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Bloggers: To Niche or Not To Niche?

Bloggers: To Niche or Not To Niche?

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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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

How to Mind Map to Visualize Your Thoughts (With Mind Map Examples)

Traditionally, when you have a lot of ideas in your mind, you would create a text document, or take a sheet of paper and start writing in a linear fashion like this:

  • Intro to Visual Facilitation
    • Problem, Consequences, Solution, Benefits, Examples, Call to action
  • Structure
    • Why, What, How to, What If
  • Do It Myself?
    • Audio, Images, time-consuming, less expensive
  • Specialize Offering?
    • Built to Sell (Standard Product Offering), Options (Solving problems, Online calls, Dev projects)

This type of document quickly becomes overwhelming. It obviously lacks in clarity. It also makes it hard for you to get a full picture at a glance and see what is missing.

You always have too much information to look at, and most often you only get a partial view of the information. It’s hard to zoom out, figuratively, and to see the whole hierarchy and how everything is connected.

To see a fuller picture, create a mind map.

What Is a Mind Map?

A mind map is a simple hierarchical radial diagram. In other words, you organize your thoughts around a central idea. This technique is especially useful whenever you need to “dump your brain”, or develop an idea, a project (for example, a new product or service), a problem, a solution, etc. By capturing what you have in your head, you make space for other thoughts.

In this article, we are focusing on the basics: mind mapping using pen and paper.

The objective of a mind map is to clearly visualize all your thoughts and ideas before your eyes. Don’t complicate a mind map with too many colors or distractions. Use different colors only when they serve a purpose. Always keep a mind map simple and easy to follow.

    Image Credit: English Central

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    By following the three next steps below, you will be able to create such mind maps easily and quickly.

    3 Simple Steps to Create a Mind Map

    The three steps are:

    1. Set a central topic
    2. Add branches of related ideas
    3. Add sub-branches for more relevant ideas

    Let’s take a look at an example Verbal To Visual illustrates on the benefits of mind mapping.[1]

    Step 1 : Set a Central Topic

    Take a blank sheet of paper, write down the topic you’ve been thinking about: a problem, a decision to make, an idea to develop, or a project to clarify.

    Word it in a clear and concise manner.

      What is the first idea that comes to mind when you think of the subject for your mind map? Draw a line (straight or curved) from the central topic, and write down that idea.

        Step 3 : Add Sub-Branches for More Relevant Ideas

        Then, what does that idea make you think of? What is related to it? List it out next to it in the same way, using your pen.

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          You can always add more to it later, but that’s good for now.

          In our example, we could detail the sub-branch “Benefits” by listing those benefits in sub-branches of the branch “Benefits”. Unfortunately, we already reached the side of the sheet, so we’re out of space to do so. You could always draw a line to a white space on the page and list them there, but it’s awkward.

          Since we created this mind map on a regular letter-format sheet of paper, the quantity of information that fits in there is very limited. That is one of the main reasons why I recommend that you use software rather than pen and paper for most of the mind mapping that you do.

          Repeat Step 2 and Step 3

          Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you need to flush out all of your ideas around the topic that you chose.

            I added first-level (main) branches around the central topic mostly in a clockwise fashion, from top-right to top-left. That is how, by convention, a mind map is read.

            In the next section, we are covering the three strategies to building your maps.  

            Mind Map Examples to Illustrate Mind Mapping

            You can go about creating a mind map in various ways:

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            • Branch by Branch: Adding whole branches (with all of their sub-branches), one by one.
            • Level by Level: Adding elements to the map, one level at a time. That means that firstly, you add elements around the central topic (main branches). Then, you add sub-branches to those main branches. And so on.
            • Free-Flow: Adding elements to your mind map as they come to you, in no particular order.

            Branch by Branch

            Start with the central topic, add a first branch. Focus on that branch and detail it as much as you can by adding all the sub-branches that you can think of.

              Then develop ideas branch by branch.

                A branch after another, and the mind map is complete.

                  Level by Level

                  In this “Level by Level” strategy, you first add all the elements that you can think of around the central topic, one level deep only. So here you add elements on level 1:

                    Then, go over each branch and add the immediate sub-branches (one level only). This is level 2:

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                      Idem for the next level. This is level 3. You can have as many levels as you want in a mind map. In our example, we only have 3 levels. Now the map is complete:

                        Free-Flow

                        Basically, a free flow strategy of mind mapping is to add main branches and sub-topics freely. No rules to restrict how ideas should flow in the mind map. The only thing to pay attention to is that you need to be careful about the level of the ideas you’re adding to the mind map — is it a main topic, or is it a subtopic?

                          I recommend using a combination of the “Branch by Branch” and the “Free-Flow” strategies.

                          What I normally do is I add one branch at a time, and later on review the mind map and add elements in various places to finish it. I also sometimes build level 1 (the main branches) first, then use a “Branch by Branch” approach, and later finish the map in a “Free-Flow” manner.

                          Try each strategy and combinations of strategies, and see what works best for you.

                          The Bottom Line

                          When you’re feeling stuck or when you’re just starting to think about a particular idea or project, take out a paper and start to brain dump your ideas and create a mind map. Mind mapping has the magic to clear your head and have your thoughts organized.

                          If you can’t always have access to a paper and pen, don’t worry! Creating a mind map with software is very effective and you get none of the drawbacks of pen and paper. You can also apply the above steps and strategies just the same when using a mind mapping tool on the phone and computer.

                          More Tools to Help You Organize Thoughts

                          Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

                          Reference

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