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Bloggers: To Niche or Not To Niche?

Bloggers: To Niche or Not To Niche?
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I have been having an identity crisis. When I started blogging, I was sure I had picked the right niche for me. I picked a difficult one for sure. DIY and craft blogs are everywhere. Don’t get me wrong, I still love crafts and DIY projects. Blame it on my ADD, my interests are broader than just that. I live a DIY life in every aspect. I love learning on my own and I love sharing it with the world. I am considering rebranding as sort of a do EVERYTHING yourself (DEY?) blog. I have read so many blogging articles that preach about finding a niche to be successful. I decided to go to the web to research this topic. As it turns out, I am not alone.

As I read through articles supporting niche blogging and others not, I remained uncertain. Writing about what inspires me versus forcing out words that don’t, feels like the only way to go. I have currently been guest blogging to touch on other subjects and avoiding my own blog. I decided to find more concrete evidence to help make my decision.

Google search results for articles on niche blogging

I ran a Google search for “niche or non-niche blog.” The first article that peeked my interest was from JonathanFields.com. He asked a few high profile bloggers/website owners about this topic. Here are some of the opinions he received:

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  • Seth Godin says choose one story, whether it is a broad topic or a very specific one.
  • Anita Campbell says it is okay to have a non-niche blog, as long as you have a strong common theme. She also suggests to dig deep into the subject matter you write about to compel your audience and gain readership.
  • Chris Garret says it depends on your goals and what suits you.
  • Wendy Piersall is a self-proclaimed non-niche blogger who has been successful.
  • Leo Barbauta has a successful non-niche blog. He is neutral saying it depends on your target audience.
  • Glenn Stansberry says non-niche blogging is okay, as long as you have superb writing skills. He also suggests that your topics be generally related on some level.

Defining niche blogging

If you search for the definition of niche blogging, wikepedia.com defines it as a marketing scheme focusing on a target group of people. This type of blog usually contains a lot of advertising.

Expert on non-niche blogging

Leo Barbauta, owner of the non-niche blog ZenHabits.com, says he grew his readership faster than most niche blogs. His site gained 100,000 subscribers in two years. His numbers continued to rise, while a niche blog’s readership tends to plateau due to the limited amount of interest. If interested in hearing more, read the entire article on WritetoDone.com.

Expert on niche blogging

Jon Marrow has an excellent article on GuestBlogger.com, illustrating the steps he took to help a friend find the right niche. He uses a keyword search program to conduct his research. His friend wants to start a blog on mixed martial arts. He searches the program for multiple keyword sets in order to find the highest ranking ones. He discovers that “UFC” has top daily search results, and that mostly fans search this keyword. Another keyword, “MMA”, is popular and used mostly by those interested in training. Marrow’s friend is interested in discussing training methods and products used by fighters, so he would need to utilize the keyword “MMA” because it gears towards the specific niche of fighters. “UFC” is the more broad topic in this field. Marrow is an internet marketing genius if you ask me!

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Analyzing the data: Are non-niche blogs actually broad topic niche blogs?

Now I get it. If my goal was to continue to target those only interested in home DIY projects and products to use, I would need to stick to this specific niche. My goals have changed and I want to target a very broad group of different types of DIYers.

After this research, I would venture to say that all blogs have a niche. Blogs that write about different life occurances are what most describe as non-niche. They may be considered rebels in the blogosphere, but I don’t think they are. I say this is the broad topic niche labeled as “lifestyle blogging”. Lifestyle blogs can touch on topics such as DIY, parenting, saving money, beauty, photography, etc. The angle isn’t being professional at one of these topics. A lifestyle blog uses different subjects and relates them to their experiences on an everyday level.

I would then veture to state that a non-niche blog would actually be one that writes about their favorite lipstick one day, and a detailed tutorial on writing code the next. I can see why it would be difficult to gain a dedicated following with such polar opposite topics. You may argue that there are sites with different topics similar to these. Well, let’s discuss one that does.

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Example of a broad topic niche website

BlogHer.com is a great example of a site with a broad range of article topics. This site is primarily a service that is hired by advertisers looking for high traffic blogs to advertise on. BlogHer found a genius way to attract bloggers to their site. They host a blogging platform that requires only a free membership. They also host annual blogging conferences around the country. This attracts mostly female bloggers, hence their name, from all niches. The common theme for this site IS bloggers! They also offer incentives for joining. You gain the opportunity to get your posts featured and promoted on social media by BlogHer editiors. You may also get the opportunity to get an original writing syndicated article (a paid gig) on their site.

In conclusion…

I definitely agree it is wiser to begin blogging within a specific niche. Once you become established and get a feel for your style and writing, then explore expanding your niche. I would say that completely unrelated topics should be placed on different blogs, or only written as guest posts. The only way to get away with writing such different content articles and keep a readership, is if you are famous for your writing. I can definitely say I feel confident in my decision after hearing expert advice!

Here are a few more great articles I read on this topic:

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Okay bloggers, my question remains: to niche or not to niche? What do you think?

Featured photo credit: Keyboard Apple Input Keys Hardware Pc Calculator/TheAngryTeddy via pixabay.com

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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