Advertising
Advertising

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:

Advertising

  • 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!

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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:

Advertising

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

More by this author

8 Differences Between You And Someone Who Is Successful Bloggers: To Niche or Not To Niche? 9 Steps To Stop Dreaming and Start Doing

Trending in Work

1 10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career 2 The Savvy Employees Guide to Asking for a Raise 3 Why You Feel Stuck in Your Career After Staying in a Job Longterm 4 10 Simple Yet Powerful Business Goals to Set This Year 5 How to Make Career Decisions That You Will Not Regret for Life

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

Advertising

Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

Advertising

If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

Advertising

Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

Advertising

How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

More Articles to Help Advance Your Career

Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next