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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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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

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