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Groupon’s Problems and Being Too Awesome for Your Audience


Groupon hasn’t been doing so well lately. We also saw backlash against the company after their less-than-tactful Super Bowl ads, but I’m not sure that’s why their numbers, according to reports, are down yet another 30%+ in March. Deal aggregator Yipit threw out some theories for the decrease in popularity:

  • Groupon is now sharing the market, especially with Living Social, who saw a huge growth this month once again.
  • At first, Groupon users got one deal a day, but now they have several personalized deals for each user every day.
  • The Groupon demographic is young and single, so they may be limiting their growth potential (in contrast, Living Social’s users are older with more varying interests).

Point one makes tons of sense – if you’re the first and only company doing something, you’re going to control the whole market. When competition starts popping up, no matter how good you are, your growth is going to slow down as people migrate to try other companies.

The third point also makes a lot of sense. Maybe Groupon targeted the wrong demographic from the start. Young users don’t have as much money (even for deals) and tend to have more focused interests (which don’t always align with the deals available).

But what I want to really examine is that second point. At first glance, it might not make a lot of sense. How could offering more deals be a bad thing, especially if they are personalized for the user’s interest (based on demographics and zip code)?

The same goes for your blog. Doesn’t offering more choices make the most sense?

  • Posting five times a day, as long as you maintain quality, is certainly better than posting once a week, right?
  • Offering three versions of your product at different price points is certainly better than offering just a single version, right?
  • Eighty categories that separate your posts into relevant topics for your readers is better than just five broad categories, right?

While it might seem as though the answers are “Yes, yes yes!”, for many bloggers, the answers are actually “No, no, no!” Like Groupon, this could be one of the reasons you aren’t growing as fast as you’d like or even why you could see a decrease in traffic.

Post Frequency

Let’s first think about post frequency. I blog for myself and for others, so I have a different perspective on this than many others might. When I first started blogging professionally, circa 2006ish, there was a big push for us to post as often as possible. I actually remember that one of my first clients (who paid based on traffic with a rev share model, rather than based on post count), held competitions for their bloggers – the people in the network who ended the month with the most posts got a bonus. Most of my clients still do want me to post as often as they can afford.

I think there’s an emphasis today on quality over quantity, but at the same time the decrease in quality is perhaps not the only reason it makes sense to post less often. First, by posting less often, you build anticipation. Let’s say that I write a blog you LOVE to read. If I only post once a week, you get excited for that post. If I post every day or multiple times per day, there’s no time for you to feel that anticipation. More importantly, though, people just don’t have time for it, no matter how awesome you are.

Think of it this way: If you open your inbox and there are ten notifications for new Groupon deals (or even ten links in a single email), are you going to have time to read them all? Even if they’re awesome, you might only check out the one that sounds the very best. On the other hand, if those notifications were sent once a day over ten days, you might check out all of them. Posts are the same way. If you want busy readers to check out all of them, posting ten times a day might not be best.

Different Versions of Products

I see a lot of bloggers who have complete stores on their websites, either with their own products or with affiliate products. While you don’t want to eliminate potential sales by only offering a single product that isn’t relevant to most of your readers, it can be dangerous to offer too many products. People tend to get overwhelmed when they have too many choices, which leads to them not buying anything at all.

In addition, you have to consider your readers’ budgets (and their perceived budgets). If you release ten products over the course of a month, some of your readers might not be able to afford them all, and once you start them thinking that way, they start to wonder if they can afford anything. Or, because a lower-priced option is available, that’s what they buy, even though if it was the only one offered they would have shelled out the money for the higher-priced product. It’s a fine line to walk between too many offerings and not enough offerings, but I think finding this balance is important.

Links on Your Site

Too many choices are bad in general (for many blogs – as always, it depends on your niche). This applies to any kind of navigation system on your site – pages, categories, tags, even links within a post. Again, it’s about balance. If you don’t have any kind of navigation, it could make your site confusing and less useful to readers, but too many options can make your blog too overwhelming.

For example, let’s say you come to my blog and I have ten links within my 300-word post. If it’s a resource post (i.e., all about the links), that might make sense, but if I’m just linking to other categories on my site, other posts talking about the same topic, news stories, etc. it can be too much. Those links can get so distracting, that you might never finish my post over even come back to my site.

Or let’s say that you want to read more about me. If I have pages called About Me, About My Site, Contact, Social Networking, My Resume, Speaking Experience, As Seen On, 100 Things About Allison, My Story….well, as you can see, it can be confusing where to even start. It’s okay to have multiple pages, but keep things under control.

Will Groupon bounce back? I don’t think the company is going anywhere, and they’re still relatively young, so I think they’ll continue testing different things to see what works best. In general, the number of choices they give users is definitely something they should consider – and as a blogger, there are some lessons you can learn as well.

12 Days of Blogging 2010: 3 Ebook Tips


A few days ago, I wrote 6 Launchers Launching as part of the 12 Days of Blogging 2010 – and that post was all about getting your product out there for the masses. For many bloggers, that first product is an ebook. It doesn’t matter how awesome the launch advice you read may be if you don’t know where to start when it comes to writing an ebook in the first place…which leads me to today’s post.

I’m a freelance writer before I’m a blogger, so I’ve bee writing ebooks for several years now for clients. I also have done two ebooks of my own at After Graduation (one free and one paid) and am currently working on a third. I love ebooks!

Before highlighting some awesome bloggers who have written posts about how to write ebooks, I wanted to give you my three best tips on the process, since I’ve done this before (multiple times actually):

1. Just do it. Because you can! Too many bloggers can overwhelmed by the thought of writing something so long, but instead of thinking about it as a 50-page ebook, think of it as a really long series of blog posts. Write your outline and then tackle each chapter. It really isn’t any harder than blogging.

2. If you’re not a designer, hire someone who is to format the book and design the cover and graphics. Having a professional-looking ebook makes a boatload of difference when it comes to sales.

3. Use plenty of links. Since an ebook will be read on a computer, notebook, or other such device, most viewers will be able to connect to the Internet. In print books, you want to stay away from too many links, especially if they’re long. In ebooks, they add a ton of value.

Ok, those are my three favorite ebook tips – what are yours? Check out the following three posts from some super smart bloggers and then comment below with your favorite ebook tip and/or a link to your own post about ebooks!

1. How to Write Your First Outrageously Awesome Ebook by Henri Junttila at Wake Up Cloud

If you’ve never attempted ebook writing before, this is a nuts and bolts guide to doing it! I agree with every bit of Henri’s advice, from the advice on how to choose a topic to the advice on how to design and covert the finished product. From the post:

Remember to keep it simple. What helps me get things done is that I don’t get caught up in worrying about stuff that I’m not good at. This doesn’t mean I don’t worry about it, because I do, but I keep going.

For example, when writing my first ebook, I knew that it wasn’t going to be perfect. I accepted it, and created it anyway. It turned out fine, and I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback, which just goes to show you that what you think is perfect, may not be what other people even want, or need.

Check out Wake Up Cloud for more great advice and follow Henri on Twitter @henrijunttila.

2. 101 Ways to Make Your e-Book Sexy by Logan Zanelli

Woah. I mean, woah. I think in compiling this 12 Days of Blogging series (with over 100 bloggers featured at this point), I’ve become slightly immune to awesome content. It’s sade, but true; I’ve read so much awesome stuff over the past few days that awesome I’m on awesome overload. Yet here’s a post that slaps me in the face with awesome. In fact, it’s a level above awesome. Whatever that level it called. ONE HUNDRED AND ONE tips. And I’ve read through them all – they’re all good tips, not crap that Logan used to boost the number. After you’re done writing, this is a post you need to read to get you ebook out the door and looking its best. From the post:

Well, now that the writing is done, you need to pull it all together in a nice layout and get it ready for distribution. But what’s the best way to do that? Is there any “tricks of the trade” when it comes to eBook design? How do you create an eBook layout that’s both appealing and easy to navigate all at the same time?

OK, first of all B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Repeat after me: “it’s going to be OK.”

There, feel better? Cool. Now on to the good stuff…

The good stuff is all at Logan’s blog. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter @LoganZanelli!

3. It’s Not The Products You Make, It’s The Lives You Change by Jonathan Wondrusch at By Bloggers

By Bloggers is pretty much a one-stop shop if you’re looking for advice on ebook creation. Not only do they give great advice on that site, but they also promote awesome ebooks from other bloggers. This post isn’t ebook exclusive – it is an important read for anyone, whether you’re creating an ebook, compiling a course, or even just blogging without a product in mind yet. It’s one of those posts that really has lit a fire under my digital tushie. Writes Jonathan:

As you’re creating your product, realize that it has a very different significance to you than it does for your audience. For you, your product is a gateway into a better future, where you have more cash, more attention or more readers in your life. For your readers, it might be a source of inspiration, truth and education, but they have no way of knowing that until they crack the pages; unless you give them one.

Do yourself a favor and check out the full post on By Bloggers and follow Jonathan on Twitter @bybloggers.

BONUS: Because I think you all need one more awesome post about ebooks, here’s a final blog post to check out: “How an eBook Becomes an eCourse” from Kelly Kingman (@stickyebooks) at Sticky eBooks. If you want to take your ebook to the next level, this post is a great place to start!

Ok, your turn – leave a comment with your best ebook tip or link to a post you wrote/read about ebooks!

Check out the rest of the 12 Days of Blogging:

12 Writers Writing
11 Tweeters Tweeting
10 Guests a-Posting
9 SEOers Optimizing
8 Affiliates Selling
7 Facebook Users Updating
6 Launchers Launching
5 Golden Rules
4 Podcasting Hosts
3 Ebook Tips
2 Ethics Debates
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree (ebook coming soon!)

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