Should You Establish A Blogging Niche?

My brief blogging history

I remember my first step into the non-personal blogging scene (I don’t count my high school Xanga – but I’m at least honest enough to admit I was a part of that club). I managed a blog called “Onside Kicks” where I talked about football…and, well, that’s about it. Around the two month mark I realized no one was reading it and I had run out of things to say. I closed the door and moved on.

My second soiree into blogging had me running the aptly titled “Gradual Revolution” – this was a little more free form but I still focused predominantly on politics and sustainability. I spent a lot of time working on a design and making things look pretty, but couldn’t come up with anything to write about. The desire wasn’t there. A month later I packed up my things and closed up shop.

It took me about a year to try again. It’s funny how the blogging itch never goes away. This time, I told myself I wouldn’t worry about defining a topic. So I came up with the most random name I could think of (Life Without Pants) and starting writing. Through the past 10 months there have been ups and downs, interviews with 90’s alternative rockers, petitions to save the environment, an abundance of Social Media “wisdom”, and philosophy on life aplenty. But even with the wide range of topics, I’ve still managed to find myself a niche.

Don’t let labels define you

At the end of the day I’m going to be labeled as a “Gen Y” blog (although this is rapidly changing as of late). As hard as I may try not commit myself to one market, there’s no denying who I am, the voice I have, and the perspective on life I can share and who finds it compelling, relevant, and/or inspiring. But instead of fighting the “branding” that inevitable comes, finally, with Life Without Pants, I’ve accepted and embraced that it’s OK and natural to establish a reputation and expectation – to become “known” for something.

One of the most common obstacles bloggers are faced with is not knowing what to write about. Or knowing what to write about but losing focus or interest when your niche becomes too narrow. It’s easy to get burned out when you’re writing post after post about the wild word of scrap-booking (no offense to all the scrapbookers out there).

Write because you love to write

My advice? Stop listening to advice. Don’t let me or anyone else persuade you or tell you what you should be writing about. The fine art of blogging, at it’s core, is about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and writing. If you love writing, if you want to write, the rest will fall into place. It’s OK to be “that guy” – to be known for something – that’s how you grow your audience, by becoming a trusted, well respected, entertaining resource.

With time, you’ll figure out what you want to get out of your blog – and what your readers expect of you. But instead of settling in from the get-go, focus on trying new things, stepping outside the box, taking on new projects, and finding ways to involve your community. Some might stick, some might not – but there are a million ways to reinvent yourself, even in your specific niche. Your voice is the only common thread you need.

A sense of direction and a common theme is important – but don’t allow a lack of topical focus keep you from pursuing your passion for writing.

What are your blogging roots? Where did you start and how have you evolved into what you are today?

(Image courtesy debbie)

Great post Carlos – and thanks for the shout-out. We are thinking along the same wavelengths as I have a post in the works along these same lines. I gave up blogging several times before because I was opposed to focus – I thought I was becoming too specific in my topics and approach and I was afraid of ‘branding’ myself.
With Life Without Pants, a new page has been turned – I’ve accepted and welcomed the branding that inevitebly will come as a writer. What am I known for? Maybe not one thing specifically – but people have come to known what to expect when they visit my blog – whether it be thoughts on Gen Y, social media, entrepreneurship, marketing, philosophy, whatever. I’m “that guy” – But it’s OK to be that guy. It’s OK to be known for something.
But with that said – you don’t want to stop there – I am a proponent of keeping my legs moving – trying new things, reinventing myself and what I do – whether it be through writing about new topics, podcasting, video series, design work, etc. It’s that evolution that (hopefully) is keeping me interesting to all of you.
Cheers! And thanks again Carlos!

About Matt Cheuvront

I empower folks to do the work they want to do and live the life they want to live. I also watch entirely too much Saved by the Bell, run marathons, and drink plenty of craft beer. Check out the work my company is doing at Proof Branding.