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If you don’t know by now, the “cloud” is a way that myself and thousands of other people are now referencing the internet and the servers that power it. Cloud jacking is simply taking over the market in your niche and gaining mindshare. It doesn’t have to be as dirty as it might sound though. I completely believe in honest engagement and quality content to help you rise about the competition.
I like to think I have Cloud-jacked quite a few niches over the last four years. For example, I’ve managed to build a top 10 personal development blog in 12 months and I was voted the top social media marketer under 21. It all took a lot of work, but it also followed the same process. And this process, guys, is what I’m going to share with you today.
For the rest of this article, I will assume you have a niche in mind. If you don’t, then decide on one. What is it that you love? What could you write about / create videos on / talk about with ease?
What is it that you read about and study when you should be sleeping or dream about while you’re at work? Whatever you’re thinking of right now, there’s a good chance that should be your niche.
If you asked me where people who are interested in personal development hang out online, I could answer you easily. They hang out on blogs by people like Marc, Luciano and Tim. There’s also the ‘leave your job’ type bloggers writing excellent content such as Cody, Corbett and Christine. They can be found on the Steve Pavlina forums, forums for specific aspects of personal development (motivation, productivity, health) and they also like to spend time on Facebook Groups.
I know this because that is my market. When you have an idea in mind of what to offer people (content on a particular topic) then you need to find where they are getting it already. Step one is to simply find out the biggest websites in your niche and the platforms in place that cater to your future audience.
If you’re lucky, the top sites in your industry will be bloggers. Even if you’re not going to start a blog, authors of these sites are very often the influencers online and with real people behind them, you have someone to engage with. To find out where your audience is hiding, I recommend searching:
There are many more ways to uncover your market online, but those should get you started.
The influencers behind most blogs are of course, the writers. The influencers behind forums are often the owners, but sometimes the moderators or just active users. The influencers behind Facebook groups not only include the creator, but the people who put in their time and effort to keep the group active. The influencers on Twitter tend to be those with the highest (natural) and most targeted follow count (maybe sad, but it’s true) and the influencers on Digg and Reddit are not the content creators, but the people submitting the content.
Ideally, I would locate no less than five influencers and no more than ten. If you choose less than five then you may not get enough engagement back from them and if you choose more than ten it will hard to keep active communications with everyone. It may be that your influencers are all bloggers which is totally fine. Just know who they are.
Once you have located your influencers, find out where else they are online. Do they run blogs? Have Facebook? Use Twitter? Friendfeed? The more places you can connect with someone, the better.
If you’ve done the last two steps properly, this one should be fairly easy. By now you should have a good idea of where your market spends their time online and what type of websites they like to visit. Your task now is to see if there is some way you can differ from the competition and still give people what they want.
It may also be the case that people can’t actually find what they are looking for. To find out some interesting data, I recommend you use one of my favourite tools: the Google Keywords Tool. What this does is tell you exactly how many people are searching for certain keyphrases each month in Google. So I want you to head over there, select All Countries and Territories, and enter a keyphrase that is relevant to your niche.
Make sure the drop-down on the top right is set to exact instead of broad. From here, you will likely see keyphrases that are getting thousands of searches every month. The next step is to head over to Google, type in those phrases, and see if there are actually relevant results. If there are thousands of people searching for something that nobody is offering (or there are no great results), that could be your gap.
All you have to do is find a gap in your niche or differ from whatever is already out there. It’s very possible to dominate a niche simply by doing what everyone else does and using something like authenticity as your innovation, but it’s not always enough. As an example, look at what I have done here in the internet marketing niche with ViperChill. 99% of bloggers in this niche write 500-600 word blog posts on the most generic topics.
Then, here I am writing 2-3,000 word posts and I’m actually someone who makes my living online and has worked with Fortune 100 companies. I am eliminating the people who want short content and nothing more, but I really stand out for those who are sick of the norm. You cannot interest every single member of your market, but you can certainly build your 1,000 true fans from a new way of doing things.
Even before you have produced any type of content, you should be out there and interacting within your community. I don’t care if you don’t have a website to drive them to and neither do they. The more human aspects you can put across online without trying to get things from people, the more trust you will build and the more they will engage.
Wherever you found your market in step one and the influencers in step two, I want you to be there. If the market hangs out on forums and leave comments on a few popular blogs then I want you to register on that forum and start commenting on those blogs. This is really simple stuff, but you will be amazed at how many people neglect things like this.
If the influencers use Twitter or have active Facebook fan pages, I want you to become a fan and register an account on Twitter.
Get An Avatar – An avatar is a simple image that will represent you wherever they go. It’s important to choose one because people are far more likely to remember you by an image than by a username or ‘identity’. I know this because it really confuses the hell out of me when people talk to me on Twitter and I have no idea who they are just because they changed their image.
An avatar can really be anything that you like. Here are some I’ve found from active social media users that might give you some inspiration:
The second one is mine which I used for my PluginID brand
Once you have an avatar it can be used on places like:
Spend time interacting in the relevant communities without being someone there just to gain something in return. If you have picked the right niche to start with (one that you abso-friggen-lutely love) then this should be enjoyable anyways.
Every other step in ‘dominating’ your niche is completely pointless if you miss out this crucial point. Whether your content is in text, audio, video or even eBook form, it has to be remarkable. And by remarkable, I simply mean that it has to be worth talking about. I swear that if I see another “10 Plugins for Your WordPress Blog” post that I’ll go insane. I’m sure a lot of other people feel the same way, which is why you’ll never see that kind of thing here.
With pretty much every single post, I want people to walk away (or click away) thinking their time was well spent reading this website and they should come back again. If I’m lucky, they’ll also tell their blog readers or friends and my audience will start to grow. I’m putting hours upon hours into every single article, but I believe that it is worthwhile. People just don’t talk about things that are mediocre.
As I said earlier, authenticity can be your innovation. If the influencers in your niche are robotic and not very personal, that could be your purple cow. That could be what people talk about. If you don’t set a standard for yourself on the quality of work you are going to put out there, your quality will probably drop as time goes on.
I have already made my motto for this site clear: if I’m not producing content that is better (just in my opinion, of course) than everyone else who blogs about marketing, I won’t click the ‘publish’ button. For PluginID, I wanted to be as honest as possible about the problems that have came up in my life and how I got over them (such as only having 3 girlfriends in 18 years and then having an abundance of women in my life). If I wrote blog posts as if I was perfect, nobody would be able to relate to what I was saying and feel engaged in my site.
Your remarkable content is your way of putting out hooks that people can grab on to. Remarkable can come in the form of humour, entertainment or education; but if you don’t have it, then your chances of achieving something great are next to none.
Now that you’re putting some great stuff out there, it’s time to put step 4 into overdrive. I’m sure you’re aware that the phrase “build it and they will come” does not apply to producing content online. A better adaption for the web would be “build it, engage, and they will come (and hopefully tell their friends)”. Yeah, I definitely prefer that second one, even if it is much harder to say.
Instead of giving very specific advice here, which I can’t because thousands of people will read this and your audience is in lots of different communities, I’m going to share ideas for how you can engage in different platforms and with different people:
There are two things you need to remember about these sites:
I’m begging you, really. I know this is something you probably hear time and time again but I cannot stress enough how important this is. Around 4 months ago, there was a blogger in the personal development niche who was really started to get noticed. At 15, he definitely had his unique selling point down, and he was starting to grow his audience of a few hundred subscribers.
I watched an interview with him and I remember thinking, “Man, if this kid just keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s going to go far.” So, that’s exactly what I told him. I sent him an email and said “Dude, the only advice I have for you is this: do not give up.” He assured me that he wouldn’t because he loves what he is doing. Two weeks later I never heard from him again.
No blog posts, tweets, emails or anything. I actually have a bad feeling something might have happened to him, but I think it’s more likely that he just gave up one day and never got back into things.
All I have to say to you is exactly what I said to him: keep doing this. If you are providing excellent content and continue to hustle, things will start to work out in your favour. I blogged here at ViperChill for over 2 years before I made a single penny. I did not care about building an audience, I simply wrote for myself. I didn’t care that I didn’t make money of course, because I absolutely love what I’m doing.
If you’re relying on the internet as your big break to make money in 3-4 months so you can quit your job then it’s possible, yes, but probably not by building a remarkable site. I’m afraid (I’m glad actually, as those who are willing to put the time in get the rewards) you’re more likely to wait a year before you can do that. Depending on many factors, of course.
Now don’t let me down, I put hours into this article so you can start to dominate your market by giving your audience the best content they can get. It’s time to cloudjack, baby!