Last summer I wrote one of my most popular blog series, How to Start a Blog. I shared tips for those who are new to the blogging scene about common topics that every new blogger deals with: creating a loyal audience, finding your niche, choosing a name, growing readership, and creating quality content. It was a fun series to write and it continues to be a favorite among Elle & Company readers. But since writing those posts 3 months ago, my readership has more than tripled (and I would like to think that it's due to implementing all of that advice that I shared!). The way I blog has evolved and I've learned new tips and strategies for creating content, marketing my blog, and growing Elle & Company readership.
In case you haven't picked up on this already around here, I love sharing what I'm learning about blogging, business, and design with my readers. So I thought it would be helpful to go back to the content in those How to Start a Blog posts and touch on some new things that I've learned and discovered about blogging success. My hope is that these posts will help you approach blogging a little differently and that your blog will continue to grow and evolve, too.
Today's topic is one that I've become increasingly passionate about: finding your niche.
Finding your niche is foundational to starting a blog; every decision you make builds upon this step. But because there are so many opportunities with blogging and everyone seems to be jumping in headfirst, it can be difficult to narrow down the opportunities and find a creative idea that sets your blog apart. Here are some tips for identifying your niche and taking your blog to the next level.
Pinpoint areas of interest
It's important that the purpose behind your blog is something that you're truly passionate about and can build upon, especially if you plan on blogging long-term. If you aren't interested or vested in the topics you're planning on writing about, you'll quickly run out of ideas and you probably won't stick with blogging. Choose an area of blogging that inspires you and gets you excited! Spend some time making a list of things that you like to do in your spare time, things that make you happy, topics of interest, favorite blogs, etc. to get the ideas flowing.
Identify your strengths
This goes hand-in-hand with pinpointing your areas of interest. You may love looking through fashion magazines and keeping up with the latest trends, but if you don't have a knack for piecing together stylish looks, you might want to reconsider becoming a fashion blogger. You may check food blogs like your life depends on it, but if your husband has been choking down the meals you've made for the last couple months, becoming a food blogger might not be the best route for you (this probably isn't the case, but you see where I'm going with this, right?). It's important that you're both interested in and gifted in your blogging field of choice.
This is where it gets both challenging and fun. Challenging because this step takes time and intention; fun because this is what will truly make your blog successful. Following along with what everyone else is already doing is the easy way out, but coming up with creative ideas that haven't been seen before makes your blog stand out among the rest. My favorite blogs are all written by people who break the mold and do something different from what everyone else is doing (and if you take a moment to consider your favorites, they are probably one-of-a-kind, too). My goal with Elle & Company is to create a blog that I would want to follow along with, and I have a rule of thumb that I won't post anything that I wouldn't want to read. I challenge you to do the same. Brainstorm ways to create a completely original blog that you would enjoy keeping up with. You won't become successful by following, and goodness knows there are too many unoriginal copycat blogs out there already!
Ask yourself these questions:
- Why do I read the blogs I read? What do they do well that draws me in and keeps me coming back?
- What is something that no one out there is doing? Why?
- What are some areas that people often ask my advice for or expertise in?
- Has this idea been done before? Is this niche saturated? If so, how could I do this differently?
Your niche determines each post you write, your audience, and the purpose behind your blog. This step is foundational to your blog, so spend some time thoughtfully mapping it out. I can't wait to hear what you come up with!