Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Contest for Desperate Niche Seekers

Neophyte bloggers are so newbie. They conjure up images of scarf-headed bundle-toting old country immigrants trudging bleary-eyed across Ellis Island as they try to carve out a meager existence in the Brave New World. Color me newbie.

Almost three full months after starting this site, I'm still trying to beat a recognizable path through the blogosphere. Fortitude, gumption, whatever it's called, I got it. I just want to be sure it's not in my underwear.

A will to succeed is not enough. What this blogger needs is a good mentor. Can I reach the promised land if I'm flying solo, or will I forever wander in the foresaken desert, doomed for all eternity to remain without a clue?

Don't answer that. Please, don't. Oh fine...go ahead ... if you must.

To date, no one has offered to take me under their wing or even thrown me a bone. Plenty of bloggers shelling out tips I managed to learn myself, but no one offering the kind of information this blog needs to take off. I suppose I shouldn't expect charitable advice from perfect strangers, but then again, it's not so unreasonable to try, is it? Well?

I network. I join. I submit. I e-mail. I return favors. I comment. I basically do all the things the experts say to get noticed, but nothing seems to work... at least not the way I would expect things to work after two and a half months of shameless self promotion.

Someone needs to write a book. I mean it. The definitive book on everything bloggers need to know to survive in cyberspace. Call it "The Bloggers Essential Survival Guide," and include chapters on networking, communities, SEO, design, the whole shebang from A to Z. I swear, whoever could publish a book like that would make a fortune. Especially if they could price it at $9.95 or less. Anyone with daily access to a computer has ten bucks to spare, right?

Dang, if I wasn't so busy spewing my guts out in this blog, I'd write the darn thing myself. Of course, with what little I know, no one would read it. But why should that matter? Plenty of people hold themselves out as experts when they are only capable of flying under the radar. Just take a look at our president. Sorry, Dubs.

Yesterday, I spent a ton of time networking on one of my favorite sites, MyBlogCatalog. This is a great community. Easy to navigate, no heavy duty rules, lots of good people on board, and plenty to do. Bloggers seem to hang out there 24/7. Plus, the site is a wonderful resource tool for people who want to do more than hobby blog. I finally figured out that anyone can post a discussion thread and each time a member responds to it, the thread goes viral. So very cool, I almost had to wear a scarf. Not.

But getting back to the point of this article. The reason I bring up the viral discussion threads at MyBlogCatalog is because I decided to start one myself. Nothing major. Just a little contest to entice people to post about successful niches. If you don't know what a niche is, you have no right reading the rest of this article. Go take a look at my Stompt the Spew feature. It's much lighter fare with a little kicker at the end -- a rating tool for this blog at MyBlogCatalog. Make sure to use the tool when you're done. Better yet, go use the tool now.

How do I get off on these tangents?

About the contest. I liked the idea of running a contest for great niche ideas so much that I decided to set up the contest here as well. Spewker's new contest feature design is somewhat lame, I know, but in my defense, I didn't feel like shelling out the cash to upgrade. So what if the wording at the top of the shoutbox makes me look like a complete idiot. I'm a newb. Experienced bloggers almost expect my blog to look like an amateur. I think they might even feel threatened if the blog had an immediate professional look. I know I would.

Please don't be shy. Anyone can post a short blurb about a terrific niche. It doesn't even have to be a niche you use. It can be one you saw somewhere else. The idea just has to be impressive to be a contender. Also, don't worry about copycats. Good niches were meant to be tweaked not duplicated.

Coffee, tea, or tweaked? I'll have coffe and a touch of tweak, thank you. Better throw in some Splenda for good measure.

If a niche is so vulnerable to duplication, it's really not worth posting about anyway. Sooner or later, people are going to find the little bugger and copy it. That's just the way things seem to happen online. Good people, let me reassure you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by posting a good niche idea. Go to my shoutbox and do it now!

Who knows? Once I've gathered enough information, I might officially stop being a newb. My goal is to use all the posted responses in an article about my contest and its results. As stated, I intend to give the winner a prominent mention on The Spewker, and a permalink to the URL of choice. A cash prize is still in the works, but may not be in the cards. I'm very open to the possibility as long as I get posts with hot ideas.

Hey....why didn't I think of this sooner. A blog about the outcomes of contests. How cool is that? Somebody...anybody...please digg this lightening bolt. I'm so ready to pack up and call it a night.

Update: About two weeks after this article posted, I took the shoutbox down. No one was interested in sharing niche ideas. In fact, people seemed afraid of sharing niche ideas, like I would copy them or something. Today's date is Super Tuesday, 2008. As of today, I've personally seen at least two other celebrity sites start to copy some of my format, and at least one other site publish more content about celebrity politics. These were all sites I had followed early on and monitored, so I know their changes came after mine. I'm not accusing anyone of actually copying The Spewker, mind you. I'm a firm believer of copying being the highest form of flattery and great minds thinking alike. I'm only saying that no one on the Internet has a monopoly on ideas and anything good can and will be copied. Get used to it. And help out your fellow bloggers. You never know how and when they may be able to repay your act of kindness.