When I first started WPLift, initially I was going to offer my services related to WordPress from the site. The "Lift" part was related to giving your site a "facelift" and the actual blog was an add-on which I was going to use to drive traffic to the services part of the business. The services I was going to offer were things like, theme install and customization, SEO, custom theme designs and so on but I decided to drop this part pretty early on as the blog took off.
How the very first design looked ...
I had operated a web design blog before called "TutorialBlog" which I grew to huge traffic numbers - over 250k uniques per month and reached the Digg homepage over 10 times in one month. I eventually sold this blog which allowed me to setup other ventures and also buy my first house. I always missed blogging though, it's so satisfying to see your daily work pay off in the form of higher traffic each month and recurring income so I can see the attraction for the many of people who aim to blog professionally.
One thing that concerned me when starting WPlift was whether I would have enough to write about just focusing on WordPress, web design is a huge topic so I never had any worries there - would there be enough within the WordPress community to blog about on a daily basis ? It sounds silly now considering the juggernaut that WordPress has become, you could write 10 posts a day and still not be covering everything - everyday there are hundreds of new themes, plugins and news items happening.
At the moment I am noticing quite a few new blogs starting up hoping to gain traction within the WordPress community most aren't doing enough to differentiate themselves, covering the same theme roundups and plugins that everyone else does and as they are new they won't be able to compete because they don't have the age or authority to do so.
So what would I do if I wanted to start WPLift today ? Let's take a look.
This is an area I would avoid, It is well-served by sites like WPTavern and PostStatus. Although PostStatus is relatively new, Brian had years of experience writing for WPCandy and in that time became well-respected in the community and has obviously built up a good network of contacts that he can reach out to for interviews, behind the scenes quotes and so on.
One site had the blueprint for entering this area which was WPDaily which posted huge amounts of posts each day and was usually first with news stories. If someone wanted to expend the resources of hiring multiple writers and posting timely news all day they could probably make an impact but I doubt the rewards would be there - It's hard to monetize news sites as to appear to remain impartial its not wise to use affiliate links so you are relying on display ads and sponsorships.
Tutorials / Resources
WPLift falls into this area along with WPMU Dev, WPBeginner, WPExplorer, WPMayor, WPKube etc. We tend to post tutorials, theme and plugin roundups and individual reviews. I would say this area is the hardest to enter as all the sites mentioned are well entrenched now so posting similar content will just not be ranked as high as these sites.
One opportunity here would be to do incredibly detailed tutorials such as WPTuts+ does on subjects like creating a theme from scratch, writing different kinds of plugins etc. However these types of tutorials take a long time to create and if they don't gain traction then that is a lot of time wasted. And again, Im not sure if the monetization would be viable as Collis from Envato mentioned that they used to lose money running the Tuts+ network because the high amount they had to pay out for writers, I'm sure that has changed now though as they have moved to a subscription model.
Narrow the Focus
So what would work ? As I mentioned, the WordPress Eco-system is now so large I think you could afford to narrow the focus of a blog and be successful in monetizing it and gaining traffic.
You could build a blog for freelancers / developers who work with WordPress and create posts tailored for them on dealing with clients, selling add-on services like hosting, monitoring etc. Tom McFarlin posts a lot of good content like this over at his personal blog. You could monetize this with the usual affiliate links or create a membership product for people new to freelancing with WordPress and sell a course or eBook series.
Another angle is to aim the blog for theme authors / product owners where you could give advice on publicizing your product and gaining customers, using mailing lists, landing page optimization, content production to drive sales and so on. A good podcast which does something similar is PleaseAdvise.fm by Mike McCallister, Jake Caputo and Chris Mollitor who are all theme authors and discuss various issues which affect theme publishers. Another is the Matt Report billed as" A WordPress business podcast for entrepreneurs, startups, and freelancers " where the host Matt Medeiros interviews various entrepreneurs about WordPress and the business side of things.
You could also dig deep into one of the main WordPress verticals - for example churches or education would be good options. Really going into detail about a niche like using WordPress for churches you could cover all the themes and plugins aimed at them, detailed tutorials on making the most of the available products, promotion tips and so on. You could monetize by sponsorship or even creating your own products down the line.
So that's how I think a blog about WordPress could be successful in the current climate, essentially by drilling down the focus to a more specific area - I think the market is now large enough for this to be sustainable.
What do you think? How can a new blog about WordPress stand out these days ?