I want to get straight to the point here. When newer bloggers ask me for blogging advice, particularly about gaining a readership, the first thing I bring up is having a niche. Having a niche is incredibly important to the success of your blog! Seriously people. I’m not kidding here. Before you can even think about promoting posts in social media or adding a newsletter to your blog, you need to focus your content.
With my first blog, I didn’t have much of a niche. I would post a recipe here, a DIY post there, a rant about life in between. I talked about whatever the heck I felt like that day. And while it was incredibly freeing to be able to say what I wanted whenever I wanted in such a public space, I wasn’t attracting readers. Anyone that came to my site had no idea what my focus was or what they could expect to see in the future and they would leave without turning back.
Somewhere along the way, I started to develop on a niche without even realizing it and I began to post heavily on the topic of marriage and relationships. While I was no expert, I found I had a lot to say on the subject and the posts kept coming. Pretty soon others were calling it a “relationships blog” and readers were e-mailing me for advice on their own relationships. It was so great to finally have an identity. I didn’t just have a blog, I had a relationships blog. So fancy!
So there you go.
First reason you should have a niche: Identity. When people think, “I’ve had a rough time with my boyfriend today and could use a good pick me up” they’ll think “Oh! Bethany! She writes loads of posts about relationships!” When you post everything from crockpost soup recipes to hair tutorials, your readers won’t be able to identify you when they need a good crockpot recipe. They’ll think of the person that has an archive chock full of crockpot recipes. And the narrower the niche the better. When I want to make something with my crockpot, I’ll think of a blog full of crockpot recipes rather than the blog full of all different kinds of recipes. Your readers will identify you in their time of need and see you as the expert of that particular field (whether you’re really an expert of not!).
After this niche seemed to fall into my hands and I was regularly posting about marriages and relationships, I started to meet a lot of great people that were also interested in relationships. We started to learn from each other and develop friendships. Pretty soon I was swapping ads, guest posting, and hosting giveaways for people who were interested in what I had to say! And it was awesome! I really started to understand what it was like to be involved in the blogging community.
Second reason you should have a niche: Being a part of a community. When you have a niche, it’s easier to connect with other bloggers. Those in the same niche as you will find you and want to share ideas and thoughts on the subject. They’ll buy ad space on your blog because they know your readers would like their content, too. Businesses will approach you for giveaways because your followers show an obvious interest in a particular subject based on what you write. Your readers get more involved because every post seems to be directed towards them. See what I’m getting at? People, people, people.
When I first started posting about marriage and relationships, I had one particular post that was getting around Pinterest. It was bringing in a bit of traffic, but not a lot of followers. People would read the post pertaining to the Pin, wouldn’t see anything else that interested them, and would leave.
Once I stuck to a topic, the traffic I got from Pinterest turned into followers. Someone would come to my site and see a great DIY post about marriage. Then they would see a cool related post featured on my sidebar and click on that. Pretty soon they would be going through post by post to read what I had to say and finally would click on that little “Follow” button. They began commenting, asking for advice, and following every social media platform I had. And I loved having so many people around that were interested in the same things as me!
Third reason you should have a niche: Consistency brings in faithful followers. When I didn’t have a niche, I could bring in traffic through individual posts but the giant variety of topics available on my blog didn’t keep them entertained long enough to follow. When I narrowed down my subject matter, visitors that came for one post on marriage would find a whole slew of posts on the topic and stick around to read some more. They would start interacting in comments and e-mails because my topic was something they truly enjoyed and wanted to talk more about. They made sure to click through to every post because they know it would be something they were interested in reading.
So yes, it’s great to have a niche, but how do you get started? You may love baking and sewing and traveling and discussing what you’re learning in your child development class so how do you narrow down all of your many interests to one subject? Here’s some questions to consider before selecting your niche.
1. Will the subject always apply to you? You won’t always be an intern, newlywed, mother to a newborn, or student. Think of where you’ll be a year or two from now. Will the subject still apply?
2. Will the subject always interest you? Is what you’re doing just a fad? Will you grow out of it in six months? Have you been interested in the subject long enough to warrant a whole blog on the topic or will the interest fade and you’ll move on?
3. Will you always have the time/money/resources for the subject? If you won’t have time to do a cool DIY project three times a week, you may not want to start a DIY blog. Or you might have some financial emergency and can’t afford to go review fancy restaurants every weekend. Think about everything that goes into your blog. Will you always have it?
4. Do you have enough unique ideas on the topic? You may have lots of post ideas now, but will you have enough ideas to do posts for years to come? Do you regularly have things to say with friends and family about your subject? And remember to be unique! If you aren’t unique you won’t stand out from any other blog in your niche and people will forget about you.
5. Do you get fired up about the subject? When someone asks you what you blog about, are you going to light up and want to talk for days? Will you want to meet bloggers in the same niche? Will you stay ever-curious about your topic? Showing passion will get other people fired up about what you do and they will want to stick around (and possibly sponsor!).
I cannot stress enough how important I think it is to have a niche. Sure there’s successful bloggers these days that can blog about whatever they want and get a billion views, but with so many blogs out there today, you won’t get noticed for years unless you can show dedication to a topic that will attract dedicated readers. It’s a blog eat blog world out there. You’ve got to stand out!