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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 December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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