This is the first time a fellow blog owner has asked me for a review via the ReviewMe service, which makes for an interesting way to introduce yourself to another blogger. So first off let me start by saying hi to Collis Taâ€™eed, the owner of North x East, and thank you for the review request.
I wasn’t sure how to handle this review since I’m inclined to look at blogs from two angles – as a user/reader of the blog (I’m not as good at this) and as a “coach” or “consultant” to help the blogger produce a better blog (my brain defaults to this view). Both views are very interrelated given it’s the job of the consultant to know what the user wants. I have trouble switching off the strategic brain sometimes and can’t always sit back and just read a blog for the sake of reading it.
When you first visit North x East you will see it has what I like to call a smart design. Minimalist works and Collis did a great job focusing attention on the content with very little clutter. The design is a WordPress template (blog.txt), but it’s one I’ve never seen before, which goes to show how much variety there is now in WordPress templates – you can find something unique and well thought out without expecting every other WordPress blogger in the universe to already use it.
To describe North x East you can simply read the three keyword phrases presented on every page of the blog. They do the best job I’ve ever seen explaining what a blog is about.
Those three phrases are:
Web, Small-Medium Business, Blogging
Simple. Clear. Genius.
Kind of reminds me of the topics of a certain entrepreneur blog I know too :-).
Needless to say I love all these topics, the question is, does Collis have enough experience and knowledge in these areas, and can he clearly articulate and present his ideas to his readers?
That’s the money question for any blog looking to enter an topic area already covered by other bloggers. Web, Small Business and Blogging are fiercely competitive topics and very difficult to establish expert status in because of how many experts there already are blogging, writing and podcasting about them. If you don’t have anything unique, new or different to say and/or you can’t present it well, you won’t get anywhere quickly.
After a brief read through of the archives of North x East I can definitely say Collis is off to a good start. I feel as if he’s been reading my Blog Traffic Tips newsletter as I see evidence of Pillar Articles often in the form of lists like 29 Things You Can Do To Make A Blog More Communal and even a Pillar Article Series about what it takes to start a business online. It’s clear Collis is focused on producing solid content and has sound ideas to offer his readers.
What I’m curious about is why Collis is writing his blog. It’s clear North x East is following a Copyblogger mentality – focus on providing value to your readers in EVERY SINGLE POST. I would never argue against this as the best way to build a readership quickly, but if there is one thing I don’t like about the strategy is how sometimes the blog author doesn’t give much away about him or herself. Brian Clark is a culprit of this and that’s exactly why I contacted him to do a podcast, so we could all learn more about the guy behind the blog.
I’d also like to know more about Collis and if there was a tip I would offer it would be to expand his about page or even start a series covering his history of business projects, what he currently does to make a living and why exactly he is blogging. Does he want to make money from it? Build a profile? Is it just for the pleasure of writing and expressing ideas? All of the above?
Some people argue that it’s a waste of time to write personal stuff on a blog and there is an argument for NOT doing it because it might actually harm your traffic growth rate. I for one think it’s worthwhile doing because you build a greater connection with your audience, even if not every member of your audience cares what your life has been about. Anyway, there’s a tip for you Collis, and we can see if he ends up adding more background info about himself to his blog in the near future.
North x East has a great chance of succeeding and becoming an authoritative blog. There’s a hard slog of work ahead for Collis because he has to maintain the momentum he’s built up. He’s just signed up for a job writing new posts every single week for many months to come if he wants to see his blog really grow, but so far so good and I definitely recommend you go check it out and subscribe to his RSS feed in anticipation of more good stuff. That’s what I just did.
There’s a clear a reason why Collis tapped me for this review – I think he found the right target audience for his blog here at my blog. I’m curious how good a traffic strategy buying reviews from other blogs is, so one last question before I end this review and it’s for Collis:
You are one of the first bloggers I’ve seen use a ReviewMe marketing strategy and while I expect it’s not the cheapest way to market a blog, I expect the results might be fantastic, given how many links and traffic I just sent you. It’s good for your SEO and RSS subscription rate and by choosing a few key top blogs you might very quickly build an audience. My question for Collis is would you mind reporting back your results, either by leaving a comment here, or by email if you prefer privacy or even by publishing your results on your blog? I’m sure the blogging world would love to know how you went and what your goals were.