A SWOT analysis is a strategic technique used by many businesses and organizations to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and develop a proper course of action.
Though primarily used during the initial stages of a business, I believe a SWOT analysis is such a simple and straightforward tool, that we can use it to assess our current situation and adjust our strategy in the short to medium term.
A couple of things to keep in mind before we get started:
- Strengths and weaknesses are internal. They are characteristics of your blog that either give you an advantage to other bloggers in your niche or put you at a disadvantage.
- Opportunities and threats are external. They are elements in the online environment, such as the growing popularity of a certain niche or the launch of a new platform or monetization opportunity.
Writing down these four elements can provide you with crucial insight and can help you develop a strategy that will take advantage of certain opportunities.
For instance, one example of an opportunity might be one of your articles gaining traction (going viral.) This allows you to capitalize on that and “sprint,” working towards a more aggressive strategy overall:
- you increase your posting frequency
- engage your readers more often in the comments section
- develop a framework that allows you to create similar content to the article that is getting all the attention
I’ve been running a SWOT analysis of all my blogs once every six months (in April and December) for the past 2 years, and it has allowed me to take advantage of a number of opportunities while working towards mitigating the negative effects of my weaknesses.
Before I share with you the system I use to make a SWOT analysis, I have to tell you that this exercise requires a bit of self-awareness and the ability to honestly assess the quality of your content.
You can ask a fellow blogger to assist you in this, and ask them the same questions you are using to develop your SWOT analysis.
Now, let’s get started.
Strengths and Weaknesses
On content creation:
Consider the following elements to figure out your strengths and weaknesses in terms of content. You can either use a system to rate them (on a scale from 1 to 10 for instance) or just move elements from one category to another ( for example, headlines are strong, introductions are weak.)
- The overall quality of your articles
- Formatting and readability (proper capitalization of headlines and subtitles, breaking down long paragraphs, not overusing bolding and italics)
- The use of images and graphics (do you use the same images as everyone else, or worse, no images at all?)
- The clarity of your message
In order to paint a more realistic picture, you can also make use of the feedback you receive for your readers:
Do people compliment your headlines?
Do they disagree with your opening statements or your use of a certain analogy in your article’s introduction?
Do they ask for further clarification on what was the point of your article?
Do you receive mostly positive or negative comments from your readers? Consider no feedback on your content to be negative feedback.
On being an authority in your niche:
- Social proof (number of readers relative to other blog’s in your niche, engagement levels — do most of your articles develop proper conversations in the comments section; 5–10 comments or more?)
- Is your content the result of research, experimentation, or a combination of both? A combination of research and personal experience is better.
- Are you still in the experimentation phase? Do you experiment with different types of content? Though they are exceptions, if you are still in the experimentation phase, you have yet to become an authority in your niche.
- Do you share insights that aren’t shared by anyone else in your niche? If you’re not sure, the answer is most likely no.
- Do you receive positive feedback from other popular bloggers in your niche?
- Is your content mentioned by other bloggers in your niche? Do other bloggers in your niche quote from your articles or use them as frameworks for their own work?
- Do some of your articles receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from your readers? Do they go out of their way to share that feedback with you? For example, sending you a lengthy e-mail.
On networking and promotion:
- Do you share your content across multiple platforms?
- Do you repurpose your content and share it on relevant social media platforms?
- Do you share the stage with other bloggers? Do you allow guest posts, work on collaborations, or interview other bloggers in your niche?
- Do you actively seek other bloggers to promote your content?
- Do you advertise?
On engagement levels. Do you notice an upward trend in terms of traffic, comments, and shares? A decline in these metrics is a weakness, and an increase is a strength. If they have been at similar levels in the past six months, you have either become an authority in your field (and thus have converted all of your ideal readers), or you reached a plateau, which requires correction and a new strategy in terms of content creation (a bit of experimentation over the following six months.)
On monetization. If you only have one source of monetizing your content, it’s a weakness. If there are multiple sources, but only one of them makes up 90% of more of your income, it’s still a weakness. It is quite often that one income source makes up the bulk of your income, but aim for no more than 60–70%.
Miscellaneous questions that are either a strength or a weakness depending on your goals, the type of audience you want to attract, and your niche:
- Does your content inspire, educate, or entertain?
- Is your writing style conversational or formal?
- Do you consider your content to be suited for beginners or experts in your niche? Is it for the enthusiasts or for the dedicated?
- What quality sets you apart from others in your niche? Depending on your niche, this can be a strength or a weakness.
Opportunities and Threats
Because these are external factors, and they are related to certain trends in your niche, or the rise and fall of platforms, monetization options, or a certain approach towards content creation, promotion, or networking, you must do a bit of research.
Here are a few questions to help guide you:
- What approach to content creation do you notice others in your niche adopting? As an example, over the years, there’s been an increase in word-count in certain niches and a decrease in others.
- What platforms do you notice others are building an audience on?
- Has your niche reached content saturation? Is it still relevant?
- What is something your competition is doing differently than you, with great results?
- What monetization option is slowly being adopted by others in your niche? For instance, a preference for online courses over one-on-one coaching.
- What socio-economic factors are influencing your niche, in particular, and the blogging world, in general? An economic recession does have an impact, as does an event that might drive traffic away from your blog and towards the content that shares information about that event.
- What new technologies are being developed that you could take advantage of?
- What new resources are becoming available? As an example, think of the rise in popularity of free stock photography.
This is the SWOT analysis I did back in April 2020. I purposefully decided to ignore the pandemic, as I had made a deliberate decision to treat it as an opportunity, which prompted me to look for more external opportunities:
- I decided to invest half of my time and energy towards building a platform on Medium.
- Switch from selling ads and turn my blog into a membership site.
- The research I did into selling online courses allowed me to use it to sell online courses on a different blog.
- Pay closer attention to the type of content that others were sharing in my niche.
- Work on building relationships with others in my niche.
A SWOT analysis is a simple and straightforward tool, but it does provide you with much-needed awareness and clarity, both in regards to your own content and efforts, but also to what is taking place within your niche.
You begin to notice trends, and you can decide whether to take advantage of them or not.
This article is part of the From 0 to 5,000 Readers in 6 Months course.
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