Do you struggle to find your blog niche? Do you really need to have one? How do you go about finding yours?
I just celebrated my blogging birthday. 9 years ago I sat down and put my fingers to the keyboard to construct a blog post for the first time. It was easier back then we hadn’t reached the age of what Mark Schaefer calls ‘Content Shock’.
Back in 2013 ChartBeat reported that there were 92,000 articles posted to the web. I don’t have stats for 2016 but can you imagine how much that figure must have grown?
This poses a challenge for businesses trying to market themselves with content. It’s not easy to be noticed in a world where every topic has been written about 10s, 100s even thousands of times. If you are blogging it’s time to meet that challenge head on and become the go-to person for your topic.
But how do you do that if you are in a content saturated industry? You need to find an angle, a niche a space that you can own on the internet.
Listen below to discover how I found my blog niche (eventually)
What is a niche?
The marketing definition of Niche according to Dictonary.com:
“a distinct segment of a market.”
I prefer the Ecological version:
“the position or function of an organism in a community of plants and animals.”
If you can find an area of your business that no one else, or at least no one good is already occupying you have a niche. In that way, you are performing the function of an organism in the community of the Internet.
Still confused. Let’s look at potential niches for a business blogging about fashion (note I know nothing about fashion):
- Budget fashion
- Charity shops chic
- High street catwalk
- Bespoke tailoring for women
- Designer fashion
This list only scratches the surface, there are hundreds of niches within fashion you could choose to inhabit. The questions you need to ask yourself before committing are:
- Is the niche big enough?
- Are your customers interested?
- Is it over saturated already?
How to find your blog niche
Step 1: Write an elevator pitch
It wasn’t until last year that I really started to carve my niche, that’s over 6 years of blogging for Spidrworking before I found it. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
My journey started whilst listening to the ProBlogger podcast with Darren Rowse from Problogger. The first episode was a challenge to write an elevator pitch for your blog.
As a business owner, I’d written elevator pitches before but this was the first time I focussed it on my blog. The idea is you get into an elevator with a potential business prospect and you have the time it takes to reach the top floor to tell them about your business.
Here’s what I came up with:
“I write a blog for my business Spiderworking designed to help small businesses who want to learn more about how they can get more from social media.
My aim is to give people enough information to allow them to run their own social media. I also rely on it to show people that I know what I’m talking about. I often feel like my readers are on a journey with me as I pick up new tips.”
Just writing this helped me focus my ideas. Spending time thinking about it was just the kick I needed to start evaluating my blog and finding my niche.
I was even inspired to ask others to write an elevator pitch. Here are some of the ones they shared.
Take a few minutes to write an elevator pitch for your blog, you might be surprised with what you come up with.
Step 2: Know your customers
I covered this topic in detail in episode 14, you can listen to that here.
There really is no point writing a blog for your business unless you know who you are writing for. Remember our fashion blogger from earlier? The niche they choose will depend very much on their customer.
If their customers are students on a tight budget ‘Charity Shop Chic’ could work well. A slightly more wealthy customer might enjoy ‘High Street Catwalk’. If you are targeting high-end clients or others working in the industry ‘Haute couture’ might be your niche.
Download my worksheet and create at least one customer persona for your blog. You’ll find yourself brimming with ideas by the time you’ve finished.
Step 3: Find your voice
I struggled with this when I started the Spiderworking blog. After writing about Organic food for 3 years the transition to marketing seemed hard. My writing became antiseptic. What I really needed was the confidence to let my personality in.
Whether it’s a recipe or a how-to post look at how you can add a personal spin. When you write your next post think about where the idea came from, what provoked you to write it. What experiences have you had of what you are writing about? These questions will spark stories that you can incorporate into your post.
Something else I do is imagine I’m talking to my customer. I read my posts out loud (mostly to my cat) to see how they sound, do I sound real, am I telling it in an engaging way.
I love this opening paragraph from a post from Kimberly Crossland’s post on finding your voice:
“Take a look at the playlist on my phone and you might be confused.
Although it’s primarily made up of Texas Country artists – Stoney Larue, Turnpike Troubadors, Dirty River Boys, Randy Rogers, the list goes on – I also have Adele, Sara Bareilles, Christina Perri and Sia sprinkled in there too.
Pretty diverse, right?
Each of those artists (even the Texas Country ones) is unique. Each has a distinct sound to their voice. But here’s the thing. If you put them together in a lineup and ask them each to sing Diana Ross’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T and it’d be easy to name the artist – even while they were singing karaoke.
Why? Because their voice is their voice.”
Not only is it an awesome opening paragraph for but it makes the concept of ‘your voice’ easier to understand. Can someone read your blog posts and recognise the style as being yours?
Try recording your blog posts on a voice recorder instead of typing. Read your posts aloud and find ways to inject stories into your content.
Step 4: Know your knowledge and limitations
Did you listen to my interview with Christopher Brennan from Phorest salon software? He told us a story about when he first started writing content for salon owners.
He wrote about facials and manicures but he didn’t really know anything about these topics. It wasn’t long before his customers called him out.
So he changed his content strategy and started to write about what he knew, marketing. By combining his knowledge with the needs of his customers and by injecting his infectious personality he managed to create a successful blog that converts.
Make a list of things you have expertise in and things you are passionate about. Do any of these topics fit the needs of your customer?
Step 5: Research
Now you know what you can talk about, who you are talking to and you are comfortable with your own voice. It’s time to see where you can fit in.
Take your list of ideas and go and search Google, how many of these niches are saturated, which ones have potential?
People used to associate me with Facebook marketing but that’s not where I went with my niche. It’s a pretty saturated space and I felt I had more to share elsewhere. I chose blogging because I already had an audience, I’d run networks and events for bloggers for over 5 years. Although lots of people write for bloggers not many specifically target small business bloggers. So that’s where I am today.
Before I chose my niche I tried some on for size. Over the last two years I’ve been concentrating on specific themes. One quarter I would write about Facebook ads, the next Twitter, Storytelling, Facebook competitions. By trying these on I could find out what people were interested in and I also found the content that I was best at writing.
Come up with a list of possible niches and spend a month writing about each.
That was where this blog post was going to end but on Tuesday I was at the Content Mastery Summit in Dublin with Mark Schaefer and Ian Cleary. Both of them shared tips on finding a niche in a saturated market. So before I go I’m going to share some of their wisdom.
If you find your niche is saturated look at your competitors, look at the content types they are not exploiting.
If our fashion blogger finds that there are already a lot of ‘Charity Chic’ blogs she should see if they are creating video content and podcasts too. If not there’s where she can squeeze in. Also, take a look at what is being done badly by your competitors and focus on how you can be better.
Ian showed us a process for looking for topics where you can beat your competitors.
He showed us how to look at what our competitors were ranking for using SEM rush. He showed us how we can compare their domain authority to your own (this is a score that MOZ creates to rank how high your site is likely to appear in search engine results)
If you can find a search term your competitor is ranking for and you are not, and if you have a higher domain authority, write your own post targeting the same keyword. You should beat them in search results meaning you can still dominate the niche.
My challenge for you this week is to start looking for a niche. I don’t expect you to find one in just one week but you should be able to nail some options. Follow the steps above and you never know what you might come up with.
Let me know if you have success, leave me a comment below
If you’ve been following my challenges or if you have done something on your blog that has worked well I’d love to hear about it. You can leave me a comment below, tweet me @spiderworking or snap me @spiderworking.