingness to pay a higher price for a product because of their trust in the brand’s quality. In a similar manner premium readership is an audience that pays you with their time by specifically allocating time to visit your site or blog. While other sites or blogs are just casually read or browsed, these news outlets and popular blogs gain premium trust and extra attention -- giving these web publications the advantage in their field. Premium readership is the equivalent of getting the undivided attention and priority of an audience that has developed a bond with your site or blog. Since many news outlets and popular blogs are considered quality content, they attract “premium” or targeted readers that will go to their site first -- or nearly first-- for information, entertainment or purchases. For example, Amazon is perceived as a quality and trustworthy online store to purchase books, therefore they’ve attracted premium traffic that go to the site specifically to make a purchase as opposed to discovering the site on a search engine without any intentions to make a purchase.

Premium readership is the crowning glory to become a destination site just as Techcrunch or Mashable has branded themselves as destination sites for tech news. These news outlets, popular blogs and other established web publications have significant leverage due their premium readership. Large premium readership gives them more access to advertising dollars, earning gigs and connections. The featured research article comparing national brands to private labels provides insight into why national brands can charge a high price. Just like people are pressed on money, people are pressed for time. So it’s important to do whatever is necessary to prove that you are worthy of an audiences’ time.

How to Effectively Face the Advantages Branded Web Publications Have over Small Bloggers 

Product Innovation. Introducing new and improved products underpins the quality gap between NBS and PLS. Retailers must manage many product categories and consequently lack the technical and financial resource to be innovation leaders.” 

The research article goes on to explain that private labels attempt to mimic the national brands’ innovation but they are often too late. The customers have already become loyalty to the national brand and the innovation has further boosted the national brand’s image. Private labels are not able to invest as much money, time and skills needed to develop new products or use technology to upgrade their current products, since many have their plates full and budgets limited with the responsibilities of a retailer or grocer. However if a national brand fails to innovate then this gives the private label a chance to capture a major portion of the market. 

Small bloggers with limited funds, skill sets and knowledge struggle with this dilemma. While news outlets, popular blogs and other well established web publications are able to divide up tasks and create departments that assign responsibilities to the appropriate expert, small bloggers must be the jack of all trades. Wearing so many hats can dilute the blog’s brand if it contains poor content, an unprofessional design, weak editing and/or scarce or untargeted marketing that results in low visibility. Since it is nearly impossible to attain the highest level of expertise in every area related to blogging, focus on aspects of blogging that you are highly proficient in. Then for the other areas just do the basics and/or outsource the rest.

News outlets and popular blogs also have the edge on quality and innovative content. Generally these types of sites have access to the most recent information or breaking news. The established web publications can directly speak to the news makers and choose the best writers for the story. In addition, well informed sources are pitching them topics, important players in the event have taken the initiative to contact them first or/and staff members are already investigating issues that are on the verge of being the next big story. The result is that these news sites, blogs and web publications can use these assets to control the dialogue on the topic, enjoy the benefits of the readers’ first reactions as they comment on, share or social bookmark the new information and they gain prime spot on search engines on the topic. You have to remember that many readers depend on the latest quality news to remain competitive in their own fields. Consequently the premium readership will begin turning to these sites first to remain updated.

However do not be discouraged because you can effectively compete in your sphere. Center your blog on deep and thoughtful analysis. Prove you are an expert on the subject by adding a spin or further researching topics introduced by the well branded & established publications. For example, established web publications can break the story about Panda but you can provide an insightful analysis about how to successfully navigate SEO and content creation post Panda. Also cast a smaller net by narrowing in on topics that popular blogs and news outlets neglect. Gain inspiration from your environment. This will help your blog appeal to niche audiences. Niche audiences will be more receptive to becoming premium readership to smaller blogs. As the article suggested, sometimes national brands can have periods of innovation lapses. You can use those times to a post a response article offering a more expert opinion and clarifying any holes from the lesser quality article. If you are not able to get top sources, do a well-researched article and/or speak to other small bloggers. Once you can prove yourself, then you’ll have the clout and reputation to begin divulging in breaking news on a specific topic until you have the resources and man power to expand. 

Overcoming the “Perceived Quality Gap”
Readers often assume that smaller blogs have content that is of lesser quality. Obviously there will be a quality gap between a less experienced blogger and a New York Times journalist, however as you gain more experience you don’t want the perceived quality gap to be overstated. In fact even now as a new blogger you have valuable knowledge to impart that could be helpful to readers.

Difficulty of Producing the Product. If consumers perceived that the product is difficult to make, this calls PL quality into question because consumers will not know whether the purveyor of the PL as mastered these difficulties.”

Essentially, the more complex the product, the more doubt customers have over private labels to deliver quality. In the same manner, readers often doubt the small bloggers’ ability to skillfully write about intricate subjects or subjects requiring extensive knowledge, experience or mastery. For example, a reader would most likely trust Mashable’s Guide to the Google + Social Network, a relatively unfamiliar therefore difficult topic, than a smaller blogger with less authority. However dispel these perceptions by first writing about simple concepts and approaching them in a complex manner. For example you can write a comprehensive and well researched article about a topic as simple as choosing a domain name. Once you have enough practice, you can move on to addressing difficult subject matters to demonstrate your expertise and authority. Also showcase your experience and skill on the About Me/Blog page.

PL Production of NB Manufacturers. In the United States alone, it has been estimated that more than half of the NB manufacturers also engage in PL production. Consumer magazines and anecdotal wisdom regularly suggest that ‘all products come from the same factory.’ To the extent that consumers believe that NB manufacturers produce PLs, the perceived quality gap between NBs and PLs is reduced.”

The premise is that national brands try to hide that they manufacturer product private labels so that they can continue selling their branded products at a premium price and to disassociate themselves from the private labels they produce. Small bloggers want to achieve the opposite effect but use a similar approach. Instead of being the national brand secretly manufacturing private labels, trying being the private label openly manufacturing national brand by personally associating yourself with news outlets, popular blogs and other well established web publication. This will help dispel perceptions of a significant quality gap. If you are qualified enough to write for popular blog “A”, this sends the message that the content in your blog is also credible and worthy of premium readership. Other methods endorsements include getting backlinks from, guest posting on or becoming a regular contributor to established web publications with premium readership. Press features and acknowledgement from the media -- for example Blogging Away Debt being cited and mentioned by Wells Fargo, US News, Mint and SeattlePi -- also adds to your credibility. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of offline networking and writing opportunities. Offline writing opportunities give you the chance to promote your blog by producing quality content and then listing the experience on your About Me/Blog page. 

As a small blogger, I have a long way to go therefore I’m still in the process of implementing my own tips. I hope that you enjoyed my article! Do you have any tips for new or low traffic bloggers?

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Unknown said...

This is a great article. So informative and true. Thank you. I see where smaller company's try to compete against the branded giant without little difference and go down quickly. Innovation and, like you said, quality is their only hope.

Dianne Heath said...

@ Crystal
Thank you for commenting! So true about smaller blogs quickly going down if they don't distinguish themselves. I've heard that in order to compete with a more popular brand you have to 100 times better. I definitely recommend high quality and focusing on area for innovation until you have the funds/assistance to expand.

Unknown said...

You know, Diane, that's my biggest fear in this whole blogging endeavor. I know I have a great idea/dream but I just don't know if I'm good enough to fulfill it. I sometimes feel like I'm over my head and making a fool of myself (not that I really care that much), maybe it's just an overwhelmed feeling. I'm sure everyone who starts blogging goes thru it, funny though, no one ever talks about

Dianne Heath said...

The duties of blogging are very overwhelming because like I mentioned the competition is intense. I should had noted that one of the first goals of a new blogger, above quality/innovation, is just staying around. Most blogs can't make it past the third year, if you can make it that long you're half way there :) My first year of blogging is mainly practice. I'm practicing because it can be really hard to do top quality. I was getting discouraged yesterday, but I started reading this book about how the Atlantic Weekly started. They went through even more struggles especially since it was the 1800s. Your blog will go through a lot of changes and you may struggle a bit, even the Atlantic Weekly started off with a lot of poems, lack of money, etc, but with time you'll be able to fulfill your dreams just like they were able to fulfill theirs :)