Is Your Narrow Niche Killing You, Your Blog, and Your Happiness?
Pretty strong title, huh? If you hadn’t noticed, I like ‘em that way…but I mean every word. Here’s why…
When I woke up this morning, I had no earthly intention of writing this article, but while over at Blogging Bookshelf today I read an article by Tristan discussing the pros and cons of niche selection—with the underlying question asking just how narrow or broad your blog should be. So after reading Tristan’s thoughts on the matter, and then formulating my own, I realized I’ve got a lot to say about this subject, so here goes.
A Blogger’s Death
Although I’ve been blogging here for roughly 16 months now, I’ve really only been actively engaged in the blogosphere (ie reading and interacting with other similar-minded bloggers) for about 5 months. During this time, I’ve been shocked to see how many of these good people have already had their final ‘Going Out of Business Sale’. Actually, in the blogosphere, no one goes out of business, they just dissipate into the cloud that is the internet, with their domain acting as the writings on their own tombstone.
Its’ all rather sad to me really. Yeah, I know, people fail in all walks of life. But clearly the blogging death rate is grossly high. Over 90% are dead by their first birthday. And although there are bunches of reasons as to why this occurs, I think the biggest one has to do with a niche selection that’s too dang narrow.
For example, when I started this blog it was really about retail sales techniques. Can you believe that junk? I’m not kidding.
But like most bloggers, at the time I was really passionate about the subject and I figured I would have plenty to write about, so that was my niche. But shortly thereafter, despite my buckets of enthusiasm, I came to understand two incredibly important facts:
1. I had enough information for about 1 month’s worth of blogging
2. I had tons of passion for other ‘stuff’
That’s when the real ‘Sales Lion’ was born. It’s when I realized I could talk about sales….or marketing….or blogging….or life success principles….or small business. In my mind, if any life experience taught me a lesson, I was going to write about it, and without question, it was the best move I’ve ever made for the success of this blog.
You see, most bloggers think they’ve got tons of passion and ideas for a subject when they start blogging. But when it comes down to it, they likely don’t have more than 15-20 solid articles ready to rock and roll—at most. Once those initial ideas are spent, then creativity and inspiration need a chance to work their magic. And if they’re not allowed in? That’s right—Death to the blog.
In his article, Tristan says:
I want to start a new blog about self improvement/lifestyle design/personal development. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, but I haven’t yet because I haven’t been able to narrow my focus down enough….
Honestly, this statement really concerns me. Basically, the guy is feeling ‘inspired’ to write about certain things but isn’t listening to that voice simply because he feels he’ll alienate his audience.
But I would submit the exact opposite to be true. I’d love to know more about what Tristan thinks regarding other subjects, especially that of personal development. What Tristan doesn’t understand (I think), and what many don’t get, is that much of the time it ain’t about the dang niche—It’s about the relationship we build with the blogger. You see, I like the way Tristan thinks. I like the way he writes. And as long as the subject is of relative interest (anything he mentioned in the quote above), I’ll be all over it.
But, for one second, let’s assume that he writes something that I don’t care for, guess what I’ll do then? Will I unsubscribe? Will I be mad? Will I send him an email and curse his posterity? No, of course not, I’ll simply skip over the article. And do you know what folks?….That’s OK.
I know many of my readers don’t read all my articles. Some just don’t ‘touch’ them. Others do. But every article is a reflection of my life experience, and thus this is my niche, and it has lead to an incredibly diverse audience, many of which are lurkers that never comment yet are there, busy reading away.
Can Your Blog Grow with You?
When it comes down to it, a bloggers niche must be able to grow with the blogger. If someone chooses a niche that won’t grow with them over the years (after all, this is a long term investment, isn’t it?), then they’re setting themselves up for trouble. The current ‘niche’ I write about now will be as relevant to me in 50 years as it is today. As I change, it will change. As I grow in scope, it will grow in scope. This, to me, is what blogging is all about.
Final Thoughts Courtesy of Chris Brogan
So we’ve all heard of Chris Brogan by this point. (OK, if you live under a rock he’s one of the most popular bloggers in the world, just in front of Marcus Sheridan and slightly behind Seth Godin 😉 ) But the reason why I bring up Chris here is because I find him to be the perfect example of someone who writes about what’s on his mind—with a wide niche to choose from. The following list contains titles of articles Chris has written just since the beginning of this year. Upon review, I think you may raise a few eyebrows with their diversity:
- The Future of Community (Social Media)
- Why You’re Not Successful (Personal Development)
- Social Media Etiquette (Social Media)
- The Future of Work (Business)
- Importance of Experience (Personal Development)
- A Look into My Mailbag (random fun stuff)
- If You Had an Extra 30 Minutes (Personal Development)
- Facebook So Far (Social Media)
- Focus on the Core (Personal Development)
- Map It Out (Business)
- Do the Work (Personal Development)
- Don’t Market Lazy (Marketing)
- How We Use Our Phones (Technology)
- How I Pay My Mortage (Affiliate Marketing)
- Panosonic Lumix Review (Technology)
- A Smart Blogging Idea (Blogging)
- New Lifestyle Theme from WordPress (Blogging/Tech)
- The Myth of Perfect Writing Environment (Writing)
- Use the Genesis WordPress Theme (Blogging)
- Get More Views on You Tube (Video, Social Media)
- My 3 Words For 2011 (Personal Development)
Someone might look at the above list and say ‘Wow, that’s a broad spectrum of topics.’ Others might argue it’s actually narrow. But to me, if someone asks what Chris Brogan’s niche is, I’d simply say he speaks about his observations of the world in all its forms….and does a dang good job of it.
So allow your chosen blogging niche to flow my friends. Allow it to grow as you grow. Don’t get tied down. And enjoy the ride as far as it will take you.
Your Turn: So what’s your take on niche selection? Are broad niches OK or do you find them a turn-off. Even if you disagree with my thoughts above, please speak your mind, that’s what this community is all about. 🙂