There are hundreds of millions of websites around the world, with thousands more sprouting up every day. With such a crowded field, it’s vital to have a value proposition for your visitors to explain why your site is unique. If you want your readership to grow, you must continue to provide fresh content, good customer experience, and something differentiated from your competitors.
With the whimsical ways of the web, I’ve thought long and hard about what makes Yakezie.com and the Yakezie Network special. As far as I can tell, there is no other free blogging network as dynamic or as large as ours. But being free and large is not all that matters. Please have a look and share what else I might be missing.
THE YAKEZIE VALUE PROPOSITION
* Diversity. What I love most about the Yakezie Network is the diversity of Members and Challengers. We have doctors, bankers, programmers, lawyers, librarians, MBAs, environmentalists, professors, and entrepreneurs among us. There is literally no problem we can’t at least guide someone towards the right answer with our professional diversity. We have an age range from our early 20′s to our late 60′s and also have a healthy split of both men and women. We represent many races and nationalities, which all help provide fantastic viewpoints on politics, humanity, religion, and economics. We are like the United Nations of Bloggers!
* A culture of helping others. Since the soft launch of the Yakezie Network in December, 2009, and the official Yakezie.com launch in August, 2010, we have always had the mantra of selflessly helping others. We realize that it can’t always be the case to be selfless, but at the very least, we know that if we can create a culture of giving, good things will happen over the long-term. To be part of an environment where you know someone is ready and able to help you if you fall is a wonderful feeling. It just makes you want to help others back that much more in return. The virtuous cycle of giving back is vital to the culture of the Yakezie.
* Keeping judgement to a minimum. People are judgemental. It’s in our nature, and it’s hard to stop. That said, we really try and minimize the amount of judgement we have for other people here at the Yakezie. Members and Challengers are free to do whatever they want on their own sites. If a Member seeks help, be it personal, financial, or online, we are ready to assist, and that seeker of help will keep an open mind to the feedback he or she will receive. As a United Nations of Bloggers, we learn about acceptance, and absorbing the special attributes of each other to improve ourselves.
* Yakezie is free. The Yakezie Network is like a social club, but without the mandatory dues. Members and Challengers can contribute if they wish. We are certainly not a link building Network that requires a monthly fee as we don’t own any sites. Everybody is free to join the Yakezie Network provided they go through the 6-month Yakezie Challenge. It’s up to each individual to reach out to as many Members and Challengers as possible, and write consistently great content for at least that duration of time. The idea is that if you have the dedication to complete 6 months, you have the perseverance to stick things out for the very long term.
* One of best online forums on the web. The Yakezie Forums is one of the best online forums on the web. We primarily talk about blogging, personal finance and lifestyle. That said, there is no topic of conversation that cannot be discussed. I’ve gone to the forums time and time again and have gotten all my questions answered in a matter of hours. It’s truly incredible how tight a forum community we’ve built. Doing a simple search in the forums, and it’s likely you will find the answers you are looking for.
* Consistently fresh content that isn’t driven by money. Although making money online is nice, you will find that 95%+ of the content on Yakezie.com does not have any affiliate content or ads embedded within the content. We leave the advertising on a separate right-hand side bar to make the content as uncluttered as possible. When content is purely written for the sake of having something to say, it makes that content that much more compelling. I don’t know exactly what the right balance is between advertising and content, but suffice it to say that we will never have more than 20% of our content driven by money. The only affiliate related content that will be written will be things we really care about. There isn’t even a fee we take for the Yakezie Blogger Services.
* Consistently fresh content that is written by a diverse group of bloggers. It’s one thing to have diverse content written by one or two bloggers for one site. It’s another thing to have 50+ diverse bloggers writing diverse content on a site. I’m learning something new on Yakezie.com every single day thanks to all the different type of contributors. The Yakezie Network has hands down the best personal finance and lifestyle content on the web.
* We love having fun! If you aren’t having fun blogging, you aren’t doing it right! There’s a reason why some of us work 10+ hour days, come home and spend another 3 hours online writing and interacting with the Yakezie Community. It’s so fun and addicting! If I didn’t have fun blogging, I would drop running this site and Financial Samurai in a heartbeat because goodness knows, I would be losing some major money every month if my day job hourly salary was attributed to my online hours spent! By one estimate, I think I lose about $20,000 a month! Good thing it’s about the community and fun first, and money second.
* You have a higher chance of succeeding. If you become a part of the Yakezie Community, your chances for blogging survival goes up drastically. Most bloggers don’t last more than 6 months before they burn out, throw their computer out their window, and curse at their hosting company in a fit of rage! With a network of like-minded people, there’s little chance you will quit without giving your online endeavors everything you got. Community Members have left before, only to come back stronger and better than ever. It’s the same idea with Team In Training or working out with a buddy. We challenge each other to keep getting better.
* No asshole policy. Life is too short for drama and assholes. As a result, we have a no asshole policy for Members and for the Yakezie Forums. We are self-governed, so if a prickly person does emerge and starts going overboard by calling people names and blowing things up, they will be removed. Folks are free to be assholes elsewhere, but not here. If you want to be a part of our community, then you must abide by the simple rule of not being an asshole. Leave your personal issues at the door and keep an open mind. Seek to help first.
* You build natural relationships with more established bloggers. I remember having a difficult time getting anybody to respond to my comments and e-mails when I first started out. My one and only carnival submission failed, and I never even got a response for a staff writing tryout. I felt left out from the hustle and bustle of blogging and it didn’t feel good. As a result, I’ve made it a goal for the community to be supportive of new bloggers who are serious about building their online presence. I will do my best to respond to all questions and at least guide folks in the right direction. If you don’t hear from me, feel free to ping me again. It’s the same for all Yakezie Members. You are free to contact anybody, and I’m sure they will respond and help out.
* You build optionality. By building a web presence, you build the optionality to do many things. First, you show your audience or future employer that you have the wherewithal to create a presence online. Second, you develop a site that can be a channel to help you do other things e.g. sell a product, highlight a mission, promote a charity. Third, you showcase not only your online savviness and entrepreneurial spirit, you also showcase your communication abilities which is key in doing anything spectacular. Finally, if you get really good online, you can actually make a real living working from your computer, anywhere in the world. Having the optionality to do whatever you want is invaluable.
* A recognition of achievement. Because it takes at minimum 6-months to complete the Challenge, and 8 months on average more likely, not everybody will be able to succeed. It’s hard work connecting with others, writing good quality content 2-4X a week and dedicating a consistent amount of time on your website. By being an official Yakezie Member, other publishers, advertisers and people who work in the online world will instantly recognize the dedication you’ve put into your website and the quality of your site due to your Yakezie Member badge. The badge is 100% earned, not given.
* Creating pro bloggers. If you want to make money online and become a professional blogger, Yakezie.com is the number one website that will help you get there!
WHAT IS YOUR VALUE PROPOSITION?
I believe in Yakezie.com and the Yakezie Network with all my heart. It actually pains me that I can’t spend more time on the Network due to other obligations such as a day job. I wish I was a master programmer/coder who could update this site to be the most kick-ass site on the web. Alas, I know my limitations, but I won’t give up.
With the community that we’ve created so far, I know we will continue to flourish, no matter what the web Gods decide. We’ve got the diversity, commitment, and skills to keep getting better every single day. The e-mails I get and the posts I read about how the Yakezie has helped folks get through unemployment, tough times with loved ones, and uncertainty with their sites is what makes everything worthwhile!
Members and Challengers, please consider writing your own value proposition on your respective sites. It’s a great exercise for you to help create even more value for your readers and reflect on what’s important to you.