If you look up the definition of a blog in the Oxford Dictionary, it’s defined as “a regularly updated website, typically run by an individual, that is written in an informal or conversational style.” Originally from the phrase ‘web-log’, traditionally blogs were seen as an online diary; they started to rise in popularity as our obsession with social media, connecivity and reality took over the need for glossy interpretations of otherwise boring (but equally oh-so-fascinating) topics. A blog by its very nature is fluid, conversational and ever-evolving, but more and more I see the question arising of whether or not you should stick to a specific niche if you want to be ‘successful’. (Whatever that means.) If you read any kind of blogging advice, the first topic on the agenda is often that of finding your unique selling point – and sticking to it. But over the last few years, ‘lifestyle’ blogs have risen in popularity as we want to delve more and more into the lives of our favourite writers; just like shows including TOWIE and Made In Chelsea have boomed in popularity, our thirst for a snippet of realism and people that we can relate to isn’t going away anywhere fast. But is it better to have a clear niche and topic that you right about daily, or an overarching identity that evolves with you?
A BLOG IS AS MUCH ABOUT THE WRITER AS THE CONTENT
When we all started documenting our passions online, the majority of us were anonymous or hidden behind stock photos of our favourite products. However, over the years bloggers have become much more comfortable in front of the camera, showcasing their daily lives in a way that’s utterly transfixing – even if all they’ve done is pop out to the post office and polished off a burger. The content is very much what gets you to the blog in a first place, but the individual is what will keep you there; personalities inevitably filter through onto the page, making you feel like there’s some connection between you and the writer. It’s no surprise that we feel like we know the person behind the words, especially when we’re able to take a peek into their most intimate moments. Some blogs I read purely because I like the person that writes them… They could write about spam and I’d probably give it a good read; the more the blog becomes about you rather than the topic you’re discussing.
CLEAR PILLARS HELP READERS KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT
There’s a reason we’re all told to stick to what we know and build upon it, as clear pillars really help readers know what to expect – and come back for more. Over the years I’ve dabbled in travel, music, fashion, food and more, but I know my readers come to LBQ purely for a bit of self-indulgence on their coffee break. I know you like to know what’s new in the beauty industry, what to buy, what to lust after and what to do to make yourself feel that little bit better (both inside and out.) It works for me to keep the focus of my site very clear and to keep posts streamlined; it also works for me to be able to understand the passion points of my readers and keep delivering more of what makes them happy. However, there’s no reason why you couldn’t combine your passion for multiple topics in one site as long as it’s really clear to your readers what you’re going to deliver. Clarity is everything.
SOCIAL CHANNELS ARE A MORE FLUID EXTENSION
Although I love lipstick and mascara, I’m also a coffee addict and a total Sci-Fi geek. If I started writing up a review of the latest Doctor Who episode or discussing Starbucks’ new limited edition coffee, you may wonder what the hell I was up to. My social channels provide me with an extension of my blog, naturally encouraging conversations around different topics that I wouldn’t necessarily discuss in a post. If you jump over to my Instagram or Twitter, you may well spot some pictures of cake or a Tardis; the great thing about these hugely addictive channels is that you can connect with like-minded individuals in a whole new way. If something doesn’t feel write for your site, Instagram or Pinterest may be the perfect platforms to channel other passions; the key thing is to not limit yourself and remember there are many different ways to connect.
PASSION POINTS CHANGE WITH AGE
When I first started this site at the ripe old age of 27, my interests didn’t extend much beyond a great cocktail and mascara that was going to keep up with me. Nearly six years later and I’m far more interested in health and wellbeing, in understanding superfoods and retinol, getting to grips with mindfulness and spending my evening with a colouring book. It’s ok for your passion points to evolve – and for your online space to evolve with that. I would never have written about night creams, wrinkle fillers or facial treatments before, but as my interests and needs evolve, so does my blog. It’s ok for you to decide you no longer want to write about Disney or glittery eyeshadow, in favour of investment workwear and home decor. The majority of the time your readers are evolving with you… But even if they’re not, it all goes back to proving clarity about what to expect.
BRANDS REALLY LIKE TO PIGEONHOLE US
It’s frustrating, but it’s true. One of the reasons I’m able to make a living from my site is because I have a really clear identity. I write about beauty, I’m in my 30’s and I know a little more than the average. Brands come to me when they want to reach an audience that’s similar to their own, or when they want to talk to well informed women that are willing to invest in great products. Admittedly, it’s much harder to forge brand connections when you cover multiple topics (I was only discussing last night that beauty brands obviously go straight to beauty blogs, and food brands tick boxes within the food blogging community, when actually there’s a lot of cross-over if they put the effort into finding a hook and making it work,) but equally lifestyle sites offer a fluidity that means there’s so much more scope for collaboration. There’s no right or wrong answer; it’s about what works for you and what your commercial (or non commercial) interests are.
IT’S YOUR BLOG; DO WHAT YOU WANT WITH IT
I’m a firm believer in making your online space exactly what you want it to be. Yes there are ‘rules’, but rules are there for breaking. Nobody every got anywhere in life by following a set formula; the most successful entrepreneurs go out on a limb and try something new. At the end of the day, a blog should be fun – fun to write, fun to read. As soon as you’re feeling like you’re forcing content to flow, then it’s worth taking a step back and asking yourself what you *really* want to write about. Because if you love it, I guarantee that we’ll love it.
In my opinion, you can run a blog in one of two ways. You can either have a very specific niche, or your blog becomes more about you as a writer – your experiences, your passions, your thoughts. It’s hard to run a blog with conflicting interests (it’s unlikely to find many people with an equal passion for electric cars and exotic beers,) so in some instances it’s more practical to run two separate sites – for your own sanity, the clarity of your content and the enjoyment of your readers. But the important thing to remember is that it’s YOUR blog. In the words of Take That: do what you like.
What do you think about blogging niches? Do you believe you need a clear niche to be successful, or are you a fan of more fluid lifestyle sites that really get to grips with the author? There’s a great post on PoppyD.com here that discusses this very topic too, so do give it a read.
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