The Case for Non-Niche Blogging

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Wendy is a contact I met at a conference I attended a few months ago. Recently, she posted this on an update on my LinkedIn profile:

"Hey, I had never seen your blog before til I read something about a Bunny... and a Lunch Box 😛 I really like that you write about a range of topics but what do you say about all the articles that say that a blog must be topic specific to attract a consistent audience.

"I'm also like you - in that I have a lot of different interests and want to develop myself in a large number of ways, so I have always struggled with single-topic blogs. How did you build up your audience? Would you say you chased in the beginning? And it just flowed on from there?"

She was initially referring to my first bento lunch box post, of course.

Through her comment, we started having a long-ish conversation on the subject matter. So, I asked her if I could blog about this topic. This way, I can share a bit more. She gave me permission to do so.

That's why I'm now here, extending the conversation. Even though I feel like I've talked about this topic a few times before. Like that time I posted something on blogging like Oprah.

The thing is, Wendy's assumption about niche blogging is right. Most people want to know what to expect from a blog. If they fell in love with someone's food blog or fashion blog, they want to read just about food or fashion on those blogs. They don't want to hear about parenting or social  media from those bloggers. Well, not too much anyway. They might prefer to read another blog for those other topics.

But, what if, like Wendy, you're not really keen on niche blogging?

Then, you can join people like me who just blog about anything we're interested in.

But, what if, again like Wendy, you're concerned about "not developing enough of a following or an audience" - because your blog is too diverse? Too anti-niche?

Well, let me tell you something I don't usually say: I'm not the biggest fan of niche blogging for the sake of niche blogging. 

Don't get me wrong. I do have niche blogs like my work site, Vervely. I am proud of what I do there and I feel passionate about my work. But, if you ask me which blog I love most out of all the blogs I've ever had? It's this. ShaiCoggins.com. My absolutely strange, multiple personality blog.

Why? Because this blog is like coming home.

I love to travel. I enjoy adventure. But, I am my best at my own home.

When I advise people to take up blogging professionally, then yes, I am happy to advocate for niche blogging. It's the best way to succeed in this big world of blogging.

However, I'll admit that there are very few niche blogs that I read/follow regularly and passionately. Sure, I read them and subscribe to some of them because I know they're the only place I can get the information I want. But, it's harder for me to pick a food/fashion/writing/art (fill in whatever topic) blog as something to feel wildly crazy about. I can like and appreciate them. Even admire them. There are some amazing niche blogs out there.

But, I can't name you very many niche blogs that I like to read on a daily basis. I just get bored reading the same thing over and over. The same way I can get bored blogging about the same thing over and over.

Non-niche blogs of friends, contacts, and strangers, however, I can enjoy reading/following regularly (even if I don't always comment). Some of them, I can even feel very strongly about.

That's why if you just want to blog for the love of it, I encourage non-niche blogs. I only really want to encourage people to do niche blogging if you're so passionate about a topic that that's what you really really all you want to pursue. That is, if you want to be known in that field for whatever reason.

Otherwise, just let your ideas rip. Be bold and anti-niche. There are a few of us out here who enjoy non-niche blogging and reading non-niche blogs.

Here are some ideas on how to enjoy and succeed with a non-niche blog:

1. Identify your perfect reader.

One rookie mistake a lot of people make when starting a blog is answering the question: "Who do you want to attract to your blog? Who is your audience?" with "Everybody!" 

Why do you want everybody to read your blog? Do you like everybody? Do you like talking to every single person you meet?

I know I don't. I enjoy the company of some people more than others.

And, I realise, it's the same with blogging. There are just some people I enjoy having around. And, they're my perfect reader. They're the ones I want to attract.

So, when they tell me they enjoy certain posts from me (like my Week In the Life project), I'd like to try to do more of them when I can. Not just because they're asking for those posts, but because I also enjoyed doing them too.

When what I like to blog meets what people want to read, then I know I'm on the right path.

That's why knowing who your perfect reader is makes sense. You'll see that blogging for them will never be a chore because you already love to blog what they enjoy reading.

And, when you do find them, connect with them as best as you can.

2. Show up as you are.

One of the advantages of niche blogging is that bloggers can adapt a certain personality that suits the topic they're blogging about - and just stick to that personality. The snarky celebrity blogger stays snarky, even on days when they're actually feeling all positive and bubbly. The wise professional business blogger stays professional, even when they're feeling all gushy over something - or lost. Yes, they can deviate every now and then. But, in general, people expect something from them in a certain way.

Us, non-niche bloggers, we can't hide behind a persona. Well, unless you decide to take on a persona while non-niche blogging, I suppose.

But, for the most part, we're here primarily as ourselves. Blogging about the things that interests us. Talking about our experiences, our ideas,  our feelings...

Our niche is our personal brand. So, we have to show up. Or, we're taking away the very thing that people are hoping to find on our blogs.

No, we don't need to share EVERYTHING. But, we have to learn to figure out how to share things that really matter to us. Otherwise, if it doesn't really move us, why would it move anyone else?

3. Figure out your theme.

We all have some kind of running themes in our lives. No matter how it all seems like a mish-mash of things. If we look closely enough, we'll see common threads.

Maybe it won't be easy to figure out in the beginning. Especially if you've only just started to learn to blog about what you really care about. But, once you're blogging for a while, you'll see repeating topics. Your readers will even start picking on those too.

In my case, I know I post a lot of food photos. And, I take pictures mostly of my kids. Sometimes, I do selfies for the fun of it. I love books and movies. Especially those that deal with YA, kids, fantasy, science fiction, comedy, and romance. I like travel, dance, art, and culture. I talk about self development, career, productivity, and social media. And yes, I love gadgets of all kinds. These are a lot of topics, I know. But, when I boiled it down, I realised, I'm this "Creative Geeky Mum Who's Passionate About Living a Full Life."

That's my theme. Well, that's how I phrase it for now anyway. 🙂

And, yes, the more I realised my theme, the more I attracted the right kind of people to connect with in the world of blogs and social media. Even when I seem to be blogging about a seemingly endless list of things I'm interested in.

4. Celebrate your own milestones.

Defining your own success will be your best bet. Don't start comparing numbers and statistics. Just concentrate on WHO you want to connect with, and make sure you're connecting with them.

We are all better off with a hundred readers who are really engaged with us than a thousand who couldn't care less. That's why it is best to create a blog you love first.

So, concentrate on creating milestones within your control. For example, "Create a '100 List' on my blog." Or "Create my first series on X topic, with five blog posts at a minimum." Or maybe "Find the best looking blog theme within my budget of X." Or, "Print X amount of blog posts into a hard copy book."

These are things that you can control. Not the number of readers or comments your blog has. Hopefully, if you're doing the right thing, then those other things will follow too.

5. Be your blog's best champion.

Find ways to share, talk about, and grow your blog. Learn all you can to make your blog interesting - not just to your perfect readers - but most of all, to yourself.

After all, if you get bored or you get too overwhelmed with your own blog, you'll find it harder to maintain.

That's why non-niche blogging can rock. You don't have to write the same topics. You don't need to present your viewpoint in the same way. You can be a travel reporter one day and toy reviewer the next.

Yes, in spite what many blogging pros say (including moi, in a professional sense) - it's okay to have a non-niche blog.

We just need to own it - and love it.

*NOTE: Awesomer - I know that's not a real word. And yes, I jump tenses too. 

About the Author Shai Coggins (MTeach, MSoc Sci App Psych)

Shai has been managing and blogging here at ShaiCoggins.com for 17 years. Here, she writes about creativity, productivity, and how to recharge for a better, happier lifestyle. She is the author of Today: Life Journal, Colour Bliss: Kaleidoscopes, and a little known children's book. A serial entrepreneur, Shai also currently runs Vervely.com, a boutique digital media agency offering online content, community, and conversion marketing services. Her blogging experience and digital work have been featured in various media, including being listed in Fast Company's "Most Influential Women in Technology" list. Originally from Manila, Shai lived in Singapore and the USA before moving to Australia with her British husband. They have two children, a pet bunny, and a rambunctious rescue Labrador.

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