According to Nielsen Wire there are over 181 million blogs online, up more than 400% since 2006. There is no way to break it down by topic so we can’t know what percentage of these are deal and frugal bloggers, but those numbers have increased dramatically with the combination of a tough economy and the popularity of the Extreme Couponing television show that airs on TLC.
Many of the top deal bloggers post 20 or more times a day and have thousands of loyal followers who flock to their posts so they don’t miss any of the bargains. There are also hundreds (if not thousands) of smaller blogs that post deals and coupon matchups, like my Shopper Strategy blog, who have benefited from the tremendous increase in traffic from couponers and deal hunters.
“this year will see some changes in store policy, as both consumers and retailers cut back on coupons. I also believe we will see some of the daily deal sites folding — the market won’t be able to handle quite so many as consumer needs change.”
Now many retailers and grocery chains have begun tightening their coupon policies and there are fewer high value coupons available. Daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social are struggling with the effects of deal fatigue on their customers who are being bombarded with email offers. Traffic at my blog has dropped to about a third of normal and conversations in some of my frugal blogger groups have turned from sharing popular deals to complaining about affiliate programs that are no longer performing.
Unfortunately, once a market becomes saturated it hits the decline stage of its life cycle. At this stage those bloggers that have earned their readers loyalty may not suffer in overall profits but they will experience a decline in new readers. Other sites that may have been performing only marginally well will begin to go by the wayside as traffic becomes concentrated on a smaller number of blogs.
So what do you do when faced with a shakeup in your blogging niche? There are a number of options for those looking to stay ahead of the changes in the market. We’ve already seen several coupon bloggers merge or buy each other out and consolidating is a great way to increase profitability by reducing duplication of efforts from running more than one blog. Other bloggers have accomplished this by adding another website that focuses on a different store. Alternatively you may choose to take a different route with your blog and begin to focus on a new niche like cooking and food, crafts or product reviews.
If you’ve been blogging for any length of time then you’ve worked hard to build up a reader base, or platform for your voice. There is value in what you’ve built and you should think about ways to build or expand upon that platform. No matter what your blog topic, if you earn any sort of an income from your blog then it is a business, and every business needs to have an exit strategy. Your exit strategy may simply be to evolve, stay ahead of these decreasing traffic trends by branching out now into other areas of interest. Mindi at MomsNeedToKnow.com gives this excellent advice,
“Find your own niche and research it before you put your heart and soul in to it. Want to do “general couponing”? Guess what – there are 3000 other blogs competing with you! Want to focus on gluten-free coupon deals? There are probably only a few blogs with which you need to compete.”
For example, I took a long hard look at my blog to determine which posts are currently pulling the most traffic, which have the best returns, and which posts take most of my time. I found out that my shopping trip posts are very popular, my ‘saving strategy’ posts are evergreen, and earnings from my matchup posts have decreased along with traffic but the time to do them certainly hasn’t. I’ve responded by changing my editorial calendar from an average of 3 to 5 posts per day to a new goal of 1 to 2 posts per day. All matchups and most deal posts have been cut because I find they’re taking more time than they’re worth and there are other blogs that do a much better job with them so I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. I’m implementing these changes gradually so I don’t startle my readers and so far the traffic and rank numbers have all held steady. I’m focusing more on sponsored post opportunities instead of affiliate posts that rely on high traffic for a decent return and the blog is already more profitable and is taking less time to manage.
These small changes are working out well for me, what plans or changes do you have in mind for your blog? Remember that the blogosphere, just like any industry, is constantly changing and evolving and it’s up to you to determine what is best for your blog and for your readers’ changing needs.
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