How To Be Awesome At Niche Blogging

December 22nd, 2010 | Guest Contributor | 9 Comments

Guest Post by Steff Metal

This is part of the Blogging for Grasshoppers series

Finding your niche

With more and more individuals and companies using blogging to generate interest and create community online, little blogging “niches” are popping up all over the place.

I’m going to guess that anyone reading this blog probably has a fair idea of what a niche is.

Image: Pawel Loj via Flickr, Creative Commons

If you don’t, basically it’s a particular area of interest within a larger market. For example, “weddings” is a market, but “gothic weddings” is a niche market.

As any marketing guru will tell you, niches are good things.

If you’re in a niche, you’ve got an instantly identifiable, easily reachable target audience for your particular product. And, you have a blog.

How can you combine the two to achieve Internet super-stardom and bodacious sales figures?

Find your people

When I started Steff Metal back in 2009, I knew exactly which niche I wanted to be a part of.

I wanted to be a heavy metal blogger.

Why heavy metal blogging? Because I love the music and I love blogging.

I eat, sleep, drink and breathe metal, so I can write about it with authority, intelligence and – most importantly – conviction.

I had my niche all sussed out, but I had to find my people.

Even within a relatively small niche, like heavy metal blogging (which is small compared to, say, personal development), there are many different types of readers.

There are

people who like death metal,

people who like classic metal,

people who like their metal so dark and distorted they won’t listen to anything that sounds like it once had some distance relation to a melody.

There are readers just getting into metal and people who’ve been listening to the heavy stuff since before I was born.

There are those who love Finnish metal, those who love German metal, and those who only listen to bands from the US of A.

There are metal girls and metal guys, metal kids and metal grandparents.

There are Christian metalheads, Islamic metalheads and metalheads who worship the dark lord himself.

There are metalheads who love to rant about politics, and metalheads who just want to see funny videos of headbanging cats.

No one blogger could possibly write to please all these people, and you’d give yourself a brain haemorrhage trying.

Instead, you should focus on “your people” – the reader you know are out there who would totally “get” you and what you stand for.

My people “get” that metal isn’t just something you listen to, it’s a lifestyle.

My people love to travel and learn about new cultures (and their music).

My people are super-clued in and love debating wider social, cultural, racial and technological issues.

My people love an occasional headbanging cat video.

Who are your people?

If you don’t know, think of the kind of people you attract in real life? What do your friends, colleagues and lovers have in common?

Finding your people

Often, they’re hanging around discussion forums, because they have the opportunity to discuss a topic without feeling as though they’re hijacking someone’s blog.

Maybe they’re commenting on news sites.

Perhaps they’re surfing around Facebook.

Are they singing on a street corner with a hat full of coins?

Maybe they all follow the same celebrity on Twitter.

They could even be involved in the reading program at your local library, or be members of your church, or they could even be standing beside you in the mosh pit.

Write articles that would interest them.

Keep current with topics in your niche, and write about your opinions on them, propose issues to debate, ask questions, create contention.

Give your people something to think about, smile about, or cry about.

Keep them interested, keep them hanging them around, then surprise them with cookies, and they’ll be yours for life.

Find your voice

You’ve got your people, now you need your voice.

Within your niche, there will probably be several well-established blogs vying for the attention of your people. Why would they read yours?

Maybe you talk about topics that no one else addresses?

Perhaps you have an insider (or outsider) perspective that’s new and refreshing.

It could be that you make people giggle.

Possibly you create a wider context for a niche by introducing outside opinions or reviewing books, movies, resources, etc.

Maybe it’s the way you present information – lists, diagrams, handwritten signs held by scantily-clad pirate wenches …

Probably, you present the same old topics in a new way.

If you don’t do any of these things, your people won’t have any reason to look for your blog, and they’ll have even less reason to stay.

Maybe, your voice clicks from day one, but more than likely, it will evolve over time. That’s OK.

You’re a hip young blogger, baby. You have all the time in the world.

Extra for Experts

Most people reading a niche blog consider themselves a bit of an expert in that niche. Treat them like the experts they are, and they’ll love you for it.

You need to have a specific, clearly defined blog topic before you can introduce “off topic” posts.

Keep advertising and affiliates niche-specific, otherwise, people get confused and annoyed and leave your blog.

If you’re bored, you either haven’t found the right niche, or you’re talking to the wrong people.

While you blog, listen to heavy metal. You’ll never be bored again.

Further Reading:

What Should I Blog About? Or Why is My Brand So Goddamn Boring?, by yours truly

Trouble Choosing a Niche? Start a Personal Blog, by Darren Rowse

The Three Essentials of Breakthrough Content Marketing, by Sonia Simons

How to Be Interesting, Jonathan Morrow

Emotional buy-in: How to Engage Your Blog’s Readers with Humor, by Judy Dunn

Steff Metal is a writer, artist and heavy metal maiden living in NZ with her cantankerous drummer husband and their medieval sword collection. Join the Grymm & Epic community for creative entrepreneurs, or read her heavy metal blog on Steff Metal.

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Steff Metal
Steff Metal

Hi Jen! Cats are cute, no matter what kind of music they like :)

I know adoption is a huge market, and there's a lot of terrible, inaccurate and downright frightening information out there. "Niching it down" to adoption via foster care, with the insight from your personal experiences, would probably draw in hundreds of "your people" who are struggling through the same process. Best of luck to you - I hope everything goes well!

Jen Wilbur
Jen Wilbur

That cat is awesome, Steff. And I'm not even a big fan of metal. :)

Love the way you think. Know your audience.

One subject I'm becoming keen on is adoption. And to niche it down a bit, adoption via foster care. Just getting my chops, but as I go through the process, I think there's more of it coming from me. And I'm learning what "my people" want every day. Cheers!

Davina K. Brewer
Davina K. Brewer

Good post Steff. Alas my problem is I have too many interests and niches, only so much time.

On the professional side, I've found my niche. I blog PR, marketing and social media 1) because it's my field, so I know it and am happy to share 2) I know my people, love learning from the best and 3) it's my job, a big part of showing I know where of I speak, by actually doing it. Walking the talk as Shonali says.

On the personal side, I could blog on almost anything, TV, sports, travel, etc. but there's no niche there. Just the mad ramblings of a crazy woman. Plus would I tick of potential clients if I spent too much time on the superiority of SEC football or cursing about the ending of LOST? IDK.. just typing out loud.

Davina K. Brewer
Davina K. Brewer

Heh, I've done that.. posts via "FlashForward" and "The Blind Side" are two examples. I am all for dovetailing interests, just times you know you can't combine it all together, make it work. Thanks.

Steff Metal
Steff Metal

Thanks Davina. You've definitely found your niche! And I am SO with your on those e-crap pop-up ads. They always frighten me.

I had the same problem when I started blogging - too many interests. Not enough blogs. Which was why when I hit on the concept of Steff Metal, it worked so well. I get to write about practically everything that interests me - music, movies, books, archaeology, history, advice, fashion ... Grymm & Epic fills another writing void in my life, and I have another blog which is about gothic weddings.

I love professional blogs where the blogger melds their personal interests into their posts, like "10 Marketing Lessons I Learnt from LOST" or "Writing Convincing Copy: the SEC Football example" (two horrible examples, but that's kind of the idea). That can be one way to inject some serious personality without feeling like you're distracting readers or posting too much off-topic stuff.


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